Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Hollywood Strangler Meets the Skid Row Slasher (1979)

There’s a germ of an interesting idea within this no-budget exploitation flick, that being the notion of what might happen if two serial killers crossed paths. Unfortunately, filmmaker Ray Dennis Steckler (who used separate aliases for his writing and directing credits) brings exactly zero nuance and style to the task, so The Hollywood Strangler Meets the Skid Row Slasher quickly degrades to the grindhouse equivalent of, say, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), inasmuch as the picture tries to compensate for its shortcomings by offering two ghouls for the price of one. While the worst thing about the picture is unquestionably its sleaziness, seeing as how the strangler scenes involve a fully dressed middle-aged man murdering topless young women, the weirdest thing about the picture is its soundtrack. Steckler and his team either failed to record location sound or screwed up the process, because nearly all the dialogue in this picture appears as voiceover. Right from the first scene, when strangler Jonathan Click (Pierre Agostino) takes nudie pictures of a model before killing her, the audience hears his thoughts vocalized as narration. Faint snippets of dialogue appear periodically, though they’re not the sonic focus. The storytelling is just as slipshod. Between strangler scenes, Steckler cuts to the unseen slasher murdering hoboes with a switchblade, eventually revealing that she’s an attractive redhead (Carolyn Brandt). The murderers meet, with predictably bloody results. Although The Hollywood Strangler Meets the Skid Row Slasher is dull, repetitive, and tacky, some gonzo-cinema fans appreciate the flick for its almost surrealistic trashiness—the disorienting treatment of sound makes the picture feel different from, though not necessarily any better than, run-of-the-mill gorefests. For the most part, however, this one’s for cinematic masochists only.

The Hollywood Strangler Meets the Skid Row Slasher: LAME

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