Psychic Killer Ray Danton

Why rent the DVD release of 1975's Psychic Killer instead of another new release from last week - Hancock, perhaps? Certainly we've been overwhelmed by enough Hancock marketing that it seems like required viewing. Both movies are quite bad. But while Psychic Killer isn't as enjoyably bad as a Plan 9 From Outer Space or Sleepaway Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland, it's at least bad in a variety of interesting ways. Hancock is just bad in the modern-Blockbuster way that's really boring. Arnold Masters is wrongly incarcerated after a doctor is murdered. A confusing series of events endow him with psychic powers. He uses these to murder enemies from the comfort of his easy chair using astral projection. Yes, astral projection; it's not just for DMT-smoking teenage mystics and cough syrup chugging dissociative drug users anymore. The killing starts and we're treated to concise, self-contained murder segments worth watching for any horror buff. The real comic highlight is an incredibly serious seven-minute speech a professor gives on psychic ability. He ends his preachy message on the potential of the human mind with, "Have you ever had a stab of anguish for a dear loved one, and the very next day... the fateful telegram?" The music swells and the hard-boiled cop suddenly understands psychic phenomena on a profound, personal level. It has the look and feel of an ambitious Roger Corman production, with colourful performances and stylized camera work. Long zooms and unconventional lighting and editing remind us why bad movies from this period are so engaging: even the schlockiest genre pictures would often emulate the look of Cassavetes or Truffaut, resulting in rich aesthetics that while flawed are a visual treat in today's bland landscape of digital effects and glossy HD supermen. Despite a prolonged nude scene in which a nurse sexually harasses a paralyzed man, a dozen odd murders straight from any slasher flick and plenty of standard R-rated fare, Psychic Killer somehow got a PG rating from the violence-tolerating, lesbian-fearing MPAA. Critics often use Psychic Killer as an example of the MPAA's unjust ratings. (Dark Sky)