Monday, March 20, 2017

Killer's Delight (1978)

DIRECTOR: Jeremy Hoenack

WRITER: Maralyn Thoma


James Luisi
Susan Sullivan
John Karlen
Martin Speer
Sandy Alan
Hilarie Thompson
Cynthia Nigh
Keli Sils
Al Dunlap
George Flower


A detective is tracking down a serial killer who is murdering women in San Francisco.

Killer's Delight which is also known as The Dark Ride and The Sports Killer is a movie that was inspired by the murders of notorious serial killer Ted Bundy. I've mentioned in many of my previous reviews that I've always been extremely fascinated by serial killers and the psychology behind them and the crimes. So when I learned that this movie was inspired by Ted Bundy. You can bet that I was pretty excited to see what they would do with the story.

The film opens with a pretty arresting scene. We see a van in broad daylight, driving up the windy roads towards a cliff edge. You can see the beautiful shot of the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. A man removes a naked woman's body from the back of the van and proceeds to throw her lifeless body over the edge. The creepiest thing about this moment is that it happens in the daytime and for such a well-known and iconic location. It seems pretty confident but reckless on the killers part.

After this pretty great opening scene. We are immediately shown the next victim who is about to be brutally murdered. Her body is soon found by a young child while he is out playing. At this pacing and with two murders in a matter of minutes. I expected a movie with a high body-count and an intense police procedural mashed together with the hunt for a serial killer. Sadly, this is where the movie sort of stops, slows down the pace and we get a very mixed little serial killer flick.

When it comes to Killer's Delight and the whole Ted Bundy connection. While this may be inspired by the murders, this is only very loosely based on his story. The only time that this film is even close to the real crimes is that a man picks up women in his van (not a car) and kills them. That's where this film ends with the connection to the real story. The way they handle him luring women into his van isn't even close to how the real Ted Bundy used an arm-cast and sympathy to get a woman to help him. All the women here, just jump on in and end up tortured or dead.

For the next hour, Killer's Delight gives the audience some really questionable stuff. A killer who picks up women and dumps their bodies in the same location yet the police don't think to try and capture him or use a female officer as bait. Eventually, they use this tactic. Instead, they do it in the woman's own apartment. The killer is smart and comes back later to finish the job in the final moments. The woman even leaves her front door unlocked with no police around to jump on him when he enters her home. It's a moment of genuine stupidity.

Another problem that this movie faces is that there are several victims who we never come back to or find out what happens to them. Several women are tortured during the film. He breaks their arms and stabs them. He ties them to trees. We see him do this during the middle of the film, but we never find out if they survived their ordeal. Their bodies are never found or seen again. We see them alive while he's doing these things to them but there is no resolution. Not even a news report to say their bodies have been discovered. Going off the tagline for the film, are we meant to assume that this is the answer to the mystery?

The performances are probably the most noteworthy element in the film. James Luisi as our main man and detective on the hunt for the killer is great. He plays the ladies man, but during the more heavy stuff, he was an impressive lead. Susan Sullivan was decent in her role as Dr Carol Thompson. Her character is one of the only characters that I felt sorry for by the films final few moments. John Karlen as our killer is alright in the role, but I felt like he wasn't menacing enough. I think that his character isn't given enough to do and that could fall back on the screenplay.

Lastly, Killer's Delight isn't very heavy on the tension or suspense. What I did enjoy in the movie was the violence. While not very explicit, the film does deliver some pretty nasty stuff. We have a killer that enjoys not just torturing women but making others watch. The arm breaking stuff here isn't gruesome by any means, but the aftermath shots look quite realistic. Some of the photos of the dead victims also appears as if they are real. So at least it has that going for it. Just don't go expecting any scares.



- A woman's body is thrown off a cliff near the Golden Gate Bridge.
- A woman's body is found with a broken neck and wrists.
- A woman is shown tied up with a knife in her leg.
- A man pulls a woman by the hair and breaks her neck.
- A man is shot in the stomach.
- A man is strangled with a cord.
- A woman is found by the side of the road with a broken neck.
- A woman's fingers and arm are broken by the killer.

Killer's Delight is loosely based on serial killer Ted Bundy. The perfect opportunity to give us an incredibly dark serial killer movie is sadly wasted here. While containing a few solid moments, some decent leading performances, and some nasty violence and torture, they can't save this from being a pretty routine slasher. Characters disappear, and they are never heard from again, at times the movie feels off on a tonal level and the pacing at times feels like a bit of a slog. Had they stuck closer to the real crimes, this may have had a much better outcome.

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