Where to begin with this one? The basic gist is this: a young man snaps one day and goes on a shooting spree. Sniping people on a freeway and then ultimately taking out unsuspecting patrons of a drive-in movie theater. But that's only one part of the story. The other half is about an old horror movie icon who is fed up with the industry and all of its nonsense and decides to retire. But not before he makes a final appearance at the aforementioned drive-in movie theater which just happens to be showing one of his "classic" films.
I had read about this one years ago and had always wanted to watch it. Luckily I just happened to be checking the guide on my cable box and saw that it was on TCM last week. It is a very dark and disturbing little movie. It's also a quintessential late 60's B-Movie, with Boris Karloff playing the part of the horror icon. I've never been a big fan of older movies and I haven't really seen too many of Karloff's films, but I have to say that his performance in this one is quite remarkable. For a guy who got famous for playing Frankenstein's Monster and the Mummy, he definitely has some skills. The rest of the cast is young up-and-comers, and honestly I didn't recognize any of the other faces. The acting is a little rough at times, but the story line makes up for it. For being a low-budget B-Movie, the writing is surprisingly good, and the direction by Peter Bogdonovich is amazing at times. The man knows how to edit sequences and tell a story.
In all honesty, it feels like two different movies at times. But the way that it's edited is quite beautiful. The first half switches back and forth between the fed up actor and the fed up young man quite often, but it's never confusing or hard to follow. When the rampage begins it becomes quite brutal. While it's not as violent as modern cinema, it is still brutal nonetheless. When the final shootout happens at the drive-in, nobody is safe. The guy kills men, women and children. The most shocking killing has to be when a 10 year old kid is sitting in the front seat with his dad who has just been shot. The kid is crying as the camera slowly pans over and we hear a shot that silences the child. It's that kind of movie. And in light of some modern tragedies, it's not as far-fetched as it might have been.
Overall this is one that I can't get out of my head and is definitely going on my to-buy list. But since I'm on a dvd-freeze and only purchasing Blu-Rays, I guess I'll have to wait. Definitely add it to your Netflix queue. You won't be disappointed.