Thursday, 31 May 2012

The Las Vegas Serial Killer (2 Stars)

I was asked a short while ago how I come across so many obscure films. I assume that this is one of the films that my friend was referring to. The only way to answer the question is to deny that films like this are truly obscure. Obscurity is in the eyes of the beholder. If you're someone who only knows the films that you see in the cinemas, anything older than 10 years must seem obscure to you. Depending on your age, of course. If you only watch English language films, anything from other countries must seem obscure. If you only watch Hollywood blockbusters, low budget films must seem obscure to you.

I review films from any age. My very first review was "Metropolis", made in 1927, and yesterday I reviewed "Avengers Assemble", made in 2012. I review a large number of German films, most of which are well known to people who live in Germany. I watch many low budget films. Anybody who appreciates the magic of cheap films that rely on a good plot rather than fancy special effects knows the name Ray Dennis Steckler. He was a director who made about 30 films from 1962 to 1997. When people say "low budget" they usually mean a film that costs less than $100,000 to make, but Steckler's budgets were the lowest of all. Some of his films were allegedly made for less than $500. This was possible by using his family and friends as actors, and filming everything himself. His most famous film is "The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies", made in 1963. I strongly recommend that film, but "The Las Vegas Serial Killer" isn't one of his best.

The film is about Jonathan Glick, a killer who is released from prison and settles in Las Vegas. Far from being reformed, he immediately sets out on a killing spree, murdering prostitutes and nude models. At the same time two petty thieves are operating in Las Vegas, mugging women and stealing their handbags. Glick kills a woman shortly after she has been robbed, leading to the thieves being the main murder suspects.

The problem with this film is that unlike Steckler's usual films there is no real character development. We have no explanation for the way Glick is; he merely stalks the streets and kills. The two thieves hardly talk to one another, so we don't get a chance to understand them. The film is as cold as a documentary.

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