I’m on vacation at the moment and enjoying the holiday, but I wanted to briefly mention that Curtis Harrington’s terrific 1973 thriller The Killing Kind was released this week on DVD for the first time and it’s my DVD pick of the week. Harrington is responsible for some of the most interesting and entertaining American horror movies and television productions of the sixties and seventies including Night Tide (which recently made my list of 31 films that give me the willies) as well as Games, How Awful About Allan, Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?, What’s the Matter with Helen? and Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell. The Killing Kind is one of the director’s best films and I’m really happy that it has finally found its way on to DVD thanks to Dark Sky Films, which has been releasing some great movies this year.
The Killing Kind stars John Savage (The Deer Hunter, Hair, The Onion Field, Do the Right Thing, etc.) in one of his earliest roles as a young man named Terry Lambert. Terry is an accused rapist who has recently been released from jail and is out for revenge. Savage is perfectly cast here as a sympathetic loner that you somehow sympathize with, but his innocent demeanor hides a dark and disturbed personality. Other stand out performances in The Killing Kind include Ann Sothern (Maisie, A Letter to Three Wives, The Blue Gardenia, Crazy Mama, etc.) as Terry Lambert’s overbearing mother Thelma. She carries on a strange and unhealthy relationship with her son that hints at sexual abuse. Their unusual family dynamic leads to Terry’s mental disintegration and finally has dire consequences for everyone. Luana Anders, Cindy Williams, Ruth Roman and Sue Bernard also have memorable roles here.
This extremely effective and creepy thriller might seem a little campy to some thanks to Ann Southern’s odd turn as Thelma Lambert, but I think it’s one of the smarter and more interesting movies made in the early seventies that attempted to explore the deranged mind of a sexual predator and killer. The film will remind some viewers of Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), but Harrington brings his own insights and individual style to The Killing Kind.
Dark Sky’s widescreen DVD presentation of The Killing Kind runs 95 minutes long and contains optional English subtitles. It also features an interview with director Curtis Harrington, which unfortunately was his last since Harrington passed away earlier this year due to complications following a stroke. You can currently purchase The Killing Kind from Amazon for $17.99 (it retails for ($19.99) and it should be available for rent at online sources such as Netflix and Greencine.
Below is a clip from the interview with Curtis Harrington featured on the DVD, which also contains some scenes from the film: