• Sweet Kill

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: August 21, 2012.

    Director: Curtis Hanson

    Cast: Tab Hunter, Cherie Latimer, Nadyne Turney, Isabel Jewell, Linda Leider, Roberta Collins

    Year: 1973

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    The Movie:

    Better known as The Arousers (the title that appears on screen when the movie starts), Sweet Kill was directed for Roger Corman by first time director Curtis Hanson quite a few years before he’d become known for big time Hollywood projects like The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, L.A. Confidential, 8 Mile and Wonder Boys.

    The film tells the dark story of a high school gym teacher named Eddie Collins (Tab Hunter) who lives alone, unmarried, in his beachside bachelor pad. We know from a few flashback scenes that show us a young Eddie peeking in on his mother undress that he has some sexual hang-ups, and this becomes a problem when he’s constantly entertaining the young ladies in the area and is unable to finish the job. Case in point – after helping two ladies push their car out of the beach sand it’s become stuck in, one of them heads back to his place. They start making out but once things get to hot, he pushes her off of him. Unfortunately for Eddie, she whacks her head on the table and dies in his living room.

    Rather than call the cops, he wraps up her corpse in sheets and ties it up with rope and hides it up on the roof of his apartment. From here, Eddie more or less loses it and goes on a series of sprees where he picks up pretty young women and then verbally abuses them and calling them ‘whores’ and ‘sluts’ before sending them off to meet their maker. It gets even more bizarre when Eddie starts to realize that his sexual issues seem to wane once the women he is with are dead…

    Borrowing pretty heavily from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, Corman was reportedly not happy with Hanson’s original cut of the movie and after sitting on it for a year or two, had him add some nudity laden reshoots to his cut of the movie to spice it up and add some more commercial appeal. The end result is a fairly choppy film that periodically borders on softcore but which has a decidedly dark bent to it, the inferred necrophilia obviously adding to that quite a bit. The movie is shot with a bit of style and shows of much of what happens through Eddie’s own eyes, giving it an interesting first person perspective at times. It moves at a quick pace and is never short on nudity, throwing in some liberal doses of sexualized violence as well.

    As far as the performances go, Tab Hunter is good in the lead. He’s handsome enough that we have no problem buying his ability to pick up girls and lure them back to his apartment. He also handles the scenes where he has to deal with his manly shortcomings well too, expressing believable frustration with himself and his situation which makes his frequent outbursts all the more intense .Of course, the movie also features a nice selection of seventies starlets on display as well - Cherie Latimer, Nadyne Turney, Linda Leider, Roberta Collins all appear in the movie in various states of dress and undress. Isabel Jewell has a good supporting role as the landlady and Angus Scrimm, best known as the Tall Man from the Phantasm films, pops up here too.


    Shout! Factory’s transfer for Sweet Kill is disappointing in that judging by the line rolls evident in the first couple of minutes near the top of the screen, it’s been taken from a tape source without much effort made in way of restoration or clean up. No idea what sort of elements were available but the interlaced fullframe image is murky and soft and sometimes suffers from color bleeding and poor black levels. Some of the darker scenes are especially bad. The screen caps don’t lie, this is not a great image…

    The audio fares a little better but the English language Dolby Digital Mono track on the DVD is a bit muffled and flat sounding. There are no alternate language options or subtitles provided.

    There are no extras on this disc at all, not even a menu let alone a trailer.

    The Final Word:

    Sweet Kill is an enjoyable and well made horror picture with all the requisite sex and violence you’d expect – it’s got an interesting cast and some memorable set pieces and it’s nice to have it on DVD, even if Shout!’s release isn’t going to win any awards and ranks at the bottom of their Roger Corman’s Cult Classics line in terms of A/V quality and extras.

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Todd Jordan's Avatar
      Todd Jordan -
      Wow...yeah look at that second image...ca-ca. But then look at the amazing woman with the towel on her head...WOW...makes up for the bad transfer. Who IS that beautiful specimen?
    1. John Lyons's Avatar
      John Lyons -
      We have a 35mm print of this in the VS collection. It's not great either - moisture damage causing color fluctuations and some fuji rot. Not sure if it's any improvement, but we have an HD transfer done if shout ever wants it...