• Killer’s Delight (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: July 27th, 2021.
    Director: Jeremy Hoenack
    Cast: James Luisi, Susan Sullivan, John Karlen, Martin Speer, Hilarie Thompson, Anne-Marie Martin, George 'Buck' Flower
    Year: 1978
    Purchase From Arrow Video

    Killer’s Delight – Movie Review:

    Also known as The Sport Killer, Jeremy Hoenack’s 1978 film Killer’s Delight opens with someone in a yellow Ford van (we know it’s a Ford because the grill of the vehicle with the Ford emblem on it is shown in close up for some reason!) picks up a female hitchhiker only to then beat her and rape her and toss her naked corpse off of hill overlooking The Golden Gate Bridge – just as the title appears on screen!

    San Francisco Police Department Detectives Vince De Carlo (James Luisi) and Mike Mitelman (Martin Speer) start working the case and it isn’t long before they realize that this killer isn’t stopping any time soon. At the same time as the pressures of the cast start to get to him, Vince has to deal with some problems at home where he lives with his wife (Sharon DeBord) and pretty teenaged daughter (Carol Bilger), neither of whom realizes that he’s getting some action on the side with foxy college psychology professor Carol (Susan Sullivan).

    When the killer, Danny (John Karlen), realizes that Vince and Mike are the guys meant to bring him in, he starts messing with him. This involves hunting down and killing a young woman named Annie (Hilarie Thompson), recently questioned for the case, and stashing her corpse in a place he knows Vince will find it in. Making it harder for the cops to catch him, Danny uses all manner of disguises to avoid detection and to make it easier for him to continue raping and killing young women. When Danny becomes brazen enough to dump a victim’s clothes on Vince’s front lawn, the cops go to increasingly more desperate lengths to catch him before he strikes again, even going so far as to use Carol as bait!

    Cast primarily with actors better known for their work on television than the silver screen, Killer’s Delight feels a lot more like a police procedural at times than the ‘proto-slasher’ the it’s described as on the back of the case. There are a few moments of moderate violence and some nudity here to give the film a bit of exploitative content but much of the film is spent with the cops trying to figure out how to catch their target. Loosely based on the Ted Bundy case, the film isn’t particularly flashy or stylish and much of the acting is mediocre (save for the mighty George ‘Buck’ Flower who shows up in an all too small supporting role as a witness to one of Danny’s crimes) but seventies crime film fans will appreciate the occasional bursts of grit and consistent seventies atmosphere.

    Shot in and around the San Francisco of 1978, the movie has a neat time capsule quality to it but the script doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from other serial killer films, and is in fact riddled with clichés. The end result? It’s a watchable enough time killer but not necessarily an unsung classic.

    Killer’s Delight – Blu-ray Review:

    Killer’s Delight is presented on a region A locked 50GB disc with the feature given 25.5GBs of space with the AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. The transfer is “Newly scanned & restored in 4k from its 35mm original camera negative” and it looks pretty great. There’s lots of nice detail here and the image is free of all but the most minute instances of print damage. Colors are handled very well here and black levels look good, as do skin tones. Compression is never an issue and the picture shows no noticeable noise reduction or edge enhancement issues, like most Vinegar Syndrome transfers, this looks nice and film-like.

    The audio is handled by a 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track, in English, with optional subtitles provided in English only. A Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono option, also in English, is also included on the disc. The lossless track sounds fine. There’s a bit of sibilance in a few spots but aside from that the track is clean and properly balanced.

    Extras start off with a commentary track with director Jeremy Hoenack, who starts off by talking about the Ted Bundy case and its influence on this project. He then goes on to talk about some of the locations that were used in the film, how the film never comes even close to the real life horrors that Ted Bundy inflicted on people, movie tricks used to make the film look like it had a bigger budget than it did, casting the film, cultural differences that exist between the time this movie was made and the modern day, using a bedroom in his own house to double for a police station office, having to get creative to overcome some of the issues caused by the film's low budget, the specific color timing used in certain scenes, working with the cast and crew on the set, the use of POV shots in the movie and plenty more. It's a pretty interesting track that does a nice job of exploring the back story behind the movie.

    A new interview with director Jeremy Hoenack spends thirteen-minutes with the director as he talks about all the different hats that he wore on the movie, the alternate titles that the film has gone under over the years, working with then girlfriend Maralyn Thoma on the movie, the influence of the Bundy case, the cult following that Bundy himself has, how they lucked out by getting the movie made at the right time to cash in on Bundy's notoriety, learning from Melvin Van Peebles, financing the film, building a camera truck out of his own station wagon, shooting footage in a helicopter and lots more. It covers some of the same ground as the commentary but it's got enough new information to make it worth checking out.

    A second new interview gets writer Maralyn Thoma on camera for twenty-three minutes to talk about her relationship with Hoenack and his longstanding desire to make a movie, how they came up with the idea for the storyline of the film, the influence of Bundy, getting money from their parents and friends to get the film rolling, why they made a horror film instead of a kids' picture, getting SAG cards for some of the cast members who worked on the film for free, shooting locations, how she doubled for the dead body used in the opening scene and having to be naked for it, turning their living room into a night club for the film and having to record the songs that she wrote for the movie as the actress couldn't sing, how one of the actresses went on to start one of the biggest limo companies on the east coast, the rushed and intense production schedule and how it led to a lack of sleep and plenty more. Lots of good stories in here.

    Cinematographer Arthur R. Botham is up next in an eleven minute piece where he talks about learning about serial killers from a homicide detective, how he came to get the job on the film after interviewing with Thoma and Hoenack, how intense and specific Hoenack was to work with and his ability to keep things moving, challenges of a low budget shoot, trying to separate the scenes depicting normal life from the scenes showing the impact of the killer, how the horror and cruelty depicted in the film had a very real effect on him, taking advantage of certain lenses for specific shots and why, shooting the helicopter scenes, his own influence on the film, scouting locations with Hoenack, when and where he had fun during the shoot and how, overall, he's glad that the movie was made.

    A new ten minute interview with actor Martin Speer sees him cover how he got into the movie by way of his relationship with Thoma, his thoughts on the script and how aspects of it were developed as they went along during the production, infusing his character with a lot of his own personality, his thoughts on his performance, researching the part, what it was like on set, the limited budget that the film was made with, the quality of the editing in the film, shooting the basketball scene and how he feels quite positive about the movie overall.

    Aside from that, the disc also includes five minutes’ worth of outtakes (there’s no surviving audio for these but music plays overtop), a TV spot, menus and chapter selection and it comes packaged with some nice reversible cover artwork.

    Killer’s Delight - The Final Word:

    Killer’s Delight isn’t the greatest serial killer movie ever made but fans of seventies crime films will enjoy it for its wonky low budget atmosphere and time capsule qualities. Vinegar Syndrome’s disc rolls out the red carpet for the movie, presenting it in a beautiful presentation with a lot of genuinely interesting extra features.

    Click on the images below for full sized Killer’s Delight Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Newt Cox's Avatar
      Newt Cox -
      I enjoyed this film. Had never heard of it until a few years ago I found the Code Red DVD at a bodega. Grabbed it and surprised at how decent the film is.

      I wouldn't mind having it on blu but will wait till it is on sale.