Here is another 70’s era exploitation feature that has come to my attention by way of a Vinegar Syndrome release. Psychic Killer is a fun, pulpy romp that is not as serious as it wants to be, nor as in depth as it could be. It is a movie that you really have to accept on its own terms. I found that the minute you begin to question it, is the same time your interest will begin to waver. It is buoyed by some decent performances, but even as I was entertained, I wonder what it could have been had it been given another rewrite or two.
Psychic Killer was originally released under the title The Kirlian Effect, but I must admit that Psychic Killer is a much more attractive title and I can understand why the switch was made. It was co-written and directed by actor turned director Ray Danton (Codename: Jaguar, Secret Agent Super Dragon). He does a good job of keeping the movie going, there is always something going on, even if there are wild tonal shifts from drama to more comedic at times.
The film centers on Arnold Masters (Jim Hutton, Timothy’s father). He is a mild mannered fellow who is dedicated to his mother. The problem is that he is currently in a mental asylum, sent there after being convicted for a murder that he did not commit. No one seems to listen to him. Sadly, during his incarceration, his mother dies. This leaves him distraught. He finds comfort in a fellow inmate who says he can help him have his revenge. The inmate has an amulet that allows him to leave his body and go places. He goes and kills the man responsible for him being in prison. Having succeeded at that, he jumps to his death and leaves his belonging to Arnold.
Shortly after this it is discovered that Arnold is innocent. Of course, this is of little comfort to Arnold as he has lost years of his life for a crime he did not commit and lost his beloved mother due to medical negligence. What follows is Arnold using his newly obtained amulet to exact revenge on those who neglected his mother and landed him in the asylum.
So, while people are dying in a variety of ways, the police are at a loss as to what is going on. Of course, things point at Arnold, but he always has an alibi. Of course, a little investigating with one of Arnold’s former doctor’s (Creature from the Black Lagoon’s Julie Adams) uncover his psychic abilities leading to an ending that is actually given away in the trailer.
Speaking of the finale, it is an odd one to be sure. Frankly, I liked it even if it does give the end a rather bleak finish. I liked how the pieces came together and how they decided to ultimately eliminate the threat. I am also left with a humorous thought as a result of the final scene that could play into a very different film should they follow it up with a sequel.
Psychic Killer is certainly entertaining and the disk is another winner from Vinegar Syndrome. The transfer comes from a 2K scan and restoration from original 35mm negative. It also has some good interviews with those involved with the film and their relatives. It is also interesting to note, despite the violence and nudity, the film still managed to get a PG rating.