Release Date(s)1975 (May 31, 2016)
Studio(s)AVCO Embassy Pictures (Vinegar Syndrome)
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: B+
When searching for those lost or hard to find movies, or simply discovering movies that you hadn’t heard of previously, there’s always going to be some that take you by surprise, or perhaps leave you with nothing. Somewhere towards the middle lies Psychic Killer. The movie tells the story of a man who, after being wrongly accused of murder and sentenced to prison, learns the ways of astral projection. Once released, he begins slaying the people who had him put away one by one, all without leaving the comfort of his chair.
Primarily known as an actor, Ray Danton directed this piece of 1970s exploitation with a cast that includes Jim Hutton, Julie Adams, Aldo Ray, Mary Wilcox, and Neville Brand. Originally made under the title The Kirlian Force, it’s as B as B-movies get. Like most supernatural horror movies, it takes a while before the cops finally catch on to what’s really going on, but by that time, you may feel a bit numb to it. For instance, the middle section goes on for several minutes and is made up entirely of dialogue concerning psychic activity in the brain by a college professor. Ultimately, the science doesn’t really matter as the conceit of it all is based around the killer wearing some sort of mysterious medallion to astral project anyway. It doesn’t help that the setup of it takes a little too long each time it occurs. Regardless, the movie has sporadic bursts of laugh-out-loud moments as well as some enjoyable carnage, both of which are worth appreciation.
Restored in 2K from the original 35mm camera negative (with the original title of The Kirlian Force intact), the transfer sports a very organic presentation. Grain levels are even with excellent detailing, including some deep black levels. Colors are nicely saturated with good-looking skin tones, and both brightness and contrast levels are satisfactory. The only major flaw of the presentation is that some of the damage found on the original negative is still present, including some scratches and speckling. The sole audio track available is an English mono DTS-HD track. It’s certainly not a track that will wow you, but it features good dialogue reproduction and a well-placed score. Sound effects sound dated at times, but the mix never feels crowded. It’s a pleasing presentation overall without much to complain about. Subtitles are also available in English SDH and the extras include three separate featurettes: The Danton Force, The Aura of Horror with Mardi Rustam, and The Psychic Killer Inside Me with Greydon Clark; the film’s theatrical trailer; 3 TV spots; and a DVD copy of the movie.
It’s doubtful that this movie will be kicking down doors when it comes gaining new fans, but Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray release proves that no matter how many movies we’ve seen, we’ve yet to see them all. While it contains elements that are fairly unique and there are a couple of murders that get pretty bloody, Psychic Killer can be a bit of a snooze in between the unintentional laughter.
- Tim Salmons