THE TURNPIKE KILLER
Reviewed by: Pat Torfe
Evan Makrogiannis & Brian Weaver
What's it about
New York detectives are on the hunt for "The Turnpike Killer," a psychopath believed to be responsible for a series of gruesome and horrific killings of prostitutes and young girls in the New York/New Jersey area. According to the voices in his head (yes, literally), The Turnpike Killer must rid the world of its filth and find the "chosen one." The guy eventually falls for a girl who he believes isn't a whore, but the "chosen one" that he's been looking for. Can the police save the girl in time?
Is it good movie?
It's been a while since I've seen MANIAC or films like it, so whadda you know? Along comes the debut effort from the directing/writing team of Brian Weaver & Evan Makrogiannis in an attempt to remind me of what I've been missing. Well, according to THE TURNPIKE KILLER, what I've been missing are indie films that assume you have an overabundance of apathy towards your quality to what you're watching.
Visually-speaking, THE TURNPIKE KILLER went with a gritty 16mm look that for the most part helped to bring back memories of those slasher films of the late 70s and early 80s. The use of harsh lights in certain scenes gave things a boost when it came to tension and the violence. It also helped that Bill McLaughlin, the dude who plays The Turnpike Killer, is built like a mean mofo and looks pretty damn intimidating in a balaclava.
Keeping with the slasher theme, the soundtrack by VOID echoes a lot of the disturbing ambient themes you'd get with these types of films 20 years ago, and hey, it still works. It's not Goblin, but it does the trick. Violence-wise, for a low-budget affair, things aren't over the top, but having nails pounded into your skull is one area where you really can't go wrong. Plus, slicing someone from the abdomen upwards through the ribs with a kitchen knife isn't all that pleasant. I also love the slickly-executed slit throat effects by the dudes from Demonic Pumpkins FX.
Oh yeah, about the rest of the film? Yeah, it's really not that good. The script is adequate for a film of this nature, but the delivery of some of these lines by the cast is really unconvincing. McLaughlin may have the look, but it's hard to feel intimidated by the guy when there's a certain lack of emotion in his lines. Hard to believe, considering that he's playing a cold-blooded killer, but you get what I'm saying. The other thing is some bad camera work. I know what Makrogiannis & Weaver were trying to do with the amateur fly-on-the-wall type of shots, but some of the framing and lack of movement in some scenes bugged the crap out of me. If our attention is focused on someone, don't friggin' cut off the top of their head!
THE TURNPIKE KILLER in the end needed more work done on it. An adequate attempt at a send-up to slasher films at best, you can only get so far with good intentions in mind. The look and sound of the film (which were well done) were ultimately overshadowed by the other major components' weaknesses, and ultimately made things into a 'ho-hum' affair for me. I didn't care much about anything, since there wasn't much for me to care about. This turnpike needs serious paving.
Video / Audio
THE TURNPIKE KILLER attempted to draw on films like MANIAC and HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER as influences, but ultimately had me jonesing for those films instead. I give credit to the things that were great, but the bad was too much to handle. If you have a hankering for slasher films, go with the above and their contemporaries.