I’m always thrilled when a package from MPI/Dark Sky lands on my doorstop. This company has been busy wrangling up some of the best lost gems out there since they launched, and, with The Killing Kind –a film I didn’t even know existed – they’ve unearthed a wonderfully silly and scary psychodrama that not only delivers the requisite amount of seventies sleaze and shocks, but also sports a terrific pair of performances by a young John Savage and the legendary Ann Sothern.
Savage plays Terry, a mixed-up kid who’s spent the last two years locked up for his reluctant role in the gang rape of a local girl. He returns home to the boarding house run by his mother, Thelma (Sothern). Terry is still steaming for being convicted for his part in the rape, as he insists he was forced into it by his friends, and Thelma agrees, placing the onus of her son’s suffering on both the victim and his lawyer in the case. It isn’t long before Terry takes his revenge on those he feels are responsible for ruining his life, but his bloodlust doesn’t stop there, as it seems that the reasons for the young man’s hatred of women run much deeper than either he or his mother realize.
The Killing Kind is a gleefully sleazy and misogynistic thriller, classed up considerably by the performances of Sothern and Savage, as well as the direction of Curtis Harrington, who imbues the film with a sort of pseudo-noir visual style that puts The Killing Kind stylistically somewhere between Maniac and The Third Man. The film isn’t perfect – there are a few questions that go unanswered and a subplot about a bookish, sex-starved neighbor who covets Terry that is never fully realized – but, overall, The Killing Kind is enjoyable and hokey stuff.
MPI/Dark Sky present the film with a solid 1.85.1 transfer that shows the expected amount of grain and the occasional artifact, but looks great for its age. There’s not much for extras – just an interview with director Harrington - but one doesn’t really expect much by way of supplements for an oddball flick like this, so any extras are a welcome bonus.
While I wouldn’t go so far as to call The Killing Kind a lost classic, I have to say that I was really surprised by how good this film was considering that I’d never heard of it. I suppose there are loads of films out there that I’ve never seen, but, when it comes to the horror/thriller genre, I guess I just sort of think I’ve seen it all. Here’s proof that I haven’t, and here’s to MPI/Dark Sky for giving me hope that there are more great surprises in store from this company.