Playgirl Killer (1968)

PLAYGIRL KILLER (1968)
(a.k.a. DECOY FOR TERROR)
Article #1666 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-6-2005
Posting Date: 3-5-2006
Directed by Erick Santamaria
Featuring William Kerwin, Jean Christopher, Andree Champagne

When an artist becomes frustrated with his models because they move, he kills them.

In most movies about psycho killer artists, there is usually some sort of aesthetic reason for the artist to kill his victims, such as he needs their dead bodies to flesh out his sculptures (BUCKET OF BLOOD) or blood is the only thing that has the right color of red for the painting (COLOR ME BLOOD RED). The fact that the psycho killer artist in this movie has such a mundane reason for his acts of murder is inadvertantly hilarious, and this is merely augmented by the fact that the artist’s most common lines are so baldly blunt about it (“Don’t move! Don’t move!” and “They ALWAYS move!” right before killing them). Still, there is an aesthetic underpinning to it all; once they’re dead, they stop moving, and if he uses the freezer, he can keep them in frozen in the position he needs them posed. Had they played this one for a comedy, they would have been on the right track, but alas…

As for the movie as a whole, I took the presence of Herschell Gordon Lewis regular William Kerwin as a sign that the technical level of competence was going to be singularly low, but the movie actually has more of a professional look to it then many of Lewis’s movies. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the movie is good. The problem is that the movie is filled with so much dead space and pointless subplots that you’re actually better off watching the trailer; it takes less time and catches the essence of the movie. The only other reasons to bother with the whole movie are if you either a) feel that having footage of several women in their bikinis or in their underwear automatically makes the movie worth watching, or b) you’re interested in the career of Neil Sedaka. For those of the latter category, Neil plays the boyfriend of the sister of the woman who hires the artist as a handyman (this is all part of one of those subplots that goes nowhere in the movie). His performance is pretty weak, but the script really doesn’t give him anything more to do than to sing a song, gawk at his girlfriend’s sister, and rub tanning oil on her back. And for those wondering why his musical career had floundered (before a revival in the mid seventies), consider that his song here (a cute dance number called “Waterbug”) must have been hopelessly out-of-date at a time when psychedelic music was all the rage.

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