THE AROUSERS (1973)
aka Sweet Kill
Article 1909 by Dave Sindelar
Posting Date: 11-3-2006
Directed by Curtis Hanson
Featuring Tab Hunter, Cherie Latimer, Nadyne Turney
A gym teacher is actually a psychotic killer with a mother fetish.
I first heard about this film in connection with Tab Hunter, usually in jokes referring to the fact that he starred in a movie with the title THE AROUSERS. Given the fact that Tab Hunter was not a very good actor, it’s tempting to dismiss the movie for these reasons alone. However, he gives one of his better performances here, if for no other reason that when you’re playing a psycho killer, you can’t fall back on blandness. That doesn’t make his performance a success, but the script is partially at fault as well. To some extent, I admire what it’s trying to do; on top of telling the story visually as much as possible, it also makes the psycho the main character, and makes an attempt to get us to sympathize a little with him. It fails because the character is never deeply developed in the first place; other than the fact that the psycho is tortured by his murderous tendencies (which, if you think about it, really should serve as nothing more than a starting point for character development), he remains a rather shallow character. It also doesn’t help that the movie takes every opportunity it can to jack up the exploitation values; we have two separate scenes of women with their clothes off before we even reach the title screen. This is, however, not the director’s fault; when the movie failed to find an audience under its original title (SWEET KILL), Roger Corman made the director shoot some sex scenes to jazz up the movie. Still, the movie gets points for trying, and Curtis Hanson would go on to a fairly distinguished career, even winning an Oscar for his screenplay to L.A. CONFIDENTIAL.