The Strangler (1964)

Article 2872 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-19-2009
Posting Date: 6-24-2009
Directed by Burt Topper
Featuring Victor Buono, David McLean, Diane Sayer
Country: USA

Police are searching for a serial strangler who specializes in nurses. The killer is a seemingly mild-mannered man with an overbearing and manipulative mother.

This movie has one big plus; Victor Buono was a great actor who was wonderful at playing sinister characters who outwardly don’t seem so at first, and that’s just what is called for here. He is fascinating to watch, and when he’s on the screen, he holds your attention. This helps to make up for the fact that the script falls a little bit short. I’m particularly disappointed that the movie doesn’t really give us an understanding of what drives the killer to commit the murders of nurses in the first place; instead, it concentrates on the murders that only have a direct bearing on his relationship with his mother, which are departures from his usual pattern. This means we never really get the insight into what makes him tick, as we only see the murders that are logically motivated. I suppose the lack of insight was to be expected; after all, the minute the psychologist confuses schizophrenia with split personality, I knew the movie wasn’t going to be psychologically incisive. Still, for a low budget movie, it’s efficient and mostly well-acted, though I wasn’t impressed with the acting from Davey Davison, despite the fact that she’s given a prominent credit during the opening. In short, it’s good, but not great.


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