Criminally Insane (1975)

CRIMINALLY INSANE (1975)
Article 3334 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-14-2010
Posting Date: 9-30-2010
Directed by Nick Millard
Featuring Priscilla Alden, Michael Flood, Jane Lambert
Country: USA
What it is: Serial killer movie

An overweight woman named Ethel with rage issues is released from a hospital to the care of her grandmother. When the grandmother tries to follow the doctor’s instructions to force Ethel to lose weight, Ethel flips out and kills her. She then finds herself having to continue her murderous rampage in order to keep herself fed and cover up the crimes.

I’ve encountered Nick Millard before as the director and writer of the extreme-low-budget SATAN’S BLACK WEDDING. This may be his most famous movie; at least it was famous enough that he felt compelled to make a sequel. It’s awful, but also fascinating; the concept of using gluttony as motivation for a serial killer is tasteless but also darkly comic, and the white-trash characters (Ethel’s sister is a nymphomaniac/prostitute who brings men into the home every night and makes out with her abusive regular lover in front of her sister) give the movie an interesting context in which the story works. It’s also complicated by the fact that Ethel is simply none too bright, and her inability to figure out how to dispose of the growing pile of bodies combined with her sloppiness will prove her undoing. The special effects are atrocious, and it makes some ill-advised stabs at artiness, but these just add somewhat to the fascination. It’s like some freaky cross between REPULSION and CANNIBAL MAN, and the ending twist has the air of inevitability given the setup, though I do have to admit that I had suspicions the story would eventually go in that direction. I have to admit that, as awful as it is, the movie more or less works, and I’ve seen plenty of much bigger-budgeted movies that don’t.

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