Killing Kind [1973]

This Curtis Harrington rarity, finally released after many years locked in vaults, rivals Games visually but might be his masterpiece because of its truly chilling plot. The Killing Kind is a disturbing psychological thriller about a mother-son relationship gone awry as the mother discovers that her son is a serial killer. In this Freudian drama, Terry (John Savage) is released from prison after a two-year stint following a rape charge, heading straight for the support of his mother, Thelma (Ann Sothern), as he relocates to her cat-infested mansion. Immediately, their odd, incestuous relationship reveals itself, as they neglect the outside world to revel in shared morbid fantasies. The first death reference occurs in a bizarre scene in which the two laugh uproariously over an elderly neighbor's death, while Thelma flings bacon around in the kitchen. Her overprotective attitude towards Terry is developed as the motivation behind his inability to interact with women his age in a loving manner. When roommate Lori (Cindy Williams) moves in, for example, Terry spies on her undressing through a barred window, petting their cat so vigorously that he strangles it. From here, Terry's predatorial obsessions escalate until Thelma is forced to cover for her son's brutally twisted crimes. Terrifying moments throughout the film are conveyed through gorgeous camera work and drawn symbolic connections between phallic totems and weaponry. The best aspect of the film is its script, which is eerily psychotic and authentic. An added bonus on this DVD is an interview with Harrington recalling highlights in his career. The release of The Killing Kind serves as a tribute to this auteur's recent death, which hopefully will encourage new viewers to investigate Harrington's fascinating, horrific oeuvre. --Trinie Dalton

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