Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ten Days of Terror!: Luther the Geek

Film: Luther the Geek
Format: Internet video on The Nook.

Well, I’ve been taken to some dark places on the Fangoria movie list before, and I’m sure I’ll go to some dark places again. Luther the Geek is the sort of film that makes me feel like I need a shower after watching it. This feels like a step above a snuff film, the sort of movie that feels like there’s some kind of grease on the actual film stock. It’s very much made in the same mode as a film like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I have to say that with it coming from Troma I expected a lot more camp and some nastiness, but I didn’t expect to come out the other side feeling like I’d been covered in oil. That this was filmed within about an hour drive of my house just makes that worse.

Here’s the premise: in the past, Luther Watts (Edward Terry as the adult version) was fascinated by a carnival geek. When he grew up, he became obsessed with killing people and drinking their blood. Naturally he’s tossed into a mental institution, but is eventually paroled despite speaking only in chicken clucks and having fashioned a set of metal dentures for himself. So, when he’s out, he naturally starts killing again.

The bulk of the film focuses on Luther hiding out in a farmhouse, holding a mother (Joan Roth), her daughter (Stacy Haiduk), and the daughter’s boyfriend (Thomas Mills) hostage. Eventually, a state trooper (Jerry Clarke) shows up to track down Luther, since it’s pretty evident that Luther has started killing again after he bites a chunk out of the neck of a woman waiting for a bus.

That’s really it. We get some very stupid people tracking down a very stupid killer by doing very stupid things. Luther the Geek is surprisingly vicious in places. It also doesn’t make a great deal of sense. Luther seems to like nothing more than killing people except for those times when he decides not to kill people, which seems to happen only when the movie needs it to.

A bigger problem is that the film tries very hard to invest us in the lives of Hilary and Beth, the mother-daughter pair. Rather than creating an interesting dynamic, though, one of them gets killed off with a good half hour to go, and we spend a good 10-15 minutes of watching the state trooper walking around the farm in a game of cat-and-mouse that doesn’t really go anywhere. For a movie with an 80 minute running time, it seems to want for plot in the third act, replacing the idea of meaningful action with just having stuff happen. Often enough, that “stuff that happens” is people walking around in dark areas with not much happening.

In fact, I’m finding it difficult to write something of my normal length about this. More or less, Luther the Geek is a film where a crazy person attacks a family, kills about half a dozen people over the course of the movie, and then the credits roll. It would have made a nasty little short, something that could have probably worked for 20-30 minutes, but doesn’t at this length. It feels surprisingly bloated at 80.

Is this a good movie? No. No, it’s not. Is it worth watching? Probably not. At the same time, I kind of respect the vision it presents, because it’s so weirdly off-putting and awful. It’s impressive in its overall pointlessness. I don’t know what it wants to be. Is it simply something meant to be creepy? Unpleasant? It’s both, but it’s both without being something that made much sense or had much point.

There is a strange bonus, though. Stacy Haiduk is probably best known as playing Lana Lang on the old Superboy television show. She was also Katherine Hitchcock in the first series or two of SeaQuest. If you ever wanted to see her do a nude scene, here’s your chance.

Why to watch Luther the Geek: It’s certainly a unique vision.
Why not to watch: It’s ugly and nasty, and not in a good way.

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