Claudio Fragasso has had quite an enjoyable career. He has either directed or written several cult films and most you probably have heard of, especially if you hang around our websites. We have looked into Zombie 3, Zombie 4: After Death, Beyond Darkness, Robowar, Shocking Dark, and of course one of his best pieces of work Troll 2. However, I believe I finally have seen his true masterpiece, his Citizen Kane, so to speak—Night Killer (aka Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3, which is confusing as the film was shot in Virginia Beach and not a single chainsaw is seen).
What makes Night Killer a masterpiece you are asking? Well, to put it simply, the film gives you a story that is so insane and convoluted, it requires two viewings to completely wrap your mangled brain around what the heck you just witnessed. That’s not meant to be an insult either. That’s my honest to goodness proclamation that the film has a story worth dissecting a second time around.
I can hear you screaming “but what about the terrible acting?” and “What about the added scenes from Bruno Mattei that add nothing to the plot?” Okay, sure the acting is laughably bad, from our Linda Hamilton lookalike Tara Buckman to our Steve Guttenberg lookalike Peter Hooten; there are several times they miss the mark, and the results are oftentimes hilarious. A good chunk of the blame can be placed on the script, as the dialogue is cringe-worthy and no thespian can make that stench smell any better. And you’re right, Bruno Mattei did jump on board at the request of the producers to add more gore into the movie and the scenes he worked on do nothing to propel the main story forward. They often slow the film down for no reason. The opening dance number is a good example of when you might find yourself asking what the hell is happening and what does this have to do with anything? But you know what? All of this just makes Night Killer even better. It’s almost like everyone got together and somehow, through the work of dark magic and unknown forces, produced a film that defies all logic. There is no reason Night Killer should be a good film. I mean, come on, the killer doesn’t even kill anyone at night! Yet, I can’t stop thinking about it. It has nestled its way into my brain and is sitting there poking and poking. It whispers in my ear “Watch me again. Show me to more people! Do it! Dooo it!” I mean, I probably should listen and do what it says, right? (I’m pretty sure this is how The Ring started.)
Who else but Severin Films would release Night Killer with a new 4K scan of the original camera negative? They go above and beyond no matter the content or quality of the movie in question, but in this case, I am glad they did. The picture quality is rough-looking at times and the film can be grain-heavy in certain scenes, but due to the overall work performed on the transfer, and the fact this film was only available on VHS previously, I give them five clawed-gloved fingers through the chest. Audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono English and Italian with subtitles. I noticed a bit of hiss during scenes, but I was too engrossed in the madness to take issue.
Special features land on the lighter side, but we do get the two most important people interviewed. We have a 24-minute sitdown with director Claudio Fragasso, who talks about wanting to venture off from his normal horror films and do a psychological thriller instead. Of course, he touches on his relationship with Bruno Mattei and how they had a falling-out after Bruno added in those unnecessary gore scenes. The second interview is a 14-minute sitdown with screenwriter Rossella Drudi. She goes even further into what happened and why Bruno was brought on, and you’ll be happy to hear they did resolve their differences in the end. She also discusses the ending of the film a bit and gives you a better understanding of where the film’s story was headed. Sadly, there is no audio commentary, which would have been great as I wanted to know more about the movie. The only thing left to check out is a trailer for Night Killer.
NEW The Virginia Claw Massacre: Interview With Director Claudio Fragasso (HD 24:46)
NEW Mindfuck: Interview With Screenwriter Rossella Drudi (HD 14:33)
I’ve already said it once, but Night Killer is one of Fragasso’s best films. Sure, the first time you watch it you’re going to be scratching your head and laughing out loud, but I think once you figure everything out, you’ll want to watch it again to better understand the insanity. I wish we could see Claudio Fragasso’s original version, but the scenes added in by Bruno Mattei don’t ruin the film, they only add to the nonsensical ecstasy you’ll experience when checking out Night Killer. Be sure to pick up Severin Films’ Blu-ray, as they have added a couple of enjoyable interviews and did a splendid job cleaning up the transfer.
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No scenes shot at night. Sketchy Acting. A confusing plot that requires a second viewing. Severin Films Blu-ray with new 4K scan and special features. All of this makes for the perfect Claudio Fragasso film experience.