Sometimes (usually) it's the films you don't expect to be interesting that turn out to be. Such as case in point I had high expectations for Slithis, and low expectations for this movie, The Sadist. Based on the murder spree of Charles Starkweather, this movie was one of the first movies to base it's plot around a real life killer. Psycho was partly inspired by Ed Gein's murders, however this film was closer to the subject of it's inspiration, and made only 3 years after Psycho.
Arch Hall Jr gives a very strange performance as Charles Tibbs, a thrill seeking rebel teenager. He appears out of nowhere after three people on their way to a baseball game break down and pull into a gas station way out int he middle of nowhere. They are unable to find anyone who works there, something seems amiss, and then Charles and his girlfriend cohort Judy pop out of nowhere, Charles brandishing a Colt .45 (also, the official drink of this movie, I decided just now).
The great part of this movie is the believe-ability of it. Arch Hall Jr is just a little bit too over the top to be taken 100% seriously, but you can tell he really put a lot into the performance. He also looks really crazy, he spends a lot of the movie scrunching up his face, with his hair waving all over, slightly crouched down and leaning forward....his character has a lot of physical attributes that make him look almost barbaric, as I'm sure was the intention.
The tension in the movie is kept pretty high the whole time. The characters in it act realistically, which was nice too. They seem to think along the same line that I did earlier; he's barbaric, and that means not especially smart. So they are always trying to outsmart him, and at every turn he's showing them he's smarter than they think, that he's actually a very cold, calculating, cunning person. There's a fantastic sequence when he takes aim and shoots out a car tire, then a window, as his captives stare on in silence, his display of firing prowess shocking them all.
There's other scenes like this as well. They did a really good job of having the dialogue form in such a way where we know what's going on, and it makes sense the way things happen, how the captives try and out-think him and he catches on to them. Then, all of the sudden, he takes one of them, puts the man on his knees, and executes him with a single shot to the head. It's a very real, absolutely riveting sequence. We were told he was a killer, but his childish and wacky outside self made us think he was all talk....another time when he knows what we expect from him, he knows we underestimate him, and so he demonstrates his power.
Minimalism is again at work here. 5 actors, 1 of which is killed as I said, a lonely, abandoned car lot as the setting, filmed in real time, mostly dialogue, there is the potential for so much creativity here. It's incredibly lifelike, the actors all did really good job with a very human sounding script. As the two survivors square off against a truly sadistic gunman and his equally evil girlfriend, we as the audience end up wondering how they will ever escape.
Spoilers here. The end I almost immediately hated. Arch Hall kills two policemen that showed up, he kills his girlfriend on accident, and he kills one of the two hostages. Now it's only the girl hostage and him (yeah, sorry, I don't fucking remember their names). He chases her around, and randomly falls through some old boards into a pit that has a bunch of snakes in it. As she watches from afar, he is attacked by the venomous snakes. It just seems so out of place, and like a WTF thing to happen. But then, I liked it. It's so brutally real, in a way. If she was to get the gun and kill him, if randomly like 8 cops gunned him down, it would feel like Hollywood. But here they are, some ancient gas station, probably there used to be a whole town here, there very well could be some old buildings around with snake infested hideaways. The more I thought about it, the more I thought it was perfect.
Again, the small details. As things are wrapping up we hear on the car radio the play by play of the baseball game the three hostages were originally going to see. The announcer describes the perfect weather for the game and tells us the Dodgers hit a home run as the movie fades away....
I really don't know how to rate it though. I want to give it 5 stars, honestly. But I'm well aware those kinds of ratings have to really be held for movies that deserve it. I'm not someone who just hands those ratings out. So, I'll give it 4.5. This movie is just simply put, amazing. I highly recommend it. A very good, heartfelt portrayal of the evil of mankind.