Playgirl Killer (1966)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller, Slasher Film, Trash Film  |   Run Time - 85 min.  |   Countries - Canada  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Fred Beldin

This slight but amusing serial killer thriller has some nicely twisted sensibilities, such as casting Neil Sedaka in a substantial supporting role. Blood Feast star William Kerwin is an ex-sailor struggling to express a weird mythological vision through art. He has no patience with living, breathing models, unfortunately, and their squiggling, jiggling ways lead to murder. Kerwin is great as the exasperated psycho, and director Erick Santamaria frames him in numerous close-ups that fill the screen with his wild glare and arching eyebrows as he strangles, spear guns, and trusses up a series of nubile strangers. William Kerwin wrote the story for Playgirl Killer with his brother Harry (director of God's Bloody Acre and It's a Revolution, Mother). While both were active in the exploitation community of Florida, this opus was financed with Canadian money and filmed in Quebec. The plot is a bit lopsided, top-heavy with shallow character development that goes to waste when most of the cast goes on vacation after the first act and never returns. After that, it's just one doomed model after another interspersed with Kerwin's sweaty wig-outs and nightmares. Neil Sedaka's presence inevitably leads to a musical number during a poolside shindig, complete with frenetic frugging from a batch of healthy, uninhibited teens. Luckily, Sedaka's witless, bland-as-milk dance number, "Waterbug," is preceded by an energetic performance from Canadian beat group J.B. & the Playboys, who turn out the rousing rocker "Leave My Woman Alone." Later, Andree Champagne does a cute French chanteuse routine in a seedy nightclub before Kerwin talks her into posing as his latest victim. The rest of the film is scored with edgy, discordant jazz, approximating the turmoil and desperation of the mad artist's mind. It's no gore fest, but Playgirl Killer is a pleasantly peculiar diversion, thanks mostly to Kerwin's world-weary turn as the titular maniac.