DVD Review: Roger Corman Cult Classics: Sweet Kill

Tab Hunter could have been scoffed away as just another ’60s pretty boy manufactured by the studio system. He was a clean cut star that looked so innocent on the screen as ballplayer Joe Hardy in Damn Yankees. Eventually his days as a box office charmer ended. That’s when he started acting. He took roles that would surprise the Devil including Lust In the Dust and John Waters’ Polyester. Sweet Kill was bound to shock anyone who remember Tab from his matinee star days. The former teen girls probably screamed louder when Roger Corman pumped up the nudity and renamed it The Arousers. Roger Corman’s Cult Classics: Sweet Kill appears to have The Arousers edit so you get the full Tab Hunter effect.

Tab Hunter is a P.E. teacher with a minor problem. He’s become impotent. Perhaps too much exposure to sex ed films has ruined it for him. He discovers a cure for his problem when a romantic night goes completely wrong. He can have sex with recently dead women. He goes full force in his community stalking, killing and violating his victims. Tab is properly creepy with his ability to turn off his likeability factor while on the prowl. He opens his face up to the character when confessing the crime. There’s not a speck of camp in his eyes in what could have been a black comedy. Tab is a seriously messed up character in this film.

Sweet Kill was the first released film by Oscar winner Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential and 8 Mile). He’s not a happy graduate of Roger Corman University. The constant tinkered with film to get a few more dollars at the box office makes this a sore memory. Hanson shouldn’t be too upset at the exploitation tricks used on his baby since the movie is an amazingly hard sell. This isn’t a Tab Hunter date film. The women who grew up swooning to his handsome face aren’t going to be too excited to see him hacking women to death. Roger had to get people into the seats that weren’t killing time before meeting their parole officer. Sweet Kill is must viewing for those who enjoy watching a teen idol completely rip apart their screen persona.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfer is rather rough although it’s hard to imagine that such a low to the bone production has a bright and shiny 35mm negative. The darkness and grit adds to Tab’s performance. There’s nothing clean in his effort. The audio is mono. The mix is extremely rough since this was a low budget production. The soundtrack makes completes the feeling that this is a snuff film.

There are no bonus features.

Roger Corman’s Cult Classics: Sweet Kill lets Tab Hunter shred his matinee career as a homicidal necrophile. He goes from Damn Yankees to just Damn! This is being offered as a Shout Select title. This is a pressed DVD. You can only get it from Shout Factory’s website or a third party on Amazon.

Shout! Factory presents Roger Corman Cult Classics: Sweet Kill. Directed by: Curtis Hanson. Screenplay by: Curtis Hanson. Starring: Tab Hunter, Cheri Latimer and Roberta Collins. Running Time: 84 minutes. Rating: R Rated. Released: August 21, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.

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