Jim Hutton has always been a rather likable screen presence. His roles in The Green Berets, Who’s Minding the Mint, The Hellfighters and TV’s Ellery Queen made him a calm and nice guy. Seeing him completely out of control in Psychic Killer is a shocker on that level alone. This low budget horror film became a stretch for him in 1975. This is up there with Rock Hudson in Seconds. Hutton is able to turn it up to 11.
Arnold Masters (Hutton) is a bookish guy who gets framed for homicide. There’s no way he killed a doctor, but he’s locked up anyway. Being behind bars proves fatal for his elderly mother. He was the only thing keeping her alive and being locked up was too much for the sweet woman. This throws Arnold in an altered state that only gets more altered when he receives a training in the Kirlian Effect by a fellow inmate. Like Dr. Strange, Arnold is able to enter the astral plane and get revenge on those who have wronged him. What’s amazing about his homicidal spree is that the cops can’t pin any of the crime scenes on him. Even when he finally gets released for being innocent, he’s not ready to forgive and forget. His only hope seems to rely in his prison shrink (Julia Adams from Creature From the Black Lagoon). But why should he stop being a supernatural assassin?
Psychic Killer is one of those intriguing drive-in flicks from the ’70s which allowed a lot of TV supporting actors to get their name in a theatrical production including Nehemiah Persoff and Neville Brand. Adams reunites with her Creature co-star Whit Bissell. The film has a gritty feel to the action. This has all the elements for a night of obscure horror films at your house this October. What’s extra shocking is how a rather violent film could have named a peaceful PG Rating. Perhaps Arthur projected himself into the MPAA ratings booth and changed it? The true fun is getting to see Hutton in the middle of murder mysteries that would have tricked up Ellery Queen.
The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings out the nasty nature of the prison location. The audio is DTS-HD Mono. The levels are right for the supernatural moments. The movie is subtitled.
DVD with everything from Blu-ray.
The Danton Force (8:55) discusses Ray Danton’s career as a actor and director. He starred in Onionhead and The George Raft Story. Psychic Killer was his first production made in America. A lot of the cast are people he enjoyed working with during his acting career and his then wife, Julia Adams (Creature From the Black Lagoon). He would direct numerous TV shows after this film including 25 episodes of Quincy M.E. His pals, family and Adams give a sense of him as a man and filmmaker.
The Aura of Horror (8:05) features Mardi Rustam, the producer on Psychic Killer. He made quite a few horror films during ’70s & ’80s. He would go on to direct James Dean: Live Fast, Die Young starring Casper Van Dien.
The Psychic Killer Inside Me with Greydon Clark (13:31) interviews the writer and producer on the film. His big break was writing Satan’s Sadist. He only received $2,000 for his script to Psychic Killer, but was able to get an acting role in the film. He calls Psychic Killer is a horror film with comic elements.
Theatrical Trailer (3:00) hints at the power inside Jim Hutton’s brain.
TV Spots (1:33) warns us that what drives them mad causes them to kill and kill.
Vinegar Syndrome presents Psychic Killer. Directed by: Ray Danton. Screenplay by: Greydon Clark, Mikel Angel & Ray Danton. Starring: Jim Hutton, Julie Adams, Nehemiah Persoff, Neville Brand & Aldo Ray. Running Time: 90 minutes. Rated: PG. Released: August 2, 2016.
Tags: Ellery Queen, Psychic Killer, Vinegar Syndrome