Killer’s Delight is a 1978 thriller inspired by the killings of serial killer Ted Bundy. Sergeant Vincent (James Luisi) and groovy Detective Mike (Martin Speer) are tracking down a maniac targeting helpless women. More police procedural than an exploitative horror thriller, the film focuses on the killer’s mental illness rather than extreme horrors to convey its cliched story. Vinegar Syndrome brings the film to Blu-ray with an excellent 4k scan, a well balanced DTS Mono track, and plenty of special features. For serial killer fans and 70’s nostalgics this comes Recommended.
"You have hair like my mother."
Sexual deviant Danny (John Karlen) is abducting girls with his creepy van, murdering them, and dropping their corpses into the woods. Tough cop Vince (James Luisi) is put on the case. He calls in a hunch that a serial killer is responsible for the victims who are hitchhiking home from the town pool. He dives headfirst into the case even if the rest of the department doesn’t seem to care. Roping in Detective Mike Mitelman (Martin Speer) the two swing by the local pool and question attendant Annie (Hilarie Thompson). Vincent becomes worried for his teenage daughter’s safety, but it isn’t until his girl-on-the-side Carol (Susan Sullivan) is in danger that the case becomes personal.
From the start, Killer’s Delight doesn’t mess around, offering a naked woman’s corpse thrown through the air bouncing down an embankment with the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. It's a wildly effective scene that is sadly never surpassed. This low-budget offering was part of the first wave of films inspired by the suave and intelligent serial killer Ted Bundy. As the first feature for director Jeremy Hoenack and writer Maralyn Thomas, it's an incredibly grounded film that while dealing with horrific material, never goes full tilt. The exploitation apex is reached when victim Shelia (Cynthia Nigh, H.O.T.S) has her finger broken and shirt ripped open.
Unfortunately, the mediocre performances in Killer’s Delight hold the film back from greatness. James Luisi is aching to carry the film. Every scene is filled with his bravado acting style featuring plenty of chin-wagging and posturing. It works, but the performance never matches the intensity of the heinous acts being committed. Martin Speer’s Mike could've carried the movie himself, frankly. He looks like a stunt double from the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" music video, which goes a long way with me. MVP goes to Susan Sullivan as the sultry college professor Carol. Her performance here is measured and relaxed even when the psycho is closing in on her. John Karlen works with what he’s given to developing psycho Danny’s inner demons and deranged exterior but comes off too restrained and hokey.
Killer’s Delight works well as a snapshot of 70s crime cinema banking on the Ted Bundy hysteria gripping the nation. It isn’t filled with grotesque scenes of deranged murder, copious nudity, or even a damn car chase for that matter. The lack of narrative momentum is disappointing, but if you’re looking for something more exciting than an episode of Cagney & Lacey, this might be the film for you.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Killer’s Delight arrives on Blu-ray thanks to Vinegar Syndrome. The Region ABC BD-50 disc is housed in a transparent keepcase with reversible artwork featuring the original title “The Sport Killer”. Loading the disc brings up the Vinegar Syndrome logo before landing on the Main Menu screen with typical navigation options.
Vinegar Syndrome goes the extra mile and gives Killer’s Delight a near-pristine 4k scan of the original 35mm camera negatives in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The HD Image looks impressive given the film's pedigree. Primaries pop nicely though some appear overexposed at times. Grain is fine and appears even throughout the feature. Plenty of detail in facial features and that great 70s costuming.
The production is full of vibrant colors that sing on this Blu-ray. Outside of the drab 70s wood paneling and earth tones of suburbia, Carol's home is full of bright yellows, reds, and oranges adding vivid life to the image. Noise in the image during nighttime scenes is prevalent though it rarely detracts from the presentation. While released on DVD as The Sport Killer and The Dark Ride, this Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome is the best the film has ever looked no matter the title.
Killer’s Delight arrives on Blu-ray with a serviceable DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono track. Audio can be tinny on occasion, but overall, the presentation is very good. The various elements spliced into the mix can be noticeable at times but don’t detract from the already gritty aesthetic of this 70s cop thriller. The mix is well balanced allowing music, dialogue, and effects to share the track with pleasing results. Dialogue is presented without hiss or pop detected though some exchanges are a bit muddy.
Vinegar Syndrome offers some excellent features here including an interesting commentary track from the director and interviews featuring tons of fun stories from the production.
Killer’s Delight is a capable thriller that tries to balance a true-to-life police procedural with a shocking thriller. Lush with atmosphere and gritty police work, the film should find a nice home with fans of serial killers looking for something less grisly. Vinegar Syndrome brings the cop thriller to Blu-ray with an excellent image transfer, a serviceable audio track, and plenty of special features for fans of the film wanting to dig deeper. Recommended.