Directed by Tom Hanson, who had previously owned a chain of Pizza Man restaurants, the utterly unique, utterly bizarre 1971 horror/crime thriller The Zodiac Killer was made with one goal in mind: to capture the real-life Zodiac Killer.
“The Zodiac Killer still succeeds as a cheapo drive-in thriller and a fascinating historical document of its time.” – Chris Poggiali, Temple of Schlock
That plan didn’t work. Instead, we got the most outrageous and compelling “tabloid horror” vortex in the history of motion pictures. Released while the killer was still at large, terrorizing the residents of San Francisco, this low, low, low-budget oddity offers up an avalanche of outlandish theories, absurd declarations, amateurish acting, technical goofs (the director can even be heard calling “Cut!” at one point), unnerving violence, baffling tangents, hilarious yet disturbing re-enactments, gratuitous use of Groucho glasses, misplaced Midwestern accents and more. During theatrical screenings of his mind-melting masterpiece, Hanson constructed elaborate in-theater “traps” to lure the killer out of hiding. These included the use of an ice cream freezer filled with rent-a-cops in the lobby and a raffle with a motorcycle as a prize. A strange theatre restroom encounter between the filmmaker and a mysterious individual he believed to be the real Zodiac Killer did NOT result in an arrest (the Zodiac Killer has never been caught), but it DOES add a dash of bizarre context you won’t get by watching the big budget 2007 David Fincher movie, Zodiac. See this newly-restored cinematic wonder and be amazed that such things can exist. (Dir. by Tom Hanson, 1971, USA, 87 mins., Rated R)