Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Fatal Pulse (1987)

... aka: Killer's Run

Directed by:
Anthony J. Christopher

Here's a sleazy lil' slasher for ya. Just how sleazy is it? It's so sleazy that if the all-female victims don't happen to be showering or changing clothing seconds before being murdered, the killer does us a favor by ripping off, or simply lifting up, their tops for us. Thanks pal! And it happens no less than six times here so it almost becomes a running joke after awhile. The entire film runs on what some refer to as 'slasher logic.' In other words, if people behave in a preposterous, nonsensical way, then we the viewer are supposed to overlook that. You know, because slasher movies (like their forefather, the Italian giallo) aren't about sense and logic; they're about creative bloodshed, trash, flash, style, body count and/or absurd, out-of-left-field twist revelations about the killer. And while FATAL PULSE does actually deliver on some of the above (primarily the 'trash' aspect), it's still not any good.

Immediately after getting into a fight with her amazingly monotone boyfriend Jeff (Ken Roberts) cause he won't put out, buxom Stephanie (played by Kitty... just Kitty) is strangled to death with her silk stockings by a black-gloved psycho. Jeff becomes prime suspect in this murder, and in the string of murders that will follow. Thankfully, Jeff's ex-girlfriend Lisa (the gorgeous Michelle McCormick), who also happens to live in the same sorority house where Stephanie bit it, is up to the task of helping him prove his innocence and eventually attempts to trap the killer. While those two try to find out what's going on, more women are killed in a rapid succession. Strangely, the murders aren't enough to actually drive a single one of the ladies out of the home. And neither does voyeuristic 'Nam vet Ernie, who spends his time twitching, crying, hiding in the shadows and peeping in windows. How many sorority houses do you know of where the creepy male owner actually lives in the home with the girls? As a side note, Ernie is played by "Joe Phelan," who eventually stopped caring about soiling the family name and began using his birth name Joe Estevez for future cheap-o horror flicks.

Ernie and Jeff aren't the only suspects. There's also the strange-acting, deep-voiced Professor Caldwell (Alex Courtney), who mostly just plays chess, as well as mullet-head Brad (Steven Henry), who becomes insanely jealous when Jeff starts rekindling things with Lisa. Of yeah, and Mark (Blair Karsch), a stoner freak whose alternate persona "Captain Marvelous" (?!) is accompanied with a "Boin-n-g!!!" sound effect. I kid you not. As far as the females go, they're all blonde and there's only a slight attempt to characterize them, so I had to pay special attention to provide you the following useless information. Cassie (Cindra Hodgdon) is a sweet, shy girl who doesn't understand why anyone would want to kill Stephanie and vents her anguish through a hilarious Flashdance-inspired interpretative dance sequence. Carol (Skylar Nicholas) wants a music career, Karen (Christie Mucciante) is a rich bitch, Sheila (Maureen O'Hanlon) is the compassionate one and Ann (Roxanne Kernohan), uh, likes to jog. Every single one of them is topless during her death scene aside from the one who has her throat cut with a record album. However, the actress had already gone topless earlier in the movie, so I guess one can't really consider that a wasted opportunity.

There's also death by drowning in a bathtub and being flung out the attic window, as well as two prolonged death scenes that are more misogynistic. One features the victim being tied up, having her top removed and then being electrocuted to death. The second involves the victim being tied down, having her top removed and getting wet cement rubbed all over her body before she gets her face covered with it. Police detectives (led by pudgy porn actor Herschel Savage as "Harvey Cowen") show up two different times, but refuse to do anything helpful in apprehending the killer. You know, such as posting a patrol car outside, or having a few officers set up shop in the home, or have a policewoman go undercover as a sorority girl, etc. etc. They simply pop in, say a few lines and then leave, simply allowing the murders continue.

Surprisingly, some of the cast members did actually go on to other things. Estevez went on to become one of the most prolific genre actors on the 90s and 2000s. Lead actor Roberts, despite showing the animation of a piece of charcoal here, would go on to appear regularly on TV and in film. Courtney appeared in the same director's not-released-in-the-US crime/thriller THE PLATINUM TRIANGLE (1989; which also stars Estevez) and ZOMBIE DEATH HOUSE (1987), amongst other things. Nicholas was also in the dreadful CANNIBAL HOOKERS (1987) and some soft-core erotica and Kernohan would have a memorable role in CRITTERS 2 (1988) and appeared as herself in the very fun B-movie valentine SCREAM QUEEN HOT TUB PARTY (1991) before passing away in a 1993 auto accident at the age of just 32. Surprisingly McCormick, the best-looking and most talented of the ladies seen here, only did three other movies.

To my knowledge, FATAL PULSE has never been released on DVD. The VHS release was handled through Celebrity Home Video.



Fritzcat said...

I knew Christie Mucciante one of the stars of Fatal Pulse before she began her career as an actor. She posed for me - I am a painter and I have a BEAUTIFUL painting of her...the original is owned by Hajime Sorayama, but I made promo cards from one of the transparencies. She is a gorgeous woman!

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

Very cool! I noticed she appeared alongisde Roxanne Kernohan in 'Tango & Cash.' Wonder if they were friends in real life?

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