Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Confessions of a Serial Killer (1985)

Directed by:
Mark Blair

Although it didn't get released until 1992, Confessions is a surprisingly efficient and well done low-budget serial killer film. Unfortunately, many people probably passed it by because the packaging makes it look like a cheap rip-off of THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991), which it is certainly not. Robert A. Burns had already acted in the killer dog movie MONGREL and done brilliant production design/art director for TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, THE HILLS HAVE EYES, RE-ANIMATOR and other horror hits. He makes his lead acting debut here as Daniel Ray Hawkins, white trash serial killer, who narrates this (uncredited) look at real-life mass murderer Henry Lee Lucas from behind bars. It's not quite as good as the brilliant HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER (1986), of course, but it does predate that film by a year and might actually be a more accurate depiction of the actual murder spree. The flashbacks trace the development of this psychotic mind from childhood (with a hooker mother who flaunts her tricks in front of the kids and a crippled, depressed father driven to suicide), to his first murder of a prostitute as a teenager, to older "Hawkins" traveling around rural Texas constantly on the lookout for new victims. He eventually joins up with fat, slobbering, psycho-pervert Moon Lewton (Dennis Hill) and his equally unhinged sister Molly (Sidney Brammer), who becomes Hawkins common-law wife. The trio try to settle down and live a more straight life, getting jobs at the home of an often-absent doctor (Ollie Handley) and his spoiled blonde teen daughter (Dee Dee Norton), which will eventually lead to their downfall.

The violence is often brutal and disturbing, the performances are rough-edged and effective, there are some moments of effective black (sick) comedy and a semi-documentary approach that imbues this with an effectively quiet everyday realism. It's certainly worth a look if you like these kind of films.


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