Pedro Galindo III
For the 80s slasher fan who thinks they've seen it all, I cannot stress this enough: you haven't. There are a lot more of these things than you and I probably realize. I keep discovering new ones all the time I'd never even heard of before. For every Jason or Freddy flick, every Prom Night or The Burning, there are five more of these things from various places around the globe. Now seeking these titles out does require one's willingness to read subtitles or go without them altogether. If you're one of those people who refuses to do so, I really don't know what to tell you. Sucks to be you and miss out, I guess. For everyone else, take a trip outside the U.S. and you'll find many, many more of these things. Some are as good as the popular, well-known ones, some are bad and the majority are just kind of mediocre. As much as I miss the whole video store experience, being a horror nut in this day and age certainly has its perks. One of the big ones is movie availability. Films that were previously unavailable in certain countries are suddenly just a click away, and fans have even taken it upon themselves to create English subtitles for many of these. La muerte de chacal ("The Death of the Jackal") was high up on my list of films to view because it was made by Mexican director Pedro Galindo III. Galindo had also made the above average late-80s slasher Trampa Infernal (released here as HELL'S TRAP), which I enjoyed, and the fun Vacations of Terror (and its sequel). He has other genre films on his resume, such as 1989's Panico en la montana ("Panic on the Mountain"), which looks like a lot of fun itself. I'm still trying to hunt down some of these.
Jackal begins with a good 10-minute-long pre-credits sequence where four people; two longshoremen and a pair of strippers they've picked up at a bar, decide to go aboard a huge, old abandoned ship to drink beer and fool around. Instead of having a good time, they end up falling prey to a fedora sporting, trench coat wearing psycho (seen in shadow only) with a blade hidden his cane, as well as his vicious pet Doberman Pinschers. Immediately afterward, the killer leaves the ship, heads into town and knifes a blonde prostitute hanging around outside at a hotel. That woman is the third (known) female victim whose body has turned up thus far. Now with a handful of mutilated corpses (each having been stabbed through the throat), as well as even more people reported missing, Sheriff Bob (Mario Almada) quickly tries to get to the bottom of things before the press can cause a panic in the small town. He enlists the aid of his brother Roy (Fernando Almada), a fitness fanatic and boat captain, to help him. Since many of the victims worked as either prostitutes or strippers, Bob must start hanging around some seedy joints. Being the professional law enforcement agent he is, he smokes on a cigar, orders a bourbon and sits down to watch the strip acts while another stripper is being murdered right upstairs. Another man is killed there and thrown through a window right onto the stage, where he collides with one of the dancers.
Following a lead about a man named Jack who uses a cane and lives on a boat, Bob and Roy end up in a high speed boat chase, which ends in Jack getting killed when he crashes the boat and it explodes. To help get some professional advice on serial killers, Bob and his wife Joan (Cristina Molina) host a dinner party and invite Dr. Milan (Ruben Benavides) and his wife Nancy over. There, bachelor Roy meets Joan's attractive single model friend Sally (Olivia Collins). Sally insists on going down to the port, goes aboard the old ship, finds the corpses of the victims killed in the first scene strung up on hooks and ends up becoming the latest victim. In an effort to bait the killer, Bob has one of female deputies, Sergeant Garcia (Lizzeta Romo), dress provocatively and start hanging around the port posing as a hooker. She ends up coming face to face with the psycho, but the cops show up just in time to shoot him and save her. Not killed by the gunshot, the killer is sent to a mental asylum. U.S. authorities want him extradited because of some similar murders he committed in San Diego years earlier, but because of his mental state, that doesn't happen.
Five months pass, and the psycho proves to be more than the hospital staff can handle. He refuses to eat and has to get all of his nourishment intravenously, proves to be incredibly strong and manages to break out of his straight jacket and shackles. He cracks an orderlies neck, kills a guard who's sitting with his back turned away from the prison bars so the killer can just reach through and grab him (and the keys), and escapes. Now he wants revenge against all of those who helped to capture him. First up, is Garcia. He slashes her mother's throat and then stabs her hand before sinking a huge butcher knife into her neck. And then, Roy and Joan become the main targets. He kidnaps Joan and uses her to lure Bob to the old ship for the big finale. Even though I skirted around the issue, the identity of the psycho is revealed midway through the film, and when it is, it's actually somewhat of a surprise, so I won't reveal it here.
This isn't very original and, like most slashers, has some incredibly stupid moments sprinkled throughout. I had a hard time believing a bunch of people could just disappear near the port and no one would even think about looking on the old abandoned ship. Five months after the killer is apprehended, half a dozen bodies (including Sally's) are still there hanging up on hooks looking no worse for wear as when they were first killed. The dogs are still there, as well. I'm not sure who was feeding them all that time the killer was locked up. If you can overlook stuff like that, this is watchable. The acting is OK, there's some gore and nudity and a high body count. Some of the camerawork is good, too, including very fast POV shots of the dogs running up the stairs and around in the hallways. It was filmed in Brownsville, Texas (note the license plates and several visible American flags); the southernmost city in Texas.
The film leaves off with an open ending but according to IMDb there was a sequel (which was filmed as La muerte del chacal 2 but released as Carceria de un criminal) shot the same year, which also featured the Almada Brothers and Molina reprising the same roles. Neither of these were released in America. The one I viewed was a Mexican VHS release on the Condor label.