Written by John F. Guff and George 'Buck' Flower
Directed by John F. Guff
Detective Mike Leary...John F. Guff
Detective John Koch...Bruce Kimball
Austin Johnson...Newton Naushaus
"On August 10 in a California Drive-In, it all began..."
Or so says the opening placard.
A young couple just beginning their life together wind up ending it together, too, when they're brutally dispatched by a mysterious killer wielding a sword during a viewing of a western at their local drive-in. One is decapitated, the other is gored through the neck, but with the prevalence of heavy petting and baby-making after the sun goes down, none of the other patrons saw a thing.
Two police officers, who both look like old school NFL announcers, are assigned to the case, which they kick off by interviewing the manager Austin Johnson (a grade-A "asshole"), the "half-wit" janitor Germy (a retired circus geek), and the pasty-faced Peeping Tom who frequents the joint. They're also interested in the owner, Mr. Von Nuysen, who lives in Hawaii but is said to have an impressive collection of swords.
Soon after, another couple is killed in a similar fashion. Then another. Then another, and well, you get the point.
While this could have been a worthwhile time-waster like much of the other sleazy 1970s drive-in fare, it turned out to be a bore of a crime drama without a hefty dose of crime. The acting was atrocious, the plotting was dreadful, and the special effects were exactly what you would expect from some guy known only as "The Duke of Disguise." While the movie only clocked in at 74 minutes long, it seemed about two hours too long, and the final 20 minutes were painfully padded with carnival footage and the characters meandering lost through a darkened warehouse. The whole backstory of the drive-in being built on the site of an old carnival, and staffed by former carnival employees, was pointless and tacked-on.
And it all boiled down to a gimmick ending that really doesn't pay off when watching it on home video.
For Buck Flowers completists only...I'm sure there are a few of you out there.
See what the other J has to say about this flick over at the Cheap Bin.