Murderlust (1985) – By Baron Craze


The Intervision Picture Corporation, a sub-division of Severin Films, restored the gritty pieces of the movie Murderlust, that were originally on a highly cut obscure VHS, with grimy filthy quality transfer all footage restore to a DVD, horror fans seeking this production may thoroughly enjoy it. Independent writer and director Donald M. Jones along with writer and producer James C. Lane, provide a simple plot line, one in which might fit any serial killer feature film down to a TV-movie, as the brutality never rises to an extreme level. Although, the material covered in the movie, definitely has the sleaze factor at the max, and early into the film the audience completely aware of whom the killer, actual is, his reason very blurred. In addition, the DVD includes a second film known as Project Nightmare, a sci-fi of sorts; flick, which this reviewer covered in a separate review for this issue of Rogue Cinema.

Steve Belmont (Eli Rich) a regular guy, living and struggling with personal demons while dealing with frustration in his work and life, yet still appears as a respected church-going man in the community. He always makes time for church services, and education of the youth, as activities director and Sunday School Teacher, yet hiding just under the surface lies something more sinister. At the drop of a pin, Steve goes from a mild manner gentleman and kind outlook on society to a homicidal raging lunatic. Rich, does a solid performance in selling this role nicely when needing to turn Jekyll into Hyde and right back, and therefore he knows clearly what is feeding him, the rage, anger, distrust of women and their teases of sex, only to deny him what he believes he righteously earned. The restrain he shows of the character early and then slow disintegration as the film progress forward to predictable conclusion. It appears Steve’s life plagued by impotence, and lacking of rent payments, temper issues on his security job, and recently accusation of sexual misconduct with a teenage girl Debra (Lisa Nichols) at his church. Meanwhile his very critical cousin Neil (Dennis Gannon) belittles him often, and questioning all his decisions and behaviors. An excellent opportunity strives positively for Steve rising in power at the church and possible task with running the newly minted “Adolescent Crisis Center” as the doctor in charge. Dilemmas and risks swirl around him, and needing to release the rage of his problems becomes homicidal killer, even acclaim fame as the “The Mojava Murderer”. While this backstory works to keep the plot moving forward the killing pays the price of admission, paying a woman in the opening scene, for a tonsil appointment, and she mocks his manhood size, lacking abilities and possibly gay (remember it’s the 80s, when this question of machismo slights most men). After her, enter a revolving door of victims, prostitute, such as Ashley St. Jon the scene, which graces the DVD cover. One particular scene works into the realm of distastefulness and borders on exploitation involving a teenage girl, under the age of consent, forced into a comprising position, and it never pushes the moment, and killing quick off-screen. From this the films enters the sequence of Steve breaking down mental, making fatal mistakes on his duality of existence, and bringing the downfall of the monster, that not even his love interest, Cheryl (Rochelle Taylor) could save.

The acting feels wooden and sloppy in the delivery of dialogue exchanges between Eli Rich and any of his victims it never sells the panic and fear inflictions, or extending that to body language. The dramatic filler sequence never quite builds any tension as everyone tends to restrain themselves, why never clearly present it. Stories about a serial killer usually show them as smarter and clearer brush strokes herein everything presents in a molasses pace, and overall hurts the film. Yes, at times the screen appears a bit of blurriness in the scenes, again recall the transfer from the sleazy forgotten VHS tape. As for those seek to enjoy the exploitative elements and film like this with the cover it has, one expects many sickening behaviors and violent killing, sadly none of it happens, rather presenting bland moments or cutaway shots. Now, noting the film shot on a possible budget of $30,000 did have sound cinematography and audio, and even later provides a commentary on the DVD, provides a very good scenic investment covering the vastness of desert through aerial photography.

First, this movie never reaches heights (well perhaps the depths of depravity) like that of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, and sadly never showing the violence from the murderous villain or even exploring the mentality of the reasoning of the killing. Perhaps to show that none truly exists and that the body form is his mask and the monster exist within ready to strike whenever the thought crosses his mind. Those horror fans seeking some blood and gore in the killing spree, may find the bloodlust longing, as the graphic of it drips barely through the flick, and adds to the very slow pace, but some sleaze drifts along nicely.