Friday, July 30, 2010

'Invisible Strangler' is not worth spotting

Invisible Strangler (aka "The Astral Factor")
(1976, re-released in 1984)

Starring: Robert Foxworth, Mark Slade, Elke Sommer, Stefanie Powers, Frank Ashmore, and Marianna Hill
Director: John Florea
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

A serial killer who targets beautiful women celebrities (Ashmore) learns how to make himself invisible using methods from Mew Age books on psychic powers. After escape from the insane asylum, he sets about stalking and killing women he had previously failed to kill.

"Invisible Strangler" is a mediocre crime drama and a complete failure as a horror movie. Yes, an invisible killer can be disconcerting--and its used to great effect in the scene where he stalks and kills his first victim (played by Sue Lyon) after escaping from the asylum--but most of the murders take too long to happen and when they do, they are hardly worth the wait because they are unartfully and badly staged.

The film might have been a little less dull if the number of victims had been cut down, or if the filmmakers had spent more time with the main victim, played by Elke Sommer, and a little less time on ones the audience has no emotional investment in whatsoever. Or better yet, if one or two victims should have been left out entirely, the film would have been more concentrated and far more watchable.

I also think the film could have been stronger if more had been done with the head detective's girlfriend. While I can't imagine anyone feeling out of sorts over watching Stefanie Powers walking around with no pants on, I think everyone can agree that it would have been so much better if her character had served a purpose other than just walking around with no pants on.

A poor script with very little character development, weak acting, weak cinematography and weaker directing makes "Invisible Strangler" makes the film barely worth watching, despite an interesting idea at its core and a couple of nice moments.

Please check back tomorrow when this blog takes part in "Elke Sommer Day" by placing the Saturday Scream Queens spotlight on Ms. Sommer, and reviews of a movie she made for Mario Bava that died a horrible box office death, and the film it reincarnated as.

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