Horrorfest 2020 Presents: The Sadist (1963, James Landis)

In The Sadist Arch Hall Jr. is a crazed, snarling, psychotic beast of a man bent on destruction and chaos. He is evil personified, not carring who he hurts or murders in the process. This was the earliest take on the famous spree killings committed by Charles Starkweather that gripped the nation in the 1950s. Badlands, Gun Crazy, plus Bonnie and Clyde all come to mind. Yet even though those films were more intelligent than this one I rather liked The Sadist.

This is a movie that keeps things simple, and thus is rather intense for doing so. A trio of teachers make a grave error in stopping at a local scrap yard to fix their car. Immediately a pair of young killers pop up and drag the three into a day long nightmare that they will never forget. Hall commands the screen but I liked the rest of the cast as well, and the movie begs the question of what you would do if you were in that situation. Most likely many of us would die.

Helen Hovey makes for a good final girl, and there is a scene that I’m pretty sure inspired a good creepy part in Friday the 13th Part 2. This film helped to inspire multiple horror cliches, and James Landis manages to capture the terror felt by the teachers. Definitely check this one out.

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