The first huge mistake this new film on The Boston Strangler makes is in the casting. If I were to mention to you The Boston Strangler and Bundy in the same sentence, who would you think about for the latter reference? I’d bet most of you would be thinking about Ted, the infamous serial killer finally electrocuted here in sunny Florida a few years back. Unfortunately that’s not who I’m talking about here. It’s none other than Bud Bundy, that hapless young pervert from Married With Children. That’s right, folks. David Faustino plays Albert De Salvo, the suspected killer. He comes across as a completely clueless idiot for the entire film. Of course, the rest of the cast is equally bad. The police department is represented by Timothy Oman as Captain Parker and John Marsden as the lead detective. If these guys are indicative of the way the investigation was handled, it’s no wonder the crime was never solved. They completely sleepwalk through the parts with about as much passion as if they were eating a cheese sandwich. Could they have found two more disinterested actors? The only spark to the film at all is a somewhat dim one in Frank Asarian, the potential “real” killer in the film, played by Kostas Sommer. He’s incredibly stiff and also lacks any life, but he provides some of the film’s miniscule tension moments. Finally, the entire cast suffered from what can only be an intentional exaggeration of the
The second mistake is the script. For a film about a killer, the most horrible aspect of this movie was the writing. Now that’s some scary stuff right there. The entire script plays out like a typical Oliver Stone plot. While it’s true that no one knows for sure if De Salvo was indeed the killer, this conspiracy combined with police incompetence makes JFK look like an historical documentary of fact. The entire mechanism is so implausible as to never really provide any of the suspense it appears to have intended. A couple of the attack scenes are actually pretty convincing, making the girls who play the victims likely the best acting in the film. There are some rather realistic tense moments during a couple of these scenes. The film also can’t help pointing out that it is a period piece, a fatal mistake in this kind of a movie. The writer couldn’t resist nods to the decades between then and now. At one point a detective discovers a hair on the body of one of the girls. He picks it up with a tweezers in a very CSI moment and holds it up to the light. The Captain asks him what he thinks he’s going to do with that. “It’s evidence”, the detective replies. “I’m going to use it to match to the killer”. The Captain scoffs and rebukes, “Not in my lifetime”. A more contrived film you won’t find anywhere.
The Boston Strangler is presented in its intended 1.78:1 aspect ratio. This is a very soft presentation. There’s a lot of undersaturation in the colors, and everything from sharpness to contrast appears muted or subdued. Perhaps this was an artistic decision, but it actually worked against the inaction of the movie itself. I swear the soft picture enhanced the dull atmosphere of everything else that was wrong with the film. Black levels are average. Don’t look for anything to stand out here, and you won’t be disappointed.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track was less than adequate. There really isn’t much more than dialog here, so don’t be listening for any aggressive surround movement here. The ADR department on this film had to be a bunch of amateurs. There are many instances of incredibly obvious and bad looping mistakes throughout the film. Sound doesn’t match speech, or the quality severely changes. There are often examples where you can’t understand the dialog. Many of the actors appear to mumble here. It’s almost as though they know how bad the dialog and accents are here and are ashamed to be heard. They should be.
There is an Audio Commentary featuring David Faustino, Michael Feifer (writer/director), Robert Jimenez (editor), and Andres Boulton (composer). I never can get over hearing a bunch of guys who have created a piece of crap appear oblivious to how bad the thing really is. I simply couldn’t believe how often these guys were saying how great this or that worked out. Whatever these guys were taking, I want some the next time my back goes out.
I love serial killer films. I’ve seen almost all of them from the great to the not so great. Now I’ve seen one of the worst. I taught criminal law in high school for 7 years, and the kids were always eager for our final unit of the class, which was on serial killers. They couldn’t get enough info or watch enough film clips. This thing would have put sugar high 17 year olds to sleep. Watching this film made me ponder if there were any serial killers out there who targeted people who make bad films. On second thought, there’s too much of an argument there for justifiable homicide. Watch this one at your own risk. “It’s not a pretty picture.”