‘Artist or killer? Temptress or playgirl?’
Playgirl Killer is a 1966 Canadian psycho-thriller – released on 26 July 1968 – co-written by actor William Kerwin (writer of Love Goddesses of Blood Island and co-writer of Sting of Death) and his younger brother Harry. William also stars as the titular ‘playgirl’ killer. US titles: Decoy for Terror and Portrait of Fear
The film was reportedly made on a budget of $150,000 by Maxwell A. Sendel Film Productions. The director is credited as Erick Santamaria, however, this is ‘his’ sole credit so may well be Kerwin under another of his pseudonyms?
Kerwin had previously starred in a number of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ nudie-cutie, roughie and splatter films. He went onto appear in low-rent genre offerings such as Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things, Dear Dead Delilah, House of Terror, Impulse, The Strange Possession of Mrs. Oliver and The Evictors.
Singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka has a minor role in Playgirl Killer (he also contributed ‘Do the Jellyfish’ to the 1966 Florida-lensed monster movie Sting of Death).
A rich, lonely woman hires a drifter named Bill (Kerwin) as a live-in handyman. Bill turns out to be a psycho artist who has beautiful women model for him before he kills them…
“It’s not surprising that it did poorly, since it must have looked pretty silly and fluffy alongside the much more daring pictures that were beginning to emerge. Looking back at it today though, The Playgirl Killer is a still a great little drive-in flick. It isn’t the kind of film you will remember forever, but it is quite enjoyable to watch.” Canuxsploitation
“As if the sight of a goateed, overacting Kerwin doing his crazy artist routine weren’t enough, Playgirl Killer is stuffed with enough late ’60s kitsch to keep trashhounds giddy with delight. The funky lounge score, day-glo outfits, hideously “elegant” decor, and wooden acting all combine for a cheapo delight. The film does work up a few memorable images thanks to the frozen female bodies on view during the finale, which caps off with an amazing comeuppance guaranteed to raise a chuckle or two.” Mondo-Digital
Lurid 1980s US video sleeve with misleadingly sleazy imagery:
The 1990s DVD release with even worse artwork: