MURDERLUST (1985) Reviews and overview

 

MURDERLUST

‘He’s lusting for the kill’

MurderLust is a 1985 American psycho-thriller film directed by Donald Jones (Project Nightmare; Housewife from Hell) from a screenplay by producer and soundtrack composer James C. Lane. Also known as Murderlust and Mass Murder.

On January 10, 2017, Intervision/Severin released the film uncut on DVD in North America with an audio commentary by Lane.

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Buy InterVision DVD: Amazon.com

The movie stars Eli Rich (Dangerous Love; The Jigsaw Murders), Rochelle Taylor, Dennis Gannon, Bonnie Sikowitz, Lisa Nichols, M. Burton Leary, Bill Walsh, George Engelson, Dayna Quinn, Martha Lane, Ashley St. Jon [aka Lisa Lake], Linda Tucker-Smith

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Plot:

Steve, a seemingly respectable Christian Sunday school teacher, is also an impotent arrogant misogynist serial killer. When not in Church preaching the Bible to teenagers, he abducts or cons young women and kills them, disposing of their bodies in the Mojave Desert…

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Review One:

While it’s no Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, MurderLust has certainly been overlooked and deserves to be seen in the context that there have been some truly awful mid-1980s movies that have received considerably more attention than they warrant.

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Despite being a low-budget production, Donald Jones’ MurderLust provides reasonable acting, an engaging synth score and some agreeable aerial shots of the Mojave desert.

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Psycho character Steve’s confident attempts to ingratiate himself with both men and women, despite his inadequacies, are sickly pre-Stepfather-like (the sub-theme regarding his lack of a real career and financial proclivities are part of the overall character breakdown) and all the more effective for it. MurderLust also gleefully pokes fun at religious hypocrites, a recurrent and welcome theme within the horror genre.

Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA

Review Two:

MurderLust suffers from poor production values, an ineffectual lead in the form of Eli Rich and a rather lacklustre storyline. Rich plays Steve Belmont, an uptight teacher at a church group who is also The Mojave Murderer – a sexually frustrated, sadistic killer of prostitutes. Unfortunately, he’s not especially convincing in either role.

There are certainly interesting elements in the story. Jones does manage to create a certain tension at times, as well as imbuing the film with a certain sleaziness – be it via the gratuitous nudity, or simply a sense of grubbiness that pervades the whole film.

The violence, oddly, is comparatively restrained – it’s hard to see where the BBFC found two and a half minutes to remove back in the late 1980s – but it still has a grim and unsavoury atmosphere to it, which helps the film considerably. But when you compare it to a contemporary production like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, MurderLust seems a little too tame and crude.

David Flint, MOVIES and MANIA

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Other reviews:

“In theory, the “outwardly respectable bible thumper by day/ depraved prostitute killer by night” premise sounds like it might be offensive enough to entertain, but actually sitting through this bland, very slow-moving and aimless movie is a whole other story. The acting and dialogue are bad throughout, but neither is bad enough to elicit any laughs.” The Bloody Pit of Horror

“There’s a lot more emphasis on character development and motivation here than you’d probably expect to find, and while the movie has some of the flaws that are typical in low budget picture (occasionally questionable character actions, some dicey performances and limited locations and effects work) Jones does a pretty decent job of keeping us invested in the story.” Rock! Shock! Pop!

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MurderLust is fascinating as a study of a woman-hating serial killer. It’s unpleasant without being graphic – just about all of the murders occur offscreen – and the bad synthesizer score gives it a creepy vibe.” Thrill Me!

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Choice dialogue:

Debbie: “It’s just a picture of a big prick, like you.”

Cast and characters:

Eli Rich … Steve Belmont
Rochelle Taylor … Cheryl
Dennis Gannon … Neil
Bonnie Sikowitz … Marene [as Bonnie Schneider]
Lisa Nichols … Debra
H. Burton Leary … Joe
Bill Walsh … Lymen
George J. Engelson … Dayna Quinn
Martha Lane … Teenage Girl Victim
Ashley St. Jon … Blonde Prostitute
Linda Tucker-Smith – Epitaph

Censorship:

The 1987 British Watershed Pictures VHS release was cut by a painfully censorial 2 minutes and 33 seconds.