IMPULSE (1972) Reviews and overview of William Shatner trash classic

New! Visitor ratings! Click on a star to indicate your rating of this movie!

Impulse is a 1972 American horror thriller feature film about a gigolo who is also a serial killer of wealthy widows.

Directed by William Grefé (Mako: The Jaws of Death; Stanley; Death Curse of Tartu; Sting of Death) from a screenplay written by Tony Crechales (The Attic; The Killing Kind; House of Terror; Point of Terror), the Conquerer Films production stars William Shatner, Ruth Roman, Kim Nicholas, Jennifer Bishop and Harold Sakata.


“William Grefe’s direction is pretty much by the books with a few standout moments of flash […] Ultimately Impulse is a delightful film in which the enjoyment is derived not from good filmmaking but from watching the disaster of what is called a film as it unfolds before your very eyes.” 10K Bullets

“There are few things in life that can prepare a person for the sheer majesty that is watching a scene in which William Shatner and Harold Sakata (Oddjob, to those James Bond fans) compete in a battle of bad delivery. From stilted pauses to bizarre emphasis choices, the two trade incompressible dialogue the way chess masters’ fingers dance across a game board.” The Carrying on of a Wayward Son

“The script lurches from scene to scene, as the editing lurches from shot to shot. Thankfully, Shatner’s presence carries the film through any rough patches, even transcending any notion of performance. After all, we come, not to revel in the exploits of a mere mortal, but rather, to get properly Shatnerized.” Cinema Gonzo

“[Shatner]: He’s actually fairly inept, he nibbles his fingers a lot, dresses really badly (Just like a pimp, Jim), and pops balloons when he gets a tad annoyed. That said, as the weak conman Matt Stone, Shatner is still a joy to watch and is far and away the second best thing in the movie (I actually thought he got acted off the screen by the little girl, but hey).” Eat My Brains

“Although Bishop and Roman try valiantly to deliver legitimate performances, every scene with Shatner is so innately silly that Impulse is impossible to take seriously. Sakata’s acting is terrible in a different way, just plain old-fashioned incompetence, but he appears in only a few scenes.” Every ’70s Movie

“{Shatner]: I can see what he’s trying to do; underneath his usual facade, the character is basically still a scared little boy in a desperate situation, and he’s trying to tap into that. Unfortunately, his failure to physicalize this character with subtlety ends up making his performance unexpectedly and inappropriately comic, and the result is truly awful.” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

“It’s the kind of film that features a producer named Socrates, a ravaged Ava Gardner look-alike, acid-soaked flashbacks, incoherent interior monologues, and as if understanding its need to salvage a slab of dignity, Bond legend Oddjob, dispensing with the deadly hat in favor of line readings so marble-mouthed that Shatner might as well be communicating with the dead.” Ruthless Reviews

“The script is actually quite pedestrian and loaded with nothing but cardboard characters and contrived situations that fail to be either distinctive or memorable. William Shatner’s acting is the only horrifying thing about it. His facial expressions are better suited for cheap camp and his loud, plaid leisure suits are enough to hurt your eyes along with a wig made for a storefront mannequin.” Scopophilia

Shatner‘s infrequent dances of loony madness are a joy to behold here, and his acting ‘choices’ are deliriously offbeat; spunky vet actress Ruth Roman (and genre semiregular) lends some spice as one of Bill’s hapless victims. But overall shoddy production values and generally lame character development bog this minor ’70s psycho-thriller down too much to ignore.” The Terror Trap

” …if you get a kick out of Shatner, if you enjoy the films of “Wild” Bill Grefe, or if you’re an aficionado of cult film, you really can’t go wrong with Impulse. Filled with loud fashions, exploitation cinema standbys, ridiculous lines and intense over- (and under-) acting, this is something of a holy grail among party films.” Third Eye Cinema

William Shatner, at the nadir of his erratic showbiz career, lends minimal camp/cult appeal to this imbecile no-budget horror picture. He’s a maniacal murderer possessed by evil demons. Strictly for trash buffs and masochistic Trekkies.” TV Guide

Cast and characters:

William Shatner … Matt Stone
Ruth Roman … Julia Marstow
Jennifer Bishop … Ann Moy
Kim Nicholas … Tina Moy
James Dobson … Clarence
Harold Sakata … Karate Pete
Marcia Knight … Helen (as Marcie Knight)
Vivian Lester … Matt’s Mother
William Kerwin … Soldier
Marcy Lafferty … Hotel Clerk
Chad Walker … Matt, as a Boy
Paula Dimitrouleas … Belly Dancer
Doug Hobart … Dead Man in Coffin at Mortuary (uncredited)
Lewis Perles … Car Accident Victim on Road (uncredited)


Shot in Tampa, Florida, from 7th August 1972. The filming lasted fifteen days, including twelve with Shatner and last three with other actors. During one take of the scene where Shatner’s character hangs Sakata’s character to death, actor Sakata nearly died of being accidentally hanged by tight rope. Fortunately, with Sakata’s “superior neck development”, the crew was able to save his life. Shatner broke his finger during the incident while supporting Sakata’s weight.


31st January 1974. It was subsequently released nationwide in 1974–75, apparently taking nearly $4 million in the domestic box office.

Technical details:

82 minutes
Audio: Mono
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1

Film Facts:

The film’s working title was Want a Ride, Little Girl?

MOVIES and MANIA rating:

MOVIES and MANIA provides an aggregated range of film reviews from a wide variety of credited sources, plus our own reviews and ratings, in one handy web location. We are a genuinely independent website and rely solely on the minor income generated by internet ads to stay online and expand. Please support us by not blocking ads. If you do block ads please consider making a small donation to our running costs instead. We'd really appreciate it. Thank you. As an Amazon Associate, the owner occasionally earns a small amount from qualifying linked purchases.