5 Stars
Year Released: 1997
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 84 minutes
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“Schizophreniac: The Whore Mangler.” How’s that for an award winning title? I quite like it myself. It shows promise of super fun happy waters ahead. Of course, nowadays, with all of the straight-to-video crap that’s churned out, featuring long uneventful walks through the woods, drawn out development of lifeless characters and overall terrible filmmaking, it’s hard to trust a title that has a kick like this one, especially when everyone is trying to outdo one another in the gross-out department. After all, these are X-treme days we live in, folks. And Jeebus forbid if anything isn’t X-treme enough. Good thing filmmaker Ron Atkins has way more screws loose than any other self-proclaimed cinema terrorist poser out there. Atkins is the real deal. I took a peek inside his head for the almost unexplainable Dark Night of the Soul, coming away from the experience thinking – “Wow, this is some sort of accidental genius at work here.” And now that I’ve seen “Schizophreniac,” I’m retracting the accidental genius bit. Ron Atkins is fucking insane. Many people have made this very same film with limp-dick results. With Atkins in control, the entire playing field changes. There’s a sense of danger here and it’s bound to leave one’s mouth agape despite the shortcomings of an underground film such as poor production value and acting. You don’t think to poke fun at bad special effects, sets or performances. You’re just waiting to see what the hell will happen next.

“Schizophreniac” focuses on Harry Russo, a drug addicted writer who takes to wandering about town like a playground bully injected with a fat shot of Pop Rocks, picking up hookers and then, shortly after, killing them…all because his ventriloquist dummy tells him to. Basically, this is what goes on for 84 minutes. Anyone else making this movie would have turned out a boring, lame-ass piece of garbage. Atkins, on the other hand, spins Harry’s world further and further out of control. You get the feeling that perhaps the filmmaker knows what it feels like to be a whore killing drug addict and that makes for a really uncomfortable sit. But goddamnit if you can’t stop watching.

Immediately, “Schizophreniac” reminds me of Tim Ritter’s “Truth or Dare,” another misanthropic classic that feels like it has a lot more behind it than the intent to entertain. These films seem like they would kill you if they could.

“Schizophreniac” is the sort of film that if you made copies of it on unlabeled videotapes and spread them around town, a state of emergency would be declared. Something like “Schizophrenia” is also the reason why I started writing for Film Threat in the first place.

Posted on February 8, 2004 in Reviews by

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