Halloween Horrors 50 for 31: The Sadist

October 23, 2011 at 1:47 am Leave a comment

Imagine if you will, the cast from Eegah torturing people while they try to fix a car. Doesn’t sound very exciting but it actually is. I bring to you, The Sadist. A 1963 movie that shocked me. This is one I knew about but was avoiding for a while. Why? One word. “Roxy!!!” The star of this movie is Arch Hall Jr. Tom from Eegah. I have seen both the MST3K and un-mstied versions of that movie and in that movie he was unbearable. A year later, he appeared in this movie and boy what a difference. If he didn’t have such a distinct look, you wouldn’t know he was the same actor. More over than that the girl who played Roxy in Eegah plays his girlfriend Judy in The Sadist. I know it sounds insane but this movie is awesome.

The Sadist is suspenseful, well acted, well shot, and all around well done. Three school teachers get stranded in rural California on their way to a Dodgers game. They even brilliantly fit in radio coverage of the Dodgers game. I don’t know if it was done with the expressed written consent of Major League Baseball. Anyways, their car is broken down and they find a junk yard to fix it. Except no one appears to be around. They start picking around for the parts they need when they come across Charlie Tibbs, an escaped serial killer from Arizona and his girlfriend Judy. He forces them to fix their car while they torment them, making it very clear that he will kill them and take their car. Without spoiling too much, the movie keeps you in suspense the whole time. Will Charlie kill them all? Will anyone survive? Will any of their escape plans work? And if they can kill Charlie, will it be a good enough pay off to make the movie worth while? Charlie, in a word, is sadistic. He is such a bastard and gets so much enjoyment out of tormenting these people. You really want to see him get what is coming to him. It was such a mind blowing performance, one has to wonder why he didn’t do more movies like this.

The one thing about this movie that I love as a film maker his how they managed to make such an interesting movie with a limited cast and all in pretty much one location. They are basically in the junk yard for the whole movie. Yet, they held my attention the whole time with performance and wise use of shot selection. Even though they are out in the open, the movie feels very claustrophobic. Everything is shot very tightly and framed in a way that you feel trapped.

That all being said, Charlie wouldn’t have gotten away with most of what he did had the male lead, Carl, not been such a coward. He had more than a few opportunities to get a jump on Charlie. Yet, he wasn’t brave enough to act. The movie even calls him out for it more than once. It is hard to identify with such a spineless main character. But the movie probably wouldn’t be very interesting with someone like John McClain from Die Hard opposite of Charlie. For this movie to be as good  as it is, you need people whom Charlie can torment for an hour and a half and they will basically take his shit. Reflecting on the ending, I don’t think the protagonists had an active enough role in this movie. They really were more like hapless victims who get sadistically tortured the whole time.

You really should see this movie. Especially if you have ever seen Eegah. The difference between a character you can’t stand the sight of vs a character you can’t stop watching is so stark that you will be left speechless. Even if you haven’t seen that movie, The Sadistic is one of the most suspenseful thrillers I have seen in a long time and rivals any thriller you may have seen in the last ten years. I can’t recommend this movie enough. They took a word, sadist, and adopted it to embody one character and it carried the entire movie.

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