The Sadist (1963)

“Who would believe in something like this?” A true unappreciated low-budget horror classic, The Sadist (AKA Profile of Terror and Sweet Baby Charlie) is very loosely based on the infamous murder spree of Charles Starkweather and his girlfriend, Caril Ann Fugate during the late 1950s. Three straight-laced high school teachers – Ed (Richard Alden), Doris (Helen Hovey) and Carl (Don Russel) – are headed to a Los Angeles Dodgers game when their car breaks down and they are forced to pull off the highway and into a seemingly deserted junkyard. There they have the misfortune to encounter psychotic killer Charles A. Tibbs (Arch Hall, Jr.) and his vacant, moronic girlfriend Judy Bradshaw (Marilyn Manning) who proceed to terrorize the trio at gunpoint. The constantly giggling, Neanderthal-looking Hall is perfectly cast for the role as the psychopath. He’s a genuinely creepy and totally deranged maniac. The Sadist features some genuinely tense and terrifying moments (for example when Tibbs informs Carl he’s going to kill him as soon as he finishes his soda). I also enjoy how during some of the most suspenseful scenes, the car radio is tuned to the Dodgers game. Directed by James Landis with a budget of just $33,000, the film was shot by legendary cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond (working under the name William Zsigmond). During his varied career, Zsigmond worked on everything from The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies (1964) to Deliverance (1972), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), The Deer Hunter (1978) and others. The Sadist would make a great double feature with Terrence Malick’s Badlands (1973), which starred Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek. Hall appeared in several low-budget films directed and/or produced by his father, Arch Hall, Sr., such as Eegah (1962, which co-starred Richard “Jaws” Kiel as a caveman!) and Wild Guitar (1962). Hall was also the lead singer of Arch Hall, Jr. and The Archers. After his rather short-lived movie career, Hall became an airline pilot.

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