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DVD Review: B.T.K.

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There’s just something about serial killers that says “ka-ching,” eh? At least that’s what no-budget filmmaker Michael Feifer must have thought when he booted up his computer and starting typing out the script for B.T.K. Now, I’ll admit: I’m just like any other guy when it comes to possessing a morbid fascination with serial killers and mass murderers. I’ll watch just about any ol’ bio-pic or documentary that comes along — although I prefer the latter of the two as they usually tend to get most of the facts right…which is something that Michael Feifer really didn’t bother doing in this mess of a film.

As Dennis Rader — the man who was captured and sentenced to life in prison in 2005 for a string of bind-torture-kill murders from as far back as 1974 — actor Kane Hodder is quite intimidating (certainly more intimidating than he was with a hockey mask over his face during his Friday The 13th films) and really looks the part. Note how I used the word “looks” and did not incorporate a noun such as “plays” or an adjective like “owns” in that statement. I did so purposefully, too — as B.T.K. only makes one wonder if Kane Hodder wouldn’t be better off acting behind a hockey mask or not. When he was Jason Voorhees, he had no problem swingin’ a machete. As a huge lumbering henchman and stuntman, there are few that could fill his shoes. But if you cast Kane as a real-life serial killer and actually expect him to emote…well, he certainly looks the part (more so than he looked like Ed Gein).

All Kane-kidding aside, B.T.K. is quite possibly the cheapest films that I’ve seen in a while (and I watch a lot of cheap movies on a regular basis, mind you). From the minimalistic (and annoying) music score to the weak special effects (e.g. runny fake blood and strawberry jam, CGI gunshots and smoke), this film is so bad that I doubt your drunken friends would even want to watch it on Bad Movie Night. Writer/director Michael Fefier must suffer from some form of Attention Deficit Disorder as one particularly amusing moment has a woman sitting down to eat dinner and then, suddenly, heading upstairs to go to bed (so did she eat or didn’t she?). The massive police manhunt is relayed via the sounds of patrol vehicle sirens set to the blurry image of Kane Hodder jogging down a very wide and sunny alley.

As I had said before, Michael Feifer did not go out of the way to tell us a more accurate account of the B.T.K. Killer/Strangler. I imagine that he did so for “artistic” reasons, but as to why is anyone’s guess (you could have made the film “authentic” and had him relive his crimes via flashbacks if you wanted to be “artsy”). Personally, I think Feifer might want to hone in on his skills a little more: B.T.K. doesn’t even benefit from having a real ending (remember Umberto Lenzi‘s Nightmare City, people? Yeah, it‘s like that). Anyone that is familiar with the facts in the B.T.K. case will undeniably be hitting the Eject button before most will.

And then there’s the acting. Oh, my. One poor sod is so intent on delivering a moving performance that he flails his arms about like an Italian crackhead. People have a hard time widening their eyes and trying to distinguish between “astonished,” “shocked,” or “scared” — meanwhile, the audience members either writhe in agony or wet themselves from laughing. Oddly enough, even though I was critiquing Kane Hodder’s less-than-convincing performance earlier, one could very well say that he is the best actor in B.T.K. (he sort of reminds me of a correctional officer I used to chat with occasionally — which is really scary).

B.T.K. hits DVD courtesy of Lions Gate Entertainment. Seeing as how I received a barebones screener disc for this title, I am unable to give you any specific specs on the film or the special features — but I can safely say that the movie will definitely be in color.

Note to self: never watch a flick with a disclaimer reading “The following is a fictional story based on a real character” — it pretty much tells you that it’s going to suck (“The following is based on actual events” sounds so much more convincing).

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.
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