Bad Movies Beware!
Jesus, that is the WORST poster ever…
Happy New Year!
Okay, yeah, I’m a little late to the party. But, what better way to ring in a brand new year than with a cinematic train wreck of biblical proportions?
I found this gem at a local store here in town and decided to pick it up once I saw some of the history behind it. We’ll get to the background later, but first: ONWARD!
The film opens with a pianist trying to be intense and scary with the music and Roger Sands in his cell. He’s sitting on his bed with his legs crossed in a very yoga-esque way and has his eyes closed. The guy in the cell across from him acts obnoxious, and there’s a guard who likes to come in every now and again and rough Roger up.
Oh God, the acting. As if the music wasn’t bad enough.
The guard pilfers through Roger’s books and discovers that Roger has a thing for the paranormal, particularly Astral Projection and out-of-body experiences.
Cue the Expositional Flashback!
Roger is a mute who lives with his shallow celebrity mother. Mom likes to act kittenish and walk around half-naked in front of Roger, which is a little disturbing. Then again, this movie was filmed in 1976, but there’s currently a show on MTV about girls who are getting pregnant by their cousins, so figure that one out.
Anyway, Roger decides he’s had enough and strangles his mother on her bed. He escapes, and a group of her celebrity friends testify against him in court after his apprehension.
We return to Roger’s cell, where he turns invisible. Because, you know, prisoners who want out do that. He escapes after locking the guard up and begins his rampage amidst a dramatic and confusing piano montage.
His first victim is a woman in the ugliest cardigan they could find that wouldn’t actually destroy the camera. She parks her car, walks to the elevator, pretends to get jerk around by an unseen force, then acts as if she’s being strangled as she collapses to the ground.
Or gives her best reaction to the new Alvin and the Chipmunks movie.
Enter Lt. Charles Barrett! He even gets his own theme song for the film as he gets called in to look at the murder and gets ready to leave his apartment. Kind of a stoic guy, which only partially explains the bad acting.
Roger isn’t shy about leaving his fingerprints all over the place, and the cops are on the prowl after they receive the reports of his dastardly escape from prison. As it turns out, the first victim is one of the five who testified against him for murdering his mother.
Before he was locked up, Roger was known as the “Celebrity Strangler,” which implies that he murdered more than just mom. They never really get to that, though.
Back at the police station, Charles reads the report that Roger escaped under “mysterious circumstances.”
Really, that’s how the entire movie plays out as far as the murders go. The police chase Roger, but he always manages to get to his victim just before they do. Charles calls in a doctor who explains that Roger was obsessed with the paranormal and was studying astral projection. We see a brief montage as he narrates and explains that Roger has turned himself invisible.
Charles and the others completely understand. Happens all the time, after all. In fact, just last week I turned invisible so I could…
Nevermind. Guilt by association. Oops.
Biggest thing: Holt and that f**king ink pen. Charles’s partner is the epitome of the obnoxious tagalong who is a foul-mouthed, boisterous litter bug who constantly clicks the spring on his ink pen to the point of it being distracting from the rest of the scene. It’s bad enough I can’t even focus enough to keep up with variety shows (I HATE VARIETY SHOWS), but now I have to try and focus on a scene while this a**hole sits there “click-click! Click-click! Clickclickclickclickclickclick!”
Why yes, Charlie! Yes, I WOULD like to stab Holt in his eyeball with his own ink pen!
Charles pays a visit to Christina Hartman, one of the top targets for Roger, and explains to her that Roger is on the loose. She is less concerned with being killed and more concerned with flirting with Charles and patching things up with her husband at the same time.
Jesus, does every character in this movie have Indecision Disorder?
Roger keeps picking off victims, and Charles is clueless as to what to do next. He heads home and meets up with his girlfriend, Candy, who apparently does not believe in underwear.
Of course, we never really get to know because she never shows us. No. Instead, we get Charles’s naked ass after Holt knocks on the door and tells him that there’s been another instance of over-acting…er, I mean murder.
Eh, same difference.
Charles and Holt figure out Roger’s next victim and head to her dance rehearsal, which is f**king painful to watch to say the least. There was another one at the beginning of the film, but it really is a useless scene, the dancing is just as bad, so pay it no mind if you decide to watch this turd. Not that I don’t respect modern dance, but I know enough about it to know when I’m looking at CRAP.
Holt keeps up with his damned pen until Charles finally takes it from him in a glorious moment. Unfortunately, there is no stabby-stabby, but I’ll take what I can get.
Roxanne, the victim, gets chained up as part of the dance. Roger strangles her and takes off. Charles and Holt round up the squad and head to Christina’s house to protect her as she is the last of the five witnesses.
Roger shows up and starts picking off the cops one by one. A firefight ensues, and Roger breaks into the house. Little does he know that Charles has had the metal staircase railing electrified. Roger starts up the steps towards Christina, grabs the railing, and gets lit up like Times Square at midnight January 1st. Charles shoots the ever-living s**t out of Roger, then watches as Roger falls down the stairs and turns back to normal.
The remaining cops crowd in to set up the crime scene while Charles leaves to walk on the beach and come to grips with the facts that he’s been chasing a naked man for 96 minutes.
VERDICT: Invisible gas: you can’t see it, but you sure can smell it!!
What a way to kick off the New Year. As if the three movies I watched during Christmas weren’t bad enough, 2016 brings me this heap of horse dookie from the lower bowels of the 1970s.
Astral Factor was actually shot in 1976 (or 1978 according to IMDB. The internet can’t seem to decide) and deemed un-releasable because it was so bad. The acting, the camera work, the music, everything about it was just haphazard. Then, some a**hole decided to put it on home video in 1984 and rename it The Invisible Strangler.
As if the video wasn’t bad enough, they decided to reshoot the opening sequence and actually use one or two different actors for it. The original opening shows Roger disappear immediately, while the new intro tries (and fails) to build a little sympathy for Roger. You can find it on YouTube with the original opening.
The line delivery was tantamount to nothing more than reading straight off of cue cards. I haven’t seen more mechanical line delivery since Robby the Robot in the old Lost in Space TV series. Add in the bad acting, and it’s just that much worse. I get the whole invisible killer thing, but it really came off more like women reacting to news of the tongue fungus she got after licking a fat man’s armpit.
The music was probably the worst thing about the film, even above the acting. Every set had theme music that played continuously in the background, the most notable being at the home of the wealthy Christina Hartman. I mean, really. Who the hell wrote and performed this crap? “Chuck and the Elevators?”
Richard Hieronymus, Bill Marx, Alan Oldfield.
Rating: 6 Piles of S**t. This movie is highly recommended if you like to inflict pain upon yourself, though I would think that 85-96 minutes (depending on which version you watch) would be time better spent inserting suppositories than sitting in front of this random and disorganized nightmare.