In the first five minutes of this movie a serial killer shoots an old lady. Immediately there’s a lightning cut to the killer in front of a tiger cage pouring blood all over himself. (The killer is killing because he needs blood to drink so he can replace the blood in his body, which is poisoned.) I thought: oh, this is going to be good pulpy fun; that sort of really over the top nuttiness can be pretty funny if you are in the mood for it.
Ten minutes later I realized that was not going to be the case, because this movie was clearly trying to pose a serious argument in favor of the death penalty using Mr. Tiger Blood as an example of a person who is utterly beyond saving. Once I hit upon the reality that this movie was going to be in the Ayn Rand vein – meaning that it was going to go to preposterous lengths to try to make it’s case even though there are more realistic examples that could have also made the same argument but with less hyperbole – my interest dwindled to next to nothing.
My interest dipped to below nothing the longer the movie went on. Director / writer William Friedkin wildly overestimates how broken our justice system is, he underestimates how bloodthirsty the average juror is, and he has no idea what an insanity plea is. If you murder five people there is no way that you are going to be paroled in six months as the end of the movie suggests. You are going to be locked up for the rest of your life regardless of whether it is in a jail or in a nuthouse. No one – not even bleeding heart liberals – thinks it’s a good idea to have blood drinking child murderers roaming the streets. People that have done a lot less than that are in jail for life.
It’s a shame. This movie could have been a gonzo slasher film, which would have been fine, or it could have been a case study of cloudy morality, which would have been fine, but by trying to mix the two – by combining an unlikely killer with a likely scenario – the film undercut it’s enjoyability and also it’s social relevance.
Winner: the Cat