Review by MrParka
The cover of “Murderlust” would grab anyone’s attention while they wondered through the video store in 1985. The cover is a sleazy painting, the perversion nearly falling of the case as a young woman undresses, a tense male figure standing in the foreground, with suggestive violence in his body language. This sort of 80’s video store flair really set the standard and expectations for films of this nature. Thanks to Intervision we will find out if “Murderlust” meets that expectation and hopefully doesn’t leave us let down like so many vividly drawn covers of yesteryear.
“Murderlust” follows the story of Steve Belmont, a psychopath who plays out like America’s serial killers' greatest hits. He’s like Kenneth Bianchi with sprinkles of Dennis Rader and Gary Ridgeway (the latter two yet to be caught when the film was released) Belmont is an alcoholic, impotent loser who can’t keep a job down but leads a promising double life as a church youth counselor, where he is respected and beloved. This double life for Steve lets the film dig deep into his sociopathic nature and we see him at his most charming and embarrassing. The films subject matter seems to have been researched fairly well and it comes across in the portrayal of a serial killer and his methods. The lead should be praised for turning in a very unsettling performance. Like a true serial killer, he is charming when he needs to be and menacing when the time comes; a step above the remaining cast, not to say they aren’t good, as well. In scenes where Belmont is arguing with his boss, you almost forget that you hate him as he aggravates his employer; his immature antics are somewhat comedic. The desert is our killer's dumping ground; hence the moniker the papers have given him, a semi lame alliteration “The Mojave Murderer”. The vast scope and isolation of the desert let the filmmakers show off some wonderful aerial shots that add in some production values, beefing up the camera work. “Murderlust” is surprisingly bloodless until the finale, but makes up for it with its cruelty and tense moments when the killer lures in his prey. The tension puts “Murderlust” firmly into the horror category, but also separates it from standard slasher fair. The synth score is of its time but fits the plot and works on an enjoyable memorable level. Overall “Murderlust” is a well-directed, written, and acted horror film worth your time and living up to its cover.
The film appears to have been shot on film and edited on tape and Intervision gives us a widescreen presentation. It’s rough looking, but never dark or unwatchable. The DVD consists of a insightful commentary with the film's writer, an entire bonus film “Project Nightmare” (a hokey yet highly imaginative science fiction thriller about isolation and computer mind creation), an isolated commentary for the bonus feature, and a awesome trailer for “Murderlust”. Overall a nice release well worth its price point.
From enigmatic director Donald M. Jones comes one of the most disturbing and rarely seen serial killer sagas of the 80s: By day, mild-mannered Steve Belmont (Eli Rich of THE JIGSAW MURDERS) is a clean-cut teacher and youth counselor at his Los Angeles church. But by night, he's a sexual psychopath who murders prostitutes and dumps their bodies in the Mojave Desert. Ashley St. Jon (TAKIN IT OFF) co-stars in this overlooked and effective (Horrorpedia) chiller, now with an all-new audio commentary and available uncut on DVD for the first time ever.
Bonus Second Feature: Jones trippy directorial debut, PROJECT NIGHTMARE is the obscure VHS nugget now restored for DVD that Unobtanium13.com calls something of a surrealistic masterpiece!