May 31, 2012

Filthy Review - 'The Turnpike Killer'

The Turnpike Killer (2012)

Review Jude Felton

In my review of 2010s’ The Super, which was directed by Evan Makrogiannis and Brian Weaver, I made mention of the fact that it brought the grime back to New York City. It took us back to that time in the 70s’ and 80s’ where it was a violent and scary place, or at least that is how the city was portrayed. Now the directing duo have unleashed their latest flick, The Turnpike Killer, and amped that violence and grime up a notch or two.

The Turnpike Killer is an ultra-low-budget movie that makes The Super look positively polished by comparison, and I don’t mention this as a negative. It is a stripped down, raw and incredibly violent movie that doesn’t want you as a friend; it wants to assault you and instill self-loathing for watching it. The Turnpike Killer is a nasty film.

The film follows the hate-filled man, Jon Beest, as he murders his way through New York. He is guided by the voice of his father, who wants him to find the “chosen one”. This pretty much involves Jon killing anyone that crosses his path, and generally speaking not in a pleasant manner. The police are at a loss as to who is responsible for these slayings, but Detective Lloyd is determined to solve the mystery.

The plot is nothing special, as you can probably tell, and The Super was far superior in this department. For sheer dirty violence though, The Turnpike Killer is head and shoulders above the latter movie. There are more graphic movies out there, but don’t get me wrong when I say that this is a violent and unpleasant movie. This is the intention though; murderers are nice people and should not be portrayed as idols or heroes. There is no chance of that happening here.

In terms of tone I would probably liken The Turnpike Killer to Maniac or The New York Ripper, in fact I would not be at all surprised if they were both influences. There is a constant downbeat air to the movie; it sure isn’t going to make you feel good.

As for the film itself on a technical level, it is incredibly low budget. The image is grainy, which only enhances the overall effect, and some of the acting is a little suspect at times. Despite the limitations of the budget though the film does work on a purely violent level, and the addition of the terrific score, from Michael Makrogiannis, only adds to the films authenticity.

Bill McLaughlin is spot on as Jon Beest. He doesn’t give an acting master class, but this brute of a man is convincing as this rage-fuelled killer. Demetri Kallas and Manoush, who both starred in The Super (in different roles), also pop up in suitably menacing roles, neither of whom I would recommend messing with.

Overall, The Turnpike Killer is a thoroughly unpleasant movie; you aren’t going to walk away from this one feeling good about yourself. It is however a quite terrific slice of low budget horror. It won’t appeal to everyone, especially those that like a little more polish to their movies, and the tone is just so downbeat. As a companion to The Super, and homage to the ultra-violent New York City of old, though it is a wonderful love letter, flaws and all.

The Turnpike Killer is released on June 22nd on Limited Edition Retro 80s Boxset which you can pre-order here.

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