Schizoid (1980) d. Paulsen, David (USA)
Written/directed by Savage Weekend’s Paulsen, who later enjoyed massive success as a producer of nighttime soaps like Dallas, Dynasty and Knots Landing, Schizoid exhibits hints of being a far more interesting film than the final result. Right around the same time advice columnist Marianna Hill begins receiving anonymous cut n’ paste letters threatening her safety, members of her therapy support group begin falling victim to a mysterious scissor-wielding maniac.
Unfortunately, the affair is handled so clumsily that the various characters might as well have “Suspect” or “Victim” superimposed above their heads, along with a percentage value of the odds. Because our therapist is played by career crazyman Klaus Kinski, he immediately draws pole position as the prime suspect, followed closely by Hill’s ex-husband Craig Wasson, loopy mechanic Christopher Lloyd and Kinski’s embittered daughter Donna Wilkes, angry that dad is knocking boots with the clientele.
Considering the live-wire cast and lurid subject matter, one wishes this had been more sleazy fun. Early on, Kinski eyeballs Wilkes in the shower, hinting at incestuous desires that never rear their heads again.
There’s a mid-film sequence with Lloyd and Hill in an elevator that makes us wish the rising Taxi star had had more to do other than be an obvious red herring.
Wasson has never been one of my favorites, and he does little to curry favor here, egregiously Overacting with a capital O.
There’s a bizarre post-dance tryst between breezy stripper Flo Gerrish and Kinski that comes out of nowhere and leads to same – if he’d been sleeping with all of his female patients, it might have been a kinky little can of worms. Instead, it’s merely an excuse to flash more skin.
(Speaking of which: what therapy group members meet outside of session for topless hot tub parties?)
The killings themselves feel as perfunctory as the nudity, serving as placemarkers by which to watch the clock. Wilkes throws a few engaging snit fits toward Kinski’s liaison with Hill, but it always smacks of a heavy handed misdirect.
The second bill on Scream Factory’s Golan-Globus/Cannon double feature Blu-ray/DVD combo with the loopier, zippier, nigh-hallucinogenic freakshow X-Ray aka Hospital Massacre, Schizoid ultimately feels a bit of a slog with occasional bright moments saving it from being a total waste of time. Similar in tone is Red Shirt Pictures’ interview with Wilkes, which has a few interesting tidbits (accidentally stabbing co-star Wasson during a particularly lively shooting day, touring Europe in support of 1984’s “high school student by day, hooker by night” exploitation smash Angel) but doesn’t really offer much in the way of fresh insight into the actress or the feature.
Schizoid is available for pre-order at Shout! Factory, with a release date of August 20.
--Aaron Christensen, HorrorHound Magazine