Directed by Michael Feifer
Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment
In the mid Sixties one man in Chicago committed one of the most heinous and controversial crimes in the history of our country. His name was Richard Speck. Many people have a sick fascination with serial killers and mass murderers. Frequently these sick fucks become celebrities with legions of fans. What happens when an event occurs that defies the imagination? The answer is simple. Somebody makes a movie about it. The same team who brought you the surprisingly good Ed Gein (review here) have returned with another trip down Dismember-Me Lane.
For those unaware of this lunatic’s crimes, Richard Speck (played here with surprisingly chilling ferocity by Corin Nemec of TV’s “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose”) spent the night of July 14th, 1966, holding nine student nurses captive inside their dorm. One by one he took them away to be beaten, raped, and then murdered. Sometimes not necessarily in that order. With his rocks thoroughly off, and his bloodlust for the moment sated, Speck headed off into the night and thankfully never killed again. Being that in the Sixties we didn’t have access to today’s many forensic tools, he probably would have gotten away with it, too. That is, if he didn’t leave behind a survivor. That one woman’s voice would be the key to his undoing, and here in Chicago Massacre: Richard Speck the actress who played her was almost mine.
Things were moving along just fine with slick direction and solid performances from all involved including genre vets Andrew Divoff and Tony Todd. I was with this film all the way until one of the worst actresses I’ve seen in recent memory got a chance to open her mouth and snivel out her lines with all the conviction of a lifeless robot. Speck may have been doing the killing in 1966, but Joanne Chew was murdering the film before my very eyes. As soon as she makes an appearance and opens her mouth, things grind to a screeching halt as if to remind us that what we’re watching is a low-budget film. Everything could very well have ended for me right there, but then she was gone. I breathed a sigh of relief upon her scene ending. Things were finally getting back on track.
She came back! Again. And then again! Oh my fucking god, she’s now a principle character! How could this happen?!? Imagine if you will taking a great trip and three quarters of the way through your good time, someone sits next to you and takes a huge stinky shit. There’s still more that you want to see, but now you have to deal with a horrid stench for the rest of the day. That’s exactly what I liken this experience to. I guess in the end it was director Michael Feifer who ultimately let the wrong person live.
It was time to limp quietly to the supplemental material. All that’s here are a couple of deleted scenes (which don’t really add much), a bit of a lively commentary, and a still gallery. Cool. My job here was done.
This is a sad case. One rotten apple completely ruined the whole batch. Who knows; maybe if Ms. Chew had been surrounded by other actors of a similar level, her performance wouldn’t have been so noticeably bad. The fact is when you’re out there with real talent, you have to bring your A-game, especially when everything else in the movie is spot on.
Check this flick out if only to see Corin Nemec’s powerhouse performance as Speck. Watch half the movie, and then skip to the last chapter. You’ll be a lot happier.
Audio commentary with writer/director Michael Feifer and actor Corin Nemec
Two deleted scenes
2 1/2 out of 5
2 out of 5
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