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Addicted to Murder   B-

Brimstone Productions

Year Released: 1995
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Kevin Lindenmuth
Writers: Kevin Lindenmuth, Tom Piccirilli
Cast: Mick McCleery, Laura McLauchlin, Sasha Graham, Gordon Linzner, Candice Meade, Sewell Whitney, Jolee Becker, Bernadette Pauley.

Review by Michael Scrutchin

Addicted to Murder deftly mixes two prominent horror subgenres and comes up with something quite unique. It brings together two kinds of monsters -- that is, it tosses a brooding serial killer into the world of bloodsucking vampires. The story unfolds in nonlinear fashion, using flashbacks and jumping around the timeline. The narrative can be confusing at times, but it still pulled me in with its almost hypnotic allure.

Joel Winter (Mick McCleery) had a rough childhood in Michigan. Abused by his parents and taunted his peers, Joel had a special friend named Rachel (Laura McLauchlin). But Rachel was, um -- what's the politically correct way to put this? -- a vampire. At some point, they realized that they could satisfy each other's cravings. You see, Joel liked to play with knives and Rachel had this need to be killed time and again. It was a mutual relationship -- he repeatedly killed her (by knife, chainsaw, or electrocution) and they both walked away satisfied. But after Joel's mother died, Rachel abandoned him and he moved to New York City.

Joel, of course, still has these cravings to kill. And that, he does. He has become a virtually emotionless murderer, stumbling through life trying to find some kind of meaning. Killing is a strange kind of release for him, but it still doesn't make him feel anything. After butchering one innocent woman, he looks in the mirror and asks himself, "Why don't you feel anything, Joel?" Soon he meets another sexy bloodsucker named Angie (Sasha Graham), who reminds him of his old pal Rachel. But what exactly does Angie want from him?

Directed by Kevin Lindenmuth, Addicted to Murder has an uneasy, nightmarish quality that never lets up. Set mostly against the mean streets of New York, Addicted to Murder is gritty and strangely surreal. Although the image quality is a bit murky (it's shot on video), this film is a pleasure to look at, with Lindenmuth using striking camera angles and a rich tapestry of colors to enhance the mood. This movie has atmosphere, that's for sure.

I just wish the nonlinear narrative hadn't been so frustrating. Maybe it's just me, maybe I had most of my brain cells switched off when I watched it, but the narrative structure didn't quite gel with me. Scattered throughout the movie are TV interviews with people regarding Joel (his ex-wife and a psychologist, for instance), but these also just seem to get in the way.

The clever script (written by Lindenmuth and Tom Piccirilli) has much to admire, though, which only makes one wish that the rough spots had been ironed out a little better. The performances by Sasha Graham and Laura McLauchlin are pretty damn good. And what can I say about Mick McCleery? Nobody broods quite like this guy. There's a lot to treasure in Addicted to Murder, and it makes one wonder what Kevin Lindenmuth and company could accomplish with a real budget.

Review published 06.02.2000.

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