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Film Review: Delirium (1979)

SYNOPSIS:

A deranged killer (that looks like a cracked out Seth Macfarlane) is stalking the streets of St. Louis, taking out a number of unfortunate women that he happens to come into contact with. When the cops spring into action to stop him they discover that he is just part of something a lot darker and even though they may be able to put an end to his rampage that doesn’t mean that the bloodshed is over.

REVIEW:

Delirium is an odd little movie and I’m not sure how I felt about it. On the one hand it has its moments and is genuinely interesting but at the same time it feels a little disjointed at the same time. It is almost like there are two different movies going on here at the same time and it is obvious that it was written by a couple of different people (who may or may not have spoken to each other while they were working on the screenplay). I’m not saying that this makes it a bad movie but it is almost like one movie ends at the halfway point and then another one begins until the end credits start to roll.

As a result it’s sort of difficult to classify what category to put the film in as it is your standard slasher flick for the first half only to turn into a crime drama/evil conspiracy flick for the second half. I enjoyed it for the most part but think that maybe the two different ideas behind the movie could have come together a little better because the execution was a little off and the change in tone toward the middle doesn’t quite work as well as it should have.

I actually liked the plot (or should I say plots?) and thought that it (they?) worked for the most part. We have this kooky guy named Charlie that is going around and killing women because of something that happened to him when he was trying to be intimate with a woman in the past that has left him traumatized. It doesn’t help that he was also in Vietnam and is tormented by the horrible memories of all the terrible things that he experienced during his time there and as such has pretty much gone off the deep end.

We follow him around for over half the movie as he kills woman after woman and then things shift gears and we find out that he is part of this shady group (made up of other Vietnam vets) brought together for a specific purpose by some creepy guys that think that they know what is best for the country. I don’t want to spoil anything by telling you what the purpose of the group is but what they do is very similar to what a certain unstable blood splatter analyst that appeared on a very popular TV show on Showtime did for several seasons a few years back.

Unfortunately though Charlie was a little too nuts even for this group and instead of doing his job correctly he decided that he should just kill whoever he wanted whenever he wanted.  I’ll admit that it’s a pretty interesting concept and somewhat original, but when the two plots intersect that’s when things start to go downhill and the second half of the movie-though ambitious-isn’t quite as interesting and the first and I sort of lost interest a bit. What starts out as a somewhat  interesting slasher flick turns into your typical episode of Simon & Simon(wow, what an obscure reference, huh?) or some other crime drama television show from back in the day and doesn’t have nearly the same punch.

I think that the biggest mistake that the film makes is killing off Charlie at the halfway point and then focusing on the cops trying to figure out who is behind the group that he was a part of and what their intentions are. Poor old Charlie gets offed by one of his would-be victims in a pretty easy fashion without much of a fight and it just comes out of nowhere. I was more than a little surprised when I realized that there was still a half hour or so left in the movie after he dies and was even more surprised by the direction that the film takes after his demise.

I kept expecting him to somehow rise from the dead and make another appearance before everything was said and done but it just didn’t happen and instead he is almost totally forgotten about for the remainder of the movie as the main characters focus on going up against the mysterious group that he was a part of. The ending is pretty cookie cutter and uninspired and you can probably pretty much figure out what happens when our heroes finally discover the truth behind the group and take them on at their secret headquarters.

I also didn’t particularly care for how women were portrayed in the film either. Most of them are either totally stupid, complete whores, or a combination of both (the hitchhiker chick Charlie picks up at one point  is probably the worst of them). If I didn’t know any better I would say that the two guys that wrote the movie had a problem with women and looked down on them in general for some unknown reason. I know that most female victims that appear in slasher flicks for the primary purpose of just being fodder for the killer are typically not the smartest people in the world but the ones in Delirium are just insultingly bad. If you enjoy horror films that feature intelligent, resourceful women that are self-reliant enough to get their way out of a jam then this film is definitely not for you.

Did I like Delirium? I did but I didn’t. I think that the people behind it started the project with good intentions and some interesting and creative ideas but somewhere along the process of putting the film together things sort of fell apart and while the end result isn’t horrible it could have been a lot better. Surprisingly enough it was one of the movies on the infamous Video Nasties list for some reason despite the fact that it really isn’t that gory and doesn’t have a great deal of nudity in it for the most part. I guess in the end I can say that it is just an okay movie but definitely nothing special that really stays with you after everything is said and done. Check it out if you are curious, but keep in mind that you will most likely get bored with it once the second half gets going like I did.

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