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Hillside Strangler, The

Kenneth is obsessed with women. He takes advantage of the power provided by his position as security guard to spy on and harass them. His unclean references prohibit him from achieving his goal: to become a police officer. Having his services turned done one time too many, he leaves everything behind and leaves the state of New York and heads for Los Angeles where his cousin Angelo awaits.

Angelo lives by drugs and sex. Following their reunion, he drags his guest into a club where people shamelessly engage in sexual relations on the dance floor to the rhythm of the disco music. Kenneth smokes what seems to be his first joint and joins the party.

Even in California, Kenneth is unable to find work. He therefore obtains a few psychology certificates from questionable sources and treats his clients as best he can, using the limited knowledge he managed to acquire. He eventually meets a woman with whom he falls in love.

One day, the promise of a better life comes knocking on his door. Angelo proposes a very interesting and paying project. He puts him in charge of recruiting escorts for his agency. Kenneth accepts, curious. He tricks simple women by promising them the moon and then menacing to kill and brutalize them if they don’t prostitute themselves in the agency.

All this is only a preface to an even worse drama. Soon, all the hatred concerning women that the two cousins have kept inside all these years comes out. They rape and kill women, prostitutes for the most part, and abandon the cadavers on the scene of the crime. The police is always one step behind the culprits but the cousins enjoy their routine and don’t plan on slowing down any time soon.





I have no idea to what point The Hillside Strangler accurately depicts the events that truly happened at the end of the seventies but this film’s realism is gripping. The scenes of violence and rape are not simple pretexts. They reflect real events. The scenes are far from as crude as what was seen in the controversial I Spit on Your Grave, but not as skillfully filmed as in those suggested in If I Die Before I Wake.

Ironically, one could sympathize with Kenneth (C. Thomas Howell). He seems to have been the victim of his own nature and from his cousin’s bad influence but his main flaw is that he is blind to his new girlfriend’s love, a girlfriend who deserved to be cherished. He ends up treating her as one of his “employees”.

Sadly, everything zips by too quickly in this film. The story is spread out over a period of at least ten months, we must assume, but you’ll end up confused because of the lack of transitions and milestones in the lives of the main characters. The relation between Angelo and Kenneth follows a direction that is told almost step by step and gives the impression to span only a few weeks. The relation between Kenneth and his girlfriend, for its part, is the only beacon to help us keep track of time but it seems desynchronized and hustled when it could bring a whole lot more to the film.

The dialogues are not always perfect. Some are even involuntarily amusing. Nudity is very present, in all contexts. The film isn’t bloody but its brutality can be hard to watch. You’ll love to hate Angelo. As far as we’re concerned, his philosophy relating to prostitutes is eventually summarized to: “They deserve to die!”. Interesting comment, coming from the mouth of the man that converts simple women to prostitutes.

The finale caught me off guard and, simultaneously, confused me. To what point is this film based on a true story? The conclusion injected doubt into my mind. Personally, I think this film could have been conceived in the mind of an author and it would have remained as entertaining. As opposed to the typical true story, here the heroes are evil. Furthermore, the goal isn’t to make you cry but more to make you revisit your fears.

Final Thoughts

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Memorables aspects
- Kenneth is initiated to threesomes.
- The kidnapper’s "infallible" trick fails.

Memorables characters

Released in: 2004

Movie type: Horror - Gore - Thriller - Drama - Historical - Taboos - Sexuality - Nudity - Addictions

Films in similar category:
Scream For Me
In a Glass Cage
The Witch Who Came from the Sea
I Spit on Your Grave
Savage Vengeance

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( 2004-10-22 )  

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