Born Killer (1989)

Teenagers? Covered in bugs? What movie were they watching?

“Born Killer” honestly feels like something the regular cast and crew of Action International Pictures (David A Prior’s company) made on a slack weekend. Ted Prior says to David “I’d like to do a movie where I’m the deranged villain”, the two of them knock up a script over a pot of coffee, Kimberley Casey, who was their producer for a few years, indicating she invested in the company, asked for a directing job, regular co-star William Zipp gets the last of his five credits as casting director (?), and this is the end result.

Thank the heavens, though, that we get a war flashback in the first five minutes, just like we have in pretty much every David A Prior-associated movie to this point. They’re from Nick, who had to kill his injured best friend in…a war of some sort. He doesn’t look old enough to have been in Vietnam?

Nick is played by Fritz Matthews, one of the Priors’ early collaborators, and this is his last ever acting job (well, unless you count whatever he does in 2013’s “Deadliest Prey”, the fanservice-sequel to the classic “Deadly Prey”). Much like William Zipp, he’s a totally decent actor and deserved better roles – perhaps neither man enjoyed it all that much and just wanted to help out their friends, though.

So, Nick and his buddies, one car full of guys, one full of gals, are off to the wilderness for a weekend of paintballing. Along the way, they happen upon a chain gang, breaking up rocks and shovelling mud, and the face we ISCFC fans immediately recognise is Ted Prior, as particularly evil convict Spencer. Him and his buddy Anderson (James Adam Tucker) have, for reasons I either missed or were never explained, had pistols planted at the scene by persons unknown, so they can break out. So there’s a big gunfight – in the tradition of David A Prior, of course, no-one can shoot worth a damn – and the two of them escape, leaving the other convicts to sink or swim on their own.

Judging by the info, I assumed that the convicts would stalk the paintballers, but they come together quite quickly, and it’s here, about a third of the way into things, when the movie takes a rather upsetting turn. Spencer and Anderson rape and kill two of the women, beat Nick and his buddy Trapper up, steal their clothes and sort-of depart. Seriously guys, what’s your plan? So when the sheriff (who could 100% make a career as a Ted Turner lookalike) and his deputies turn up, you’ve got a couple of normal guys in prison outfits, a couple of prisoners in normal outfits, and a whole heap of cops, wandering round the woods.

It’s clear the two movies the Priors saw before writing their script for this were “First Blood” and “Deliverance”, and perhaps they’d seen part of “High Plains Drifter” too. Nick and Trapper are forced to kill a few cops in order to survive, and Spencer and Anderson keep popping up to kill people (or to rape and kill the remaining woman of the group, Spencer doing it while Anderson cheers him on like a geek). The sheriff is so determined to avenge the deaths of the prison guards that, even when evidence is presented to him that the two guys in prison outfits might not be the escapees, he demands that his deputies hang everyone they find, anyway.

It’s a very dark, quite disjointed movie, with any camp fun definitely spoiled by the sexual assault stuff. Spencer says “soldier boy” to refer to Nick approximately 17,000 times during the movie’s 90 minutes, and they unfortunately forget to give Nick an arc. He uses his soldiering skills to fight back against both Spencer and Anderson, but it’s safe to say he’s not getting over his PTSD after the events he witnesses.

There are technical lulls you don’t normally associate with an AIP movie, which is a sentence I never thought I’d write. Like how Spencer’s chest tattoo starts wearing off in the middle of the final fist-fight; or how Anderson keeps forgetting to limp after he gets a spike through his thigh; or how one of the paintballers is being held hostage and the two villains just forget about him in one scene, yet there he is, still a hostage in the next scene. Run the hell away! Or edit your movie better!

So it’s a curious one, is “Born Killer”. Not dull, but definitely not good either. Prior relishes the chance to play the villain; but it’s really just a bunch of people running round the woods, same as the ultra-low-budget monster movies we used to review a few years ago. Just generic and makes you think of plenty of better movies and how you’d rather be watching them.

Rating: thumbs down


One thought on “Born Killer (1989)

  1. Pingback: Invasion Force (1990) |

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