With Tim O’Kelly, Boris Karloff, Nancy Hsueh and Peter Bogdanovich
“Is that what I was afraid of?”
Byron Orlok (Boris Karloff)
Bobby Thompson (Tim O’Kelly) is the All American Boy. He’s blonde, handsome, has a beautiful wife and a wonderful family. He has a sporty mustang convertible that was very much in vogue at the time. Then something happens, something makes this guy snap and buy a bunch of ammunition and begins shooting random people, committing random acts of violence that has a final showdown at a local drive-in movie theater where a retiring actor Byron Orlok (Boris Karloff) is attending the final showing of his latest film.
Byron Orlok is an iconic actor who is extremely well established and wealthy. His final film is going to be his last, though he hasn’t told many anyone but his assistant Jenny (Nancy Hsueh). Something has made this well established legendary actor snap, and decided enough is enough – I’m done.
These two men meet together for a final exchange at a local drive-in movie theater where the term “bitch slap” was conceived and born. This film is masterfully guided by novice director Peter Bogdanovich (who also takes on the roll of Karloff’s young and dream-filled director) who made this film for practically nothing for accidental genius Roger Corman.
Tim O’Kelly is magnificent as Bobby Thompson; who on the outside is the perfect mold of an American, but inside he’s hollow – even empty. He’s a returned Vietnam veteran (although the film does a marvelous job of not even slightly using Vietnam as an excuse) and he breaks, he begins killing people who a long distance rifle, sniping them from their cars on the expressway, and then moves to a crowded drive-in. I’ve not seen O’Kelly in anything else, and I don’t know why.
The film ends with one of the most climactic endings to any film I’ve seen. The sniper is on the run from the police; Byron Orlok has spotted the sniper and begins walking him down, the sniper sees Orlok on the gigantic screen behind him, and the towering actor stomping towards him – he doesn’t know what to do! He begins shooting – this does not stop our hero. He approaches the young killer and – I’m not going to give it away, see the film as soon as you can (it’s on Netflix instant!).
Oh, and Boris Karloff is fucking amazing.