The Zodiac Killer (1971)

The Zodiac Killer (1971) movie poster

director Tom Hanson
viewed: 04/15/2017

The Zodiac Killer is an interesting artifact. It’s an Exploitation picture made by Tom Hanson on the quick and cheap primarily as a stunt to try and trap the actual Zodiac Killer himself in the theater, coming to see a movie about his doings. Hanson premiered the film in San Francisco, self-promoting, and set up an elaborate, highly flawed scheme involving questionnaire cards and a motorcycle raffle, and a guy in a freezer to try to catch the killer (Temple of Schlock has a interesting interview with Hanson on the details).

What’s left for viewers in 2017 is a freshened-up print of the film from AGFA and Something Weird, where it plays out as a sleazy little thriller made on the serious cheap. Based on some facts of the case and some wildly speculative additions, it oozes misogyny, grit, and grime.

It opens with a bit of a head-fake, suggesting that the killer might be a middle aged scumbag truck driver but quickly shifts to a younger, disaffected rabbit-loving devil worshiping mailman (played by Hal Read).

Considering its low budget and swift production as a means to an end, it’s unsurprisingly inconsistent but alternatively effective.


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