The Strangler (1964) starring David McLean, Victor Buono, Ellen Corby
Victor Buono is “The Strangler” – a meek, quiet hospital technician, under the thumb of his shrewish mother. Who goes on a killing spree, and leaving the police baffled.
The Strangler is a riveting crime story, primarily due to Victor Buono’s acting. He plays a very driven man. A man under the thumb of his nasty, controlling, smothering mother. He’s been killing women, seemingly randomly. But it’s actually the nurses who are, or were, taking care of his mother.
The killer is very intelligent, as he demonstrates when talking to a female co-worker. She has a plan to set a trap for the mysterious killer, should he try to enter her apartment. And he quickly explains why the intelligent killer would see through the trap, disarm it, and enter her apartment — if he wanted to.
It’s a chilling, riveting performance, and highly recommended.
Ripped — somewhat — from the headlines, this dark and gripping study of a serial killer capitalized on the then-current (then-unsolved) Boston Strangler murders. The Strangler grips you forcefully by the throat via the skin-crawling performance of Victor Buono, fresh off his Oscar -nominated turn as Jane Hudson’s would-be comeback partner in the macabre What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Buono’s schizophrenic hospital lab technician is (shades of Baby Jane) fixated on dolls, which he eerily equates with his victims.
But when he breaks his pattern and slays a ninth victim out of rage, that very fetish could prove his undoing. Ramping up the creepiness factor, Ellen Corby, later immortalized as warm, wise Grandma Walton, plays Buono’s harridan invalid mother, whose constant carping could make anybody homicidal. Two years later, Buono would play Batman villain King Tut, enshrining him as a camp icon afterward. Tautly directed by Burt Topper, The Strangler is a bracing reminder of a powerful actor who could render moviegoers breathless.
Cast of characters
- Victor Buono (Batman TV series)… Leo Kroll
- David McLean (Kingdom of the Spiders) … Lt. Frank Benson
- Diane Sayer (Kitten with a Whip) … Barbara Wells
- Davey Davison (Marriage on the Rocks) … Tally Raymond
- Baynes Barron (From Hell It Came) … Sgt. Mack Clyde
- Ellen Corby (The Waltons, Sabrina) … Mrs. Kroll
- Michael Ryan (Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins) … Detective Mel Posner
- Russ Bender (The Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow) … Dr. Clarence Sanford
- Jeanne Bates … Clara Thomas, the Nurse
- Wally Campo (The Little Shop of Horrors 1960) … Eggerton
- Mimi Dillard … Thelma
- Byron Morrow (King Kong vs Godzilla) … Dr. Morton
- John Yates (Firefox) … Intern
- James Sikking (Hill Street Blues, Star Trek III) … Police Sketch Artist
- Robert Cranford … Jack Rosten
- Selette Cole … Helen Lawson