Director: Sal Longo
Year of release: 1995
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 103/104 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: DVD only
Tagline: "His delusion means death for everyone else"!
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: Left mentally unbalanced by traumatic experiences in the Vietnam war, intelligent but deadly David begins slaughtering young women who resemble a figure from his military past.
Caught and incarcerated in a mental institution, David is temporarily reeled in and for a few years normalcy resumes. After a period of good behaviour the seemingly docile and remorseful David is downgraded to a less secure facility. It’s after this change of scenery that the resourceful and deceptive David hatches a plan to escape and assume the identity of his former doctor.
As the plan comes together seamlessly the escapee begins to return to his old murderous ways. At the same time he also begins using his new doctor credentials to get close to those within the police force looking into his escape and most recent murder thereafter.
Good points: *I liked the figure of David Kates (not sure if I’m getting the last name right) as the killer of the picture. He was something quite different from what we’re used to seeing in slasher villains and more in the vein of a Norman Bates or even Patrick Bateman. On the surface he appears normal enough and this more down to earth and friendly demeanour enables him to blend into society and worm his way into peoples good graces. Admittedly I’m normally a stickler for the need of a mask and costume which is completely absent here. On the odd occasion though it works well when going the other way and in this case David makes for a slick and slimy bad guy who’s fun to watch. Looks-wise I also found it interesting that he wears glasses which isn’t something too often seen in a slasher villain. Adding to his appeal were several comical shots of him peering through windows and whatnot beforehand in peeping tom fashion when picking a new victim.
I also felt that the actor portraying the character did a very solid job. Elsewhere the acting largely isn’t very good but for the killer he seemed more smooth and comfortable in his delivery than most everyone else.
*As is often the case with extremely obscure films such as this one the budget is very minimal. It’s what would probably fall under the umbrella of a micro budget film. In comparison to a lot of other similarly budgeted slasher films I’ve seen however I’d say this one seems to have had a bit more care and attention poured into it in terms of the script/story. That’s not to say there aren’t some failings but it turned out to have more going on script-wise than I initially anticipated. It was nice for example that they made an effort to provide something of a backstory to explain why David was targeting certain women with the inclusion of the Vietnam flashbacks.
In the early stages for the first ten minutes or so there was barely any dialogue so I feared it may be similar to films such as Meathook Massacre or Camp Blood 4/5 which are very basic in terms of story with little in the way of a script. There’s a lot more going on here though as I soon discovered and my early concerns were quickly put to rest.
*As you can imagine I bought the film as I collect slashers but with this being so obscure I’m sure that most who’d come across this would be fans of W.A.V.E. Productions. W.A.V.E incidentally is the name of the website which sells the film along with many other similar type films. Possibly it's a company called In Dire Straits who actually made the film with W.A.V.E being a partner distribution and promotion company. From browsing through the W.A.V.E site it seems as if they specialise in sleazy exploitive style cinema and fans of that type of product will be well catered for here. It’s sleazy indeed with some hot women among the cast.
What might really appeal to a certain crowd is that Fatal Delusion is billed as the first film appearance of Tina Krause. Tina went on to appear in dozens of low budget horror and B-movies including many more under the W.A.V.E umbrella. I’ve only seen her in a couple of films myself, Camp Blood 666 and Day of the Ax both of which I’ve covered elsewhere on the site. She actually plays three different characters here, all victims of the killer. She looks great, much younger than the couple of times I’d seen her before, definitely at the peak of her powers I’d say in terms of catching the eye.
Note: One thing to mention is that the IMDB actually has a few film credits for Tina Krause before 1995’s Fatal Delusion. It’s either a case of it being inaccurate that this is said to be her first film or more likely Fatal Delusion was filmed at least in part a year or two earlier than it’s eventual 1995 release date.
Bad Points: *Things can be too unrealistic at times, not least when it comes to David’s scheme to assume the identity of his doctor. Though it sounds good on paper it isn’t executed all that well with no effort made by the killer to actually pass himself off as the doctor looks-wise. They did have one or two things in common in that they were maybe of a similar age and both wore glasses but these things alone wouldn’t be enough to fool anyone. As a notorious serial killer David’s face would surely be well known to all and sundry and certainly to those in the police force. Despite this though he eventually begins working for the police as a kind of consultant yet no one seems to recognise him!
A lesser thing to mention is that there’s an attractive female cop among the cast who dresses in too much of a sexy manner when on the job. She more resembles a stripper wearing a sexual fantasy style cop outfit. As good as she looks it’s unrealistic and makes it tough to suspend your disbelief. It’s not as over the top in fairness though as similar situations in films like Fantom Killer or Hot Blood Sundae.
*Something which quite surprised me with this being a micro budget film is that it really goes the distance with a running time of over 100 minutes. Though I don’t think it ever became a chore to sit trough it did feel too long and would have benefitted from being trimmed/streamlined. Some of the parts where David's struggling with a victim for example, attempting to throttle them seem overlong and too drawn out.
*The low budget does hinder things to some degree when it comes to the presentation and the acting. One or two lead characters like David and the female cop are good but many of the others leave a lot to be desired. It’s part of the charm though I guess in a film like this.
Perhaps more distracting are the bargain basement looking sets as well as the editing which I sometimes found to be too rapid fire.
The lighting isn’t good at times either, in particular towards the end the picture becomes noticeably darker and more fuzzy looking. That said though the audio quality was fine from start to finish which is more important to me than picture quality.
Verdict: This was my first time with one of these W.A.V.E produced/distributed films and it didn’t put me off from feeling the need to check out more in the future. The killer here is fun to watch and some attractive girls including Tina Krause in multiple roles add to the entertainment.
It feels a bit overlong but if you can make do with that as well as turning a blind eye to one or two unrealistic bits then you might find a decent title here. Obviously the meagre budget is in evidence throughout but if you don’t mind these things too much this isn’t half bad.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1)Woman in black: Strangled.
2)Woman in hotel: Stabbed in the stomach and guts pulled out.
4)Male doctor/psychiatrist: Beaten to death with hammer (off camera).
5)Stripper: Stabbed in the back and possibly also the stomach. Hand then cut off with hatchet.
6)Female police officer (Nancy): Suffocated with plastic bag over her head.
7)Nancy’s roommate: Drugged and pulled off camera to presumably be killed off screen.
8)Male policeman: Stabbed in the back.
9)Female private investigator: Choked into unconsciousness and then stabbed in the upper chest.
10)News reporter: Cut up with chainsaw.
Review added on the 13th of December 2020.