Director: Nick Millard
Stars: Priscilla Alden, Michael Flood
Certificate: 18 (UK)
Reviewer: Richard Bernier
I learned a valuable lesson watching the 1975 lensed Criminally Insane: Make sure you give fat people lots of food or they will kill you.
Politically Incorrect life lessons aside, Criminally Insane is a “sort of” cult classic that tells the tale of Ethel Janowski. Ethel has spent the last few years in a Mental Institution because of “violent outbursts” but has recently been released in to the care of her Grandmother. Her well meaning Granny fears Ethel may be a tad overweight and decides to limit her grandiose Granddaughter’s food intake. None to receptive to this new healthier lifestyle, Ethel promptly kills Granny for the keys to the pantry and wastes little time in devouring all the food in the house. Ethel then goes on a decent killing spree in search of carbs, all the while stashing the bodies in Granny’s old room. Further complicating matters, Ethel’s sister and boyfriend stop by to visit. Just to amp up the exploitation meter, Sis just so happens to be a hooker and her boyfriend the pimp. Things of course go from bad to worse as even more fake blood is spilled. All this for Ethel’s love of snacking before (and after) dinner.
Based on the premise you’d think Criminally Insane would be played for at least a few laughs, but instead the film takes itself deadly serious. The irony of course being that the serious tone of the movie causes unintentional laughs throughout. Clocking in at just over an hour, the film was able to keep me entertained. The acting is unpolished to put it nicely, but the lack of thespian skills is made up for in enthusiasm. Priscilla Alden tries especially hard as the maniacal Ethel. The flick is also rarely boring with just the right amount of campy violence, lots of red paint-like blood, and even a few psychedelic dream sequences thrown in to pad out the running time (yes, they needed to pad out the run time of a movie that was barely 60 minutes). We also have what appears to be a store mannequin hacked to death with a meat cleaver. I challenge Industrial Light and Magic to produce a more realistic mannequin death!
Bad movie fans should find some enjoyment from Criminally Insane. There’s unintentional camp, lots of blood, and it’s certainly the best horror film to feature a dangerous over eater since JAWS. It’s also the best film in Director Nick Millard’s undistinguished career. Yes, I’m aware that last one isn’t saying much, (especially if you’ve seen Criminally Insane II) but at least it’s saying something. Just make sure you feed your obese Loved Ones before you sit down to watch.