The Film: (2/5)
The old Troma DVD of Luther the Geek has been like a bad penny for me over the years, popping up online and in used bins all over the place. That ugly cover didn’t help me want to seek out a film that didn’t interest me in the least. Not to mention the fact that Troma distributing a film carries a lot of baggage with it. So now that a reputable label like Vinegar Syndrome has unleashed this steel-toothed horror film on the world, I suppose I ought to take a look.
As a child, Luther witnessed some rednecks goading a circus geek into biting the head off a chicken. This experience damaged his mind (and his teeth) permanently. We catch up with Luther (Edward Terry) as he’s being paroled from a 25 year sentence for murders he committed as a teenager. He immediately goes on a rampage in town, biting out the throat of an old lady who offends him. An unsuspecting woman named Hilary takes Luther home with her after he hides in the backseat of her car. Then the fun (sigh) really begins as Hilary and her daughter Beth fight for their lives.
This films certainly opens with a bang like classic exploitation cinema with some brilliant throwback narration and hits the ground running with the introduction of Luther, a truly unique creation. Unfortunately, this film changes tone from an exercise in manic dark humor to a tense home invasion film before returning to bizarre comedic insanity for the last few minutes. The entire middle section of this movie is a huge waste of time.
A criticism often leveled at slasher and home invasion films is the characters; unlikeable people and/or folks who are too stupid to live, much less survive in a situation where their lives are actually in danger. Luther the Geek has both! A couple of minor nuances to the ladies in peril don’t make up for the tedium of their scenes. Even Luther gets bored and resorts to being a would-be sexual sadist.
Luther on the loose in the city in the beginning is fun as hell and I caught myself cackling nervously at his unpredictable madness. The energy of the setup is infectious so I got even more pissed off once it fizzled out. Luther’s journey could have been something really special but the moment he’s out in the country, this film is over. The requisite gore and T&A (from the lovely Stacy Haiduk) aren’t enough to save the day.
Luther the Geek looks pretty damn good at 1080p in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The daytime scenes look like they were filmed yesterday. There’s a lot of grain in the nighttime scenes but the image is just so sharp that I can’t really complain. The sound mix is also excellent. No complaints from me!
Vinegar Syndrome has brought over all the extras from the Troma disc as well as adding a bunch of new stuff. The introduction from director Carlton J. Albright is totally badass as he doesn’t spare any vitriol for the original production company that apparently, completely mishandled the distribution of Luther the Geek. There’s also a great interview with him as well as an audio commentary track. Albright provides lots of great production and behind-the-scenes trivia and is very opinionated about the people he worked with on this picture. Actor/artist Jerry Clarke (who played the state trooper who tries to save the day) is interviewed as well. Missing on the disc is Edward Terry. I would have loved to hear what he had to say about Luther.
Like many great exploitation films, Luther the Geek has a memorable title and a clever premise. Unfortunately, all of this potential is wasted through over half of the running time. The home invasion stuff is a huge copout and the last joke -when it’s finally delivered- is funny but all of the feathers made my laughter get stuck in my craw. Despite some truly unsettling (and darkly funny) moments and the incredible performance of Edward Terry, this is pretty unimpressive.