Wednesday, 28 February 2018



It's taken nearly two months, but I've finally managed to break my 2018 duck regarding one-star movies. While genuinely making an effort to avoid the most obvious rubbish, my nostalgic taste for seventies serial killer procedurals has allowed this underpowered puff of slasher nothingness to slip through the net: maybe it's not actively terrible enough to get angry and bitter over, but the 86 minutes and change could have been put to so many better uses, including the washing up, staring vacantly out of the window or having an early night.

Allegedly based on fact (and supposedly inspired by the activities of lovable scamp Ted Bundy), The Sport Killer is as much of an underwhelming cop thriller as an underwhelming slasher movie. There's a maniac tooling around in a yellow van, picking up young women and killing them, and a square-jawed maverick cop out to stop him. Our hero's boss (who wears a straw hat in the office for no apparent reason) won't give him the manpower to track the psycho down even though the DA is busting his ass (or something), so he has to put his own girlfriend in there as bait....

It's all very bland and tastefully restrained outside of a few crime scene photos; there's nothing in the way of blood and gore and it could probably get away with a 15 if anyone actually bothered to submit it in the UK, which thus far no-one ever has. Curiously, the film it feels most like a homage to is Dirty Harry, with its San Francisco settings, its old-fashioned cop willing to break some rules (and laws) to track the creep down, and even the score with echoes of vintage Schifrin (even utilising the waterphone as Dirty Harry did). Sadly, no-one on The Sport Killer is any kind of Siegel, Eastwood or Schifrin (or even Andrew Robinson): the film just sits there, playing on your screen until it stops.

Watchable and professionally enough mounted it might be, but it's hardly a lost classic worthy of rediscovery: for one thing it's saddled with a dull title (though it's scarcely any better than the original Killer's Delight) that might make the viewer think they were in for a teenkill opus of the Graduation Day variety. Like a lot of 70s movies there's a nostalgic charm to the hair, the clothes, the cars and the attitudes, but you could get all that from watching a hundred other, immeasurably better, films of the era. The Sport Killer is not - not quite - boring enough to make you switch it off, but it's nowhere near exciting, thrilling or interesting enough to make you glad you put it on in the first place. Astonishingly average.