Halloween Hangover, Day 1: Justin and Blaine on Something Weird/AGFA’s THE ZODIAC KILLER

Leave it to Something Weird Video and AGFA to dig up an oddity like The Zodiac Killer. This is a bizarre film who’s own tale of production is 10x more interesting than the film itself. Tom Hanson was a San Francisco small business owner who was running into some money problems. He hatched a scheme to capture The Zodiac while he was still active and use the reward money to pay his debts. The plan was to make a low budget movie that would draw out the killer and he would get his handwriting and address from a raffle in the cinema. His plan may not have worked, but what he created is still one of the most unique films to date. Rarely do we get to see a film so quickly assembled that excels in being entertaining as hell.

The Zodiac Killer is told in 3 parts and follows the killer in a highly fictionalized manor. We first start by following a lonely business man that is clearly a red herring. We then meet the real killer and this is when things get a little more curious…to say the least. He turns out to be a crazed Satanist who goes around killing most people he comes in contact with. Most people he kills are folks that he knows, usually over trivial rudeness. The final part pieces together a loose idea of what motivated the zodiac to kill. Its a flimsy, but fun explanation that is part pop-psychology and part cinematic convenience. If this sounds confusing, you are right. Don’t worry, we get a voiceover that attempts to wrap up the story and give a grand threat to the audience.

I usually don’t go into this much detail, but it is important to understand the structure when discussing this movie. The Zodiac Killer stands out because it has no interest in resembling any other film ever made. Each segment feels oddly placed, but (somehow) comes together like a fever dream of murder. It falls into the category of “regional cinema”, but feels like a real (Hollywood) movie due to being shot on film. It is often messy, but this messiness is where the film’s charm is found.

It also helps that AGFA has given this movie the makeover of a lifetime. The picture is cleaned up and looks beautiful and the soundtrack is far better than it deserves. If you are a fan of “homemade cinema” or just love one-of-a-kind movies, then snag a copy of this Blu-ray. To wrap this up I will leave you with the final line of this picture… “Well, I don’t want to take any more of your time. Besides, it really wouldn’t do any good. I mean, you’re not going to be careful, are you? I’ll be seeing you. [laughter]”. (Blaine)


While I don’t actually disagree with anything Blaine said above, he genuinely enjoyed the film… me, not so much. I didn’t hate it. I’ll likely watch it again at some point. However, I didn’t find it as charmingly quirky as he did. It was rather dull, outside of a few small, enjoyable scenes.

On the other hand, the history of the film – as outlined by Blaine above – is fascinating as all Hell. Making a movie to attract the killer out in the open is an incredibly interesting idea. Of course, the plan didn’t work out so well. Yet, the fact that anyone thought this was the best strategy and then somehow came up with THIS film, is totally incredible.

As I’ve said about Harry Guerro and Garagehouse before, even with films I care very little for, AGFA and Something Weird are doing God’s work by unearthing these seemingly lost films, so that folks can finally see them. Viva la AGFA… or some shit! (Justin)

Blaine McLaren
Bald and Beautiful / Exploitation Guru
Blaine McLaren was born in Texas, but has called Atlanta his home for over 20 years. He has spent a lifetime obsessed with cinematic oddities, with a soft spot for rubber monster flicks and gore soaked head scratchers. He is the lead writer and owner of mondomclaren.com and is a regular contributor for multiple sites and podcasts.
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thepaintedman
Justin has been running websites since his first Geocities site in 1994, but only did he ever start covering anything of substance years later. After he stopped regularly running local concerts in Northern NJ and the greater Philly area, he knew he needed to step up his writing game if he expected to continue to get free music to listen to. He writes regularly here, a bit less regularly at Cinapse, on occasion at Cinepunx, and a few times a year on Rock On Philly. He previously wrote for several other sites, but he forgets some of them and others no longer exist. He likes music, film, the Philadelphia Eagles, talking about Criminal Justice, reading Intelligence Report, and his family... not in that order. His beautiful wife is far more talented than he is and his kids far more adorable... and crazy. He also likes to ramble... on... and... on... and...
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