Thursday, March 28, 2013
"Even as a little boy nobody liked you, and as a man nobody loves you except me." -- Mrs. Kroll.
Corpulent Leo Kroll (Victor Buono) has the misfortune of having a smothering, whining and tactless mother (Ellen Corby) who drives him to such distraction that he takes it out on innocent women by strangling them, especially saving his ire for the nurse who saved his mother's life when she had an "attack." Lt. Frank Benson (David McLean) seems to take forever to put the pieces together in his pursuit of the maniac responsible for several deaths of young women. The Strangler is fairly absorbing and well-acted; Buono never goes over the top and almost manages to evoke some sympathy for his character (especially in regards to his mother), and Corby etches a believable portrait of the long-suffering and utterly self-centered monster mother. McLean, who was the Marlboro Man in many ads, is solid as the cop, and there are notable performances from Diane Sayer, Jeanne Bates, and Davey Davison as victims and near-victims of Kroll. This is probably the only time that the talented Buono's name was above the title. Davison was "introduced" in this picture, but she had a long list of TV credits both before and after appearing in The Strangler. Two years later The Psychopath also had a killer who left dolls at the scene of his crimes but did a little more with the concept.
Verdict: Unfortunately this doesn't sustain tension despite a compelling lead performance. **1/2.