The film starts with a double homicide where we see our killer brandishing a pistol and shooting a random couple who have wandered off into the woods in order to park and make out. This is the first moment where you stop and say to yourself “well, this isn’t going to be your average Giallo”. Guns are almost never used within these movies because of their immediacy. You don’t torture a victim using a gun and although there is a certain amount of fear wrought from a firearm, our heroes more often than not are the ones brandishing the pistols. The killer here takes on a ‘Son of Sam’ style killing spree, where he mainly targets women. You have to ask yourself, due to the content and the fact that this killer doesn’t even use a knife, can it still be considered a Giallo? I have to say, yes. We are given that familiar crux of a plot where a youthful sleuth sets out on a case in order to find out the perpetrator of these crimes, all while the filmmaker does their best to dabble in as much experimental style as they possibly can. This isn’t David Fincher’s Zodiac. Although I am sure the filmmakers held respect for the original case, there are so many things going on with The Killer is Still Among Us that I just can’t help but doubt some of its authenticity.
With that comes another question, does the movie break through the levels of bad taste? Dramatizing a series of murders is an issue that pushes the limits of good taste by itself, but doing so while adding in this offtopic focus on a fictional character who thrusts their paranoia and accusations on random characters throughout just seems to be an ill advised thing to do. There is a certain amount of invented melodrama here that looks to create entertainment and one has to ask themselves at some point whether there really should be entertainment in a concept like this one. However, taking the question of “good” or “bad” taste off of the table, does this movie succeed as a legitimate thriller? Well, in my eyes, it does. With it being a very late entry into the Giallo subgenre, the budget seems to be on the lacking side and the visual flourishes hurt because of that. For the most part the “look” of The Killer is Still Among Us is in line with a Made For TV Movie for the most part. Our leading lady, rather than wearing stylish and vibrant costumes seems to be stuck in a very bland attire that one simply expects from a mid-eighties business woman. That means thick, ill fitting sweaters and a short all-business haircut! While watching though, you can see what the filmmaker was going for and there are many interesting shots throughout including a few very interesting (although they are brief) tracking shots.
The movie does have some high quality tension that is built throughout and the paranoia angle does become palpable, so for all intents and purposes the movie feels like a resounding success. The violence is a little overrated amongst horror fans, but it certainly serves its purpose. The exceedingly violent torture of one particular female stands out as the most bleak and horrifying scene in the film. Although I don’t want to give too much away, I will say that there is a certain amount of sexual violence that really pushes the envelope in terms of nastiness. The scene won’t be too horrifying for those who have seen Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist, which is a big hint as to what you can expect, but for the time, era and genre this scene definitely pushes the boundary of good taste.