Category_Collecting, Category_Groovy Stuff, Category_Horror, Category_VHS, Category_Weirdness -

The Turnpike Killer: All Roads Lead to Your VCR!

I was first introduced to Brian Weaver and Evan Makrogiannis’ directorial work with a film called The Super. I had actually been acquainted with Brian through his interest in the magazine (and mutual interest in video esoterica, of course) and I was thrilled to be in touch with someone that was making such a groovy independent horror production, especially a flick that features the cult beauty (and one of my personal favorites) Lynn Lowry. But when I heard that the NY based directorial duo was releasing their homage to the seedy grindhouse era entitled The Turnpike Killer on VHS in big box fashion via upstart label New York Horror Film Productions, an entirely new wave of excitement rushed through me. Such is the nature of this Videovore!

The full groovular artwork for THE TURNPIKE KILLER. Dig that hand-painted cover!

The film itself is firmly rooted in the sordid sensibilities of the Grindhouse era. The visual aesthetics and directorial style lend TPK that unmistakable grimy atmosphere that was ever-present in the underbelly of 42nd Street fringe cinema. With a familiar yet finely-tuned plot, The Turnpike Killer gives us a raw look into the world of the burly and psychotic Jon Beest: a seemingly haunted man that is commanded by a mystical guiding voice that urges him to seek “The One” and slaughter the rest. We then learn that Beest has been busy searching for the past decade as a hot-shot detective links one of Beest’s recent murders to a string of unsolved homicides involving NY women being mutilated and dumped along the New Jersey Turnpike.

A still from the "found footage" torture scene. Scream, baby, scream!!

The brawny Bill McLaughlin gives an unsettling performance as Jon Beest as he rampages through the film exercising his homicidal misogyny on an array of females slitting throats, pulverizing prostitutes and brutalizing the leftovers in his makeshift torture dungeon where he sedately eviscerates and decapitates. The Turnpike Killer is the kind of film that knows its audience and delivers what they want. Beest’s plethora of inhuman deeds equips this film with enough blood, boobs and brutal violence to satisfy the hungriest of hounds. Ultimately, TPK represents itself as a love note to those ultra-violent and super-raw fringe flicks of yore e.g. Maniac and The Toolbox Murders, but not without its own signature psycho.

Another still featuring Beest and a "friend". Or... at least... what's left of her.

The big box VHS release for The Turnpike Killer is just outstanding. The box is the closest I’ve seen to emulating an actual big box from the video era, complete with top and bottom loading panels with insert flaps (think Wizard Video big boxes) and hand-painted original artwork created by NYPD homicide composite artist Bob Philios. It’s loaded with lots of extra goodies including a limited edition DVD featuring a feature length documentary on making low-budget pictures in NY and interviews with Michael Gingold, Tom Weaver and cover artist Bob Philios. Also included is the horror short Devil Moon which was written by director Evan Makrogiannis’ 13-year-old son Liam! Groovy, right! And to top it all off, you get a full-color poster signed by Ruby Larocca. Thasss’alotta stuff, man! I was lucky enough to score a NYHFP shirt, but those were only given out as a cross promotion with yours truly. Groovy stuff!

The whole shebang for THE TURNPIKE KILLER release plus the limited shirt. Rules.

So, Videovores, If you’re looking for a flick that stays true to its roots and knows exactly how to serve them up, then The Turnpike Killer should be right at home on your shelf right next to your big box copy of Driller Killer. You can grab this slab of video-retro awesomeness here on the official site. And check out the official trailer by clickity-clicking the still below!

Go ahead and click it! Savor the sadism!

Josh Schafer

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