Schizoid (1980)


Cast: Klaus Kinski, Mariana Hill, Donna Wilkes
Director: David Paulsen
Nutshell: Cannon Films attempt to cash-in on the post Halloween boom features a stalk and slash whodunnit with Klaus Kinski and a whole lot of ham.


Crap” – Slimetime

Gore galore with nary a plot in sight” – Blockbuster

Lurid Shocker” – Maltin’s

Standard Mad slasher stuff” – Splatter Movies

Cheap and Tasteless” – Creature Features

Turkey” – Video Movies Guide


The history behind this 1980 slasher film is that it came from the infamous production house of Golan and Globus AKA Cannon Films and they had a contract with Klaus Kinski for 5 movies that had to be fulfilled and so they gave a script writer one one month to come up with his take on a slasher movie in the wake of Halloween’s enormous success that would make a quick profit at the box office.

Mariana Hill has just gone through a divorce from her boss at the paper they both work for and is in a bit of a struggle to restore order in her life.  Her weekly meeting in a communal hot tub with her friends is the usual girls letting off steam session but unbeknown to the ladies there is a stalker wearing brown shoes snapping their pictures at will, watching and waiting for his moment.

After the session one of the women heads off on her bike through the rural landscape but is followed ominously by the stalker and then terrorized on a dirt track forcing her to be thrown off her bike.  The woman, fearing for her life trudges off into a nearby house and then a shed but is caught up by the stalker armed with a sharp pair of scissors that he eventually stabs her with in the most brutal and cold blooded manner.

We are introduced to Klaus Kinski as the mysterious therapist Dr. Hales who holds group counseling sessions, makes shameless passes at his “subjects” and who enjoys watching his daughter undress and appears to be either a way too obvious potential stalker or just the biggest and fattest red herring ever; the latter being suspected.  The other main suspect is Donna Wilkes fresh from being shark meat in Jaws 2 who plays Kinski’s rather disturbed daughter who seethes in a simmering rage whenever she finds her father cavorting around with a new woman. More damning is the discovery of some cut out words found on her table by her father exactly like the ones used by the stalker, assuming the stalker and the sender of the threatening letters are one and the same.  Another member of the therapy group, Gilbert the maintenance man also seems to have a screw or two loose and can be added to the list of possible killers.

Meanwhile Mariana Hill receives yet another trademark threatening letter followed by silent calls from Dr. Hales who clearly has more than a soft spot for her from his counseling group.  She takes the letter to the police who suggest it’s probably one of the readers of her “Lonely Hearts” column.  We soon learn that Dr. Hales has a bit of a libido issue and is performing a juggling act simultaneously with numerous women from his therapy group.

One by one stalker with the scissors dispatches more female members of the counseling group in similarly gruesome, vicious and cold blooded ways all to some very stylish and a tad eccentric electro-disco background music featuring a rather conspicuous 60s style tambourine; clearly schizoid’s have rather odd taste in music.

The climax, when it eventually arrives comes about as a bit of a shocker but by that time most viewers would have lost interest because of the sheer dullness of the movie.  Schizoid is a painfully plodding effort with no skill or style displayed by the director with a remarkable inability to conjure even the slightest tension.  The stalking scenes are telegraphed by this weird electronic music otherwise you wouldn’t even know there was a stalker on the prowl.  There are no shocks, no scares and no tension and writer/director David Paulsen is clueless the rudimentary skills you need in order to shape even the most uninspired and mechanical slash and stalk movie which this unfortunately is.

The deaths are shoddily mounted and have no shock value nor any gore nor style to them.  Gore fans will be left thirsting for more while suspense fans will be bored witless and those who had hoped Schizoid would be another poor man’s Halloween, well let’s just be very clear that David Paulsen is no John Carpenter, not by a long shot.

The only thing that could have possibly redeemed this film was to be have been named on the infamous Video Nasties List and then at least earn some level of notoriety which would have garnered fans on that basis alone but it failed even in that respect.  Schizoid is strictly for those die-hards who have to watch every single slasher film made in the 80s without discrimination or crazed fans of either Klaus Kinski who would be rather embarrassed by his dreadful performance or like us of Mariana Hill, who in Batman had us hooked for a lifetime.

This unfortunately was not one of her finer moments and that is being extremely kind.  Schizoid makes her Blood Beach seem like a true work of art.  Small wonder we didn’t see much of Mariana after this film and she seemed to just fade away into obscurity.  For us she will always remain etched in memory as Miss Patrick, the evil undercover mole planted by the dastardly King Tut in the classic Adam West TV series from the 60s.  Schizoid is best expunged from memory if at all possible.  It’s a singularly dull slasher movie if there ever was.