Employee of the great Roger Corman loses his job over a fight for quality horror- how cool of a story is that?! Justin Paul Ritter has been in the industry since he was 12 working on tons of Roger Corman movies from Born Bad to Dead Man’s Curve, Overdrive, Street Corner Justice, Inhumanoid, Alien Avengers and countless other terrible movies. One day Ritter decides that it was time to move away from the crap and offer something with substance, so he wrote a script entitled KatieBird: Certifiable Crazy Person, which had no swearing nor nudity. He lost his job because of it. But here he is at Shriek Fest in California promoting HIS ‘70s throwback film, which truly is a piece of art in more than one way (just wait until you here this).
KatieBird: Certifiable Crazy Person follows a serial killer named KatieBird (Helene Udy) whom has her psychiatrist (Todd Gordon) tied up to a bed. As we discover that Dr. Richardson is supposed to be KatieBird’s last victim, she tells him the story of her very first and how she became (or discovered) the demented person she is. The flashbacks reveal a young KatieBird (Nicole Jarvis) who has a twisted father named Merl (Lee Perkins) who is prepping his daughter to follow in his footsteps.
What separates this film from any other ‘70s throwback film you’ve ever seen is that the entire movie is displayed through multiple panels! Ritter gives us multiple angles at the same time so we see the actors converging and never catch the back of their heads. Within his beautiful work, we get all sorts of goodies like framed flashback sequences that look like a Polaroid that comes to life. I love the idea that the multiple panels represent KatieBird’s fractures psyche, which was a wonderful addition to the finished product. I was also extremely impressed with the screenplay and the round-about way he tells the story.
So many films these days forget their own point and the filmmakers begin to focus their energy in the wrong places. What makes a movie truly tick is a mythos to a character, what is going on in our character’s heads, and more importantly why? Ritter’s film is structured in a way that we don’t see a killers rampage through weeks (or years) of murders, but just a single night. In addition to main plot, we get to see the story unfold of how this little girl became the fractured, twisted, demented individual we witnessed at the opening of the film. We dive deep into the psyche of not only KatieBird but her father Merl, who was a mass murderer like his father and his father’s father. KatieBird is not a movie you see to witness multiple killings and massive bloodshed, you see it for the story that’s never been told. Forget Dahmer, forget Gacy, and forget The Hillside Strangler… Ritter’s KatieBird is the single best story about the birth of a serial killer ever told on film.
There were only two major things that I didn’t like about the movie. First I felt that the movie ran a little long and moved a bit slow. My guess is that it had something to do with the fact that the screenplay was never polished or re-written (so says Ritter). Also there were a few sequences that ran a little long and held onto the moment for just a bit too long- I rolled my eyes a few times and said “get on with it!” Also, I thought the score was brilliant and captured that ‘70s feel, only laced into the score was a sound effect of someone growling. It was horrible and it really took a lot away from something that was tremendous without it. And as funny as this sounds coming at this point in the review (after praising the low body count), I really do wish we had a least one or two more victims.
But let me tell you, some of the torture sequences are insane! She pulls at least four teeth (if I counted correctly) and self inflicts numerous gashes into her leg, stomach and neck. KatieBird even takes one of the removed teeth and pierces it right into her neck! KatieBird also includes one of the best ‘de-fleshing’ of a human I’ve seen since Hellraiser, so if you’re looking for gore- at moments you’ll get a nice juicy morsel of fun.
As beautiful as KatieBird looks and as well acted as it was, I’m not quit sure how many people will be able to appreciate the craftsmanship behind it. We come from such a MTV world these days and the pacing might really knock out a handful of viewers before the movie even really gets good- but I think that if you can conjure up some patience, you’re in for a special movie that could become one of those cult classics hiding on your shelf. Hopefully Justin Paul Ritter continues his endeavor to become the opposite of Roger Corman and bring us even more quality films like KatieBird in the future. Watch for this release from Heretic Films sometime in the near future.