The Sadist (1963): Arch Hall, Jr.’s Class-Sick JD Killer Flick – Screen 13’s Time Travel, Part One
Note: While I have used some of these images before, especially the ads from Detroit, there are a couple of new finds to this story which is planned to be added onto in the future. In my opinion, the Sadist is a classic that should be seen by those interested in the dark side of the Classic Rock and Roll era. This is part of a (hopefully) long series of articles reflecting on my favorite Exploitation films and where they played that has already been maturing through the years with the Time Travel title being first used here.
The Sadist, starring Arch Hall, Jr., is one of the most intense films of the Early 60’s with Arch Hall, Jr.’s excellent performance as the Charles Starkweather-inspired backwoods psycho on the run with his girlfriend Judy (Marilyn Manning). Released with perfect timing in the days before America was won over by The Beatles, this was almost like a final outburst of the dark side of the first era of Rock and Roll, with Starkweather’s Angry Young Man image connecting with JD’s who’s criminal life was an inspiration to several films ranging from Terence Malick’s classic Badlands down to the exciting Exploitation films including The Cry Baby Killer, starring Jack Nicholson with The Sadist being a edgy film that blended both Drama and Exploitation perfectly with Hall’s Charles Tibbs having the social setbacks and JD anger of the true story. Starkweather, who’s story was also in inspiration to Natural Born Killers reportedly had a small group of those who mourned his passing as was died on the Electric Chair 6-25-59, a reminder of the fact there will always be those captured by the violent side of life of youth, although it has been argued about if his girlfriend Caril Fugate just turned her back on him (given a life sentence, she would be paroled in 1976 with only talking about the murders once).
This played to great fanfare Detroit, and being part of my place on the map, I decided to start the trip in the Motor City at the Fox, which used to be the center of Exploitation films before it’s upgrade and image change starting in late 1981. This would play through The US to great Exploitation success through the Mid 60’s and under a different title in the Early 70’s.
In the film, Charlie Tibbs and Judy Bradshaw , the diabolical duo on a killing spree ready to change the car to ride in to outsmart the law, meet up with three teachers on the way to a Dodgers game in need of some help at a rural gas station with a junk shop which might have a fuel pump. With the owner killed, the two sides are in a fight for their lives until the end, with killer Tibbs unleashing his anger at every given opportunity. Being classic Exploitation, the story ends dramatically with Tibbs falling into a snake pit, a scene that must have been seriously dangerous to film and shocking to see on the big screen…although this review focusing on snakes in the movies showed that it was perfect.
The legendary Vilmos Zsigmond’s cinematography was perfect and as tight as the budget, capturing the creepy air surrounding the violent story and excellent acting by all. James Landis’ directing here was matched by his work on Rat Fink…although of course that’s judging by the trailer that hints at a great experience to be had. The Director’s work on the hit TV series Gunsmoke should also be noted as well.
8-3-63, Abilene, TX
4-23-71 – Green Bay
In 1971, Jerry Gross’ Cinemation cashed in on the name Charlie with the Charles Manson case still a hot topic of the day with a re-release of The Sadist called Sweet Baby Charlie, a title which could also possibly be a play on the title of James Taylor’s breakthrough album Sweet Baby James as well. This would play well through the Early 70’s during the company’s heyday that also included a re-issue of the classic Baby Doll.