Luther the Geek (1990)
Director: Carlton J. Albright
Starring: Edward Terry, Joan Roth, Stacy Haiduk, Tom Mills & J. Jerome Clarke
Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
Excavated from the Troma vaults, Luther the Geek centers on paroled murderer Luther Watts (Edward Terry, The Children) who takes comfort in biting the heads off live chickens for their blood. Returning to his hometown with a razor sharp set of teeth, Luther stakes his claim at a family’s desolate farm house where his bloody rampage continues. Joan Roth (in her only feature role), Stacy Haiduk (Superboy), Tom Mills (Bean) and J. Jerome Clarke (Behind the Candelabra) co-star.
Set in rural Illinois, Luther the Geek is a harrowing horror film bursting with bloodshed and deranged depravity. Lacking the date night quality of slasher films, Carlton J. Albright’s sole directorial feature packs an effectively grizzly punch sparring no apologies. Melding the psychological ambiguity of Leatherface with the carnivorous killer instinct of a vampire, Luther, after serving 20 years in prison, is released without batting an eyelash before returning to his violent ways. Chomping into the neck of an elderly old lady with his sharply shimmering teeth, the madman stows away in the back of a woman’s vehicle to evade capture from local law enforcement. Shortly after arriving home, single mother Hilary (Roth) is confronted by her unexpected passenger only to be bound and gagged while, daughter Beth (Haiduk) and boyfriend Rob (Mills) get frisky in the shower. When Luther’s less than stellar riding abilities are proven while attempting to steal Rob’s motorcycle, the bald lunatic decides to make the young lovers his latest prey. Overpowered and held captive on their quiet farmland, the trio are no match for Luther even when a lone officer attempts to do battle with him in a dimly lit chicken coop. In the longest evening of their lives, dawn hardly means the nightmare is over for the simple farm folk.
Clucking at his victims with an animalistic stare in his eyes, Edward Terry’s performance as the circus freak influenced killer is firmly unsettling and fully embodies the mindset of an unhinged individual. Savagely gnawing at his victims necks, Luther’s forceful beating of the teenage Beth is notably ruthless and oftentimes difficult to view while, special effects highlights, achieved by the uncredited William Purcell (RoboCop) and Mike Tristano (Things), include the goretastic moment of Rob’s torn open chest exposing his still beating heart. Intendedly harsh and dreary, this memorable home invasion bloodbath unquestionably separates itself from the pack.
Scanned and restored in 2K from the original camera negative, Vinegar Syndrome proudly presents Luther the Geek with a 1080p transfer in its proper 1.85:1 aspect ratio. While mild compression traces can be spotted in darker sequences such as the chicken coop climax, visibility is hardly an issue. Otherwise boasting a remarkably clean appearance, footage is filmic while skin tones are notably accurate with colors found in Beth’s hot pink tank top and Luther’s stroll through food market aisles making bold strides. In addition, detail is most striking during closeups of Luther’s neck-tearing acts showcasing all their brutal severity. Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 mix, a pop or two is heard only during the film’s opening credits while, dialogue is strongly delivered with no complaints to be had. Newly created special features include, a colorful Introduction by Director Carlton J. Albright (0:38), Audio Commentary with Director Carlton J. Albright, Fowl Play: An Interview with Jerry Clarke (10:17), credited as J. Jerome Clarke, the actor/artist/singer shares his experiences in the business while reminiscing on his role as a state trooper. Also included, A Conversation with Carlton (6:36) and the Theatrical Trailer (2:26). Ported over from Troma’s past DVD release, supplements comprise an Interview with Carlton Albright (5:12), Interview with Will Albright (2:40), Carlton on the shower scene (7:30), Carlton on the old lady bite scene (2:38), Carlton on the fight scene (8:50) and Carlton on the final scene (1:12). Accompanied by The Children Trailer (0:55), a Reversible Cover Art bearing the original poster and a DVD edition of the release conclude the supplemental package.
Effectively brutal and chilling, Luther the Geek pits psychotic tendencies with Ozzy Osbourne head-biting qualities for a peculiar feature that carries buckets of blood to the show. In their latest recovery from Troma’s vast library, Vinegar Syndrome restores the sadistic shocker to life in glorious quality, squashing all previous releases. Matched with a suitable spread of supplements and a generous reversible cover art, Vinegar Syndrome’s latest cult release is worthy of clucking over.