AMERICAN GIALLO: Schizoid (1980)

Julie (Marianna Hill, Messiah of EvilThe Baby) writes the lonely hearts column for a newspaper, but she’s suddenly getting more than letters from the lovelorn. An anonymous person is sending her letters threatening to murder people. And at the very same time, members of her group therapy session are getting stabbed and killed, one by one. Is there a connection?

Schizoid has all the markings of a giallo — the main character is in the middle of a murder investigation and has no idea who is behind it, while many of the killings are from the murderer’s POV. And let’s not forget the black leather gloves!

It’s missing the insane devotion to fashion and interior design, but we can’t hold that against it, as at least Dr. Pieter (Klaus Kinski, a legit real life maniac who always plays maniacs on screen) has an interesting home.

Right from the beginning, when the ladies of Dr. Pieter’s encounter group luxuriate in a hot tub, we get the idea that someone is watching. When one of them leaves, she is run off the road, chased into a farmhouse and repeatedly stabbed with a pair of scissors. Several days later, a couple that’s trying to have sex is surprised by the body.

Are the letters connected? Why do they mention a gun when the murders are done with a knife? Who is the killer? Is it Gilbert (Christopher Lloyd, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension), the weirdest person in her therapy group? Is it her ex-husband, Doug (Craig Wasson, Body Double) who argues with her every day because they work in the same place? Or how about Dr. Pieter, because he’s Klaus Kinski? Beyond that, he’s having sex with every single one of his patients, including a stripper named Pat (Flo Gerrish, Don’t Answer the Phone) who he takes against a hot water heater! And hey — his relationship with Alison, (Donna Wilkes, Jaws 2Angel) his daughter, feels super incestual. Maybe that’s who the killer is!

This film also follows the giallo tradition by having police officers that are so ineffectual that they depend on the heroine to do her own investigation with no protection and only a special phone line to help her.

Alison and Dr. Pieter argue repeatedly, especially after he grows closer to Julie, bringing her home to dinner. She begins to dress in her mother’s clothes or as a little girl and even steals her father’s gun.

The police put in the phone line, but every single call seems to be cranky readers who are angry about Julie’s column. Then, Alison calls her from a payphone, gun in hand. Julie gets Alison to come visit her at her house, where her husband (she doesn’t call him ex-husband) is doing some repair work. Alison throws out a whole bunch of the letters and brandishes her gun, but it’s unloaded. Then, the phone rings.

It’s Dr Pieter, who demands to know where this number reaches Julie. He comes to visit, but someone takes a shot at him. We don’t see who, but he assumes that it is Alison. The lights go out and we have no idea who is in the room with him. The phone rings again, but it’s not Alison or Julie on the line. They’re both tied up and a man is on the other line — but who!

Should I reveal it here? I won’t. But I will say that this movie is truly a giallo because it’s the person that is the least likely suspect and the police come running at the last moment. And by that, I mean just in times for the credits.

Director David Paulsen also brought Savage Weekend to the screen, but is more well known for his primetime soap opera work on shows like Knots LandingDallas and Dynasty.

Want to see this one for yourself? Shout! Factory has a great budget double disk of this paired with X-Ray.

3 thoughts on “AMERICAN GIALLO: Schizoid (1980)

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