VIDEO ARCHIVES WEEK: Delirium (1979)

VIDEO ARCHIVES NOTES: This movie was discussed on the August 2, 2023 episode of the Video Archives podcast and can be found on their site here.

EDITOR’S NOTE: To see the review that Severin quoted on the back cover of this release, click here.

Delirium is kind of about Vietnam vet Charlie Gunther (Nick Panouzis).

It’s also kind of about a secret society of vets bringing together other vets — kind of like my VFW, but with less drinking and amazing barbecue on Fridays and Saturdays, shout out to Terry and his amazing chops — to murder those that they think deserve it. Led by Eric Stern (Barron Winchester), they’re remaking St. Louis in the image of cleanliness and order, one gory murder at a time.

Those two stories come together as Stern hires Charlie, trying to bond with him. They’re both Vietnam vets, right? Well, where Stern gets rid of his trauma through doing what the cops can’t, Charlie gets rid of his PTSD by killing women.

Sterns’s group feels a lot like the people that hired The Punisher in his first mini-series. Or The Star Chamber. Both of those came long after this.

You know what didn’t? Magnum Force.

While Charlie is murdering young ladies and Stern and his men kill anyone who could turn them in, cops Paul Dollinger (Turk Cekovsky) and Larry Mead (Terry TenBroek) are on the case, wondering who could have killed so many people on the streets of St. Louis.

This movie was stitched together, starting with an “an unfinished urban conspiracy thriller” and then adding on slasher story beats, because, well, John Carpenter happened to make a movie in 1978 that a lot of people seemed to enjoy.

What emerges is a movie that honestly makes no sense and every time you’re about to point out a lapse in logic, the movie responds to you by showing bare breasts or having someone get violently chopped up with a meatcleaver or shot, stabbed or impaled in the most messy way possible. That’s how you make movies: throw everything at the wall and what doesn’t stick, well, cover it with squibs and spray everyone with red food coloring and Karo syrup.

Director Peter Maris also made Alien Species and Land of Doom, two movies that did not end up as memorable as this. Nor did they end up on the Section 2 Video Nasty list. This movie has an alternate title that makes no sense — which makes it great. That title? Psycho Puppet.

It also has a conspiracy group of Vietnam vets who kidnap criminals who got away with it, kill them and then stage suicide scenes. That’s planning. You have to respect that level of thought.

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