Directed by Donald M. Jones [Other horror films: Deadly Sunday (1982), Project Nightmare (1987), Evil Acts (2015)]
Murderlust isn’t a movie that I think about often, and it’s not really worth more than a couple views in my estimation. Even so, it’s not a bad film, though it does tend to be a bit dry at times, and almost feels more like a 70’s film than one from the mid-80’s.
One strong point in this movie’s favor is the setting. Filmed partially in the Mojave Desert (in fact, the killer in the film, played by Eli Rich, is dubbed the Mojave Murderer), this has a great deserty feel. The setting is quite beautiful, and even in suburban areas, when you see more sand than grass, it just feels different than so many other films. Mikey had the same thing, but unlike Mikey, the desert plays a big part of this film (that’s where Rich’s character hides the bodies), and it just gives Murderlust a bit more feeling.
Which was badly needed, I hate to say. The story here follows Eli Rich’s character as he goes through his day-to-day life, from being a Sunday school teacher to his failed attempts to hold down other jobs, from a watch guard to a janitor. In his spare time, he kills women by strangulation, primarily ladies of the night. That is, when he’s not arguing with his bosses or his cousin and drama-like things of that sort. This movie can be quite dry, and the fact it runs for an hour and 38 minutes doesn’t help matters.
I’ll give Murderlust props for Eli Rich, though. I think he makes quite a strong lead, and has a very good, strong look (that moustache occasionally reminds me of John Ashton’s Taggart). He can go from kind and sweet to menacing and deadly quite well, and his performance does lend this one a lot of weight. Others in the film, such as Rochelle Taylor and Dennis Gannon, are fine, but it’s really Rich who is the focal point of most of this.
None of the kills are overly shocking, but they’re mostly filmed well (when they’re filmed at all – a couple are just off-screen) and they get the job done. As it is, Rich’s character has a pretty decent bodycount, and he does have some rather young victims (one of whom he forces into pleasuring him), so if they focused a little more on the kills than his day-in-the-life drama, he could be a quality threatening force.
As decent as the central performance is though, Murderlust is still a bit dry. It’s luckily not that bleak – Rich’s character has a bit of a cavalier attitude when it comes to his personal and business relationships, which does lead to some amusing scenes – but it can be as arid as the desert they filmed this in. It’s still worth catching at least once, but I have to say, now that I’ve seen it twice, I don’t know if it’s a film I’d want to see again anytime soon.