DELIRIUM (a.k.a. Psycho Puppet) *** USA 1979 90 mins Dir: Peter Maris

Beset by flashbacks and psychotic episodes, impotent Vietnam veteran Charlie (Nick Panouzis) escapes from a mental hospital and spends his days picking up pretty girls (all of them dressed like they’re en route to an audition for NYMPHO HITCHHIKERS) while hearing the inner voices of women who have mocked him over the years. These girls have a convenient tendency to willingly join Charlie for skinny dipping sessions even when it’s obvious that Charlie is bat-shit mad and is 99.6% likely to end the date by pinning them to doors with pointy objects.
An odd St Louis-set hybrid of gory horror, cop thriller, conspiracy drama and PTSD-centered character study, this is a fairly unique 70’s exploitation flick. The blood-spurting murder set pieces (complete with gratuitous shower nudity, extended chase scenes and close-up penetration shots of pitchforks in necks) position the movie as an early entry in the burgeoning American slasher cycle. The film also detours into post-Watergate vigilante territory, with Charlie’s old war buddies forming their own justice system to sentence and execute criminals who have evaded the conventional legal system. The interrogating scenes at the heart of this sub-plot are rendered unintentionally amusing for British viewers as they are accompanied by what we know as the theme from TV’s “Mastermind”! Paging Magnus Magnusson!

Review by Steven West

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