Mike’s Review: Schizoid (1980)

★★ out of ★★★★★
Written and Directed by David Paulsen.

Sleazy, greasy, grimy, grindhouse fare. It’s all here. Right down to a chilling and rather off-putting performance by one of the more odd actors to ever grace a horror film, Klaus Kinski. Hot on the heels of one of the all-time great horror performances in 1979’s Nosferatu the Vampyre, Kinski sleazes his way throughout SCHIZOID!

If you’re in the mood for a certain period of time with a very definite aesthetic then Schizoid is for you. At the time, non-horror enthusiasts Siskell and Ebert proclaimed the film to be “…gruesome and despicable.” 

Truth be told it probably was then and it still is today. But, horror fiends, that’s what gives it such charm, grace, and repugnance. 

Also staring a very young Christopher Lloyd (Spirit Halloween, Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys, and The Addams Family, Donna Wilkes (Angel), and Craig Wasson (Body Double and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors), Schizoid is pure late 70s/early 80s excess. In a stab a Giallo-lite, Schizoid director David Paulsen, creates a unnecessarily complex story involving a women’s therapy group, an exceptionally weird therapist (Kinski), a controlling/possessive divorce story — all set to the back drop of a serial killer hell bent on revenge. 

Dr. Pieter Fales (Kinski) is the leader of a fairly routine therapy group. Nothing out of the ordinary and certainly no oddball psychoplasmatics like seen in the contemporary horror flick of the time, the Brood. The difference is Dr. Fales is sleeping with darn near every single one of the ladies in his group therapy session. Definitely unethical and maybe even a HIPAA violation

Fangoria! Woo!
Something doesn’t look right here.

The bodies start to pile up Dr. Fales becomes increasingly close to one of his patients, Julie Caffret (Marianna Hill), who’s in the middle of a clumsy divorce with Doug Caffret (Craig Wasson). Director Paulsen begins to slowly mete out the facts, the suspicions, and the clues. Twists, twists, and more twists arrive throughout the course of Schizoid! But who is the schizoid or is it schizoids!?!?

The truly wonderful thing about Schizoid is both its willingness to explore the sleazier side of LA in the early 80s, as well as existing as a time capsule of the aesthetic of this time in filmmaking. Many directors try to replicate the sounds, the grime, and gritty grain of the era, but inevitably they fail. Without apology, Schizoid brings the viewer to a definite period in cinema history. If you’ve never experienced this era, or you’re jonesing for a trip down grindhouse lane, then Schizoid is for YOU!

Not to mention, it’s got a pretty great tagline: “Dear Julie: Don’t let me do it again…”

Schizoid is definitely Rated R and is currently streaming on Shudder. 

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