If you’ve read my reviews of Slapface and Black Wake then you know I’m a fan of writer/director Jeremiah Kipp. So when I stumbled across The Sadist and saw he directed it and Tom Savini played the title role I was pleasantly surprised. But after doing some research into it I began to have some doubts, given its history. Apparently shot around 2010 with Kipp as a director for hire it was taken from him during the editing despite his contract giving him final cut rights.
It then sat on the shelf for some years before eventually turning up on Amazon Prime. While not exactly an encouraging history I figured if he didn’t take his name off it, it couldn’t be that bad. So I crossed my fingers and hit play.
The opening is lit in striking sepia tones. The Sadist, (Tom Savini, Dawn Of The Dead, The Theatre Bizarre) walks into a barn and wakes a bunch of sleeping piglets up. So they can know it when he kills them with a pitchfork.
Meanwhile, Jack (Frank Wihbey) and his uncle Wilbur (Santo Fazio, The Funeral) are heading out on a hunting trip. Uncle Wil is old school and insists Jack leaves his phone behind. After all, they have a CB radio in case of an emergency. They run into Sheriff Scully (Jerry Murdock. I’ll Bury You Tomorrow) who tells them not to worry about the escapees from the mental institution. The State Police have it all under control. Cut to The Sadist, (that’s how he’s referred to in the credits), killing a construction worker.
If you get the idea that The Sadist is basically a bunch of folk crossing Savini’s path and dying you’re pretty much on target. Because we also have Don (Miguel A. Lopez), Jay (Matt Cosmos) and Lucinda (Mackenzie Christine Hawkins) are out for a hike. And the rest of the construction crew.
Given the title and Savini playing a former black-ops type with homicidal PTSD you might be expecting a gorefest. Don’t. Most of the kills are off-screen with some blood spray to let us know they’re happening
If you can get past the lack of gore, The Sadist has its moments. The script by Pedro Ondrush, Joe Pisani, and Frank Wihbe isn’t anything special but it’s not awful either. It is slow to get going, but the plotting was interesting enough I didn’t notice until afterward. Jack and his uncle have an interesting relationship and the back and forth between them works nicely.
The problem is, despite its title The Sadist is a fairly tame film with a lot of personal drama and not a lot of killing let alone sadism. The last half hour moves nicely into slasher territory. But given the expectations the title and star raise, it needed to happen sooner.
What we end up with is an average low budget slasher. It does have some better than average characterizations and occasional brilliant cinematography. I can’t help but wonder what The Sadist would have looked like if Kipp had been allowed to finish editing it.
The Sadist is available to stream. There’s a Facebook page that hasn’t been updated since 2015 if you’re curious.