24 February 2018



'A social, political and psychological thriller set in the provincial Hungary of the 1960s at the height of socialism.'

'The fear out there has to be stopped. There are no serial killers in this country, is that clear?'

1st Detective: 'We all look like that after two years (of being dead).'
2nd Detective: 'So much for eternal life...'

I loved this film, absolutely loved it, even though the subject matter is grimmer than a meeting with your parole officer on a wet Monday morning in early January. Not that I'd know anything about that type of thing, of course, lol. Based on true events, it's the story of a serial killer and necrophile that plagues and bedevils the Hungarian town of Martfu in the late 'Fifties through the 'Sixties.

It's a very accurate portrayal of the serial killer's sexual inadequacies, as the serial killer-slash-rapist frequently isn't the big macho potent sex maniac that people mistakenly take him for. Rape is a crime of power, after all, and has little enough to do with sexual desire or a sex drive so strong that a man needs to rape and keep on raping in order to keep himself satisfied.

Let's go back to brass tacks, anyway. It's 1957 in the village of Martfu in Hungary. A beautiful young woman is brutally murdered and raped- yep, in that order, folks- and left on an isolated piece of grassland. Her boyfriend Akos Reti admits to the crime, telling the cops that he was angry with his girlfriend for dumping him.

Reti gets the death sentence, which is then commuted to life imprisonment. He's treated so badly by inmates and prison staff alike that he seriously questions whether he wouldn't have been better off being hanged and being done with it.

The scene where he's anally raped in the showers by a group of burly laughing inmates wielding a giant thick stick is stomach-turning. Rapists and women-killers are only one step above the paedophiles on the prison totem-pole, as it were.

If you think that I'm being strangely sympathetic to the brutal rapist and murderer here, well, come here till I tell ye what the real sitch is. In the words of Moe Syzlack from THE SIMPSONS, he's (not) the guy who's done the thing what why you're here for...!

A few short years later, while Reti is still undergoing the torments of the damned in the prison, more women are murdered and raped-again in that order- in Martfu and their mutilated corpses left in or near the river under cover of the all-pervading darkness.

Well, it can't be Reti this time, can it? Even the coppers who put him away can understand this, even though it hardly bodes well for their careers. Was Reti beaten into confessing to a crime he didn't commit? Certainly we know that he's been cruelly abused while behind bars.

The viewer gets to meet the killer before the cops do. He's physically similar to Reti, and also, coincidentally, to a man called Gary Ridgway who in the 1980s was known as the Green River Killer. Ridgway confessed to killing between seventy and ninety young women, most of them prostitutes with hard impoverished lives, in the 'Eighties in the Washington State area of America.

The killer in STRANGLED is also similar in modus operandi to Gary Ridgway, the most prolific serial killer in US history even above and beyond the notorious Ted Bundy, the scourge of US police in the 'Seventies. Ted went to the electric chair in 1989 but Gary Ridgway still languishes in prison today, to the best of my knowledge.

The STRANGLED killer follows a woman home from the town's main employer, a shoe factory, and accosts her in an isolated area. He then disables or even kills her with a savage
blow to the head with a metal bar before raping her and then leaving her naked or partially-clothed body on the river-bank or in the river itself.

The Green River Killer did this, or left corpses in the woods or in ditches or on waste ground where they often self-buried, or gradually sank into the earth beneath them and became part of it. Small woodland animals would often carry away the internal organs long before the process of self-burying would be completed.

The STRANGLED killer resembles Gary Ridgway in other ways too. He's a family man with a manual job, one that doesn't require a degree or a high level of intelligence, and the kind of face and unprepossessing physical appearance that would never stand out in a crowd.

He's a totally ordinary bloke, in other words. The killer in the film is impotent in a way, in that he can only acquire and sustain an erection by perpetrating an act of violence on the woman he's abducted. That's why the rapes take place post-mortem. He hardly ever has sex with his wife. If he does, one would imagine that he'd have to fantasise about the rape-murders in order to successfully complete the act.

Gary Ridgway had a domineering and controlling mother and confessed to having felt a savage anger he couldn't explain towards all women except his wife, who oddly described him as 'the perfect husband.' The killer in STRANGLED certainly treats his victims with utter contempt, throwing them away after he's finished with them like they're so much garbage.

His horrific rape-murder of a schoolgirl on her way home to her family eerily echoes Ted Bundy's rape-murder of a twelve-year-old Florida schoolgirl abducted from her junior high school in 1978. By this stage, we're so revolted by the STRANGLED killer's actions that we're begging the detectives, the no-nonsense, middle-aged Bota and the gorgeous blonde younger man, Szirmai, to catch him, lock him up and throw the key in the river, never to be found.

There's an interesting side-story developing between the hard-bitten Bota and the sister of the wrongly-accused man. She never deserts her brother or believes for a second that he committed the heinous crime for which he was so nearly hanged.

On the other hand, the wife of Katona, the high-up copper who sanctioned Reti's arrest and near-hanging in the beginning of the film, is telling her husband that they'll all be for the high jump if it gets out that he put away an innocent man for the crimes of another. But at the time, Katona needed an arrest. They all had to be seen to be doing their jobs and doing them well. That's all well and good, but what happens now...?

STRANGLED is the best serial killer movie I've seen in a long time. Its accurate depiction of a man who feels sexually inferior and inadequate taking his anger out on his victims has got to be seen to be believed.

It doesn't spare our feelings or delicate sensibilities. It really is 'warts-and-all,' and it's available to buy now from EUREKA ENTERTAINMENT as part of their excellent MONTAGE PICTURES label. For God's sake, watch it. It's magnificently grim and true-to-life.


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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