Death By Love (1991)
DEATH BY LOVE
WRITERS: Screenplay by Alan Grant
Based on a Story by Bil Andrews and Alan Grant
DIRECTOR: Alan Grant
STARRING: Alan Grant as Joel
Yvonne Aric as Amy
Erika Mills as Renee
Peggilee Wupperman as Julie
Brad Bishop as Rick
Donald Hendrix as Mike
Tamara Betz as Eleanor
Frank McGill as Ed
QUICK CUT: An artist reunites with an old friend and introduces him to his girlfriend.
Alan - A sculptor who has both great luck with the ladies, and the worst possible luck. He seems to be the nicest guy ever, and very kind and gentle.
Edgar - An old friend of Alan’s who has been stalking him for years, gathering data, and taking pictures of dead women. That sure sounds suspicious!
TRISK ANALYSIS: Welcome back, Triskelions! It's time for Trisk's annual just wrong love story, and what better title could I use than Death by Love?? Never heard of it? Yeah, I get that a LOT. So let me tell you all about this murderous little messterpiece.
After the credits, we meet Amy and Joel in the middle of their meet cute while jogging through the park one day. They instantly hit it off and dive almost immediately into a dating montage.
The montage culminates in an inevitable sex scene, and the following day, Amy's neighbour sees her door is ajar instead of a door, so peeks in. She discovers the girl's dead body and wow!
I absolutely love that kick in the gut surprise twist of killing the lead almost immediately. Sure, it's a bit Psycho, but if you're gonna steal, steal from the best, right?
Joel shows up to the apartment to see Amy, and meets the cops instead. He barges in, sees her corpse, and they haul him and his manager, Eleanor, in for questioning.
The cops don't seem to think Joel is a suspect, and why would they? So they let him go, and he heads off to his retreat off in the woods to work on some sculpture.
Meanwhile, some other cops wander into a motel room, and they find a bunch of stuff from the guy who was staying there, showing he was following Joel around. So now he's the suspect. I...really would have appreciated knowing how they found this place, but oh well.
They settle in to keep a watch on the room until the stalker returns, but unfortunately he's right around the corner and hears their plan. So instead he changes his plates and sneaks off.
Joel is busily settling in at his cabin, and Eleanor starts complaining about how sore she is. And faster than you can say Mrs Robinson are you trying to seduce me, she has her shirt almost off and is getting a massage. I am...uncomfortable.
The cops show up at the cabin to warn Joel about the stalker, and how he's disappeared. I guess that paintjob actually did the trick!
So they sit down on the back porch and have a drink, and break down that this guy has killed before, at least four women, and they he kept copious strange notes that it took them awhile to make any sense of. But there's a lot of calendars and dates and times, so there's some vague plan around here, I guess.
And it turns out that Edgar has been following Joel for at least five years, and gasp! He's an old acquaintance of Joel's! Who was into devil worship! This is a hell of an infodump.
Some time later, Renee drops by to visit Joel at the cabin. For this being a creative retreat for the guy, he sure does get a lot of visitors.
While Joel shows off his newest sculpture, or at least the framework of it, Edgar pays a visit to Joel's manager to try and track down Joel under the guise of commissioning him for a statue.
She does her job though, and keeps Joel at arm's length, but promises she'll contact her client and see if he's available for work.
We then get another montage of working on the sculpture, which Joel models after his new friend, Renee. Uh oh, looks like Eddie is gonna have a new target.
Eleanor heads up to the cabin, followed by Edgar, so now he knows where his obsession lies. He lurks in the woods nearby to stalk his prey, and watches as the couple get closer, and work on the sculpture. This is some seriously creepy jealousy.
At one point, after covering the wire frame with something like plaster of paris, they're cleaning up, and Joel sprays the girl with the hose so she has to immediately strip. Such a contrived way to get boobs in your movie, especially when it already has plenty.
And this movie is packed with cheesy synth music, and I just adore the entire score. So perfect for this sort of no budget movie.
Renee leads Joel off into the woods, where they start having sex, and...somewhere during it, Joel changes, his face changes, and I wish this was shot better, because it's hard to really tell. However, once he bites down on Renee's neck and kills her, well...that explains a lot.
So that's a twist! I guess Stalky McLurksalot is our hero?
But this of course leads to questions. What is Joel? A vampire? He drinks blood, I guess. But then there's the stuff with the calendars so...werewolf? No...this last kill happens during daylight, knocking both of those out. Plus all the talk of devil worship earlier?
I kinda love that this is something wholly unique to this movie, making it its own thing, and especially that Joel does not seem to realise the whole Jekyll and Hydeness of it all. And that it never gets explained.
Edgar comes along, photographs the body, and carries Renee's corpse off somewhere. He then proceeds to rifle through her purse, taking some money, and the keys to Joel’s cabin.
Meanwhile, the cops are getting nowhere, and after all this wasted time, the chief is ready to shelve the case and have them move onto something else. But they talk him into giving them one more week to stake out Joel's home in hopes that Edgar shows up.
So Eddie follows Joel around as he picks up ANOTHER girl, and am I now rooting for Edgar? I wish they made him far less creepy, because I don't wike it.
But warning! This is a plot complication! Joel's latest lady friend just so happens to be Edgar's niece Julie! IF Joel is clueless, I love the subconscious desire of his other self to get revenge. Or I may be reading too much into things.
Uncle Edgar takes her up to Joel's cabin under the ruse that he works with Joel and they will head up there to surprise him. Instead he tries to warn her away from the man monster but she wuvs him and won't hear anything bad about the sculptor.
This DOES raise the question of, Edgar was a suspect. Wouldn't the cops have interviewed Julie? Would she know he's on the run and the cops want to see him?
Meanwhile, we cut back to the cops watching Joel, and thankfully one of them isn't so eager to just assume Joel is innocent, until they find some proof he can't be the killer. I hate everyone just assuming he’s a good guy.
Ed tries to explain what's going on to his niece, but even he isn't sure what Joel is. I kinda enjoy that there's no concrete answers, but that does also frustrate a little. Oh, and when he says he's kinda like a vampire, she has the proper reaction; she nearly pisses herself laughing.
With Julie missing, Joel is getting antsy as his need to feed grows, even if he doesn't understand why. Also, Edgar is sitting around waiting. So...lots of waiting for stuff to happen as we draw towards the conclusion. And I’m waiting…
Edgar gets impatient and goes looking for Joel, who is just sitting around his house. Edgar gives Eleanor a ring, saying Joel has had an accident, in hopes of luring her over to show her the truth, I guess?
Julie has escaped, and takes the long walk back from the cabin, and makes her way to Joel's. The cops see people arriving at Joel's house, and everyone starts to converge, finally.
Eleanor shows up, and Joel is not feeling well, coming apart at the seams. It comes off as just freaking out over Jules being missing, but we know it's something more.
His manager offers Joel comfort, and they start making out, and yikes May to December romance much?
Once Joel gets his juices going though, he starts to get rough, and the Beast comes out. Edgar is surprised to see this happen, and what did you expect? WHAT WAS YOUR PLAN HERE, DISCOUNT JIM BELUSHI??
Eleanor bonks Joelkyll in the head and runs off, which gets the cops' attention so they decide to follow her and see what happened. No! Go in and question Joel! Wrap this up already!!
Julie barges in and comforts her demon lover, who has cunningly covered up to hide his transformation. Which should ring alarm bells, but NOPE!
Edgar continues to passively just watch, and is eventually chased off by a neighbour. One of the cops chases on foot and noooo go in the hoooouse.
Joel finally reveals his true colours and kills Julie, while Eddie is chased around. He eventually circles back to the monster's lair, after he takes out one of the cops and steals his gun.
But he arrives too late, Julie is dead, and the cops arrive and shoot the guy making the threatening moves. Are they just gonna assume Edgar had the time to kill his niece in the brief window they lost him? I guess it's a dead man's non existent word against Joel's, so yeah.
I wish we had gotten a genuine fight between the monster and this big beefy guy that had been hunting him all movie long. But instead, Edgar is just manhandled and never really fights back. It's sadly anticlimactic.
But yeah, the cops show up, shoot Eddie as he's about to slash human Joel's throat and end the threat, and they think it's a job well done.
So the movie ends with the hero dead, the monster on the loose, and the cops find I presume Renee's dead body. So no answers for anybody!
Video: I believe it’s shot on vide, so it has that Look to it, but it overall doesn’t look too bad.
Audio: No real complaints for this sort of production.
Sound Bite: “He's everything I ever wanted! And he's famous and he's rich!”
Body Count: Not a very high one this time out, it seems.
1 - Surprise! 12 minutes in and Amy's dead!
2 - Renee gets bitten and drained.
3 - Joel finally drains Julie
4 - Edgar gets shot by the cops
Best Corpse: Amy’s the best, because we get a good look at the damage.
Blood Type - D+: No real blood, since Joel drains them, but there is some decent makeup effects.
Sex Appeal: Oh my plenty of boobs. And the men are shirtless a lot too.
Drink Up! Every time you see a montage
Movie Review: This certainly isn’t BAD and what we get makes broad sense, but it feels lacking. There’s a few leaps of logic, and some connective tissue I feel the movie didn’t include. Overall, I really liked this movie, especially the dark ending. It had some few genuine twists, but there was this bigger story, more mythology, that it just never got into. If that stuff had been included, it would have made a stronger narrative. It’s still interesting, and well made for this sort of thing. Three out of five bite marks.
Entertainment Value: It’s never quite so heinously bad that you’re laughing at the low quality, but it’s strange in it’s monster, and the leaps it takes, that it leaves you both satisfied and baffled. It is definitely worth watching. Three out of five yellow paint cans.