Thursday, October 27, 2011

Robert Foxworth, Stefanie Powers & Elke Sommer in The Astral Factor (1976)

Roger Sands (Frank Ashmore) hates his mother so much... He was put away for murdering her and after a spree as a strangler of celebrity women six years ago. In the intervening time he's studied up on psychic phenomena for which he has quite a talent; he's learned to make himself invisible. He uses this skill to escape from the locked ward he's been kept in and goes about the LA basin wreaking havoc on the witnesses who put him away. On the case is Lt. Charles Barrett (Foxworth, looking very foxy) and Detective Holt (Mark Slade) a newbie detective Lt. Barrett takes much pleasure in breaking down. They have quite a time tracking Sands down because of the invisible thing, eventually witnessing a killing right before their eyes. As the witnesses are picked off one by one, can Barrett and Holt stop Sands before he kills Chris (Elke Sommer)?

This film is one of the wackiest I've featured this month. It's chock full of cliches, questionable acting, bad special effects and general camp - in short, it's wonderful! Barrett is from the Starsky and Hutch mold of detectives - blustery, sarcastic and quirky. He's shacked up with Candy (Powers) who refers to herself in the third person, calls Barrett "teddybear" and sees him off to the murder investigations with a cheery "have fun!" It has a very TV movie vibe to it, which is only mitigated by the nudity of both Foxworth and Powers in a scene where they're awakened by Det. Holt. If you're a fan of movies that are so bad they're good, then this is for you. It's, oddly enough, available on DVD under this title and it's alternate title (Invisible Strangler) in two separate releases. It's also available in full on YouTube thanks to an upload by FlixUniverseMovies2.

Obscurity factor: 8 (on DVD & YouTube, largely forgotten)

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