After having watched countless low-budget ’70s movies about the brutalization of women, it’s hard to know what to say about them anymore. These are vile movies catering to vile appetites. To be clear, there’s a world of difference between something like Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs (1971), which explores horrific psychosexual terrain as a means of exploring difficult questions about what makes people tick, and something like The Bloody Slaying of Sarah Ridelander. While far from the worst movie of its type, not only because it’s made with a modicum of skill but because the exploitation scenes aren’t stretched out to fetishistic length, this picture is still so fundamentally grimy as to make the sensible viewer feel sullied by the time the closing credits roll. Anyway, to get a sense of what to expect from this grimy little thriller, consider its various titles: In addition to The Bloody Slaying of Sarah Ridelander, the picture is also known as Cycle Psycho and Savage Abduction (hence the above poster). In fact, put those titles together, and you get the basic plot: A bloody slaying leads to cycle psychos committing a savage abduction. After a woman named Sarah Ridelander is murdered, her husband, Dick Ridelander (Tom Drake), escapes police scrutiny because of an airtight alibi. Yet he’s actually the guilty party, because he hired a maniac named Harry (Joe Turkel) to kill his wife. (Harry, who has some issues, violated the corpse afterward.) Dick’s dreams of getting away with crime are derailed when Harry blackmails him with audio recordings of Dick ordering the murder. Harry’s price for silence is a pair of pretty girls he can rape and murder for kicks, so Dick enlists a group of bikers to kidnap nubile would-be victims. Unpleasantness ensues. For those who care about such things, this movie provides a good showcase for the offbeat character actor Turkel, familiar to cinema fans for his work in movies ranging from Paths of Glory (1957) to Blade Runner (1982). His performance isn’t imaginative, but his characterization is sufficiently loathsome and twitchy to create a few unnerving moments.
The Bloody Slaying of Sarah Ridelander: LAME