The Love Butcher (1975)

The Love Butcher (1975)

Everyone has heard of movie maniacs Michael Myers, Norman Bates and Hannibal Lector, but mention the name Lester in regard to the pantheon of cinematic psychos and the most likely reaction will be looks of utter bewilderment. It's a shame, because Lester deserves better: he's just as bats••t crazy and as unpredictably dangerous as his better known contemporaries, has his own catchphrase (But of course!), and even gets to bed some of his attractive female victims before offing them.

As a child, Lester is responsible for the accidental death of his disabled brother Caleb, for which his mother never forgives him; years later and guilt has resulted in Lester (now played by Erik Stern) adopting his dead sibling's personality as well as his own. When dressed as Caleb, he is a short sighted, balding gardener with a manky hand, but when he becomes Lester, he is a be-wigged ladies man who punishes any female who has treated his 'brother' with contempt.

The film is low budget and exploitative, with any excuse for a spot of bright red gore or cheap titillation, and many scenes verge on the comical, but it still qualifies as a genuinely powerful experience thanks to Stern's intense dual performance, pitiful as Caleb, but completely menacing and merciless as Lester. In the film's most memorable scene, he does away with the film's only sympathetic female character, stripping her naked and repeatedly bashing her with a serrated hoe—it's a real shocker of a moment, a brave move that makes this film all the more impressive, and all the more deserving of recognition. 

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