Thriller and courtroom drama about a whackjob who savagely kills five people and the prosecutor who, theoretically conflicted, argues in favor of the death penalty. Based on the book by William P. Wood and “inspired by” true events — the case of serial killer Richard Chase. Friedkin (who produced, wrote, and directed the film) provides no easy answers, yet fails to provide much in the way of food for thought, either, despite tackling both the death penalty and legal insanity. Alex McArthur handles the “innocence” of insanity quite well (he’s certainly a cheerful maniac) and Michael Biehn is good as the prosecutor; the script, however, never allows either of them to dig very deeply into their characters or the issues surrounding them. Which is just as well, as the ending undercuts their differing psychologies anyway. Originally released in Europe with a different ending; re-cut and modified for US release by Friedkin after studio bankruptcy left the movie stranded on the shelf for five years. Less violent than you might expect: the really horrible stuff occurs off-screen.
Rampage (1987), directed by William Friedkin