The Hillside Strangler

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Total Count: 13


Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,404
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Movie Info

A real-life series of killings that held Los Angeles, CA, in the grip of fear during the late '70s provides the inspiration for this tense crime drama. Kenneth Bianchi (C. Thomas Howell) is a nebbishy security guard who lives with his mother in Rochester, NY, and dreams of becoming a police officer. After Bianchi's application to join the Rochester police is turned town, he takes his mother's advice and moves out to Glendale, CA, where she arranges for him to stay with his cousin, Angelo Buono (Nicholas Turturro), who works in auto repair. When he's unable to get a position with the Glendale Police Department, Bianchi steps outside the law and, claiming to have a degree in psychology and a license to practice, sets up shop as a counselor. While Bianchi never had much luck with women in Rochester, Buono gives him some advice and sets him up on a few dates; soon Bianchi has a string of girlfriends, though things become complicated when one of his steady girls, Claire Shelton (Allison Lange), becomes pregnant and moves in with him. As Bianchi becomes increasingly obsessed with sex, he and his cousin join forces to set up a prostitution ring, which quickly earns them the enmity of a group of career criminals. When Bianchi and Buono discover that they have been double crossed by one of the hookers in their stable, the two men rape and murder the woman in the back of a car; Bianchi discovers he enjoys the thrill of killing, and soon he and Buono begin committing a string of sexually tinged murders throughout the Los Angeles area, with the press soon dubbing the culprit "The Hillside Strangler." The Hillside Strangler was one of two identically titled films based on the same true story that were released in 2004; the other was directed by Chris Fisher and starred Clifton Collins Jr. and Tomas Arana as Bianchi and Buono.

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Critic Reviews for The Hillside Strangler

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (5)

  • A garishly slick piece of exploitation with surprisingly high production values but nary a moment of suspense.

    Oct 15, 2004 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…
  • This relentlessly unpleasant film documents the true story of cousins whose murder spree in late 1970's Los Angeles was at first attributed to a lone killer known as the Hillside Strangler.

    Oct 14, 2004 | Rating: 1.5/5
  • A good horse kick, or a fistful of Valium, may help you get through this relentlessly sadistic exercise with your soul more or less intact.

    Oct 14, 2004 | Full Review…
  • Another repulsive, fetishistic trawl through the life and crimes of a serial killer.

    Oct 12, 2004 | Rating: 0/4
  • Here's one for the Sick Voyeurs Club.

    Oct 12, 2004 | Rating: 1/4
  • Dumbed down and sexed up, 'Hillside' cashes in on the overtly lurid aspects of the murders while giving short shrift to the more interesting psychological aspects of the case.

    Nov 6, 2004 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Hillside Strangler

  • Sep 24, 2009
    starts off promisingly... and i'm not just talking about the random sex scenes... much... yet descends into a boring murder spree. not alot else to say about it... i didn't find it shocking, just dull???
    Sanity Assassin ! Super Reviewer
  • Jun 19, 2009
    Really nasty serial killer movie, but i mean that in a good way. Great Performances.
    Nyk P Super Reviewer
  • Aug 05, 2008
    A sometimes hard to watch film which maintains a lurid, gloating tone, <i>The Hillside Strangler</i> certainly isn't <i>Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer</i>. There's no real insight here, no depth; the film exists simply to shock as much as possible, but without much success. For instance, the constant use of the word 'cunt', seemingly every five minutes, just becomes wearying and downright depressing. The way that sex, or as is often the case, rape, is equated with brutal violence (Kenneth confesses he almost came in his pants during his first murder), isn't handled with any real subtlety. Chuck Parello is presumably attempting to show the reality of the events so it's odd that although the sexual elements are quite explicit the actual violence itself is almost entirely off screen. Good performances from C. Thomas Howell (who hasn't aged at all well from his <i>Hitcher</i> days) and Nicholas Turturro, and the occasional inspired moment - such as a scene shot in false perceptive or one overlaid with superimposition - keep things interesting. The most interesting moment in the film is undoubtedly the dinner scene with Kenneth, Angelo and Angelo's mother - a genuinely shocking and illuminating moment in a film which has precious few.
    Daniel P Super Reviewer
  • Aug 03, 2008
    Disturbing, utterly disgusting, and vile film. This movie is based on the true story of Angelo Buono and Kenneth Bianchi. The Real Victims: "The first victim of the Hillside Stranglers was a Hollywood Prostitute, whose body was found near the Forest Lawn Cemetery on October 18, 1977. The corpse was cleaned and faint marks could be seen around the neck, wrists, and ankles where a rope had been used. She had also been viciously raped. On October 31 1977, police were called to an Eagle Rock neighborhood, north of downtown Los Angeles. The body of a teenage girl, wrapped in a tarp, had been found on a curb in a small residential area. Bruises on her neck indicated strangulation. The body had been dumped, meaning she was killed somewhere else. The girl was about 16 years old, weighing 90 pounds (41 kg), and had medium length, reddish-brown hair. The girl was eventually identified as Judith Miller, a 16-year-old destitute. On November 6, 1977, the nude body of another woman was found near the Glendale Country Club. Similar to Judy Miller, she had been strangled with a ligature. The woman was identified as 21 year old Lissa Kastin, a local waitress. She had been last seen leaving work on the night before she was discovered. On November 13, 1977, two school girls, Dolores Cepeda, 12, and Sonja Johnson, 14, boarded a bus and headed home. They had last been seen getting off a bus and going over to a large two-tone sedan car. Inside the car reportedly were two men. On November 20, a young boy cleaning up a trash-strewn hillside near Dodger Stadium found two bodies. Both girls had been strangled and raped. They were soon identified as Cepeda and Johnson. Later that same day, November 20, 1977, hikers found the nude, dead, sexually assaulted body of Kristina Weckler, 20, on a hillside near Glendale. Unlike previous victims, there were signs of torture on the body as indicated by oozing injection marks. On November 23, the badly decomposed body of Jane King, 28, was found off an exit ramp near the Golden State freeway. She had gone missing two weeks earlier, around November 9. With the continued discovery of bodies in hilly areas, a task force was formed to catch the predator who was deemed the "Hillside Strangler." On November 29, police found the body of Lauren Wagner, 18. She, too, had been strangled with a ligature. There were also burn marks on her hands indicating she was also tortured. The law enforcement task force - Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department, and Glendale Police Department - began to assume that more than one person was responsible for the murders, even though the media continued to use the singular, Hillside Strangler. On December 13, 1977, police found the body of 17-year-old prostitute Kimberly Martin strewn on a hillside, her body pointing toward city hall. The final victim in Los Angeles was discovered on February 16, 1978, when a helicopter spotted an orange Datsun abandoned off a cliff in the Angeles Crest area. Police responded to the scene and found the body of the car's owner, 20-year-old Cindy Hudspeth, inside the trunk. The Stranglers had stopped Catherine Lorre with the intent of abducting her, but after learning that she was the daughter of famed actor Peter Lorre, they let her go. It was only after the two men were arrested that Lorre realized whom she had met." C. Thomas Howell(from The Hitcher) plays Kenneth Bianchi. He plays the part so well, making his character so believable that I just wanted to reach inside the TV and strangle his disgusting and perverted ass. Nicholas Turturro(the brother of John Turturro) plays a very believable role as well. These two were total disgusting, down right perverted slobs who should have been shot the day they were born(the real murderers of course). It's scary how C. Thomas Howell and Nicholas Turturro played the part so well, and believe it or not I almost couldn't distinguish the characters from the real life murderers. That's how fucking well they played it! This is the kind of movie where you feel like washing your hands after you see it. It makes you feel dirty and even almost makes you regret sitting through this pile of vomit inducing trash. Not to say that this movie is really bad or anything like that, but it is what it is...trash. I'm sure that the director knew what he was making was going to be trash, I'm also sure that he knew this movie was going to disturb a lot of people. So all in all he accomplished pretty much what he set out to do. So now I'll put it this way...this is not a good quality film. This is a good trashy ass film. The only reason why I didn't give this movie a higher rating is because, like I said before, it made me fill up with too much disgust and tons of rage. Yes, this movie seriously got me pissed off. It was not a good feeling while watching this film, not the least bit at all. Don't expect any gore or anything like that, and even though this film is graphically violent, it suggests most of it's disturbing content. This movie degrades women to the max and it doesn't hold anything back. It's in your face raw and uncompromisingly savage. A dirty perverse little film that's unfortunately all so true. I recommend this film only to those who think that they can stomach it. If you're curious to see as to what really happened revolving around Angelo Buono and Kenneth Bianchi, I'd say give this movie a peak. If not, I'd say spare yourself from this cinematic torture, and watch something more along the lines of "The Silence of the Lambs". A filthy, disturbing, and perverted movie. For fans of "true crime" flicks or extreme cinema, I highly recommend this. <a href="¤t=Hillside.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>
    jd c Super Reviewer

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