Jim Hutton is released from a psychiatric institution after he’s cleared of murder charges, but luckily, justice is on his side, in the form of a voodoo-esque amulet that allows him to clinically die for brief periods of time, which he uses to orchestrate the mysterious deaths of the people responsible for his arrest and conviction, as well as the death of his invalid mother during his absence.
That’s the nutshell of this low-budget Ray Danton shocker, but unfortunately the promising premise gets dragged down by focusing on “solving” Jim Hutton’s murders in police procedural fashion. To make matters worse, the actor playing the lead cop should never have risen above the ranks of bit parts in Starskey & Hutch, which were undoubtedly his bread and butter. I couldn’t for the life of me recognize Aldo Ray, credited as Lt. Anderson, so I had to hunt online to find him, and Della Reese barely has two minutes of screen time, though she makes the most of them! She’s the most spirited performer here, although I did enjoy Jim Hutton’s mother-fixated, voodoo-possessed, small-town nutjob.
The murders themselves are cheesy rather than creepy, though perhaps the Final Destination franchise owes the film something in its general set-up: unexplained, grisly accidents that strike a very select group of predetermined victims. Note also that although it isn’t clear why some of the people were murdered (exactly what the butcher had to do with the vengeance story is anybody’s guess), they all had vices to add to their guilt: the court shrink was an adulterer, the nurse lascivious (as all 70s horror film nurses must be), the detective a womanizer, the lawyer greedy (they also couldn’t resist making him explicitly Jewish, having him crow about shekels), and the butcher (Neville Brand), well, you don’t go up against Della Reese about food stamps and expect to come away unscathed: