SECRETS OF A PSYCHOPATH
Not having made a film since Malediction, Gordon returned after a twenty-five year absence with Secrets of a Psychopath. Gordon was 93 years old when he directed Secrets of a Psychopath, which makes him one of the oldest directors alive. According to a 2013 article in Film Comment, both Manoel de Oliviera and Leni Riefenstahl were making films after the age of one hundred. Gordon comes in as the fourth oldest director after Kaneto Shindo who released a film at the age of 98.
The majority of Bert I. Gordons films are not that good. Secrets of a Psychopath does not disappoint in this regard. It feels more like a psycho film that would have been perfect for the heyday of so-called grindhouse era alongside works like I Dismember Mama (1972), The Love Butcher (1975), The Killer Inside Me (1976), The Driller Killer (1979) and Gordons own gloriously sordid The Mad Bomber (1973). What grates about the film is the shabbiness of Gordons writing the dialogue often feels like lead bricks in the actors mouths. The characters act in ways that frequently do no resemble human psychology. In the opening scenes, a woman (Mary Anthony) turns up on Mark Famigliettis doorstep to marry him without even having met him before. A few scenes later Hilary Anderson travels to another town solely because a guy she met on the internet mentions he might have a job for her and then agrees to get in his car and travel to destination unknown on his say so without even having the vaguest of trust issues.
For that matter, Gordon doesnt seem that clued up on how the internet and online dating sites work. The police dont seem at all concerned about these missing girls or capable of finding them. In a real world setting, the most logical thing police would do fairly soon into an investigation is look up their online/mobile footprint and find the agreement to meet someone (for that matter the address that Famiglietti must have left Mary Anthony who arrives on his doorstep to meet him for the first time). The most laughable point is when the police finally do go to investigate the online dating service and we find it is no more than a regular office where clerical workers manually match prospective clients on cards just like the old days when it was called a computer dating service. Not to mention that everybody who communicates on the internet in the film has the annoying habit of doing so in caps.
Gordon attempts to get inside the head of his psychopath but only produces paperback psychology rather than psychopathology. However, what does lift the film from its shabby writing is the sordidness of the psychology. You are amazed by a film that has an incestual brother-sister relationship at the heart of it a rather perverse one that has a vampish Kari Wuhrer twisting the knife on Famiglietti for trying to pursue a normal relationship and where he has repressed all memories of a traumatic event. There are also the bizarrely risible scenes where the two of them dress up in costumes and makeup as dolls to taunt their victims.
Bert I. Gordons other genre films are: King Dinosaur (1955), The Cyclops (1957), Beginning of the End (1957), The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), Attack of the Puppet People (1958), Earth vs the Spider (1958), War of the Colossal Beast (1958), another fantasy adventure with The Boy and the Pirates (1960), the ghost story Tormented (1960), The Magic Sword (1962), Village of the Giants (1965), the psycho-thriller Picture Mommy Dead (1966), the occult film Necromancy (1972), The Mad Bomber (1973), The Food of the Gods (1976), Empire of the Ants (1977) and the witchcraft films The Coming/Burned at the Stake (1981) and Malediction/Satans Princess (1990).