The Astral Factor

June 10, 2013 at 11:54 pm (5 Heads, 6 Heads, Astral Factor) (, , )

The Astral Factor – 1976 – English

A homicidal maniac develops psychic powers while imprisoned. After escaping, he begins a murderous rampage against five beautiful dames. Apparently, the women are related to his incarceration and also remind him of his abusive mother, but these details are never satisfactorily explained. A suave police detective tracks the killer, which proves difficult since the killer can turn invisible and telekinetically strangle folks.

The Astral Factor is mostly about police procedure as the detective investigates murders and tries to protect the targeted women. Since the victims are all sleazy yet gorgeous chicks, the film has an enjoyable trashy flavor, supported by pandering writing and chintzy effects. While the glowing optical effects are cool, the invisible killer’s attacks mostly result in objects tossed from off-screen and people thrashing about as if menaced by unseen hands.

More interesting are Astral Factor’s quirky touches. They are easily missed unless you watch closely, but peculiar characters and situations abound. The unrelated opening credit sequence features a model flinging a boa around in slow motion. One of the police officers incessantly and furiously clicks his pen. There’s a chatty sexually harassing parrot. A woman plays In the Pines (a.k.a. Where Did You Sleep Last Night?) on acoustic guitar. A modern dance performance depicts the devil and his harem sacrificing a lady. And the main character’s girlfriend talks in third person, reads comic books, and never wears pants.

Directed by a TV director and starring mostly TV actors, Astral Factor is competent but uninspired. Only its eccentricity makes it fun to watch. Also, don’t be fooled by the lurid plot; there isn’t any graphic violence or nudity.

Rating: 5/10 Shrunken Heads. The Astral Factor is also known as Invisible Strangler. For a good time, compare this poster and VHS box cover. One looks like the cover of a Choose Your Own Adventure book and the other could be the box for a Nintendo game.

3/1/17 Update:

The Astral Factor gives me hope. Perhaps I too can develop psychic powers if I meditate hard enough.

The protagonist’s girlfriend makes disgusting rubbery cake, but is otherwise one of the coolest girlfriends on the planet.

Rating: 6/10 Shrunken Heads. The performance of In the Pines is probably the best part of this movie. What a nice song!

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