City in Panic

January 17, 2016 at 7:43 pm (5 Heads, City in Panic) (, , )

City in Panic – 1986 – Canada

A female serial killer stalks Toronto. Her initial victims are homosexual men. After she murders a woman, it is revealed that she is targeting people with AIDS. A radio talk show host collaborates with a police detective to catch the killer. The talk show host baits the killer into calling his show so the police can track the call. In doing so, he inadvertently becomes the killer’s next target.

City in Panic (a.k.a. 13) develops the slasher genre by including social issues, such as people’s prejudiced perspective of AIDS. However, the message is pretty muddled and is more offensive than enlightening. The film focuses on the sleazier aspects gay culture, and its portrayal of homosexuals is sometimes unkind. Some of the dialogue is homophobic, although it comes from one police officer who is supposed to be an asshole.

City in Panic opens with a shower murder imitating Psycho (1960), but the victim is a man. One character claims that the killings parallel those in the film M (1931), but the connection is tenuous. From these references, it seems like City in Panic aims to be more than it is. However, aside from its topical inclusion of AIDS and the murderer’s gender, the film is standard fare. There are plenty of gory knifings (including a castration), lots of hyperactive POV camera shots, and a climactic finale in a warehouse of creepy manikins.

Rating: 5/10 Shrunken Heads. The talk show host plays with an Omnibot 2000, and reads a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic. Go 1980s!

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