Plot: Katherine Atwell (Jaclyn Smith) is a beautiful woman married to a wealthy man, but the marriage is just business. The two have grown distant and while Katherine dabbles in romances with other men, she wants to be free to openly pursue new love and happiness. But her husband Wendell (Mike Connors) refuses to grant the divorce, as he claims it will sour a potential business deal, though Katherine suspects this merger might never happen. Her lover Steve (James Franciscus) is ready to do whatever it takes to have her all to himself, even if it means murder. So he poisons Wendell, then the two plot to leave the country with a small fortune when things cool down. After all, Wendell traveled a lot, so his disappearance wouldn’t seem all that unusual. But soon things take a turn for Katherine, as Steve turns up dead and a detective named Donner (Robert Mitchum) seems poised to uncover the truth.
Entertainment Value: Nightkill is an odd thriller, as it is played serious, but is loaded with unintentional camp and humor. The opening scene, as two lovers have a sickeningly sweet conversation one morning, is hilarious and sets the tone for wackiness early on. Jaclyn Smith has the lead and gives us some fine moments of melodrama and panic. She is at her best in this one when she interacts with some of the more colorful cast members, however. Her scenes with Mike Conners, who plays her estranged husband, are a pleasure to watch, as he plays the role big and the two are such an odd couple. James Franciscus is fun here too, with goo-goo talk and melodrama, while Robert Mitchum is asleep, but still great. His energy level in Nightkill is beyond low, as if he was woken just before he did his scenes, then fell back asleep after. But it works, as he comes off as a cold, dead inside detective, which I think suits the role. The movie has some light horror elements, but comes off more like a thriller, piling on twist after twist until we have a complicated mess to contend with. So if you want a sane, rational mystery, this is not the one to choose. But if you want a fun, over the top thriller with some colorful performances, Nightkill is recommended.
No nakedness. Some shower scenes tease us a little, but no naked flesh is ever shown on screen. There is violence, but again most takes place off screen, though a strange shower sequence provides some makeup effects. And some light aftermath blood on the victims, but nothing graphic or overly intense. Given that this was mostly used as a television feature, the lack of sleaze and gore makes sense. The dialogue is off the wall and a lot of fun in this one. The attempts at romantic banter are so awkward, you can’t help but cringe and laugh at the same time. Then we have the big shot husband, who has some fun lines, while Mitchum is so in and out of dream state, he makes normal lines seem psychotic. Then we have some humorous moments that pop up at times, just a fun, odd script for this one. As for craziness, the colorful dialogue, the steam shower scene, constant ineffective twists, and Mitchum’s sleepwalk performance earn some points. The entire movie just has a vibe that something isn’t quite right, however.
Overall Insanity: 4/10