The Hillside Strangler
A dark and genuinely disturbing recount of the brutal murders that terrified the citizens of Los Angeles in the late '70s, director Chuck Parello's The Hillside Strangler arrives on DVD in top form thanks to Tartan Video. This unrated version of the film is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, perfectly preserving director of photography John Pirozzi's moody lighting and stylish lensing. Tartan has obviously taken great care to present one of their first stateside DVD releases as cleanly as possible, and their hard work has paid off with a great visual presentation. Likewise, the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio scheme offers an impressive and evenly balanced mix of dialogue and music. A listen to the director's commentary track reveals that the well-versed Parello is indeed extremely knowledgeable in regards to the facts in the case of the Hillside Strangler, and though the occasional questionable comment such as one stating that The Hillside Strangler is really "a funny film in a lot of ways" may raise something of a red flag among sensitive viewers, his comments about the solid rapport between leads C. Thomas Howell and Nicholas Turturro are dead on. An extended interview with Howell finds the thoughtful actor weighing the responsibilities of such a heavy role in addition to addressing the appeal of serial killer-themed films in the public eye. Three incidental deleted scenes add little to the overall story, with a theatrical trailer, Spanish subtitles, and closed-captioning rounding out the special features on the commendable Tartan Release.