This 1990 film, lensed on location in Iowa and Illinois, gained an immediate cult following among gore buffs (from Chas Balun: “Cheap, cheesy thrills with several juicy biting barrages prove that LUTHER is no bird-brained poseur”). It scored a legitimate VHS release in 1994, and was picked up by Troma for its 2005 bow on DVD. Just don’t get your hopes up too high!
As a boy the apparently retarded Luther is mesmerized by the antics of a circus geek, a supremely down-on-his luck man who bites the heads off chickens for the edification of sycophantic audiences. Luther grows into a freaked-out homicidal spaz with homemade metal dentures. Having just been released from a mental institution, Luther uses those dentures in novel fashion: in apparent imitation of his childhood idol, he bites an old lady’s neck in a supermarket parking lot.
Luther stows away in a car belonging to Hilary, a single mother living on a farm with her teen daughter. On that farm Luther promptly chomps the head of a chicken and then invades the house, tying Hilary up. Hilary’s daughter Beth and her boyfriend return soon after and become part of Luther’s reign of terror. Beth’s BF gets his neck ventilated, as does an unfortunate hunter who turns up in the wrong place at the wrong time–as does Beth herself!
This leaves Hilary to face down Luther on her own. A determined cop turns up to help her, but doesn’t last long. In her final showdown with the geek, Hilary hits upon a novel idea: she clucks like a chicken, thus pacifying Luther…temporarily at least.
Writer-director Carlton J. Albright does a generally good job helming this wonky tale, even though his script is overly thin. It’s essentially a home invasion chiller a la DESPERATE HOURS or INSIDE, but lacking their manic invention. In short, this film is dull and overly drawn-out (the policeman’s climactic stalk through the barn lasts nearly a full ten minutes), although it definitely has its moments.
The make-up effects are impressive considering the low budget (the make-up artist, for the record, refused credit), even though the acting generally isn’t. The best performance is by Edward Terry in the title role, a fully convincing, freaked-out human monster who clucks like a chicken and acts like an asshole.
LUTHER THE GEEK
Director: Carlton J. Albright
Producer: David Plat
Screenplay: “Whitey Styles” (Carlton J. Albright)
Cinematography: David Knox
Editing: Rick Smigielski
Cast: Edward Terry, Joan Roth, Stacy Haiduk, Thomas Mills, Jerry Clarke, Tom Brittingham, Carlton Williams, “Chicken” Klabunde, Gil Rogers, Karen Maurise, Jerome Borgos