Movie Name: Murder a la Mod
Release Date(s): May 1, 1968
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Karen (Margo Norton) believes she has found the man of her dreams in experimental filmmaker Christopher (Jared Martin). Christopher however reveals he is trapped in a marriage that he cannot escape until his name is ruined. That means he must finish an exploitation film that he’s been roped into and which stars an off-kilter man named Otto (William Finley). When murder occurs the reason behind the death and the person responsible will be revealed!
Written and directed by Brian De Palma, Murder a la Mod is an experimental horror film. The film was Brian De Palma’s first feature and believed to be lost for years. Rediscovered, Murder a la Mod was released as bonus material with Criterion’s edition of Blow Out which featured the film in a scene (Criterion #562).
De Palma has become an acclaimed director. Murder a la Mod is his first movie. With its snappy song, Murder a la Mod does have its moments, but it also has plenty of room for improvement.
The story is told in nonlinear narrative and is almost Rashomon in style with events being told from different perspectives (although the events appear to unbiased by who is telling it). It takes a bit too long to establish the story and it tries a bit too hard to be clever.
The cast is obviously the cast of a low budget film. The actors are trying very hard to act but the writing doesn’t always help them. The Otto character played by William Finley is too over the top (but he did become a regular of De Palma).
The movie is made at a rather low grade. Even with the quality of Criterion, the movie still has a grainy, gritty look to it. Despite this, De Palma does some interesting stuff with some shots and are very stylized. He also does good stuff with the New York locations and parts like the graveyard scene are just very dynamic.
Murder a la Mod isn’t good, but it is interesting. You can see some of De Palma’s style evolving in the film and the style of storytelling makes the film watchable if nothing else…I could also see it being remade someday (even by De Palma himself). Fans of De Palma should seek out this movie since it isn’t seen very often…check out how De Palma started!