“No one loves a cripple!”
Erik Stern holds this together in the dual role of Caleb and Lester, the split personalities of a creepy gardener; the former a relatively harmless simpleton with a hunchback, the latter a suave misogynistic killer with a sweet toupee. Stern makes both personalities completely distinct without losing the connection between the two, and he manages to make conversations with himself resolutely compelling. He’s relentlessly threatening, but also the major source of levity in this greasy bastard.
The film surrounding his bravura performance is a mess of police procedural and stomach churning misogynistic mayhem. Unlike Donald Jones later Murderlust, The Love Butcher is gory and over the top, the hateful actions and words presented much harder to swallow because they are presented with such glee. In the world of The Love Butcher, hate is the closest thing any of these men have to affection, and every single one of them justifies their actions by a past sin of a woman. It’s really upsetting stuff, but, for a while, it’s also a really fun slasher, full of maniacal speeches and piles of bodies. The tone gradually shifts from semi-comedic to maliciously disturbing, and that shift isn’t completely successful.
But when you’ve got such delectably insane monologuing like “Your feminine pulchritude is detestable, and you were trying to drain the energy from me!”, it’s hard not to have a little uncomfortable fun.