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  Impulse How To Handle A Woman
Year: 1974
Director: William Grefe
Stars: William Shatner, Ruth Roman, Jennifer Bishop, Kim Nicholas, James Dobson, Harold Sakata, Marcia Knight, Vivian Lester, William Kerwin, Marcy Lafferty, Chad Walker, Paula Dimitrouleas
Genre: Thriller, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Way back around the time of the Second World War, little Matt Stone's widowed mother was entertaining a soldier (William Kerwin) one evening, the soldier unaware that the boy was in the house. When Matt wandered into the living room to find the soldier and his mother in an amorous situation, the man didn't react well, and attempted to rape her in front of her son. So what stopped him? The blade of a samurai sword, that's what, wielded by Matt, who killed for the first time that night. Move forward in time to the present day nineteen-seventies, and Matt (William Shatner) makes a living through shady land deals and generally being a conman, but the trauma of what happened when he was a child still haunts him, notably in his relationships with women. He has spent the previous night with a belly dancer, a fact that is not lost on his rich widow girlfriend - but maybe she should have kept quiet about it...

After the iconic success of Star Trek, the seventies were Shatner's wilderness years as far as his career went, and he appeared in a number of low budget films and TV movies just to keep working, with those offers for blockbusters noticeably failing to pour in. And so it was that our hero ended up in Florida to star in one of William Grefe's thrillers, offering him the opportunity to overact like never before in what could be seen as a variation of Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt. It was scripted by Tony Crechales, and is a somewhat basic psychological suspense piece as we know from the outset that Matt Stone (he should have stuck to making South Park, I guess) is nothing less than a dangerous madman.

We can see this when he strangles his middle aged girlfriend to death - accidentally, but nevertheless - in her car, then sends her and her vehicle into the nearest river to cover up his crime of passion. Shatner exploits a full range of quirks to play Matt, what with bouncing up and down, pulling aghast faces, talking in a high voice and the like, but his most notable trait is putting his pinky into his mouth at times of great stress, an act that can't help but remind you of Doctor Evil from the Austin Powers movies (is Mike Myers a fan of Impulse?). He gets away with this killing, indeed, apart from a quick, dramatic montage it's never referred to again and the police are nowhere to be seen. That said, he might not be so lucky when his next relationship goes wrong thanks to a bratty little girl, the daughter of, yes, a young widow who apropos of nothing, Matt picks up in his car when he finds her blocking his path.

You think they must know each other, but they don't, it's simply a coincidence brought up by the script that Tina (Kim Nicholas) is the crockery smashing offspring of Ann (Jennifer Bishop), who older family friend Julia (Ruth Roman) sets up on a date with Matt. It all goes very well, and love is in the air, but Tina is none too convinced, partly because she hasn't recovered from her father's death, but mostly because she has witnessed Matt murder none other than Harold Sakata in a car wash. Sakata, best known for being Oddjob in Goldfinger, here is one Karate Pete - we can tell this from the banner draped across the side of his motorhome - just out of prison and planning to muscle in on Matt's scams. Matt, suitably intimidated, decides against a business arrangement and opts for a funeral arrangement instead, but nobody will believe Tina when she says she saw the murder. It all builds, not exactly tensely it must be said, to a violent climax with Shatner on the rampage, which for some will be worth the price of admission alone. But really it's a cheap, tacky and derivative affair that its leading man's histrionics aren't quite enough to compensate for. It is unintentionally funny, however. Music by Lewis Perles.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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