555 (1988)

Originally published in Bleeding Skull! A 1980s Trash-Horror Odyssey.

“Caution: Viewing may cause severe damage to your brain cells.”

Shot on one-inch video tape in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village, 555 hit the shelves courtesy of King Video Distributors. Director Wally Koz kick-started King Video to distribute this film and future releases. There weren’t any. Nevertheless, Koz’s ambitious Dirty Harry meets New York Ripper project was backed with a big advertising push towards video stores. There were full-sized posters and taglines such as: “Has a story line and a plot.”

A hippie (fake beard, rayon Hawaiian shirt) spends his evenings brutally murdering couples, then having sex with the deceased females. Five couples, five nights, every five years — 555, get it? In case you’re wondering, yes, we get to see the necro-humping. It’s pretty great, and mostly takes place on filthy mattresses that a hobo wouldn’t even piss on. Hot on the case are a couple of high-strung cops who yell a lot and say dumb things (“A real sicko, wanting to screw dead meat . . . different strokes for different folks!”). After gyros and bratwurst lunches at Pepe’s Hot Dogs, our vindictive officers argue with a reporter and chase their only suspect. He’s a ’Nam vet in a safari shirt.

The rest of 555 centers on false leads, gore-on-boobs, and a seriously negative slant towards women. The C-word is used as a general reference point and every victim is hacked up while the camera stares at blood-drenched breasts. It’s a bit much. But then a couple of fifty-somethings share a very invasive French kiss. Everything feels beautiful.

In 1988, most SOVs were concerned with “comedic” elements like Elvis impersonators (Death Row Diner) and Girl Scout zombies (Phantom Brother). Not 555. This is straight-up sleaze. That’s why it’s notable, hilarious, and worth your time. Like Pieces before it, this film is so over the top in terms of button-pushing stupidity that you can’t help but hug it. There’s also a sex scene so apathetic that it makes the encounter between Deputy Jack and Sheriff Lisa in Nightbeast feel like a two-hour blowjob
from God. That’s class.

From the Archives