Poster for sale at Westgate Gallery
Micky Dolenz will always be known as a Monkee and not as a dramatic actor, but he did do some non-Monkee acting after the band broke up in the early 1970s. One of Dolenz’s legacies as an actor is certain high-profile roles he did not end up getting cast in. He famously auditioned for the role of Arthur Fonzarelli in Happy Days (Michael Nesmith did too). The only thing we can say for sure about that is that there is zero chance he would have been as successful in the role as Henry Winkler was. He also was considered for the Riddler in Batman Forever, a part that eventually went to Jim Carrey.
One of his early acting roles was his star turn in Night of the Strangler, an exploitation film that came out in 1972. Directed by Joy N. Houck Jr., it’s a pretty run-of-the-mill serial killer movie except for two things, the complete and total lack of any strangling whatsoever during the entire movie and the progressive (???) use of an interracial love affair as the driver of events. The movie begins with the hasty return of Denise to her native Louisiana from Vassar College, where she has fallen in love with an African-American fellow who has impregnated her and whom she intends to marry. (I had to work in a mention of Vassar, seeing as how the same institution unwisely furnished me with an undergraduate degree.) This news is taken rather differently by her brothers Vance (Dolenz) and imperious Dan, who throws around the N-word a lot and threatens to kill Denise and her betrothed. Before that can happen, though, her man is shot by a sniper and Denise is drowned in her bathtub…...
The taglines for the movie were “He Gets Them All!” and “Southern Revenge!” As happened with many B-movies in the 1970s, this movie was released under multiple titles. I guess it wasn’t common for movies to have quite this many titles, most of which play up the race thing and (thank goodness) don’t mention strangling, as in Dirty Dan’s Women and Is the Father Black Enough? and The Ace of Spades (really?).
As with many violent B-movies, there isn’t enough motivation for the series of killings, which are there mainly to draw audience and titillate viewers. In between the spurts of violence, you can barely glimpse a more interesting movie, but even that aspect is just sketched together. Dolenz’s training from the Monkees sitcom helped him, however. He’s not great or anything but he’s perfectly engaging as the more recessive of the two brothers.