I first saw Servando González’s 1965 film The Fool Killer (aka El asesino de tontos) almost twenty years ago and it’s haunted me ever since. The film features Anthony Perkins in one of his best roles and I got the urge to watch it again last year while I was obsessing over Perkins’ music career. For some unknown reason The Fool Killer isn’t available on DVD yet so I had to purchase a used VHS copy of the film to see it.
I shouldn’t have been too surprised that The Fool Killer was unavailable on DVD because Mexican director Servando González is almost unheard of in the United States. I haven’t had the opportunity to see any of the director’s other films myself so my own appreciation of his work revolves around my deep affection for The Fool Killer, but I was disappointed to learn that the director had passed away in October of last year. Servando González’s death appears to have gone almost completely unnoticed by the film community except in Latin America. This is really unfortunate because The Fool Killer clearly shows that González was a talented filmmaker with the ability to create wonderfully atmospheric films that could remain with viewers long after they had ended. Trying to find any noteworthy information about The Fool Killer is nearly impossible, but I thought I’d share some of my own thoughts about Servando González’s exceptional film in an effort to broaden appreciation of his work.
The Fool Killer is an extremely dark and ominous film starring thirteen year-old actor Edward Albert as a deeply troubled young orphan named George. After a brief opening montage filled with idyllic images of the American countryside, the film begins with George receiving a nasty beating from his foster parents while they recite Bible verses at him in an effort to soften the blows. Poor George blames himself for the beatings he receives because he thinks that the “foolish things” he’s done shouldn’t go unpunished. But dropping a butter churn and playing with dandelions are clearly not acts worthy of the beatings he gets. After the physical pain wears off, the emotional scars become evident when young George decides that he’s had enough abuse and heads out into the world on his own. His odyssey will take him through the dusty back roads of rural Tennessee where he’ll encounter an unusual cast of characters who consciously and unconsciously guide him on his journey.
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