The Zodiac Killer (film)

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The Zodiac Killer
Zodiac Killer 1971 poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Tom Hanson
Produced by Tom Hanson
Written by Ray Cantrell
Manny Cardoza
Starring Hal Reed
Bob Jones
Ray Lynch
Tom Pittman
Music by Dennis Thomann
Cinematography Robert Birchall
Wilson S. Hong
Distributed by Adventure Productions, Inc.
Release date
  • April 7, 1971 (1971-04-07)
Running time
87 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Zodiac Killer is a 1971 film directed by Tom Hanson. The film stars Hal Reed, Bob Jones, Ray Lynch and Tom Pittman. The plot is based on the murders committed by the Zodiac Killer in the San Francisco area, though it takes many liberties with the actual investigation with the film providing a name and back story for the killer.


The film is a highly fictionalized telling of a month in the life of the Zodiac Killer (played by Hal Reed). The film follows the killer (whose identity as the Zodiac Killer is not revealed until the end of the first act of the film) and a friend, Grover (a drunk, toupee wearing truck driver who is divorced from his wife and in financial trouble from his divorce) as they meet and go about their normal day. Grover eventually has a nervous breakdown due to the upheaval in his life caused by his divorce, as he is denied the right to visit his daughter when he makes a surprise visit to his ex-wife. Taking his daughter hostage, the police are called and as he tries to escape, Grover sees the day's paper laying on the front steps announcing another murder by the Zodiac Killer. In a fit of madness, he declares himself the Zodiac Killer and lets his daughter go in order to flee. The police shoot him dead as he falls into a nearby pool.

The second act of the film follows the real Zodiac Killer, who the film positions as having a day job as a much put upon postal carrier. The death of his friend causes him to phone the police to announce that the man they killed was not the Zodiac Killer, then goes about a major killing spree culminating in him murdering a pair of lovers in a park. The film also portrays him as a Satanist and one who actively kills those in his personal life who mock him or are mean to him in his normal life or who he hears mock his alter-ego.

The final act of the film attempts to provide a motive for the crime. The Zodiac Killer visits his father in a hospital, where he is kept in a caged room on the top floor. It is implied that the Zodiac's father is mentally ill and has to be restrained 24/7 and refuses any verbal communication with his son. The Zodiac Killer begs for his father to talk to him only to be rebuked. The staff of the facility ask the Zodiac Killer to leave, claiming his presence "upsets" his father. On his way out, the Zodiac Killer takes out his anger on two patients, wounding one and killing another.

The film ends with a voice over monologue as the Zodiac Killer goes about his normal routine. The Zodiac Killer brags about how he will never be caught and taunts the viewers of the film telling them that other monsters like himself lurk out there, able to blend in with normal people to avoid being caught while doing evil.

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