Distribution/Production Company: New York Horror Film Productions
Directed by: Evan Makrogiannis
Written By: Evan Makrogiannis & Brian Weaver
Starring: Bill McLaughlin, Edgar Moye, Lyndsey Brown, Vinny Ward, Ruby Larocca, & Manoush
Running Time: 129 minutes
Rating: Unrated


In a city that never sleeps, a killer prowls the streets at night. Over a span of ten years, the butchered remains of New York City women have been found dumped along the New Jersey Turnpike. The sadistic fiend behind these horrific murders has been dubiously termed “THE TURNPIKE KILLER.” His search for “The Chosen One” leaving an endless trail of bloodshed and brutality, NYPD Homicide Detective Lloyd is on the case as “The Turnpike Killer” continues to evade capture. Keep off the streets at night, stay out of the tunnels, and avoid the bridges because you can’t escape when all roads lead to terror!

Turnpike Killer Still 1

For the past few years, horror fans have been yearning for a return to the heyday of 80’s slasher/grindhouse fare. This is probably due in some part to nostalgia, but I tend to believe that the horror films you and I grew up with, dear fiendish readers, are simply just so much better than the over-polished tripe that we’ve been fed for decades now. That’s not to say that a few gems haven’t shone through the immense amount of sludge, with even a few studio efforts making the grade. The finest horror fare these days, however, is thanks to independent filmmakers who just couldn’t get enough of the genre classics on VHS.

Some of my fondest memories are of going with my brother and father to the local mom ‘n pop independent video stores and staring longingly at hours on end of that wide variety of titles available with box covers, oven in gruesome blood red color, depicting a taste of what I could expect inside. Upon meeting the director of THE TURNPIKE KILLER, Evan Makrogiannis at a special screening of a VHS copy of the original Mother’s Day, I learned that he too was an independent filmmaker and kindred spirit when it came to the genre we all love and admire. After a brief conversation on the re-emergence of VHS as a popular platform, he produced a copy of his film, THE TURNPIKE KILLER, in, of all things, an 80’s style big-box VHS case. That’s right boils ‘n ghouls, Evan, being a true fan, put so much thought not only into his film, but it’s release as well. Inside I found not only the DVD, but a VHS copy and a signed poster for the film signed by none other than budding scream queen Ruby LaRocca!


With all of this attention to detail, I couldn’t wait to watch the film (though, admittedly, it took forever to find a VCR because I wanted to see the film in the format it so clearly was meant for as well as the DVD). THE TURNPIKE KILLER is a very strong entry into the genre by a first time filmmaker on a budget. Shot originally on DV, the film was later put through a process to give it that grindhouse 16mm look we all know and love to better match the material within. I’m not talking about the fake pops and scratches Tarantino and co. poorly tried to replicate in his Grindhouse double feature. THE TURNPIKE KILLER looks as though it could actually be a lost film from the 80’s era. With this mood set, I was incredibly excited for the ride I was about to take and I was not disappointed.

The film follows the journey of the hulking killer John Beest (Bill McLaughlin), a man who could be the guy living right next door, who for a decade lives a double life haunted by a disembodied voice guiding him to disposing what his hunter instinct considers female trash and dregs (loose women, hookers, and the like) while searching for “The One.” All the while, homicide detective Lloyd (Edgar Moye) is hot on his trail. Is Beest just another homicidal maniac, or is there, perhaps, a method to his madness? You’ll just have to watch the film to find out!


Evoking films of the 80’s era like MANIAC, writing and directing partners Weaver and Makrogiannis perform a commendable job in pulling off a strong homage without outright plagiarism (something many modern filmmakers can learn from). While the writing and dialogue aren’t the best aspects of the film, such things can be forgiven by (for the most part) convincing first time actors and a tight story clearly conceived by fans of the genre. Obvious first time director issues such as, at times, low lighting are more than made up for by clear sound (often the bane of first time filmmakers), including a synth score indicative of the 80’s era by Michael Makrogiannis. The incredible budget-friendly practical makeup effects (created by, from what I’ve read, the Demonic Pumpkins FX Group) were incredibly well crafted and include perhaps the most realistic throat slashing effect I’ve ever seen and reminded me, at times, of the effects witnessed in the August Underground films. No cheap-o-la clay and oatmeal effects here, folks. Even with the few issues mentioned, THE TURNPIKE KILLER is a very strong first outing by Evan Makrogiannis and New York Horror Film Productions and I can’t wait to see Evan’s next feature THE SUPER as well. For a true return to the kind of psycho killer horror film fare you grew up with, the kind of film some modern filmmakers only wish they could pull off, this is a MUST SEE. Check it out, before John Beest comes calling FOR YOU!

3.5 Out Of 5 Skulls

3 and a half skulls

Special features for the VHS box set include:

  • VHS Copy of THE TURNPIKE KILLER with box cover art by Robert L. Philios
  • THE TURNPIKE KILLER limited edition full color poster autographed by scream queen Ruby LaRocca
  • DVD Copy of THE TURNPIKE KILLER (featuring uncensored cover art)

Special Features on the DVD include:

  • DONUTS AND A DOUBLE HOMICIDE: A feature length documentary on the making of a microbudget horror movie in NYC. A candid behind-the-scenes look at the film through the eyes of the writers, directors, crew, and actors. Includes interviews with famed FANGORIA editor and writer Michael Gingold, renowned horror historian Tom Weaver, and 1980’s NYPD composite artist, and creator of THE TURNPIKE KILLER VHS box art, Robert Philios
  • Special extra short feature DEVIL MOON, a horror homage that pays tribute to the werewolf classics written by 13 year old Liam Makrogiannis and starring horror icons Ruby LaRocca and Manoush


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