Lt. Charles ‘Chuck’ Barrett (Robert Foxworth) works for the police department. He gets a call to investigate the murder of Darlene DeLong (Sue Lyon). Also assigned to the case is Barrett’s partner, Detective Holt (Mark Slade). DeLong was discovered strangled in the tub. The police discover the fingerprints of Roger Sands (Frank Ashmore) in the apartment.
Roger Sands was convicted of four counts of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in the North State Institution of the Criminally Insane. He was called the celebrity strangler. His victims were all well-known actresses or socialites. His first victim was his own mother. Darlene had been a key witness at Sands’ trial when he tried to kill her. At least two other women were also attempted victims of Sands, Roxane Raymond (Renata Vaselle) and Chris Hartman (Elke Sommer). Barrett then learns that Sands escaped from the maximum-security facility. No one knows how. At his old house Barrett finds a list with the names of five women on it. The two new names are Colleen Hudson (Leslie Parrish) and Bambi Greer (Marianna Hill).
Barrett learns from Sands’ psychiatrist that Sands’ victims reminded him of his mother. Each time he killed; he was killing her. Sands also had a fascination with psychic phenomena. The ESP Research Institute was studying Sands. Barrett talks to Dr. Ulmer (Alex Dreier), from the institute. Ulmer tells Barrett that Sands may have developed a way to become invisible and project himself psychically to another place although his actual body remains in its original place. He calls it astral projection. Ulmer speculates that Sands may have taken the phenomenon a step further and is able to project himself to another place.
Now, with Sands out of prison, he begins killing again. Barrett is left trying to figure out how to catch an invisible killer than may not even be there.
“The Astral Factor” was released in 1978 and was directed and written by Arthur C. Pierce. It is a science fiction crime thriller. The original film was completed in 1976 but not released until 1978. It didn’t do well. The film wasn’t in theaters long before it was removed and stuck on a shelf. Eventually the movie was repackaged with some scenes being added and or deleted. Re-titled, “Invisible Strangler”, with a shorter running time, it was rereleased in 1984 on VHS. Again, the movie did not do well.
I wasn’t looking forward to watching this film since it got a lot of bad reviews, although I wasn’t sure if the bad reviews were for “The Astral Factor”, “Invisible Strangler” or both. I was surprised to find that I actually enjoyed it. For most people, the only draw was a quick glimpse of Stephanie Powers butt and side boob, a peek at Foxworth’s butt and some Elke Sommer cleavage. The new version, “Invisible Strangler”, was directed by John Florea and Gene Fowler Jr. and a new music score was added. The changes didn’t make the movie any better. Yes, I watched them both. In fact, the cuts done on the re-do took some of the charm away from it.
Stephanie Powers plays Barrett’s slightly ditzy but incredibly adorable wife Candy. Her part isn’t big, or important, still she manages to steal the movie.
The Astral Factor
The Invisible Strangler