I have recently had a chapter published in Alzena MacDonald’s edited collection Murders and Acquisitions: Representations of the Serial Killer in Popular Culture. The abstract for the chapter is as follows:
In early 2003 a film called Fantom Kiler (1998) was being discussed in online fora by fans of European cult cinema. Its production shrouded in mystery, Fantom Kiler gained notoriety within the online fan community as promotional materials for the film labelled it as a “stylish East European giallo”; a homage to a cycle of films that were particularly popular in Italy during the late 1960s and 1970s. Supposedly made in Poland, though most of the spoken dialogue is a mixture of both Polish and Russian, the film follows a masked serial killer who stalks and murders a number of scantily clad women. It blends near hardcore pornography, gratuitous nudity, poor acting and scenes of extreme violence into ninety minutes of video. Filmed on videotape, suffering from constant changes of aspect ratio and having a number of subtitle spelling errors, the low budget origins of the film appear obvious.
Rumours began to circulate within the European fan community regarding the mysterious production history of the Fantom Kiler. Information emerged stating that the director’s name, Roman Nowicki, was a pseudonym for a British horror fanzine producer who played an important role in developing European cult cinema fandom in the United Kingdom. Clues to the British origins of the film could be found throughout the film, one particularly attentive viewer noticing the English locales used. As further details surfaced more Fantom Kiler films were released. To date, there have been four entries in the Fantom Kiler series, with each sequel closely matching the theme of the earlier entries, scantily clad women being murdered in varying sexually aggressive ways by a serial killer.
Drawing on an interview conducted with ‘Roman Nowicki’, this chapter examines the Fantom Kiler as an example of what I describe as ‘slash’ production: a form of fan production that gives specific attention to serial murder and reproduces the serial killer as a fan object. The Fantom Kiler series, through its intertextual relationship with the giallo, illustrates the contemporary fascination with the serial killer and allows for a new consideration of the ways this cultural figure is appropriated by fan cultures for pleasure and also for profit.