The Black Panther
An exceptional first feature made for only $280,000 by a young British director, Ian Merrick, The Black Panther has nothing to do with the Black Panthers. It is a cool, graphic, and disturbing real-life portrait of a British psychopathic killer/kidnapper, Donald Neilson, once the most hunted criminal in Britain, who shocked the public with the military-style kidnapping of heiress Lesley Whittle, and three murders of sub-postmasters during the course of numerous robberies throughout England in the early seventies. Neilson acquired the nickname “The Black Panther” because of the black outfit and hood that he wore in the commission of his crimes. Neilson was a complex person, deeply private and resentful of the environment that spawned him, yet alarmingly “ordinary” in day-to-day terms - a family man, an ex-soldier and a fitness-fanatic. Although the film echoes Scorsese's Taxi Driver in one sequence, and evokes Michael Powell's Peeping Tom in its fascination with grisly detail, The Black Panther does not sensationalize its case history, nor does it sentimentalize its subject. Persistent public accusal of sensationalism before and after production led to the film being banned in Britain soon after its release, despite critical acclaim for actor Donald Sumpter's insightful recreation of the character and the tasteful and skillful direction. A film not to miss, guaranteed to hold you on the edge of your seat. Following our preview screenings, this meticulously crafted and researched film should find its way into American theaters and receive widespread critical acclaim.