Impulse Blu-ray Review

Written by Robert Gold

Blu-ray released by Grindhouse Releasing

Directed by William Grefé
Written by Tony Crechales
1974, 87 minutes, Rated PG
Released on March 12th, 2024

William Shatner as Matt Stone
Ruth Roman as Julia Marstow
Kim Nicholas as Tina Moy
Jennifer Bishop as Ann Moy
James Dobson as Clarence
Harold Sakata as Karate Pete
Marcy Lafferty as Hotel Clerk


Tina Moy is a troubled teenager who has lost her father and feels threatened any time her mother Ann tries dating. Enter Matt Stone, a skeezy lothario always looking for a new con. Ann falls for Matt’s charm and begins seeing him regularly. Tina doesn’t trust him and begins acting out in defiance. What Ann cannot see past her daughter’s behavior is Matt is a sociopath unable to control his emotions. Tina witnesses Matt murder a man at a car wash, but nobody believes her since she has always painted him as a bad person. Can Tina make her mother see the truth or will they be his next victims?

Impulse is a surreal picture that gets some things right, but goes down so many wrong paths to get there. There are so many campy elements working against this movie, including direction, screenplay, wardrobe and performances. That being said, the end result is somehow weirdly entertaining. Directed by low-budget filmmaker William Grefé (Mako: Jaws of Death), who made a name for himself shooting movies in Florida with occasional A-list talent, Impulse tells a very simple story in an over-the-top manner. Working from a script by Tony Crechales (The Killing Kind), Grefé does his best to keep things interesting.

What makes this movie memorable is the casting of William Shatner (Visiting Hours) in the lead role of conman/gigolo Matt Stone. This was shot after the Star Trek series was canceled but before it was reborn in a number of motion pictures. According to the director, his leading man got a bad financial deal on the original show and was willing to do any project for the money. The actor is not exactly known for his subtlety as an actor and all of his comical behavior is in top form here. Stone is a murderer who cannot control his impulses and is quickly (and briefly) wracked with remorse for his crimes. Shatner keeps his performance tightly wound much of the time, as one would hope, and he wears some of the ugliest clothes the 1970s had to offer.

All of the performances go off the rails at least once. Shatner isn’t the only marquee name present, as Hitchcock veteran Ruth Roman (Strangers on a Train, The Baby) co-stars as Julia Marstow, something of a busybody friend to Tina’s mother, Ann. Also on hand is the memorable character actor Harold “Oddjob” Sakata (Goldfinger) as Karate Pete, Matt’s partner in crime who drives a Winnebago with his name plastered on the side. Marstow and Sakata make the most of their parts and emerge largely unscathed. Jennifer Bishop (House of Terror) plays Ann, a woman with the worst judgment of character as she falls for Matt’s game. Young Kim Nicholas (Black Sunday, 1977) is serviceable as Tina, an emotional teen whose best moment comes in a hysterical breakdown at her father’s graveside that is brilliant. A minor character worth mentioning is the flirtatious hotel clerk played by Shatner’s then-wife Marcy Lafferty (Star Trek: The Motion Picture, TJ Hooker).

Impulse is a frequently bonkers thriller that is not very thrilling or scary, but has to be seen to be believed. The lazy script relies too heavily on voiceover flashbacks to earlier scenes and the direction is occasionally questionable. Despite its numerous flaws, it manages to avoid being a total train wreck by embracing its campy nature. Shatner fans will find a lot to like with this performance and everyone else will simply marvel at the general strangeness of the production.

Video and Audio:

Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the disc opens with a disclaimer that the original negative was destroyed many years ago. For this presentation, a rare archival 35mm release print was mastered in 4K and restored to the best of the company’s ability. That being said, the results are pleasing since this is likely the best the film will ever look. Colors are bold and frequently pop while black levels are mostly solid.

Audio options include a DTS HD-MA 2.0 English mono mix or DTS HD-MA 2.0 French mono track. The French track adds another level of strangeness, but both are enjoyable. Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.

Special Features:

Disc 1: Feature and Extras

The William Grefé audio commentary is filled with behind-the-scenes stories and trivia about the cast and crew. He is an interesting guy and has plenty to say.

Making of Impulse (14 minutes) is a fairly typical look back at the film, featuring interviews with Grefé, who talks about finding investors and has fun stories about Shatner, Ruth Roman and Harold Sakata. We also hear from sound editor Henri Lopez and make-up artist/corpse actor Doug Hobart.

Shatner Saves Sakata (2 minutes) is a short clip of silent 8mm footage of a stunt gone awry with Grefé and Shatner commentaries.

47th Anniversary Screening Tampa Theater Nov. 7, 2015 (27 minutes), hosted by Joel D. Wynkoop, is a Q & A with Grefé and production designer Roger Sherman who, following a brief intro, move on to the picture’s origin, Shatner stories and other production tales.

Two theatrical trailers are included

Bonus feature – The Devil’s Sisters (1966, 84 minutes) is another title from Grefé, but the final reel is missing and the ending is told through stills and storyboards with director narration. This feature comes with a director’s commentary.

The Devil’s Sisters Resurrected intro by Bill Grefé (3 minutes) is brief and to the point.

The Devil’s Sisters Revisited (9 minutes) takes a look back at the production.

Bill Grefe and The Devil’s Sisters (1 minute) tells the picture’s origin story based on a true crime in Mexico.

A Sisters of Evil radio spot is included.

A photo gallery slideshow (1 minute) of production stills and international artwork.

Bonus Feature: The Godmothers (1973, 78 minutes)

Intro by Bill Grefé (4 minutes) finds the director sharing some fun Mickey Rooney stories.

Disc 2: Special Features

Between the Treks: Shatner in the 1970s (26 minutes) with C. Courtney Joyner, who covers Shatner’s television appearances pre-Star Trek and made-for-TV movies after the series, particularly Pray for the Wildcats. Joyner paints the man as a serious journeyman actor. He goes on to discuss the 1970s genre movies Kingdom of the Spiders and The Devil’s Rain.

Kingdom of the Shatner: William Shatner Live in Santa Monica Oct. 9, 2022 (65 minutes) is a live Q & A after a triple-feature screening of Impulse, Kingdom of the Spiders and The Devil’s Rain. Shatner tells stories about all three films, his work with Roger Corman and his recent trip to space.

Doug Hobart – The Corpse Speaks! (34 minutes) – Bill Grefé interviews Doug and they reflect on the films they made together, featuring lots of Impulse stories.

In Bill Grefé is Furious (78 minutes), the director talks about working in Florida. He shares his memories of fellow filmmakers H.G. Lewis and Dave Friedman. He continues with tales from numerous other pictures, Rita Heyworth, shark movies, and of course, Impulse.

The director reminisces about his home town in Bill’s Miami Stories (25 minutes).

With Bill’s Sea Stories (43 minutes), we are treated to more production stories, including a fun Don Johnson tale.

In the Bill Grefé 2011 Interview (13 minutes), topics include his daily life, meeting Orson Welles, the making of Stanley and his wife, Grace.

Live and Let Die News Report (3 minutes) is an undated local news story about Grefé serving as 2nd unit director on the James Bond picture.

Tributes to Grefé continue with the segment Legend Award (9 minutes) with a Bruce Campbell intro.

A series of Grefé’s Film-Making Seminars:
Session 1 (125 minutes)
Session 2 (103 minutes)
Session 3 (80 minutes)

Industrial Shorts:
Bacardi Shatner (20 minutes)
Fame with William Shatner (12 minutes)
Investing in Movies with Lauren Bacall (23 minutes)

Short films:
Thumbs (6 minutes)
The Iceman (5 minutes)
A Cask of Amontillado (9 minutes)
Underwood (21 minutes)

A collection of seven still galleries cover all aspects of marketing.

Trailers for additional Grindhouse Releasing titles are included.


Movie: Cover
Overall: 4.5 Star Rating

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Robert Gold
Staff Reviewer
Robert's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
Other articles by this writer


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