We watch as a black man sporting a bushy Afro calmly exits a house. He peddles off into the night on his bicycle. Dramatic theme music kicks the film into high gear. Police sirens scream as the opening credits roll atop a montage of bloody female bodies. Ambulances arrive at the house, which is now surrounded by police cars.
(CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE INCREDIBLY CATCHY ZEBRA KILLER THEME SONG. REAL AUDIO: 245 KB)
Detective Frank Savage (Austin Stoker) and his partner Marty Wilson (Hugh Smith) enter the home. An investigator named Waldo (Michael Clifford) greets Savage. "Hope you had your coffee this morning," says the dick. "Like my women, black and sweet," Savage shoots back without missing a beat.
The investigator gives Savage and Wilson the lowdown on the crime scene. "They found two white females, one wrapped in a shower curtain lying on the bathroom floor stabbed six times in the body. We got a colored female strangled with a stocking and her guts cut out. One lying on the bed with her throat slashed and a laceration on her back. There's a possible rape on that one." Savage shakes his head and turns to his partner. "Well Marty, he was a clean son of a bitch." (Um, you just got there, Frank. How do you know?) Waldo continues. "We've got another colored female found under the bed. She's still alive. But she's not worth a damn. She's in shock. She can't talk."
Savage watches as a police officer removes cigarette butts from the floor with a set of tweezers. "Anything else I should see?" he asks the detective. "I got a weapon and a note," Waldo replies. He hands the note to Savage. It reads: "One down. 13 to go. - Mac."
Later, Frank meets with the Chief of Police and Lieutenant Bob Creason (Charles Kissinger) to discuss the murders. "What's your opinion of this note, Sergeant?" the Chief asks Savage. Frank flippantly replies, "Haven't got one." The Chief leans forward in his chair. "Haven't got one?" he roars. "There's nothing to base it on," Frank states evenly. "No fingerprints. No clues. Just a note that says 'one down thirteen to go' and signed Mac. We've got three dead girls, not one. Not a single criminal in our files uses this MO. No witnesses. Nothing."
Creason breaks in. "Chief, I've got every spare man on this case. There's just nothing we can do. At least until that girl comes around and can be questioned." Irritated, the Chief turns to Savage. "What's your plan now Sergeant?" Savage rises as if to leave. "I think I'll go home," he replies with complete indifference. The Police Chief is infuriated. "And then what, Sergeant?" Savage turns before he walks out the door. "Well Chief, I just might get laid."
Frank sits down at his desk. He reaches for his phone and dials. Wilson asks, "Hey, you want to catch a couple of beers tonight?" Savage mumbles, "No." Someone picks up the phone on the other end. Savage remains silent. He kisses into the receiver, then hangs up without uttering a word.
As the two partners leave the building to go home, Wilson comments, "You didn't even say anything on the phone." Savage laughs. "Man, I didn't have to. We have an understanding." Wilson seems impressed. "That kind of understanding doesn't come every day. My girl has to have everything laid out for her … like a cookbook." Savage smiles. "That makes for good eatin'."
Elsewhere, we see a family (producer Mike Henry, his wife, and his kids) leaving a restaurant. The view is through the scope of a rifle; the father of the family is in the crosshairs. They walk to their car - all the while being watched by a cackling Mac. The family reaches their station wagon unharmed, and they pile in. The father smiles at his wife, then at his adorable children. Mac laughs sadistically. The father turns the key in the ignition and the engine starts without incident. The father's eyes are drawn to a brown paper package tied up with strings that's lying on the front seat. Mistaking it for one of his favorite things, he picks up the package and shakes it. In a flash, a fiery explosion consumes the vehicle. A shrill female scream pierces the air. Mac stands on the hill and laughs as the car burns.
(CLICK HERE TO WATCH MIKE HENRY DIE IN A HORRIBLE EXPLOSION. MPEG MOVIE: 1 MB)
Fire engines arrive at the scene to put out the blaze. Savage and Wilson are not far behind them. "Jesus Christ, what a mess," says Savage as he steps out of his vehicle. He turns to his partner. "Get the lab boys out here, Marty." Frank notices that the smoldering station wagon bears a logo on the side door which reads, 'Jones Construction.' A police officer yells to Frank. "Lieutenant Savage! I think I got something over here." Savage walks over to the cop, who hands him a note. Savage reads it aloud. "'Two down, twelve to go - Mac.' How many were in that car?" The police officer says, "A man, woman and three kids." Savage looks toward the camera and mutters, "Jesus Christ."
Back at the station, Bob Creason wearily discusses this latest heinous crime with Savage and Wilson. "Funny he didn't wire it to the ignition. None of it makes any sense. I sure hope to hell you come up with something, Savage. The Mayor wants answers to a pot-full of questions. The Chief is tired of putting him off." Savage snaps at his superior. "Well I'm sure those three little kids are going to be very happy to know that their Mayor is all pissed off because he's not getting any answers!" Creason warns, "You watch yourself, Savage." Frank relaxes and resumes discussing the case. "Why a bomb this time? And a knifing before?" Marty offers his two cents. "Well at least there's one tie-in: he signed the notes Mac." Creason frowns. "But why a bomb? And right out in the open. He's just too lucky. There should be witnesses… where the hell are they? Frank, the Chief wants me to put another team on this case with you." Savage barks angrily, "What the hell for?" Creason replies, "I suppose he figures he'll get quicker results that way." Frank sneers at the thought of teamwork. "Well if you do, you better tell him to keep out of my face!"
Savage goes to the hospital to meet the surviving victim of the first murder spree. He introduces himself to the mocha-skinned beauty. "I just wanted to come down and - you know - rap with you a while and try to find out what happened the other day." The young woman is suspicious. "Did they pick you because you're black?" He snickers smugly. "No baby. They picked me because I'm good." She smiles at his confidence and relaxes. "OK, try and tell me as much as you remember. Were you able to get a good look at this guy?" She shakes her head. "The only thing I can truthfully say is he was …"
Frank finishes her sentence in the car with Marty later that night. "He's Black." Marty rolls his eyes. "Is that all she could say about him?" Savage answers, "No, she gave a general description about him. He's medium build, 5'10 or six-foot. Afro. Wicked laugh." Wilson rolls his eyes again. "Oh that's going to take us far," he says sarcastically. Savage pretends to be offended. "You trying to say we all look alike, Wilson.?" Marty takes a drag of his cigarette and replies with a grin, "No. Just at night, Savage." Frank lights up a cigar. Marty asks, "Hey, why do you smoke them damn things, anyway?" Franks fires back, "Because cigarettes are white." Marty chuckles, "One more for Savage."
They continue driving through the city. Looking out at the urban sprawl, Savage observes, "It's a jungle." Marty adds, "Yeah. And we're all apes." Smirking, Savage says, "Speak for yourself. Hey, pull up down there at the news store. I want to ask Peggy some questions." Marty complies, and Savage enters the seedy magazine shop alone.
He scans the racks, and snags a smutty magazine. A tobacco-encrusted brassy broad seated behind the counter calls out to Frank. "Well lookie here!" Frank smiles at the woman. "How you doin' mamma?" She croaks, "Still fighting the rheumatism and these old teeth of mine…" Frank walks up to her, waving the magazine. "You keep selling this stuff Peg and I might have to come in here for other reasons some day." She shrugs as she ashes her cigar. "And cut off your valuable supply line of information? You might be black Frank boy, but you ain't stupid." He grows serious and inquires, "You got anything on these murders?" She blows a log puff of smoke at Frank. "They sure are stirring up a ruckus. Folks are downright scared of this joker. Ain't anybody I know. He's too smart to fool around with the people I deal with. This joker is giving you a bad reputation, Frank boy. You better grab his ass." He nods. "You hear anything from the boys, let me know." As he turns to exit, Peggy calls after him and points to the dirty magazine in his hands. "Say Frank boy … that's five bucks." He grins. "Charge it to the pussy posse." She grumbles, "Son of a bitch."
Savage returns to the car and tosses the girly mag at Marty. "There you go, junior. Something to help you get your jollies." Before Savage can get comfortable, a voice calls out from the radio. "Radio to unit 202 we have a 1003 at the alley between Franklin and Preston reported as a gang fight. Handle Code 2." Savage tells Marty, "OK junior, let's go see what's happening."
They head to the location. Angry feminine screams are heard nearby. "Are you sure we got the right place?" asks Marty. "Sure as hell sounds like it." The dicks hop out of the car and approach a mob of prostitutes brandishing wooden boards and pipes. They appear to be beating the living crap out of someone.
"OK you debutantes!" Savage yells. The angry women are too wrapped up in their own violence to hear him. He fires a shot into the air to get their attention, which successfully ends the beating. "Well if it isn't the sloppy seven. Just drop your things, and I'll come over and give you ladies a hand." They comply and put down their makeshift weapons. The women are still swearing and cussing. "C'mon this dude's been holding out on us," gripes one woman. A bruised, battered pimp (D'Urville Martin) emerges from the swarm of hookers. Woozy, the pimp tells Savage, "I sure am glad you came officers." Then the pimp goes to punch one of the women. Marty fires another shot into the air, and the pimp retreats. Savage points his own shiny, silver gun at the pimp. "Back against the wall." The pimp adjusts his funky hat and asks, "What are you going to do with that gun?" One woman suggests that Frank should blow his brains out. Savage has other plans. "If these sites were filed down, I'd shove it up your ass and pull the trigger." This statement inspires wild applause from the hookers. Frank continues. "Now before I take you downtown and book you, I want to know why you've been disappointing these upstanding ladies of the night! Well, pimp?"
Intimidated by Frank's gun, the pimp explains uneasily, "It's just that the big man wanted more. I got to get more out of them. Otherwise they're gonna shoot my ass off." Savage presses further, "By the way, pimp: where is the big man?" The pimp stretches out his wrists as if inviting Savage to cuff him. "I know my rights. Cop or not cop. I'm not saying anything until I talk to my lawyer." Savage fires another shot in the air and glares at the pimp. The sirens of approaching police cars break the tension. Savage instructs Marty to "Read them their rights." Marty asks what the charges are. "Start with refusing to fight and … just make up some more." Savage saunters back to the car as a paddy wagon arrives. They toss the hookers into the wagon. The pimp tries to sneak away, but is dragged kicking and screaming to the wagon. The cops throw the pimp in with the hookers and lock the door.
Marty and Frank laugh furiously as they drive away. "Oh God," chuckles Frank. "'Ladies of the night. I wonder what ladies of the day act like?" Marty quips, "They say matinees are cheaper." Still laughing, Frank notes, "They put that pimp in there with those ladies? Poor dude. He's gonna be lucky to get out of the morgue in one piece. Man, they're gonna tear him every way but loose."
The police radio interrupts their gloating. "Detective 23: we have a 214 at a building under construction ... 1412 Main Street. Suspect believed to be still in the area." Marty puts the pedal to the metal and they race to the crime scene.
Upon arrival, an officer shows Savage a bloody sledgehammer. "Found this next to the body." He explains that the victim was bludgeoned to death with the sledgehammer. As Frank examines the weapon, Waldo approaches. "What do you say Frank? What do you got on this so far?" Savages replies, "Hey man, give me a chance, I just got here." Waldo smiles. " I know how slow you are for Christ sakes. But I'm ahead of you." Savage grins. "Marty was driving. The radio said something about a suspect in the area?" Detective Waldo cuts him short. " I don't know if I'd call him a suspect or not; more like a witness." He leads Frank to a drunken bum cowering in the shadows. Frank asks the slob if he saw anything. The man stammers, "Sure, I see concrete." Frank dismisses the "witness" as useless and asks to see the note. "How'd you know about the note?" asks Waldo. "Just give me the note." Waldo leads Savage and Wilson to a concrete pillar that bears a hastily scrawled message. It reads, "Three down, eleven to go. Mac."
The next morning, Frank and Marty meet at the crime lab to go over the scant little evidence they've collected. Frank explains to Marty, "At least the dude's establishing an MO. Different weapons. Different people. Different locations different times. The nurse was killed with a scalpel. Contractor's family blown up. The construction worker was killed with a sledgehammer. It all fits." Marty scowls. "One hell of a strange MO. Where do we go from here?" Before Savage can answer, a lab expert calls him over. "Frank, did any of those nurses have on a wig? Take a look at this." Frank looks into the microscope. "What the hell is it?" The technician replies, "Black synthetic hair. We found it underneath one of the girl's fingernails. My guess is that it's from a black Afro wig."
Later, the two detectives make an appearance at police headquarters. Lieutenant Creason is waiting for them. "Nice of you to stop in," growls Creason. Savage assures him, "We won't be here for too long." Creason squints his eyes in anger. "If it wouldn't be too much trouble, Savage, tell me: where were you all morning?" In a cocky display, Savage boasts, "We've been down at the lab. We came to a very brilliant conclusion. Mac has been killing all of his victims with tools of their own trade." Unimpressed, Creason asks, "Anything else?" Frank grunts, "Nope." Perturbed, Creason blurts, "Four hours, and all you come up with is that? Well I've come up with another murder on a farm out near J Town. A decapitation." Frank wears a mocking smile. "Oh Yeah? The dude must have lost his head!" He saunters toward the door. "Where the hell are you going? I'm not finished!" yells Creason. Frank answers smugly, "To take a leak. Even lowly detectives have to answer when nature calls." Wilson snickers uncontrollably at Frank's potty humor. Lieutenant Creason reprimands Wilson, then follows Savage to the men's room.
The two men urinate side-by-side. "Frank, you're heading for trouble," warns Creason. "So is this city if you don't get off my case and let me catch this nigger who's making a funhouse out of your department," Savage snarls. "Are you sure he's black?" asks Creason. Franks sighs. "I'm not sure of anything. Whoever he is he's one smart mother. Three and four for one - which one?" Creason reiterates, "I've just never known a black man to kill like this before." Frank responds, " Interesting observation coming from you." (Note: Serial killers are usually white men. Even I know that, Frank!) They finish their "urgent business" and wash their hands. Savage asks if he can bring some Mac case files home with him. Creason grants him permission. As they go to leave, Creason inquires, "How's Marty working out?" Frank turns sincere. " He's good. I just hate to see the good die young." Creason pats Frank on the shoulder assuredly. "He can handle himself. Only problem I see is: he's picking up your habits." Savage feigns concern. "That's bad."
Savage leaves the station and goes home. His lady greets him in a halo of mood lighting as he walks through the door. The schmaltzy love song "You My Lady" strikes up behind the lovers.
You my lady you look so lovely oh you,
My lady, you look so warm and lovely.
I don't know just why or how you slipped into my heart
And as I'm sitting here with you I feel a feeling start.
Oh You My lady …
The mushy lovebirds enjoy a romantic candlelight dinner. They sit silently, sipping wine and make goofy faces at each other. Occasionally, Frank's Lady licks her lips seductively. And although Savage told his superior that he planned to spend the evening studying Mac case files, the couple makes sweet love instead. All to the tune of "You My Lady."
(CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO "YOU MY LADY" - PAY ATTENTION TO THE LITTLE FINGER SNAP NOISE AT THE END. REAL MEDIA: 503 KB)