The Black Panther - Psycho Killer?


True crime fanatics rejoice! Ian Merrick’s The Black Panther is remastered, re-released and ready for crime aficionados to revel in. 
The Black Panther is based on a series of true events revolving around Donald Neilson’s string of petty burglaries in Northern England – those of which led to consequential murders, and an eventual kidnapping of a teenage heiress (Lesley Whittle).

Between 1972 and 1975, ex-military man Donald Neilson commits a series of senseless violent crimes that terrifies locals and baffles law enforcement. Despite his irrationally meticulous prior planning, Neilson's reckless armed robbery spree doesn't ever reap him a satisfactory sum, so he intensifies the mindless brutality of his crimes and allows the barbarity to bleed into his home life, treating his own wife and daughter like subordinates. With most of his recent robberies having been botched by obvious oversights, Neilson attempts to hit the jackpot by kidnapping the teenaged daughter of a very wealthy family in order to fetch a robust ransom. Like most of his previous money-making machinations, however, things hardly develop as intended for Donald.

The Black Panther was written by Michael Armstrong, and produced around the time Donald Neilson was set for trial and imprisonment in the late 70s. Due to its topical timing, the feature was slandered wildly by the press and scorned by sources alike upon its initial release. Hitting too close to home, many viewers saw The Black Panther as a poor representation of the story – glorifying the tale, rather than crediting it for the meticulous and detailed representation that it was. The flick was therefore deemed a sensitive subject with the BBFC and censored due to its ‘true crime’ nature. 

Interesting to note, The Black Panther was said to be shot in two weeks, on locations close to the actual events and with a $100,000 budget. Relying solely on court transcripts, press articles, and timely sources from the span of actual events, everything was grounded in truth, which is why it was widely seen as exploitative in the eyes of viewers.

TheArchive suggests you decide.