What an extraordinary piece of '80s schlock 10 to Midnight is. Roger Ebert called it “a scummy little sewer of a movie.” It's a film that on several occasions suggests that the villain murders women because he doesn't have a penis. There is a scene in which star Charles Bronson intimidates that villain by slamming a sex toy down on a table and screaming, "Do you know what this is for? It's for jacking off, isn't it!" That's just the tip of the iceberg. Scream Factory brings this delightfully disreputable movie to Blu-ray in a special Collector's Edition on January 22.
Bronson plays L.A. police detective Leo Kessler. He's hot on the trail of a psycho who has been butchering women. Whereas many procedurals have the cop identify the killer toward the end, 10 to Midnight allows Kessler to make the determination much earlier. He knows that the bad guy is Warren Stacy (Gene Davis), a socially-awkward office equipment repairman. Whenever a woman sexually rejects him – which is pathetically often -- he strips naked, stalks her, and brutally murders her. The big plot hitch is that Kessler is certain Stacy is the culprit, yet can't prove it because the man is so good at constructing alibis. If you guessed that a little vigilante justice is in order...well, you've obviously seen a Charles Bronson movie before.
10 to Midnight is one loopy film, and that makes it compulsively watchable. So much of the plot doesn't make sense. Why does Stacy insist on stripping naked before committing murder? Why does Kessler's daughter silently watch him kill a bunch of her friends rather than calling for help or attacking him from behind? Why do the "concrete" walls of the police station shake when Stacy slams a chair into the door? Okay, that one's got an easy answer: cheap sets!
Even stranger than some generally unanswered questions is the film's (a)moral message. Kessler can't nail Stacy the right way, so he plants evidence. You can probably also guess how he eventually resolves the situation permanently. And this guy is the hero! 10 to Midnight sure does advocate for a lot of rule-breaking and taking measures into one's own hands. Viewers would expect nothing less from a Bronson flick.
Is this is a good movie? Not really. Is it entertaining to watch? Absolutely. 10 to Midnight is a down-and-dirty piece of exploitation that has graphic violence, gratuitous nudity, and a “do whatever you have to do to get the scum off the streets” message. It could not be made in today's more enlightened climate. For that reason, it's utterly fascinating, even if also somewhat offensive.
Scream Factory's Collector's Edition Blu-ray presents a new 4K scan of the original camera negative, meaning that it looks better than it ever has. There are two separate audio commentaries, one from author Paul Talbott, the other from producer Pancho Kohner, casting director John Crowther, and film historian David Del Valle.
“Producing Bronson” is a 20-minute interview with producer Lance Hool, who talks about 10 to Midnight being planned as an "A-picture," only to see its ambitions narrowed after making a deal with budget-conscious Cannon Films. He remains proud of the movie nonetheless.
“Remembering Bronson” runs six minutes and has actor Robert F. Lyons reflecting on working with the star. He talks about Bronson chastising him for smoking, and reveals that the legendary screen tough guy turned into a big softie when wife Jill Ireland was around.
“Knife and Death” brings us actress Jeana Thomasina reminiscing about how her career began and what it was like to portray one of the killer's targets in the movie. “Charlie's Partner” is a chat with Andrew Stevens. He provides some fun behind-the-scenes anecdotes about Bronson and the other actors. Also included on the disc are the theatrical trailer, some cool radio spots, and an image gallery.
10 to Midnight is one seriously crazy movie, so any fan of such things would be smart to check out this Blu-ray.
For more information on this and other great titles, please visit the Scream Factory website.
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10 to Midnight is rated R for language, nudity, and graphic violence. The running time is 1 hour and 41 minutes.