Wednesday, 30 November 2011



Probably the best of Charles Bronson's films for the Cannon Group (certainly better than the amusing but silly Murphy's Law and the thoroughly inept Assassination): this is a resolutely sleazy, cheesy and nasty-edged slasher movie-cum-cop thriller with the barest nod towards presenting an intriguing moral and ethical dilemma, but which is really far more interested in a maniac slashing up defenceless young women with plenty of blood and screaming. It's surprisingly tacky for a film that was released at proper cinemas rather than straight to video or onto the drive-in and grindhouse circuits.

And as a title, 10 To Midnight doesn't even mean anything. Bronson is a tough LA homicide cop (again) on the trail of a sadistic maniac knifing women: he and his new partner Andrew Stevens come to suspect calm, smiling Gene Davis not just for the murders but the obscene phone calls directed at the student nurses at the local hospital - and one of the nurses happens to be Bronson's daughter (Lisa Eilbacher). And she just happens to be attracted to Andrew Stevens. But adopting the ethos of "forget what's legal, do what's right" (the tagline and the "moral" of the movie) and snarling the killer line "the way the law protects these maggots, you'd think they were an endangered species", Bronson goes too far. Having decided the case against Evans isn't strong enough, and despite his apparently unbreakable alibi for two of the killings, Bronson plants traces of blood on the maniac's clothes, unaware that Evans is such a psychopath that he commits his crimes in the nude....

At least he does in the original version: releases apparently vary and the TV version loses all the swearing and nudity (and Evans keeps his underpants on every time he kills someone) but the British DVD appears to be the complete cut of the film, with some graphic murder scenes involving naked women that were taken out of the earlier VHS releases of the film by the BBFC. But any nasty edges are smoothed over slightly by the sight of a reputable action star like Charles Bronson, 61 at the time, appearing in what would most likely have been picked up as a video nasty were it not for the presence of a bona fide Hollywood Legend in the lead role. It's not very good, but for sleazy nudity and violence, 10 To Midnight does deliver.


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