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  10 to Midnight Naked Nutter
Year: 1983
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Stars: Charles Bronson, Lisa Eilbacher, Andrew Stevens, Gene Davis, Geoffrey Lewis, Wilford Brimley, Robert F. Lyons, Bert Williams, Iva Lane, Ola Ray, Kelly Preston, Cosie Costa, Paul McCallum, Jeana Tomasina, June Gilbert, Arthur Hansel, Sam Chew Jr
Genre: ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 2 votes)
Review: Warren Stacy (Gene Davis) has dark thoughts on his mind as he means to kill a woman in his office who has rejected him. She is off with her boyfriend in his van in the woods, but this does not deter Warren, who has carefully thought through his plan, even down to getting an alibi. He goes to a cinema and is rude to a couple of girls so they will remember him, then sneaks out once the film has started to leave through the bathroom window. Then he travels out to the woods, stabs the girl and her boyfriend and gets back in time for the ending. It's the perfect crime - but Warren has reckoned without Detective Leo Kessler (Charles Bronson).

If you find any of that plausible, then chances are you may well enjoy 10 to Midnight, one of umpteen "give the scum what they deserve" thrillers to star Charles Bronson in the seventies and eighties. This was directed by J. Lee Thompson, who had moved effortlessly from prestigious pictures earlier in his career to the trashier end of the movie spectrum by the time this was in production. But for many fans this was not extreme enough, because as it draws on it seems to have a serious lesson it wishes to teach the audience about modern justice.

Predictably, that lesson is that modern justice is simply too lenient and we should be locking up anyone who so much as looks at Charles Bronson in a funny way. The first time we see Kessler, he is typing away two fingered, another item of paperwork when, it is implied, he should be out on the streets blowing away the bad guys. Due to the serious intent, Bronson's fans don't even get the satisfaction of witnessing him gunning down the baddies, in fact he doesn't use his weapon until the final few seconds, so with that in mind you may find this a trifle dull.

The one aspect that everyone who has seen 10 to Midnight remembers is that the killer carries out his murders in the buff, which means that Thompson and his cinematographer have to tie themselves in knots to prevent us from seeing his manhood. But he really has only three sequences where this is a problem, as most of the time this resorts to police procedural mode when, Warren having offed another victim, he is called in after Kessler's nurse daughter Laurie (Lisa Eilbacher) presents the cops with some evidence they can use. It's pretty obvious to all concerned that Warren is guilty, but the legal system prevents him from being charged.

When Warren starts phoning Laurie with obscene calls, he is easily found out and arrested, but it's not enough for Kessler and he plants spots of victim's blood on his clothes. This is what takes up most of the running time, the fact that to get the evildoer off the streets the cops have to go as far as fabricating a case, and then when they are discovered the killer walks free to kill again. We're meant to think the law is an ass, but what you actually think is that if Kessler had stuck to the proper procedure they would have got their man anyway, and in fact it's his fault that Warren was released to carry out more murders. There are too few thrills, and most of them are in the last twenty minutes, even then needlessly overstated to make their point, but mainly this is fairly uninspiring. Music by Robert O. Ragland.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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J. Lee Thompson  (1914 - 2002)

Veteran British director frequently in Hollywood, usually with stories featuring an adventure or thriller slant. Among his many films, including a number of Charles Bronson movies, are capital punishment drama Yield to the Night, adventures Ice Cold in Alex and North West Frontier, the original Cape Fear, Tiger Bay, wartime epic The Guns of Navarone, What a Way To Go!, horror Eye of the Devil, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Battle for the Planet of the Apes and slasher Happy Birthday to Me.

 
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