30 years ago, March 11th 1983, the most talked about movie of the weekend had no Witches or Wizards or magic or wonder. Instead, a ‘scummy little sewer of a movie,’ “10 to Midnight” packed houses and continued to demonstrate the unlikely star power of a not so handsome brut named Charles Bronson, the man men wanted to be and women didn’t mind hiding behind if a killer was coming.
“10 To Midnight”
Starring Charles Bronson, Andrew Stevens and Gene Davis
Directed by J. Lee Thompson
Plot: A nude serial killer (Gene Davis) is stalking the women who’ve rejected him and offing them in gruesome fashion. Nearly captured by veteran Detective Leo Kessler (Bronson) and his young handsome partner (Andrew Stevens), the killer turns his vengeance on Kessler’s daughter setting up a cat and mouse chase between cop and killer that tests the limits of the law and morality.
Review: Roger Ebert called “10 to Midnight” ‘a scummy little sewer of a movie’ and that’s not mere hyperbole. “10 to Midnight” is a revolting little piece of trash that ranks alongside “I Spit on Your Grave” and the oeuvre of Eli Roth in the pantheon of sick and twisted movies. Harsh? Hardly, the film makes great sport of nude women cowering in fear from the killer as well as the killer’s penchant for stripping nude to commit his murders. Bronson draws more laughs than drama from his reading of such abysmal dialogue as “Anyone does something like this (gesturing toward a nude stabbing victim), his knife is his penis.”
Trivia: “10 To Midnight” features an early performance from Kelly Preston, billed as Kelly Palzis (a savvy career movie Kelly but we recognize you), and a pre-“Thriller” Ola Ray, both playing co-workers of Bronson’s daughter.
Final thoughts: Why didn’t Andrew Stevens make it as a star? Maybe it was this movie.
The title “10 to Midnight” means absolutely nothing. The title is never even hinted at during the film having apparently been selected at random by producers Menachem Golan and Yuri Globus.
Golan and Globus are two of the all time scuzziest producers in Hollywood history. Their anything for a buck style of movie making led them to release six films in 1983, none more memorable than “10 to Midnight.”
Movies have seemingly grown tamer since the early 80’s. It hardly seems possible that a movie as sadistic, misogynist, and featuring so much unnecessary naked flesh as “10 to Midnight” would get made in this day and age. Then again, it may also be an example of the evolution of taste; after all audiences once believed a two bit, one note tough guy like Charles Bronson was a star whose presence was worth the price of admission.
Grade F+ (The plus for the few unintentional laughs the film elicits).