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10 to Midnight Blu-ray Review

Written by ZigZag

Blu-ray released by Scream Factory

10 To Midnight Blu Ray Poster

Directed by J. Lee Thompson
Written by William Roberts
1983, 102 minutes, Rated R
Released on January 22nd, 2019

Starring:
Charles Bronson as Leo Kessler
Andrew Stevens as Paul McAnn
Gene Davis as Warren Stacy
Lisa Eilbacher as Laurie Kessler
Geoffrey Lewis as Dave Dante
Wilford Brimley as Captain Malone

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Review:

All of the women at the office consider Warren Stacy to be a real creep. He occasionally hits on them inappropriately, but largely keeps to himself in an awkward, silent, staring kind of way. He is a hard worker, but just doesn’t fit in socially. What they don’t know however is that Stacy is the butcher the LAPD is looking for with a growing list of female victims. He is a cold-blooded murderer who remains free in part because of his cautious habits. He keeps his knives well-hidden and always wears latex surgical gloves when committing a crime. He avoids blood spatter by removing all of his clothing before attacking his victims. Stacy has killed many women and shows little interest in stopping, as he is good at what he does and enjoys it – and they deserve it.

Leo Kessler is a decorated cop with over twenty years of experience, but he remains unable to catch the man responsible for this recent wave of stabbings. He is paired with Paul McAnn, a rookie detective who wants to impress his new partner but frequently comes up short. When the latest body is discovered naked in a park, things take a hard turn for Kessler, as the girl was a friend of his daughter, Laurie. He contacts the victim’s family and continues his investigation. Kessler questions her co-workers and takes notice of Stacy. He likes him for the crimes but cannot prove it. He grows more determined to put this man behind bars and will do anything to get him off the streets. His plan backfires, however, and soon Stacy is free to kill again. The murderer seeks revenge and goes after Laurie. Kessler makes it his personal mission to end this reign of terror with or without the law behind him.

Directed by J. Lee Thompson (Cape Fear), 10 to Midnight is a gripping thriller that takes a bloody look at the justice system and explores what it takes to turn a man into a vigilante. Written by William Roberts (The Magnificent Seven), the film is a hard-boiled tale of good vs. evil. It switches up the standard cop vs. killer motif by introducing us to the villain right away, removing any mystery as to his identity. Thompson pursues both storylines with a deliberate pacing that generates suspense throughout the film’s running time. The picture was particularly daring for its time of release by embracing the R-rating with its many scenes of nudity and violence. The former plays a pivotal role in the story and is surprising but never gratuitous.

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Charles Bronson (Death Wish) stars as Leo Kessler, the tough cop who has put away a lot of scumbags in his day and is not afraid to break the rules to do the right thing. He knows Stacy is guilty, but when there isn’t any evidence to prove it, his natural instinct is to plant some. Andrew Stevens (The Fury) is Paul McAnn, Kessler’s partner and a straight-arrow cop unwilling to go along with this plan and forces the senior cop to rethink his ethics. The film finds its villain in Gene Davis (Cruising) as Warren Stacy, the attractive young psychopath with a growing body count. The role echoes the crimes of real-life serial killers Richard Speck and Ted Bundy, making his performance all the more chilling. Davis approaches the nudity element with a confidence that is required for this crucial character trait.

Lisa Eilbacher (Leviathan) co-stars as Laurie, the daughter in distress. She is a sensible woman with a strong survival instinct and shares a great dynamic with Bronson as her father. Genre fans will welcome the appearance of character actor Geoffrey Lewis (Salem’s Lot) as Stacy’s attorney. He has a few great moments with Andrew Stevens and leaves a lasting impression. The always-welcome Wilford Brimley (The Thing) is Captain Malone, the boss with only so much patience. He wants to help Kessler get his man, but must follow the rules of the system even when his hands are tied. He plays the part as a no-nonsense man of integrity dealing with a longtime comrade who is going off the rails with this case.

10 to Midnight is a fun albeit at times sleazy movie that tells a familiar story in an exciting way that keeps the material fresh. Bronson had already established himself in the role of vigilante and this helps keep audiences on his side even when he breaks the rules to catch his suspect. J. Lee Thompson directed Bronson in seven features and the two work well together. The material is gritty and unflinching and Thompson stages the action as only a seasoned veteran can. There are some truly suspenseful moments in the film, such as when Stacy is searching for potential victims and also some levity as he makes hilariously obscene phone calls to Kessler’s daughter. This is an interesting character and Davis is really good in the part. Bronson is Bronson and fans will find a lot to like here. The abrupt ending leaves us on a high note and still got a reaction out of me. This picture holds up really well and if you like your horror gritty, this one may be for you.

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Video and Audio:

10 to Midnight first appeared on Blu-ray in 2015 as part of the Twilight Time collection. That disc looked pretty good, but Shout Factory goes the extra mile and has produced a 4K restoration of the original film elements. Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the picture looks spectacular. There are rich colors and bold black levels and plenty of small-object detail. The transfer is clean and free from debris or scratches.

The audio is likely a holdover from the previous release, but the DTS-HD MA 2.0 track is a solid one. Music cues and sound effects are well-balanced with dialogue levels and are never intrusive.

Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.

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Special Features:

The disc comes with two audio commentaries, one newly recorded for this edition featuring author Paul Talbot (Bronson’s Loose!). He has a lot to say and shares his knowledge in a steady stream of facts and trivia that will keep listeners entertained.

The second commentary is a vintage track recorded for the Twilight Time release, featuring producer Pancho Kohner and casting director John Crowther, moderated by film historian and all-around good guy David Del Valle. Del Valle keeps things moving with his information and anecdotes and asks thoughtful questions of his guests allowing them the time to answer in full. This is another solid discussion worth checking out.

In the 2018 interview Charlie’s Partner (11 minutes), actor Andrew Stevens recalls his time working with Bronson and how he coaxed the notoriously private actor out of his shell in order to gain stories from him. He is a big fan of J. Lee Thompson and has nothing but fond memories of his fellow cast members. It is nice catching up with Stevens and I’m glad he agreed to participate here.

Producer Lance Hool takes a break from his latest production to discuss this project in the segment Producing Bronson (13 minutes). He reflects on the history of the film and what it was like working with Cannon Films and how frequently his budget shrank. He is full of compliments when it comes to discussing Bronson and Thompson and is proud of the film on the whole.

Remembering Bronson (6 minutes) is a short piece with actor Robert F. Lyons, who appears in the film as the District Attorney. He shares his memories of working with Bronson and how he was impressed with his personal demeanor off set.

In Knife and Death (7 minutes), actress Jeana Tomasina tells of how she went from model to Playboy playmate to actress. She has kind words for Bronson, who by all accounts was a stand-up guy and she also talks about what it was like shooting her death scene.

The theatrical trailer has been included but is riddled with spoilers, so watch it only after seeing the movie.

A collection of three radio spots provide further insight into the marketing campaign.

A still gallery plays as a silent slideshow (7 minutes) and features an assortment of publicity shots, international poster art and lobby cards. Images appear in both color and black and white.

Completists will want to hang on to the Twilight Time release, as that disc included an isolated music score.

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Grades:

Movie: Fourstars 10 To Midnight Blu Ray Cover
Buy Amazon Us
Video: Fourandahalfstars
Audio: Threeandahalfstars
Features: Fourstars
Overall: Fourstars

 

About The Author
ZigZag
Author: ZigZag
Staff Writer
ZigZag's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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