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The Eleventh Commandment Main

The Eleventh Commandment Blu-ray Review

Written by ZigZag

Blu-ray released by Vinegar Syndrome

The Eleventh Commandment Large

Directed by Paul Leder
Written by Paul Leder (story by William W. Norton, Sr.)
1987, 93 minutes, Rated R
Released on September 1st, 2020

Starring:
Bernie White as Robert Knight
Marilyn Hassett as Joanne Knight
Dick Sargent as Charles Knight
Lauren Woodland as Deborah Knight
Greg Mullavey as Ralph Davis
Thomas Ryan as Lt. Chernoff
Haunani Minn as Kim

The Eleventh Commandment 01 The Eleventh Commandment 02

Review:

When we meet Robert Knight, he is a patient in a psychiatric hospital dressed as a priest. He is a disturbed religious man and the wardrobe keeps him calm. Dr. Young is helping him work through some deep-seated family issues stemming from his Uncle Charles whom Robert blames for the death of his father. Robert’s only positive family relationship is with his nine-year-old cousin Deborah, whom he sees as innocent and pure. After a run in with the domineering head nurse and a generous dose of electro-shock therapy, Robert escapes his room, kills the nurse and steals her car, disappearing into the city. Uncle Charles sets a plan in motion with a corrupt police detective named Chernoff to locate and kill his nephew before he can harm anyone else.

Robert contacts his young cousin and arranges to pick her up for a lunch date at the beach. Deborah is happy to see him, but as the day stretches into evening she becomes suspicious that her mother would allow her to stay out so late. Robert convinces her everything is fine and takes her to a soup kitchen to help the homeless. He kills a few other people along the way, including a junkie informant who told Chernoff where to find him. Robert takes Deborah to a hotel for the night where the night manager/prostitute propositions him and he kills her too. After spending several hours bonding with his cousin, Robert agrees to take her home to her mother where he promises to have a special conversation with his uncle.

I’m not sure where the title The Eleventh Commandment stems from, as our anti-hero may be religious, but that doesn’t appear to be his motivation for murder. He never gets righteous or even that specific when it comes to his faith. It could have been interesting if he was obsessed with the Ten Commandments and came up with a bonus sin he was killing for, but sadly this is only left to our imagination. This is not much of a horror film as it is more of a character drama dressed up as a thriller. Director Paul Leder (A*P*E) presents the murder sequences without suspense or flair, yielding an unsettling look at a sociopath’s casual penchant for violence.

The Eleventh Commandment 03 The Eleventh Commandment 04

Leder wrote the script, based on a story by William W. Norton (White Lightning), and goes out of his way to make Robert a sympathetic villain. Bernie White (Killing Obsession) shines in the role and lends Robert an endearing humanity even while performing despicable acts. The majority of his scenes are played opposite nine-year-old Lauren Woodland (Rock-a-Die Baby) as Cousin Deborah and the two share great chemistry. Marilyn Hassett (Shadow of the Hawk) co-stars as Deborah’s self-absorbed mother Joanne, who manipulates those around her, while Dick Sargent (Bewitched) delivers a general sense of menace as the unscrupulous Uncle Charles. Haunani Minn (The Man with Two Brains) plays Kim the housekeeper, the only decent adult in the film who shows any concerns for Deborah’s well-being.

The Eleventh Commandment is a character piece that somehow manages to keep the family dynamic hazy, Robert’s backstory vague and his motivation murky. It would have been far more helpful to have at least some insight into his psychosis and a better understanding of why it is okay for him to kill innocent bystanders. The whole thing plays like a soap opera and is about as scary. I can give this title a passing recommendation for the performances of Woodland and White, but you may want to catch this one streaming before deciding to purchase.

The Eleventh Commandment 05 The Eleventh Commandment 06

Video and Audio:

Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the film’s interpositive has received a 2K scan and restoration with impressive results. Picture quality is sharp and well defined with bright colors and plenty of small-object detail.

The DTS-HD MA 2.0 gets the job done with a satisfactory mix that preserves the original stereo recording. Dialogue levels are clean and always understandable and optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.

The Eleventh Commandment 07 The Eleventh Commandment 08

Special Features:

Actor Bernard White discusses the film in the segment A Lifetime of Preparation (2020, 17 minutes). He praises the work of director Paul Leder and his willingness to cast a person of color in a lead role. He goes on to reveal his personal connection to the role and his thoughts on the script. He talks about his experience working with child actors and has kind words for his young co-star. The interview was conducted remotely during the ongoing pandemic, so video quality is not as sharp.

Through the Eyes of a Child (2020, 12 minutes) catches up with actress Lauren Woodland, who remembers her time on set with Leder and White as a positive experience and shares her thoughts on the character and some of her favorite scenes. She also offers her reaction to seeing the film as an adult. This interview was also filmed during the pandemic.

A photo gallery (34 seconds) contains a variety of publicity stills and images.

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Grades:

Movie: Twostars Cover
Buy Amazon Us
Video: Fourstars
Audio: Threeandahalfstars
Features: Twoandahalfstars
Overall: 3 Star Rating

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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