Plot: Leo Kessler (Charles Bronson) is a detective with over two decades on the force, so his instincts are razor sharp and his perception is remarkable. He and his young partner Paul McAnn (Andrew Stevens) are investigating some brutal murders, as someone is stabbing young women to death. Kessler tries to keep his emotions out of his cases, but he is friends with the parents of the latest victim, not to mention the young woman was a friend of his own daughter. It doesn’t take long for an obvious suspect to emerge, as even the victim’s own diary points a finger toward Warren (Gene Davis). He is considered to be a creep by the women who know him and Kessler can sense he is guilty, but he has an alibi that seems to hold up. But we know that Warren used some trickery to build that alibi, while Kessler has to hope Warren slips up at some point. But when Warren starts sniffing around his daughter, Kessler resolves to do whatever it takes to end the killing spree, even it means breaking some rules.
Entertainment Value: 10 to Midnight is a blend of cop thriller and slasher movie, with great results. No one brings a man frustrated with the slow arm of the law to life like Charles Bronson, who plays a detective worn down from years of watching guilty men go free on technicalities and red tape. The story is good, following grizzled Bronson and his fresh faced partner as they tangle with a savvy killer who knows how to manipulate the limits of law enforcement. Bronson was 61 when he made this movie, but he is still a total bad ass from start to finish. He has such a sense of calm menace and his few outbursts of rage are perfect to let us know how pushed to the edge he feels. Gene Davis is excellent as our killer too, spending much of his screen time nude and with crazy eyes on lock. A great good guy/bad guy dynamic can work wonders and 10 to Midnight has that covered and then some. Good tension, solid writing, and great performances make this a must see for Bronson fans.
Our killer is buck naked for a lot of the movie, stalking his prey while dangling in the wind, so to speak. No full frontal for our sadist though, thanks to clever camera angles and well placed patches of darkness. A highlight for naked mayhem is when our nude killer chases down a naked woman, after murdering her naked boyfriend. We have several topless women, as well as some bare ass and full frontal from a couple of the ladies. There’s a good amount of blood here, but we never see the blade do the work, just the gushes of sweet crimson afterward. Even so, the murders give the film some slasher feel and that’s a plus. One gun shot to the head as well, but blood is minimal in that scene, sadly. Bronson has a truck load of tough guy talk, including a great interrogation scene where the confronts the killer with a sex toy. The killer also makes some dark, but hilarious obscene phone calls, which adds to the fun. 10 to Midnight is gritty and has a dark edge, not to mention a killer who is both totally insane and loves to kill with his clothes off. I think that earns a few points, right?
Overall Insanity: 3/10
The Disc: Scream Factory has given 10 to Midnight a new 4k scan and it looks impressive, a sizable improvement over all previous home video incarnations, even the earlier Blu-ray release. The print looks clean and the natural grain is evident, while general sharpness is enhanced and even small details are highly visible, down to fabric textures. No issues with contrast, which is good since the movie can lean into darker visuals and colors look great, often natural, but sometimes juiced a little. The new extras include interviews with several cast members and producer Lance Hool, as well as an audio commentary track with author Paul Talbott. I’m not much on these author/film historian tracks, but this one is well researched, even if it feels like a feature length round of trivia. I much prefer first hand, personal accounts, but I know there is a market for these kind of tracks. The rest of the supplements are ported over from previous editions, such as audio comments from one of the producers and the casting director, radio spots, still photos, and the film’s trailer.
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