Tuesday, January 1, 2019

10 TO MIDNIGHT (1983) (Scream Factory Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review)

10 TO MIDNIGHT (1983) 

Label: Scream Factory
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 102 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: J. Lee Thompson 
Cast: Charles Bronson, Lisa Eilbacher, Andrew Stevens, Gene Davis, Geoffrey Lewis, Wilford Brimley


When I was just barely in the double-digits I caught 10 To Midnight on late-night cable TV, I am pretty sure this sleazy L.A. based thriller was my introduction to the Charles Bronson, and truth be told it's still one of my favorites in his filmography. We have L.A. Detective Leo Kessler (Bronson, Death Wish 2) on the trail of a homicidal killer whose been murdering young women around L.A., the identity of whom is revealed right from the start. The killer is a misogynist office equipment repairmen named Warren Stacy (Gene Davis, Cruising) who stalks young women and stabs them to death with a knife. In a nice bit of exploitation that pushes this Bronson thriller to another level the killer chooses to do so while he's completely nude! As a kid I found that highly disturbing, and it's still an odd bit of business watching it today, but Davis is pretty good here as the misogynist psycho, he's an attractive guy, but is all too ugly on the inside, a real sicko, and a fun villain for Bronson to square off against. 


The violence in the film is not as graphic but as the rampant nudity but it is perverse and dark with enough blood to drive home the blade, but watching it now I was surprised how much of the film is actually a crime procedural with some decent drama, more so than I remembered, but at age eleven I think it's always the nudity and blood you remember from these things. The detective's young and attractive daughter Laurie (Lisa Eilbacher, Beverly Hills Cop) catches the eye of the killer which draws Kessler even deeper into it, and when the psycho proves a bit too clever to catch legally the detective  resorts to planting evidence, which upsets his green but idealistic partner Paul McAnn (Andrew Stevens, The Fury). 


The film has some nice slasher sequences that are well done, given an even more lurid leaning by way of a nude killer, which s not something you see everyday. The film is also memorable for a few choices lines of dialogue, like when  Bronson's character says during an examination of the the first victim's body that "anybody who does something like this, his knife has to be his penis!", and when he later whips out a jack-off machine found in the home of a suspect during an interrogation, I challenge you not to laugh at the sight of crusty old Bronson whipping out an 80's vintage jack-off machine, you cannot do it! The highlights here are the murders scenes, including an amped-up finale that mirrors the infamous Richard Speck killings with the nude killer attacking a dorm full of nurses, it does not disappoint, very harrowing stuff, plus a fun vigilante shocker of an end that for my money is right up there with the best of Bronson's vigilante films. 


That being said I think the film is actually a pretty solid thriller with some fun slasher tendencies, there's not a ton of gore, but we do get of nudity and a good bit of bloodshed, making this is thriller that I think slasher fans will enjoy quite a bit. Bronson is also looking pretty committed here, he like working with J. Lee Thompson and it a shows, he's not just collecting a paycheck here they way he did with a few of the later Cannon films. Also be on the lookout for appearances from Wilford Brimley (The Thing) as a cop and Geffrey Lewis (Salem's Lot) as the killer's sleazy lawyer!  


Audio/Video: 10 To Midnight (1983) arrives on Blu-ray from Scream Factory with new 4K scan from the OCN. I never did snag the previous OOP Twilight Time Blu-ray release, but Scream do excellent work here presenting the film in 1080p HD framed in 1.85:1 widescreen. The source is clean and free of blemishes, grain is velvety rich, colors are well saturated and blacks are pleasantly deep with good shadow detail, fine detail is abundant and skin tones look natural throughout. Audio comes by way of an English DTS-HD MA Mono with optional English subtitles. The audio is not the most dynamic but it is clean and well-balanced, dialogue is never hard to discern and the score from Robert O. Ragland (Grizzly) sounds terrific. 


Onto the extras Scream Factory carry-over the excellent audio commentary with Producer Pancho Kohner, Casting Director John Crowther, and Film Historian David Del Valle from the TT release, a great track from guys who knew Bronson and who know a thing or two about movies as well, it's a great listen. 


New stuff comes by way of a brand new audio commentary with Writer/Historian Paul Talbot (Author Of Bronson’s Loose! And Bronson’s Loose Again!) who for my money is the authority on all things Bronson-related, his inclusion here makes this the more definitive version of the film right away, his no nonsense style of commentary are essential listening for any Bronson fan. 


Scream Factory also offer-up three brand new interviews, an 11-min interview with Actor Andrew Stevens, 13-min with Producer Lance Hool, 6-min Actor Robert F. Lyons and 7-min Actress Jeana Tomasina Keough, these are all newly recorded and exclusive to this release. Lyons speaks about working with Bronson, he describes him as having a "quiet knowing", not being very buddy buddy but respectful and professional. Noting how he would change in the presence of his wife Jill Ireland, and describing J. Lee Thompson's habit of tearing paper during filming. Actress Jeana Tomasina Keough speaks about her early modeling career, how connections through Playboy lead to her being cast in a ZZ Top music video and other films like Looker and Six Pack, and how a lie about her height on her resume cost her the lead in the film. She also notes how nice Bronson was and how intense Gene Davis was while playing the psycho, and how the director laughed when he realized she didn't know how to break an egg for her kitchen scene. Andrew Stevens recalls working with Bronson first on Death Hunt, where he recalls the actor being a reclusive health nut. He describes director J. Lee Thompson as a "mischievous imp" and also pointing out how he would roll and chew on bits of paper, plus describing Lisa Eilbacher as the best kisser in the world, and commenting on working with his other co-stars, mentioning that Gene Davis was "fearless" in the role of the nude psycho. I enjoyed how he described how he would covertly get Bronson to open-up about his past film roles, very cool. Producer Lance Hool shows up for 13-min speaking about producing the film with J. Lee Thompson, the screenwriting process, and the pros and cons of working with the infamous Cannon Films. He makes sure to praise J. Lee Thompson and his body of work, mentioning that his later-era work with Cannon Films sort of obscured his legacy. 

  

The disc is buttoned-up with a selection of trailers, radio spots and an image gallery of stills, lobby cards, and movie posters. The single-disc release comes housed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with a reversible sleeve of artwork featuring the original illustrated movie poster which was also used by TT, plus a new illustration from Joel Robinson, which is also featured on the disc and slipcase (o-card). 


Special Features: 
- NEW 4K Scan Of The Original Camera Negative
- NEW Charlie’s Partner – An Interview With Actor Andrew Stevens (11 min) HD 
- NEW Producing Bronson – An Interview With Producer Lance Hool (13 min) HD 
- NEW Remembering Bronson – An Interview With Actor Robert F. Lyons (6 min) HD 
- NEW Undressed To Kill – An Interview With Actress Jeana Tomasina Keough (7 min) HD
- NEW Audio Commentary With Writer/Historian Paul Talbot (Author Of Bronson’s Loose! And Bronson’s Loose Again!)
- Audio Commentary With Producer Pancho Kohner, Casting Director John Crowther, And Film Historian David Del Valle
- Theatrical Trailer (2 min) 
- Radio Spots (2 min) HD 
- Still Gallery (7 min) 


10 To Midnight (1983) is a good sleazy 80's Bronson thriller with a memorable psycho and loads of nudity, what's not to love? The new Scream Factory release looks and sounds very good, plus the extras are killer, making this one worth a double-dip. 
  

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