A young woman and her boyfriend have been found murdered and veteran detective Leo Kessler is on the case. The killer is disturbed typewriter fixer Warren Stacy who after being rebuked by one of his work colleagues hunts her down and kills her but not after watching her have sex with her boyfriend.
Warren is the main suspect practically immediately but he might be a maniac but he’s a clever maniac and always manages to get an alibi for when he’s up to no good. Kessler along with his partner Paul McAnn are determined to get their man but Stacy soon starts making dirty phone calls to Kessler’s daughter. Leo realises she could a target and its a race against time for them to bring the sleazy perv to justice.
10 to Midnight along with Death Wish 3/4 are my favourite of Charlie Bronson’s Cannon films and the main man certainly had a made a lot of movies for them. This is a deadly serious Bronson and the film is seriously exploitative with copious amounts of nudity and pretty nasty violence aimed at women. It’s the sort of film that could never be made today and I can’t believe I watched this when I was about 13 on the Guild Home Video release with that smart gold shiny label they had on the tape. Back then I was only interested in the cop bits, I probably had no idea how grubby at times it was. You know it’s still a good ‘un when the certificate is still an 18 when so many X films are downgraded as low as a ’12’.
10 to Midnight is helmed by Hollywood directing legend and regular Bronson collaborator J. Lee Thompson (born not too far from where I live and raised). Thompson amps up the tension in the murder scenes, up’s the sleaze factor with the killer (brilliantly played by Gene Davis) and throws in plenty of great lines for Bronson. In fact whilst the film is a straight thriller, some of Bronson’s lines are hilarious, his delivery of his hatred of quiche is superb and his interrogation of Stacy (with a great prop) is priceless.
As with a lot of Cannon productions, the supporting cast is excellent there’s Wilfred Brimley, Andrew Stevens, Lisa Eilbacher, Geoffrey Lewis and a very early role for Kelly Preston. I’ve mentioned Gene Davis above in the role of Warren Stacy who has created one of cinema’s most despicable bad guys. Warren is bad to the core, sleazy, perverted and a tendency to strip off at inappropriate moments.
1o to Midnight is pure class rather like Bronson’s fetching sweater he wears in the climax.