Charles effin Bronson. By far one of the coolest human beings ever to have graced us with his cinematic presence. My adoration for “The Bronson” as I call him, dates back to me being a kid and having my saint of a grandma continually show me THE GREAT ESCAPE, MR MAJESTYK and countless others great films with the manliest guy of all time in them. Out of them, DEATH WISH (previously reviewed here) and all, my favorite Charles Bronson film has always been the amazing 1983 film 10 TO MIDNIGHT.
So alas, this week’s EXPLOITATION ALLEY will be full of Bronson planting evidence, being a badass, and doing his best to stop a naked guy from killing ladies. Here we go!
10 TO MIDNIGHT tells the story of Warren Stacy (Gene Davis, who was also awesome in the William Friedkin S&M thriller CRUISING), a young man who gets his kicks off by killing the women who turn him down. He’s completely full of himself, studies Karate, and loves classic films. Hot on his trail, is Leo Kessler (Bronson), a detective who isn’t above planting evidence if he knows the suspect is guilty. The cat and mouse game between them goes back and forth throughout the whole film until, in my opinion, one of the coolest endings of all time.
Warren goes through the first quarter of the film stalking various ladies who aren’t stoked on hooking up with the dude, and stabbing them to death. The really interesting, yet very odd part of it is that he strips down to nothing while doing so, in order not to leave any evidence. I don’t know about you, but someone chasing me with a knife would be scary enough, let alone a dude that’s butt naked chasing me with a knife..that’s just creepy. Eventually, detective Leo Kessler and his new partner, Paul McAnn, investigate the murders and eventually begin to suspect Warren of being the murderer. Sure that Warren is the killer, Kessler plants the blood of one of the victims on the clothes of Warren, getting him arrested, and alienating his partner.
McAnna is eventually approached by a lawyer, and admits what Kessler did, in turn setting Warren loose to wreak further havoc. We’re dealing with Charles Bronson here, so instead of just waiting for Warren to strike again, he continually taunts him, putting crime scene photos up on the wall at Warren’s work, harassing him, etc. We also get one of the funniest lines ever delivered by Charles Bronson in this movie. While questioning Warren, Bronson pulls out a sex toy that he stole from Warren’s apartment, he grills him with “You know what this is for, Warren? IT’S FOR JACKING OFF!”. It’s hard not to laugh at the scene, but the hilarity is short lived, because Warren isn’t stoked on it whatsoever, and he eventually sets his sights on someone close to Kessler: his daughter, Laurie, a nurse who has a pretty dysfunctional relationship with her father and is semi-interested in McAnn.
Warren arrives at the housing that Laurie shares with her fellow nurses in training (including Kelly Preston and THRILLER’s Ola Ray), slaughtering them, and chasing Laurie down the street, again butt naked. The closer he gets, the more we think he just might get Laurie, but at the last minute, she runs into the arms of Kessler, who obviously isn’t going to trust the legal system again, and after the cops all show up and Warren taunts Kessler with his idea that he’ll enter a temporary insanity plea, Kessler reaches out and shoots Warren right in the head, killing him. Charles ‘effin Bronson everyone.
What makes 10 TO MIDNIGHT, is the fact that it doesn’t play like every other Bronson movie. It’s very much a slasher movie, which is something a lot of people didn’t really anticipate, and that works for the movie. Bronson is top notch is this one, as is Gene Davis. It’s rare that a villain in a Charles Bronson movie is just as cool as Charlie, but Warren is such a good villain, that you’re glued to the screen, with every scene that he’s in. The same goes with his role in CRUISING, the guy’s a really good actor, and his turn in 10 TO MIDNIGHT is one for the books. So, if you’re up for a scary good time and want to creep out your significant other by a naked guy running after ladies, pop this one in, and let Bronson kick ass for ya. Until next week folks, have a good one!
You can also read about 10 TO MIDNIGHT, along with other thriller/horror movies on Rob G’s really cool article here.