10 To Midnight!

A cop…a killer…a deadline!

10 TO MIDNIGHT (1983)

The legendary Charles Bronson stars as veteran Los Angeles police detective Leo Kessler, a mean selfish son of a bitch who wants a killer. The killer he wants is Warren Stacey (Gene Davis), a good looking creep who works as an office equipment repairman, enjoys a good bullfight, and likes to use his knife as a penis. Warren strips, stalks, and slashes any good looking female unfortunate enough to reject his feeble sexual advances. Warren also has a knack for using large breasted women to create air tight alibis while he runs around doing his deadly business buck naked. We first get to see Warren in action as he cuts a date short by carving up two young lovers who were fucking in a van.

Leo is sent in to investigate the murders, under the supervision of his cowboy hat sporting Captain (played by none other than Wilford “Diabetes” Brimley!). Captain cowboy hat saddles Leo with a straight laced, fresh faced partner named Paul McAan (Andrew Stevens) who comes along for the ride and eventually becomes romantically involved with Leo’s estranged daughter Laurie (Lisa Eilbacher). Warren makes the mistake of going after one of his victim’s diaries, and winds up murdering her lingerie clad roommate. (Warren is nice enough however to turn off her eggs so the place doesn’t burn down.) This senseless murder came shortly after Leo and McAnn had already questioned the girl, and immediately made Warren the prime suspect.

Leo & McAan decide to pay Warren an unannounced visit at his apartment for questioning. McAan makes small talk with Warren about the violent spectacle of bullfighting and boxing while Leo gets an eye popping look at Warren’s porn mags and sex toys in his bathroom. After that brief encounter, Leo has a pretty strong hunch that Warren is his man. Warren is brought in for more questioning in front of the district attorney. Leo plays it hard and fast, and comes dangerously close to making allegations instead of asking questions. Leo eventually snaps and whips out Warren’s suck machine, violently asking him what it’s used for. I’ll tell you what it’s used for – it’s for JACKING OFF!

Warren is ultimately never charged for anything, has an ironclad alibi, and is released for a lack of evidence. Leo rightfully complains that the law seems to protect maggots like Warren Stacey like they were an endangered species. Leo then makes up his mind to put Warren away at any cost, despite the moral difference of what’s lawful and legal. Things get even more personal when Warren starts stalking after Laurie and her fellow female nursing students. Warren then makes a perverted phone call to the dorm, telling her in Spanish that he wants to eat her pussy. He also thoughtfully offers to give it to her in the ass, after she gives him a blowjob – of course. Laurie turns to her Father for help, and Leo & McAnn begin recording the phone calls and have a police radio left at the dorm in case of emergency. Warren calls again and generously offers to take Laurie to a hotel and do it every way there is. He also politely informs her that her Father is a pig and her mother is a whore.

This final insult is too much for Leo Kessler to take. Knowing that hauling in Warren for obscene calls will be a waste of time, Leo decides to speed up the wheels of justice and fabricate a little evidence. Leo plants some blood on Warren’s clothing to frame him and ensure a conviction for murder. When Warren screams that Leo is lying, his sleazy public defender Dave Dante (played to perfection by Geoffrey Lewis) listens and decides to do something about it. Dante turns to straight laced, fresh faced Paul McAnn and presses the issue. Knowing that he cannot truthfully testify against Warren without perjuring himself, McAnn hesitatingly decides to turn in his senior partner instead. Leo is promptly thrown off the force, and Warren is back on the streets. Leo & Warren both hold a grudge, and the inevitable final showdown comes after Warren gives Laurie and her friends the Ted Bundy treatment. It’s time for Leo to forget what’s legal and do what’s right!

10 TO MIDNIGHT stands out to me as the most brutally violent and lurid entry of all of Charles Bronson’s filmography. It’s also the closest thing to a slasher film that he ever starred in.There is more than a little slasher film influence in this one, especially in the opening and closing homicidal rampages that bookend the film. The all out assault that Warren Stacy unleashes on the nurses dormitory was clearly influenced by the Richard Speckmassacre of years before. There is a fantastic moment where Warren is naked and stalking after one of his unfortunate female victims who is hiding inside a shower stall and you see his shadow complete with a knife. Like the “Death Wish” films,“10 To Midnight” also shares a similar sense of brutal, eye for an eye justice. How many more have to die before the killer isfinally stopped? The memorable ending of the film literally hammers this point home with a bullet.

Director J. Lee Thompson (who also directed the slasher clas-sick “Happy Birthday To Me”) was at the helm for this one. Thompson had previously worked with Bronson in the 70’s and would later direct him in other 80’s clas-sicks such as “The Evil That Men Do,” “Murphy’s Law,” and “Death Wish IV: The Crackdown.” I give Thompson a lot of credit for a job well done. The stalk and slash sequences in this film are exceptionally tense and uncomfortable. It’s interesting to note that the title of the film – “10 To Midnight” was apparently lifted from another Cannon Films project (which later became “The Evil That Men Do”) and had nothing to do whatsoever with the story. Despite scathing reviews, including a “zero stars” review from Roger Ebert that called the film “a garbage disposal,” the film was a box office success and eventually found a long life on home video.

This is hands down my all time favorite Charles Bronson flick, and a personal favorite of mine as well. I was lucky enough to grow up with a Mother who happened to be a big Charles Bronson fan. She even made my Father grow a moustache so he could look more like Chuck. My Mother collected Bronson flicks on VHS, and as a wee Brain hammer I was treated to multiple viewings of “Death Wish,” “Death Wish II,” “Hard Times,” “The Mechanic,” “Assassination,” “Someone Behind The Door” (a real oddity), and of corpse – “10 To Midnight!” This may in fact be the first time I ever saw male and female nudity in a film. My parents watched this one more than once in our living room, and would make me cover my eyes whenever Warren would run around naked. Interestingly enough, I was always allowed to watch the graphic death scenes – which probably explains why I grew up to be psychotic!

Extra special attention must also be given to actress Katrina Parish, who briefly appears as Warren’s large breasted alibi Tina. Without exaggeration, Katrina Parrish is one of the hottest chicks to ever set foot in front of a camera. An extended look at her incredible tits and ass would likely make your dick melt from the heat, so it’s probably a good thing that this is the only flick she ever briefly appeared in. She is a fucking LEGEND.

10 TO MIDNIGHT is currently available on DVD. A collection without this one is pissworthy, so buy or die.

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!! 

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One Response to “10 To Midnight!”

  1. Your the only other motherfucker who thiinks this is one of the most badass bronson pics ever in the history of color pictures

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