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STUDIO: Dark Sky Films
RUNNING TIME: 92 Minutes
• Feature Commentary
• Photo Gallery
It’s like So I Married an Axe Murderer meets Sorority House Massacre with a little bit of Hitchcocky whodunit mixed in.
Lee Phillips, Sheppard Strudwick and Dick Van Patten.
Elliott Freeman (Phillips) is a well-to-do artist who lives alone in a huge house in a small town. Elliott’s father was the richest man in town and ended up going crazy before and hunting accident claimed his life. Rumors of inherited insanity were already floating around Elliott’s name and it didn’t help when his latest model, Dolores, ends up stabbed. While he’s trying to clear his name another girl he’s close toends up murdered as well. As the bodies (and the evidence against him) stack up, will Elliott be able to clear his name or, even worse, could he have done it?
These two characters are actually brother and sister in the movie. Hmmm…
Violent Midnight (aka Psychomania) is the first film produced by Del Tenney, a sort of Roger Corman clone who produced and directed a few low-budget gems in the 50s. Violent Midnight, however, was not one of those gems.
We’re introduced to Elliott, a reclusive, eccentric artist. He seems like a nice enough guy, who’s revealed to be moving his half-sister Lynne into town and paying her tuition to the local all-girls college. When he and his model, Dolores, go out for a drink, he runs afoul of the Dolores’ thuggy, biker-dude ex-boyfriend Charlie. They get in a fight and Dolores ends up taking him to her house to treat a wound. She tries to convince Elliott to marry her and when he refuses she insults him, he hits her and the leaves. Shortly thereafter, a person in boots and a trenchcoat comes into the house and kills her. Who did it? Could it have been Elliott? Could it have been Charlie?
Before Mardi Gras or Girls Gone Wild, this was the only way to get random girls to take their tops off. Clever bastard.
Now, that first paragraph is all the exposition I’m going to give, for two reasons – first, that’s the main brunt of the story. Another girl gets killed in the same fashion but it’s basically the same situation. Secondly, after the first murder this movie completely falls apart. I was intrigued through Dolores’ murder. I was into it. But to say this movie had pacing problems is an understatement. It felt like it dragged on forever as the time between the two murders was inexplicably long and the stuff in between was so boring I had to re-start the damn thing three time because I kept falling asleep and it didn’t help that at one point I wake up during the big reveal at the end so I knew who the killer was before I ever watched the entire film. Even so, I started it a third and final time and trucked through it. It’s not a good movie. Almost every character is a stereotype, the dialogue is not natural and feels like it should be mentioned in the "Bad lines that think they’re great lines" thread. However, I will give Tenney credit – he knows how to cast some pretty women. Although it doesn’t do any good, we have hot ladies, an All-Girls College, a horror movie (sorta)…and no nudity? Bah.
If you’re a fan of Tenney you’d probably want this in your collection, but that’s about it. Even those of you (like me) who enjoy campy black and white horror flicks and those in the so bad it’s good category probably won’t enjoy this. I’ll stick to Corman, thanks.
And there’s Dick Cheney – up to his old tricks again.
The artwork here has me torn. On one hand it’s wonderfully designed, has a great font choice, a creepy little tagline and a beautiful grainy sepia-toned photo of one of the female characters who’s about to meet her end. Why is that bad? When you look at this case you’re going to expect a sweet little exploitation flick, as that is what it unintentionally sells. That’s not what you get however and even though the design is excellent, it does the opposite of what cover art is supposed to do.
On the bonus menu there are some trailers for some other Tenney Flicks (The Horror of Party Beach and The Curse of the Living Corpse, which are the subject of my next review), a photo gallery and feature commentary with Tenney himself. And let it be said that I like Del Tenney. He seems like an extremely nice and humble guy who doesn’t take himself or his films too seriously. The commentary is slightly interesting, but Del is so soft-spoken it did tend to make me a little drowsy.
I find it hard to believe that anything else could be a point of interest.
In the end, even though I didn’t enjoy the flick nor can I really recommend it, I’m all for giving first-timers a little leniency.
6.0 out of 10