10 to Midnight: Collector's Edition - Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray / Media Reviews' started by Michael Scott, Jan 22, 2019.

  1. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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    Apr 4, 2017
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    10 to Midnight: Collector's Edition

    Movie: :3.5stars:
    Video: :4.5stars:
    Audio: :3.5stars:
    Extras: :4stars:
    Final Score: :4stars:

    [​IMG] Movie

    It’s really interesting looking back at 10 to Midnight with a more modern eye (35 years more modern I might add), as there are some interesting social issues that are displayed in the film, even if they weren’t intentionally meant to be so. Back in 1983 director J. Lee Thompson made the film as a savage commentary on a judicial system that was falling into the trap of claiming every act of evil was “insanity”. Criminals began taking advantage of that system back in the early 1980s (and up through the 90s to some degree) by copping an insanity plea, where they would go in to an institution and be out in 6 months to a few years for horrific crimes, being labeled “cured” of their “illness”. 10 to Midnight was meant to be a slap in the face to that practice and you can tell the deep seeded anger just OOZING from every pore of the film.

    However, looking back you see a corollary to a more modern phenomena that has been sweeping the nation. The action of of so called “incels” or “beta males”, otherwise known as awkward loners who have been spurned by the opposite sex and use violence to act as their vengeance for being so spurned. Some people like to use the term “toxic masculinity” (a term I’m loathe to use, but is the closest thing to ACTUAL toxic masculinity out there), or “incel” (involuntary celibate) for these people, but when they snap, they seem to snap BIG time. It’s been seen by big name killers like Elliot Rodgers in 2014, or the Toronto killer last year. Either way, it’s something that’s been making big waves in the post 2000 world, and something that is displayed HEAVILY in 10 to Midnight, even though J. Lee Thompson never intended that facet of humanity to really be focused upon. As such, the film is a good bit more creepy today than even 1983, and while it’s obviously highly stylized, shows comparisons to people like Rodgers and the Toronto killer in nature.

    Leo Kessler (Charles Bronson) is a tough as nails L.A. cop who is hot on the trail of a serial killer who targets women. He KNOWS it’s an awkward loner by the name of Warren Stacy (Gene Davis), but can’t connect the legal dots to put him away for good. They’ve got enough to put him behind bars a misdemeanor, and the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming, but the legal system allows him to slip through the cracks. Not content to let him get away with murder, Kessler ends up planting evidence on the young man, enough to get him put away for good, but has a change of heart when his partner Paul (Andrew Stevens) confronts him. Now the killer is out on the prowl once more, and because Kessler messed with him, is going to make him and his whole family pay, just like the other countless women he’s killed.

    10 to Midnight is a creepy cop thriller that takes a lot of cues from the 1980s slashers of that time period. It’s tense, tough, and plays out like a typical thriller in many parts, with the typically distant cop father who’s way too good at his job taking precedence over the familial affairs. What’s truly terrifying though is Warren Stacy. He’s cold, calculating, but at the same time completely unhinged as he stalks and murders the women who have spurned his sexual advances due to his twisted personality. While some would consider him pathetic from the outside, underneath is full of self loathing, hatred, and an unhinged level of vengeance that makes him a force to be reckoned with. What makes matters worse is that he’s smart and knows he’s evil. Which makes his crimes that much harder to pin point, and allows for the judicial system to pass him off as insane (there’s a scene just before his initial trial where the sleaze ball lawyer is prepping him for an insanity plea by having him say he hears voices and feels like 2 different people).

    At the same time, this is NOT a heroic cop story. In fact, while Kessler is right in many ways, he’s just as complicit as Stacy is. He’s wiling to plant evidence to get his man, and willing to do so much more to protect the world from this evil, even if it means going against all of the oaths that he swore when he became an officer of the peace. I guess that’s part of the intention behind 10 to Midnight, as Thompson and the writers allow of the their frustrations and rage at a flawed judicial system seep out in the film. I guess you could call it a dark crime story with no black and white, but differing shades of darkness displayed on screen. Kessler is inherently noble in his intentions, but when the law fails him, his own values and morals become shaded and twisted in the process. Stacy is so beyond redemption that he’s almost a caricature, and his overly sexualized killing methods (I mean, he DOES kill in the nude) make his unhinged slaughter all the more terrifying, making the audience want to side with the corrupt detective. It’s a lose lose situation with the characters, but one that is rather entertaining to watch.


    Rated R By the MPAA

    Video: :4.5stars:
    10 to Midnight was originally released back in 2015 by Twilight Time as a “limited to 3,000 copies” special edition. They had a 3 year contract for the film, and it seems that when the rights ran up Scream Factory jumped on the opportunity. The best part is, 10 to Midnight did not have the greatest transfer on the Twilight Time release (Twlight Time didn’t have access to anything but the older master) and with Scream in charge we’re given a brand new 4K master that is light years ahead of the grungy 2015 release. Comparing the two it’s a rather large improvement, with flesh tones and colors being much more natural and vibrant. The movie is still a 1980s cheap film (supposedly only around $4 million to make) and there is a heavy layer of grain to it. Luckily the grain is consistent and well textured, showing off tons of fine detail in many shots. There are a few night time shots that do look a bit grainier than usual, and dingy, but this is really an incredible feat to get the film looking as pristine as it is (I can’t see any major print damage or debris on the print), especially with how mediocre it looked a few years back.

    Audio: :3.5stars:
    I would bet $100 that Scream is using the same audio master for the Twilight Time release, and I doubt any remastering would get much better than this. 10 to Midnight was filmed on a shoestring budget back in the early 80s, and as such the recording techniques were a little raw. The film’s 2.0 Mono track is clean and fairly clear of any defects, showing off solid dialog and a goodly amount of heft to the 80s synth/midi score. The track shows its limitations with the party scene, as depth and power are rather lacking, and there is definite analog hiss throughout the movie. It’s not wile, and things are very evenly balanced, but the raw and rough nature of the film’s original mix certainly limits how good this track can ever be.

    Extras: :4stars:

    • NEW
    Charlie's Partner – an interview with actor Andrew Stevens
    • NEW Producing Bronson – an interview with producer Lance Hool
    • NEW Remembering Bronson – an interview with actor Robert F. Lyons
    • NEW Undressed to Kill – an interview with actress Jeana Tomasina Keough
    • NEW Audio Commentary with writer/historian Paul Talbot (the Bronson's Loose! books)
    • Audio Commentary with producer Pancho Kohner, casting director John Crowther and film historian David Del Valle
    • Theatrical Trailer
    • Radio Spots
    • Still Gallery

    Final Score: :4stars:

    10 to Midnight is an odd ball film, blending elements of the hard and gritty cop dramas of the 80s, slasher, and thriller all into one. Originally intended as a savage commentary on a justice system that was falling into the “insanity plea” trap, the film takes a decidedly creepy turn in relation to some of the last 15-18 years worth of criminal elements. The movie was never the pinnacle of Bronson films, but it is one of his most unique films, and the Scream Factory collector’s edition is awash with a bunch of new extras and a great video transfer. Fans of the film will definitely want to upgrade their Twilight Time discs, and for newbies this IS the best (and mostly only) version available. Definitely worth checking out as an interesting watch.

    Technical Specifications:

    Starring: Charles Bronson, Lisa Eibacher, Andrew Stevens, Gene Davis, Geoffrey Lewis, Wilford Brimley
    Directed by: J. Lee Thompson
    Written by: William Roberts
    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
    Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono
    Subtitles: English SDH
    Studio: Shout Factory
    Rated: PG
    Runtime: 110 Minutes
    Blu-ray Release Date: January 22nd, 2019

    Recommendation: Interesting Watch

    Jack likes this.
  2. Asere

    Asere AV Addict

    Apr 14, 2017
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    Haha I would never have guessed that you'd be reviewing this one let alone that it would make it to blu-ray. I saw it on Starz a couple of weekends ago. I use to watch it anytime it aired on cable back in the day.
    To me it's a classic and a nostalgic watch.
    Thanks for the review!
    Michael Scott likes this.
  3. tripplej

    tripplej AV Enthusiast

    Jul 13, 2017
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    Thanks for the review. Will check it out. :)

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