May 4th, 2008

10 TO MIDNIGHT (1983) ****

A psycho serial killer is on the loose murdering young girls.  This guy is a little different than the rest though because he likes to strip down to nothing but a pair of surgical gloves and chase naked women around with a very large switchblade before turning their innards into the consistency of pulled pork B-B-Q. 


Since Charles Bronson is on the case though, it’s all good.


The problem is that this killer is SMART.  He’ll go see a movie and be obnoxious and stuff; then when the movie starts, he sneaks out and commits his murders before sneaking back into the theater, giving himself an airtight alibi.  (If movie theaters had a stronger ticket checking policy, this would never have happened.)


Chuck knows he’s the killer and even confronts him with his electric Pocket Pussy (“This is used for jacking off!”), but since there’s no evidence to convict him, the killer goes free.  That don’t matter to Chuck though, cuz he’ll make something up in order to catch him.  Unfortunately, his goodie two shoes partner (Andrew Stevens, Chuck’s co-star from Death Hunt) learns that Chuck has been falsifying evidence so he rats him out.  Chuck gets kicked off the force, but once the killer comes after his daughter, Chuck goes into full on Death Wish mode.


10 to Midnight is one of Chuck’s best.  It’s an unheralded classic that really ratchets up the suspense and provides Bronson’s fans with lots of great moments.  The scene where Chuck plants evidence on the killer?  Priceless.  The scene where Chuck goes to a cafeteria and says, “I hate quiche!”  Awesome.  And who could forget the immortal final scene of the movie where the looney tunes nudist killer proclaims how he’ll never go to prison because he’s insane and says, “You’ll hear from me!” 


Chuck retorts with, “No we won’t!” and a bullet to the face.


Director J. Lee Thompson, who directed virtually every movie Chuck made during the 80’s, does a magnificent job, especially in the scenes where the naked nutjob stalks his victims.  The opening double murder where the nude killer chases a naked chick through the woods is as good as anything in a Jason movie, and the scene where the murderer preys upon four scantily clad nurses (among them are a young Kelly Preston and Ola Ray from the Thriller music video) is pretty terrific. 


The performances are also great.  Chuck delivers as always, meaning that he plays himself and blows away scumbags with a very big gun.  Stevens is good as his Boy Scout partner, but much of the movie’s effectiveness is due to a genuinely creepy performance by Gene Davis as the serial killer with a penchant for running around completely naked.


Of course, Big Chuck is given the best lines of the movie, my favorite being, “His knife is his penis!”


Thompson and Bronson re-teamed the next year for The Evil That Men Do.

MURPHY’S LAW (1986) ***


If you asked your Average Joe off the street what Murphy’s Law is, they’d probably give you some lame ass answer like “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.”  Anyone who’s seen the Charles Bronson movie Murphy’s Law will know otherwise.  In it, Chuck plays a cop named Jack Murphy and HIS version of Murphy’s Law is (and I quote):  “Don’t fuck with Jack Murphy!”


You got to give Charles Bronson some credit here for trying something a LITTLE different with Murphy’s Law.  Instead of playing a burned out cop looking to avenge the death of his wife, he played a burned out ALCOHOLIC cop looking to avenge the death of his wife. 


You see, it’s the little subtleties like that that makes Chuck such a great actor. 


Murphy’s Law also sets itself apart from the rest of Chuck’s other adventures by featuring a foul mouthed juvenile delinquent chick (Kathleen Wilhoite from Road House) as his partner in crime as well as a FEMALE villain (Carrie Snodgress). 


Story goes that this chick Chuck put away years ago for murder is out of the nuthouse and looking to frame Chuck for the murder of his ex-wife and her boyfriend.  Since Chuck is a drunk and his late wife was a two-timing stripper that makes him prime suspect numero uno.  So the cops cuff him to a tomboy car thief who calls Chuck stuff like “scrotum cheeks” and put them in a holding cell.  But since this is Charles Bronson we’re talking about here, he’s not going to take things lying down, so he steals a helicopter and escapes.  He thinks it’s a big time mobster trying to set him up so he goes to his penthouse and plays Russian Roulette with him.  Of course Chuck guessed wrong and royally pisses off the gangster, so not only is there a crazy chick with a crossbow after him, but a lot of Italian goombas from Central Casting too. 


What’s Chuck to do?  Of course you know.  Blow shit up, shotgun a few turkeys, and throw psychotic chicks off of high balconies.


Murphy’s Law is no Death Wish 2, but it’ll certainly do in a pinch.  The movie suffers from a number of faults, the biggest of which is having too many gratuitous supporting characters.  The movie should’ve chosen to go with either the gangsters as the villains OR the nutty psycho woman.  Having both kinda jumbles things up a bit, and makes things not quite as streamlined as it should’ve been.  Also, you can only take so much of Wilhoite’s character before she starts to grate on your nerves.  If Chuck flew solo on this one, it might’ve been better, but at least they do share a few good moments here and there together. 


I could sit here and pick this thing apart, but the truth of the matter is that Murphy’s Law features enough of Chuck doing what he does best, namely shooting people saying funny shit like “What is this, Romper Room?”, to make it wholly worthwhile for any dyed in the wool Bronson fan.