INTERESTING LOW BUDGET SHOCKER....
Mark Norvell | HOUSTON | 04/12/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The first film produced by low budget indie filmmaker Del Tenney is a lurid, voyeuristic but interesting murder mystery. A wealthy war veteran turned artist finds himself implicated first in the brutal murder of his nude model then in the murder of a promiscuous college coed. But there are a couple of other suspects acting suspiciously...one of whom is an actual voyeur. The b&w film is set in a small college town with the college being all women. The acting is passable to good with a few familiar faces: Sheppard Strudwick as a lawyer, Dick Van Patten as a cop, Sylvia Miles as a bar floozy and James Farentino as a motorcycle thug. They all have good-sized roles. The murders (stabbings) are brutal, there's a surprising amount of (female) skin for 1962 and the ending is kind've a surprise. You do keep guessing at times who the killer really is. The DVD print is excellent. Not bad viewing for those who appreciate low budget but pretty good films. Actually, "Violent Midnight" is kind've an American "giallo" with it's lurid, near-exploitation values and creepy set-ups. In fact, giallo afficianados may go for this as well. Worth checking out as an obscure find. Enjoy."
"Thousands of eyes will be exploring you, appreciating your
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 12/15/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Produced by Del Tenney (The Horror of Party Beach, The Curse of the Living Corpse) and directed by Richard Hilliard (I, Marquis de Sade), who's also credited with the writing, Violent Midnight (1964) aka Psychomania stars Lee Philips (Peyton Place, Middle of the Night) as an artistic painter with a checkered past who finds himself a prime suspect in a homicide investigation as the woman he was using as a model turns up viciously murdered. Also appearing is Shepperd Strudwick ("One Life to Live"), Margot Hartman (Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women), Jean Hale (McHale's Navy Joins the Air Force), Kaye Elhardt (The Navy vs. the Night Monsters), Richard Van Patten (The Shaggy D.A.), and James Farentino (The Final Countdown, Dead & Buried), in his silver screen debut.
Lee Philips plays Elliot Freeman, a war veteran/temperamental artist who leads a solitary existence (by choice), his only real visitors being his cultured attorney Adrian Benedict (Strudwick), and his model Dolores (Elhardt), a pretty, young, local woman who's `round, firm, and fully packed', at least according to the men in town (they ain't lying). Seems Dolores, who's involved with a local thug named Charlie (Farentino), has it bad for Elliot (probably due to the fact the pair got it on when Dolores first started posing for Elliot), but Elliot only sees her now as a subject for his art, and is interested in keeping their relationship on a business level. Anyway, one night Elliot and Charlie get into a brawl, one in which Elliot, with skills obviously learned during his military service, nearly kills Charlie, but for the intervention of some patrons. Later that night a mysterious prowler breaks in on Dolores and savagely murders her. Richard Van Patten and his humongous forehead make the scene as a detective, and his subsequent investigation leads him to Elliot, as Charlie, the other suspect, manages to schmooze a false alibi out of an incredibly mannish looking woman who's got the hots for him. The situation becomes even more complicated as Elliot's half sister Lynn (Hartman), whom he hasn't seen in about six years, arrives in town, as she's been living with her mother (Charlie's step mother), and is planning on attending a local women's college, one that's inhabited by a whole mess of loose, young women and one really creepy voyeuristic professor named Melbourne, who seems to have knew Dolores better than he should have, resulting in yet another potential suspect. Anyway, things get wild and wooly from here as another woman is murdered, various bombshells are dropped, Elliot's past is revealed, a goofy folk song is sung, and the identity of the sadistic killer eventually revealed...
While this is a very low budget feature, I thought it was done well as it kept my interest throughout. That's not to say I didn't think there were some weak areas in the production, but all in all I thought it an engaging, slightly lurid murder mystery film. The main weakness to me seemed the presence of a whole lot of unnecessary character development. Some scenes are unnecessarily drawn out (like this review), the result being the flow feeling uneven at times and running about fifteen minutes longer than it probably should have...the upside is the characters are fairly interesting enough that I didn't mind spending the extra time watching them as they engaged in various, usually immoral, activities, as was especially the case with Charlie, who spent a good deal of time messing around with a sleazy student from the college who dug on his animalistic charms (I gotta find this school as most all the females in attendance were very comely and man crazy to boot). The film seems to spend a lot of time developing the various suspects, but it became apparent about halfway through which characters weren't the killer (laws of physics tended to preclude some of them). As far as the real identity of the killer, I didn't know it until it was revealed (my guess was way off), and I doubt few watching this film will catch on as there's just not a whole lot to go on, at least not until the end, when, through an expository dump, all is revealed. And yes, it did make sense, but only in terms of having everything explained in a chronological fashion). Normally this might bug me, but, as I said earlier, the characters, along with the story, were interesting enough to allow certain aspects to slide. I thought the performances were decent enough, and the direction strong, albeit a little rough at times. There's a great interior shot at the beginning, a slow pan down from a large, rain-spattered window that eventually focuses on Dolores (who's completely nekkid), posing for Elliot. I'm unsure why that shot would stick in my mind, but it did...someone else mentioned the presence of a bit of skin in the film. I, too, thought it odd, given the year the film was released (there's nearly a full frontal of Kaye Elhardt, who played the character Dolores, as she's posing), as you just didn't see that kind of thing from films of the time, apart from stag features or nudie cuties. Nevertheless, it was appreciated. One other thing that annoyed me a little...it was in terms of Van Patten's character. On the back of the DVD case his name is listed as Detective Parma, but the only time I ever heard anyone within the film address him by name, they called him Lt. Thomas...I looked on The Internet Movie Database and he's listed as Palmer...oh well...all in all I thought this a lurid, somewhat solid, economical feature worth the attention if you enjoy a bit of sleaze with your murder mysteries.
The picture on this Dark Sky Films DVD release, presented in full frame (1.33:1) black and white, looks exceptionally sharp and crisp, and the Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio comes through very well. There are some extras available, including a photo gallery, a commentary track with producer Del Tenney, English subtitles, and a couple of trailers for some other Del Tenney films such as The Horror of Party Beach (1964) and The Curse of the Living Corpse (1964), both of which are available as a DVD double feature released by Dark Sky Films.
Low Budget and Obvious, But Entertaining for Fans of 1960s B
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 07/06/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"When Alfred Hitchcock's PSYCHO opened the door, many other films followed, and the early 1960s saw a glut of low-budget, black and white thrillers that held scantily clad women at the point of a knife. Released in 1964, VIOLENT MIDNIGHT (also known as PSYCHOMANIA or BLACK AUTUMN) is fairly typical of the genre but better than most.
When Delores is found stabbed to death in her rooms there are two very obvious supects: Elliot, the reclusive artist who has employed her as a model, and Charlie, her tough-guy boyfriend. After all, the two men had a bar room knife fight over her the night before! Fortunately Elliot has his half-sister, who has just arrived to attend a local all-girl college, for support. But before too long the student body becomes precisely that, and both Elliot and Charlie come under renewed suspicion.
The cast is unexpectedly solid. Leading man Lee Philips (in the role of artist Elliot Freeman) and supporting actor Shepperd Strudwick (as his attorney) both had long and respectable careers both before and after VIOLENT MIDNIGHT; James Farentino, Sylvia Miles, and Dick Van Patten would go on to notable careers of their own. Even so, there's nothing subtle about the script, which crams everything from biker chicks to college sirens into the mix, and most viewers will probably identify the killer in the first twenty minutes of the film.
Even so, and in spite of a budget that was clearly just this side of zero, VIOLENT MIDNIGHT isn't a bad little flick, and it easily holds its own with the likes of the better-known DEMENTIA 13. It will probably lack appeal for the casual viewer, but fans of 1960s B-movies will have a good time.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer"