|10 to Midnight|
|Directed by||J. Lee Thompson|
|Written by||William Roberts|
J. Lee Thompson
|Produced by||Pancho Kohner|
|Edited by||Peter Lee Thompson|
|Music by||Robert O. Ragland|
|Distributed by||Cannon Films|
|Box office||$7,175,592 (US)|
10 to Midnight is a 1983 American crime-horror-thriller film directed by J. Lee Thompson from a screenplay originally written by William Roberts. The film stars Charles Bronson in the lead role with a supporting cast that includes Lisa Eilbacher, Andrew Stevens, Gene Davis, Geoffrey Lewis, and Wilford Brimley. 10 to Midnight was released by City Films, a subsidiary of Cannon Films, to American cinemas on March 11, 1983.
Warren Stacey (Gene Davis) is a young office equipment repairman who kills women after they reject his sexual advances. His attempts at flirting are always seen as creepy by women, resulting in frequent rejections. His first victim is Betty Johnson (June Gilbert), an office co-worker. To make an alibi for himself, he attends a movie screening and molests the women sitting next to him, so they will remember him. Then he goes to the toilet, strips naked, puts on gloves and leaves though the window. He tracks Betty down to a wooded area, and observes her having sex with her boyfriend in the back of a van. He ambushes the couple, kills the boyfriend and then gives chase to the naked woman through the woods. He catches her and as she begs for her life, he stabs her to death. Afterwards, he returns to the theater and exists with the other attendees, ensuring his alibi. At Betty's funeral, Stacey overhears her father mention to Los Angeles police detective Leo Kessler (Charles Bronson) that Betty kept a diary. Fearing he might be mentioned in the diary, Stacey searches Betty's bedroom in her apartment, but is interrupted when Karen Smalley (Jeana Tomasina), Betty's roommate and co-worker returns from the funeral. Stacey stabs her to death in the kitchen and resumes searching for the diary only to discover it has apparently already been found by Kessler.
Detective Kessler and his partner Paul McAnn (Andrew Stevens), investigate his murders. Kessler is a seasoned veteran of the force, while McAnn is considerably younger. Stacey avoids prosecution by constructing sound alibis and assaulting his victims while naked except for a pair of latex gloves to hide fingerprints, thus minimizing evidence.
Laurie Kessler (Lisa Eilbacher) is the only daughter of Leo and an acquaintance to some of the victims. A student nurse herself, she becomes a target for the killer. McAnn refuses to go along when Kessler plants evidence in order to frame the suspect. Stacey goes on another rampage, killing three nursing students who are roommates of Laurie Kessler.
Stacey is eventually caught, stark naked in the street. He boasts how he will say all the things that will "prove" that he is crazy: he hears voices ordering him to do things, etc., so that one day, he will be back on the street and Kessler, as well as the "whole fucking world," will hear from him again. Kessler replies, "No, we won't." He then shoots Stacey once in the forehead, executing him and leaving all other considerations aside. Kessler stands over the body, surrounded by police.
Producer Pancho Kohner had made a number of films with Charles Bronson and J. Lee Thompson. They purchased the film rights to the 1978 novel The Evil That Men Do (by R. Lance Hill. Cannon Films chairman Menahem Golan wanted to market Bronson's next film project and the adaptation of the novel was going to be that project. But Kohner estimated the rights to the novel and the cost of the screenplay to be worth $200,000 dollars. Menahem refused to pay and the deal fell through.
However, Menahem still offered to market Bronson's next film project, just not based on that novel. He and Kohner had already arranged a visit to the Cannes Film Festival to promote The Evil That Men Do. He asked Kohner to come up with a new project and fresh title, and 10 to Midnight was the result of his brainstorm. At the Festival they promoted the project to potential buyers, as a film featuring action, danger, and revenge. But at this point, they really had no script for the suggested film. Back in Los Angeles, they went in search of a story of the film. A colleague of Kohner's, Lance Hool, suggested using the screenplay Bloody Sunday by William Roberts. They simply attached the already chosen title to that screenplay. (The Evil That Men Do later ended up being financed by ITC Entertainment.)
The name of killer Warren for Warren Stacy was based on Hollywood star Warren Beatty.
Actor Gene Davis, who played Warren, said that director J. Lee Thompson pretty much left him alone to form his character, but told him "We don't want the role to be sympathetic..." presumably so as to make the ending have more impact.
The music for 10 to Midnight was composed by Cannon Films mainstay Robert O. Ragland and the film was recorded by cinematographer Adam Greenberg. The film also features actor Robert F. Lyons and actress Kelly Preston (listed as Kelly Palzis) in smaller roles.
Heavy on violence, nudity, vulgar language and sexual situations, 10 to Midnight drew scathing reviews from film critics, including a "zero stars" rating from Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times who wrote, "I admired [Bronson's] strong, simple talent once. What is he doing in a garbage disposal like this?"
The film did receive positive feedback from others, such as Ebert's colleague Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune, and was a moderate financial success.
The film has maintained a sizeable cult following through home video releases and cable TV showings. The film was often heavily edited for television broadcasts which displayed alternate scenes of Stacy and his victims in their underwear instead of being totally naked.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 40% based on 10 reviews, with an average rating of 5.33/10. On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 12 out of 100, based on 6 critics, indicating "Overwhelming Dislike".