Reviewed by: Zombie Boy
What's it about
A lightweight, exploitive piece barely scratching the surface of the Richard Ramirez “Night Stalker” serial killings.
Is it good movie?
Considering that Ulli Lommell has directed more than fifty movies in less than forty years, you can imagine the level of effort put into most of them. This film definitely has a slapdash, catch-shots-as-catch-can feel. Which is not to say that it is poor filmmaking, because it certainly is not. As soon as the film starts, I groaned audibly. Some films are shot on video, but this one looked like it was shot on home video. However, I quickly forgot about that, because the cinematography was good, and the shot-blocking and camera moves were all well done. The acting was also reasonably good, even if the characters had barely one-dimension, let alone multi-dimensionality. The problem is that the film is boring.
The basic premise here is to skim along the top of Richard Ramirez’s murderous activities in the mid-eighties. Basically, there are three scenes in this tedious movie: 1. Ramirez walking around L.A., sucking on lollipop after lollipop, overlaid with ridiculous and repetitive narration from same about how he needs to be evil to make peace with his past; 2. A couple arguing (obviously ad-libbed); 3. Ramirez confronting these people, pointing a gun at them, smirking for a few minutes, then shooting them. We get occasional flashbacks to the murders he witnessed as a child, but basically those three scenes replay over and over again. My brain kept trying to go to sleep in defense against this flaccid non-plot.
What’s really funny is the standard disclaimer in the credits of the film being purely fictional, with no intention of portraying real people or events. Um, really? I don’t think so. If it was not based on actual events, it would still be boring dog crap, but at least it wouldn’t be offensively glib about an event in American history that ripped apart many families, who had to deal with their loved ones being murdered by this troubled youth. Lommell not only does not scratch the surface of the Ramirez case, he skims across it like it was slathered in KY Jelly. Just an excuse to show a greasy guy shooting women in the face, and it sucks. When he finally gets his comeuppance at the end, it is hardly equitable to what he put others through.
Oh, yeah, he also hooks up with some chick and her boyfriend, and they all sit around doing coke and yelling Hail Satan! Really. It’s like watching the worst Tenacious D. video ever. Do you really want to worship Satan? Yes. Awesome! Hail Satan! We love Satan! Total amateur hour nonsense. This is the fourth paragraph of a review that is probably longer, and took more effort, then the screenplay of the movie it is about.
Video / Audio
Video: As I said above, it is basically home video quality. A really good home video shot by a director with some flair, but still home video.
Audio: As it is a screener, I don’t have any audio stats. The sound design is decent enough, but you’ll be surfing the ‘net or falling asleep so it won’t matter anyway.
I have a screener that only has the film’s trailer, which automatically played when I put the disc in. It did not make me want to watch the movie.
Those looking for an in-depth examination of the Ramirez killings can look elsewhere. This film is content to play on the fame of the image, without caring a whit for the substance. Showing us the catalytic event for a psychopath’s future rage does not give a filmmaker license to show us the same scene played out over and over again. No justice is done here either for the victims or their deeply troubled aggressor. Simply avoid this film.