10 to Midnight, Siege, and The Survivor

10 to Midnight – 1983, US, 101m. Director: J. Lee Thompson. Streaming: Tubi

Siege – 1983, Canada, 83m. Director: Paul Donavan, Maura O’Connell. Streaming: Shudder, Tubi

The Survivor – 1981, Australia, 98m. Director: David Hemmings. Streaming: N/A

10 TO MIDNIGHT (1983) Oddball serial killer Warren Stacey (Gene Davis)—who creeps on his unsuspecting victims in nothing but his birthday suit—takes a knife to the women who’ve at one time or another treated him like a putz. This seems a bit hard to believe considering Warren is both handsome and polite when he needs to be. Had the filmmakers cast someone more appropriate for the role, say Joe Spinell, the killer’s motive might have been easier to swallow. But did anyone really want to see Spinell running around naked? Luckily for the local single ladies of the area, hard-boiled homicide detective Leo Kessler (Charles Bronson) is on the case and, along with his newly assigned partner (Andrew Stevens), are hot on Warren’s naked heels. 10 to Midnight has all the traits of a polished thriller, including good acting, slick direction by J. Lee Thompson (Cape Fear), and some suspense to go along with the slashing. It runs a little too long but it makes up for it with a slam-bang finale. B

SIEGE (1983) (AKA: Self Defense) During a police strike in 1981 Halifax, a small gay bar is attacked by members of the “New Order,” a right-wing militia that, according to one member, “isn’t afraid to say what everyone else is afraid to.” Funny, I never thought the world a place that was ever afraid of expressing hate. A man manages to escape the bar and holes up inside a nearby building, where he’s aided by an apartment full of people having a party. One of the partiers (Tom Nardini)—who just happens to be a survivalist!—wants to stay and protect himself, while his shrill, self-entitled girlfriend (Brenda Bazinet) demands to flee to safety. Eventually more blockheads from the New Order show up with machine guns and turn the building into a war zone, forcing the unsuspecting apartment dwellers to fight back with an improvised arsenal, including a nail gun. All of this could have been engaging had the filmmakers bothered to pump any energy or suspense into the script—think Assault on Precinct 13, which Siege is trying to resemble. The characters are too dopey to feel much sympathy for, with the majority of the gay ones portrayed as cowering wimps. This is one film that would benefit from being remade, especially in today’s political climate. C

THE SURVIVOR (1981) An eerie ghost tale set against the backdrop of a jumbo jet crash and the accident’s only survivor, the pilot (Robert Powell), who, along with others who’ve gotten “too close” to the crash site, begin having supernatural occurrences. A ghoulish photographer who took pictures of the dead bodies—with plans to sell the photos to the tabloids—is haunted by a ghostly little girl. A transient is drowned in a lake by phantom hands after trying to steal the plane’s flight recorder. After having a psychic experience moments before the crash, Jenny Agutter steps in to help Powell solve the mystery of why the plane was taken down, and how he survived unscathed. The intense opening is followed by a solid first hour, with good performances by Powell and Agutter. The last half of the film feels rushed and is somewhat confusing, with a predictable twist ending that’s basically just ripping off Carnival of Souls. This is still an engrossing mystery worth recommending. B

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *