Follow TV Tropes

Following

Film / 10 to Midnight

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/10_to_midnight_poster.jpg

Forget what's legal... Do what's right...
Advertisement:

10 to Midnight is a 1983 American crime thriller film directed by J. Lee Thompson and starring Charles Bronson.

Leo Kessler (Bronson) is an LAPD homicide detective who is investigating serial killings committed by a man named Warren Stacy (Gene Davis). Unfortunately, Stacy is able to worm his way through any charges. However, Kessler gets a breakthrough when he learns that his daughter, Laurie (Lisa Eilbacher), is in possession of the diary of one of the victims, which details Stacy's stalking of her. Now that the madman is plotting against own his daughter, Kessler grows increasingly more desperate and ruthless about stopping the killings once and for all.

Produced by The Cannon Group, the film has been distributed mostly by MGM, but also got an Australian theatrical run from Columbia Pictures and a collector's edition Blu-ray from Scream Factory.

Advertisement:


This film contains examples of:

  • Amoral Attorney: Stacy's lawyer, David Dante, is a slimeball who explicitly states that his client might be guilty, and he'll find an angle to spin regardless.
  • Auto Erotica: Stacy's first onscreen victim was having sex with her boyfriend in the back of his van, before both of them were stabbed to death by the former.
  • Ax-Crazy: Stacy, who stabs women to death violently simply for being rejected by them.
  • Big Bad: Warren Stacy, the Serial Killer Kessler is pursuing.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Stacy is finally caught out in the open by Kessler and the police, and the latter shoots the former dead to ensure he can never hurt anyone else. This would likely end up with him serving a few years in prison for summarily executing a suspect. In addition, Laurie is likely traumatized by the deaths of her closest friends and her own near-death experience, but it's also heavily implied that she'll end up with McAnn.
  • Advertisement:
  • By-the-Book Cop: Paul McAnn, in contrast to Kessler, chooses to follow the rules and uphold the truth. This gets him coaxed by Stacy's attorney into finding out the truth, and eventually leads him to find out that his partner was Framing the Guilty Party midway into the film.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Several.
    • The morbid photographs Kessler steals from Stacy's apartment early in the film comes back following Stacy's botched trial, when Kessler plants them on the door of the latter's workplace and costs him his office job.
    • The police radio McAnn gives to Laurie early in the film becomes relevant again in the end, when Stacy hears it and consequently reveals Laurie's location to him.
  • Cowboy Cop: Kessler, who is more than willing to break a few rules just to get his culprit behind bars, including taking evidence from the culprit's house without a warrant and planting false evidence against Stacy. It helps that he's played by Charles Bronson, who is known for playing several of these in his career. Deconstructed Trope however, as his willingness to break rules helps to prevent Stacy from being locked up.
  • Enfant Terrible: When Stacy was twelve, he cut a girl with a knife and then threw a dead cat though her parents' window. He's only gotten worse since then.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: After being rejected by a woman, Stacy stalks and murders them violently in return.
  • Event Title
  • Fan Disservice: Lots, ranging from Stacy nude...while killing his victims, to said victims with several stab wounds lying in pools of blood, sometimes nude as well.
  • Fanservice Extra: Several minor female characters are shown topless, which in some cases veers into fan disservice if it's while they're attacked by Stacy.
  • Framing the Guilty Party:
    • Kessler plants blood on Stacy's clothes in a desperate attempt to get him put away for good. He confesses before the pretrial hearing begins, due to it being discovered.
    • He later plants the evidence he stole from Stacy's apartment onto the latter's office door, which causes Warren to lose his job.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Stacy kills all his victims while naked.
  • The Fundamentalist: A homeless man tries to take credit for Stacy's killings by claiming that he kills them for sinning.
  • Harassing Phone Call: Stacy makse obscene phone calls to his first onscreen victim, Betty and Dective Kessler's daughter, Laura.
  • He-Man Woman Hater: Stacy is an especially horrifying example, as he's a Serial Killer who goes after women who reject him.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Kessler asserts this with regards to framing Stacy, never apologizing in the least as he thinks it was right to put him away no matter what.
  • If I Can't Have You…: Stacy sexually harasses random women, and kills them when they say no.
  • Insanity Defense: Dante suggests this if the trial doesn't go well; Stacy has to be coaxed into it for self-preservation purposes, since he isn't actually insane and doesn't want to be labeled as such. He finally gives in and tries to invoke this to prevent his death at the end of the movie, but Kessler knows he's full of it and is far beyond caring.
  • It's Personal: Kessler initially saw the murders as another job until his daughter's best friend is axed. He maintains a professional veneer at first, but it slowly goes away over the course of the film.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Yes, Dante is a slimeball, but he had every reason to suspect the planted evidence used against his client and the consequences and charges of such actions.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Just after Stacy wins the botched hearing and rubs it in Kessler's face, the latter decides to get revenge by posting the morbid pictures he stole from Stacy's apartment at his workplace, causing him to lose his job.
  • MacGuffin: The diary of Stacy's first seen victim, which he's hunting for because it incriminates him.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: Stacy always kills while nude, and his genitals are seen briefly when he runs during the climax. Mostly however this is avoided through shooting from a high angle or using obstructions.
  • Married to the Job: Leo Kessler is mentioned by his daughter to have been mostly absent from her life, earning commendations as a civil servant and commended police officer during that time.
  • The Needs of the Many: Kessler argues this to his partner when the frameup he did on Stacy is uncovered, saying it's to prevent Stacy's murdering more women.
  • New Meat: Paul McAnn, Kessler's new partner, is established early on as a rookie detective.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Kessler's Framing the Guilty Party actions cause Stacy to get out of jail scot-free, and consequently for Kessler to be demoted. This indirectly causes the death of three more young women, and nearly the death of his own daughter, when Stacy tries one last time to retrieve the diary of his first onscreen victim.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Following the botched hearing, Stacy threateningly taunts Kessler over the phone that he'll kill his daughter next. This serves as the final straw for Paul, who decides to make the matter personal, and gets his revenge by planting the morbid photographs he retrieved from Stacy's house at Stacy's workplace, costing him his job.
  • Papa Wolf: After his daughter Laurie is targeted by Warren Stacy, Kessler pulls out all the stops while protecting her from him. Including murder.
  • Phrase Catcher: Whenever someone sees McAnn for the first time, they'll always take note that he doesn't look like a cop.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Warren Stacy, a misogynistic Serial Killer who also makes a homophobic comment.
  • Really Gets Around: Betty, Stacy's first victim onscreen, is described as having a guy over every night or so.
  • Reverse Whodunit: The audience knows right away who the killer is, and the detectives figure this out soon too, with the plot being how they will bring him down.
  • Sadist: Warren Stacy, a Serial Killer of women, is so sadistic that Kessler considers his knife equivalent to his penis.
  • Serial Killer: Stacy. He specifically goes after women who have romantically rejected him, and kills them by stabbing them multiple times while nude.
  • Shout-Out: We first meet Stacy at a screening of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
  • Slut-Shaming: Stacy calls Betty immoral for her promiscuous lifestyle.
  • The Sociopath: Warren Stacy, a guy who murders women that reject him. He's creepy when doing normal interactions, but manipulative in court, perfectly willing to claim a Split Personality to get off. Stacy shows little emotion most of the time, lies quite well, and has zero empathy toward others.
  • Turn in Your Badge: After he admits he'd planted evidence against Stacy, Kessler's fired the same day.
  • Vaporwear: In a flashback scene, when Warren unzips Betty's dress by the Xerox machine without asking, she isn't wearing a bra.
  • Vigilante Execution: When Kessler finally confronts Stacy, he's so disgruntled at the system that he simply shoots the madman in the head.
  • Villain Has a Point: Yes, Stacy is a murderous and violent thug, but he was right to call out Kessler's Cowboy Cop actions during the former's police interrogation, and later, his Framing the Guilty Party actions just prior to Stacy's trial.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: When McAnn finds out Kessler planted bloodstains on Stacy's clothes, he calls him out on it. This causes Leo to eventually confess his questionable actions right before the hearing.
  • Wicked Cultured: Stacy is shown to be a huge film buff on the side, as well as a fan of Mexican bullfights.

Top