Movie Review: Violent Midnight (1963)

Synopsis: After being acquitted for killing his wealthy father in a hunting accident, artist Elliott Freeman, a Korean War veteran, lives as a recluse on his family's estate, painting portraits. When his model, Dolores, is murdered, Elliott becomes the primary suspect. Things become even more complicated for him when another murder is committed.

Who's in it? The movie stars Lee Phillips, James Farentino, Day Tuttle, Shepperd Strudwick and Margot Hartman.

Review: I came across this movie a couple days ago and finally got around to watching it this morning. From the limited description I was given, I wasn't completely sure what to expect but it ended up being an entertaining film.

I am always going to be a fan of a good murder mystery, and this is a movie that fits that category. In addition to Elliott (Phillips), there were plenty of other good murder suspects that had both familiarity and opportunity with both murder victims. This included the local thug, Charlie (Farentino) and the head of the local women's college, Arthur Melbourne (Tuttle), who had a solid stalker vibe to him. Elliott's attorney, Adrian (Strudwick) also seemed to be just a little too interested in Elliott's affairs, enough where he could be committing murders to help his client.

Also helping this movie was the fact Elliott wasn't exactly a saint. He is a character that obviously has PTSD from serving in the war and even goes as far as to admit he wanted is father dead. As a result of that, even though there were better suspects, especially Charlie, it was also impossible to rule Elliott out. Ultimately, I was able to point a finger at the killer but, even though I had a (correct) suspicion, did have to wait until the very end for confirmation.

I also liked the way the movie set up the murders. The mystery was still my favorite part of it, but the slayings reminded me of what I would expect to see in a good slasher flick (another one of my favorite genres). There was nothing over the top, probably because of when the movie was made, but there was just enough violence shown on screen to portray the brutality. 

In fact, probably my only real complaint about the movie is the same one I have with a lot of slasher films, the victims weren't very likeable. Granted, it's not something that made a whole lot of difference overall, but I do think the slayings would have been a bit more meaningful had I actually cared about the people being stabbed to death.

Final Opinion: This turned out to be an entertaining murder mystery/slasher flick and I enjoyed watching it. It's worth adding to your library.

My Grade: A


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