Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Case of the Hillside Stranglers (1989)

Director: Steve Gethers

Writers: Steve Gethers, Darcy O'Brien

Composer: Gil Melle

Starring: Richard Crenna, Dennis Farina, Billy Zane, Tony Plana, James Tolkan, Karen Austin, Matthew Faison, Robert Harper, Mary Jackson, Rosanna Huffman, William Bassett

More info: IMDb

Tagline:From October 1977 to February 1978 ten young women were brutally slain.  Their bodies were dumped on a hillside in Los Angeles.

Plot: The true chilling story of the "two of a kind", killin' cousins Angelo Buono and Kenneth Bianchi, better known as the Hillside Stranglers.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

When it comes to films based on real events, it's hard not to compare them.  THE HILLSIDE STRANGLER (2004) is a better film all the way around and I highly recommend that one.  This one, though, feels like it has the trappings of an average TV movie complete with some filler and not always 'on' performances.  For the most part, though, the acting is pretty good.  It's nice to see Farina in the role of a bad guy but he's not given nearly as much to do as his presence deserves.  Of the two killers, the focus is more on Zane's character and he's fun to watch, too, especially with that goofy mustache.  Crenna has moments of good and no so good.  One laughably bad moment happens near the end when Grogan's (Crenna) girlfriend, J.D. (Austin), puts herself in harm's way of getting killed by Buono (Farina).  Boy was that not only a dumb move but a dumb, ill-fitting scene.  It screamed amateurishness.  Another big offender was Gil Melle's out of place score.  There were times I thought that a producer with a tin ear pulled Melle's cues from another film entirely.  Bizarre, man.  For fans of true crime, this really only holds interest from the standpoint of the actors on screen and not so much for what the good guys and bad guys did.  

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