The Killing Time (1987) from Tuna

A young Kiefer Sutherland (he was only 20 when the film was released) kills someone as the film opens, and assumes the victim's identity. The man had been on his way to a new assignment as a sheriff's deputy in the sleepy California coastal town of Santa Alba, a place so peaceful the officers are seldom armed and keep their weapons in a gun cabinet. A big day for them consists of making a local pot grower burn his crop, which is an annual event. Sheriff Joe Don Baker is retiring, and deputy Beau Bridges, the current deputy, is to take his place, thus creating the vacancy Kiefer is to fill fraudulently. Sutherland has an agenda in Saint Alba, but we know nothing about it. Meanwhile, Beau Bridges is stuck on his high school sweetheart, Camelia Kath, who is married to an abusive developer husband. Bridges and Kath decide to murder the husband and frame Sutherland without realizing, of course, that he's a psychotic killer. As you may well imagine, nothing goes as planned.

The pot-growing scene is very believable of Northern California, but it is difficult for me to believe that, even in 1987, there was a California town this sleepy. Setting that aside, the real problem with the film is that the story inherently lacks action, and the script is structured so that nothing is ever in doubt for very long. The Killing Time was supposed to be a taut thriller but, despite the presence of three screenwriters, nobody remembered to add the tautness.

The highlight of the film, for me, was the lighthouse used in the plot. It is the Cabrillo Point Light, which I have photographed.



  • No significant features
  • The widescreen transfer is anamorphically enhanced,



Camelia Kath, who later married Kiefer Sutherland, shows breasts and buns.

The Critics Vote ...

The People Vote ...

  • It grossed about $500,000
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a C-. It will only be palatable to genre fanatics.

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