Watchtower  (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This movie, also called Cruel and Unusual, is a straight-to-vid thriller about a serial killer. I would call it an erotic thriller, but I'm not sure how erotic it is to see overweight, 50ish Tom Berenger, who has breasts now, do sex scenes. You'll have to ask some women, I guess.

In the first two scenes we discover that Berenger will seduce, then kill, both men and women. That fact having been established, the scene shifts to a remote lighthouse where he is able to settle down by assuming the identity of his most recent victim. Perhaps he even chose the victim because the guy was headed to a remote lighthouse to assume a new job, and nobody there knew what he looked like.


Rachel Hayward shows her breasts in sex scenes with Tom Berenger.

Elizabeth Savenkoff shows her breasts in a very steamed-up shower scene.

We then have the premise. A seductive serial killer trapped in a lighthouse with a bitter kid of questionable sexual identity, while also conducting an affair with the kid's sister. Some of the above must die eventually. Which ones?

It's one of those with a surprise ending, then a surprise postscript which shows that the ending may not have meant what you thought.

As an erotic film - well, the starring woman is not really very attractive, and the mandatory bimbo victim chick, while gorgeous, is only seen briefly in a steamed-up shower. Tom Berenger, once a hunky guy and a pretty big star,  is now really too old and fat for nude scenes. In fact, he quite literally had larger breasts than his co-star.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • widescreen anamorphic 1.85:1.

One reviewer at Amazon summed it up pretty well:

"First of all, don't expect any suspense. There is none. The "secrets" are revealed in the first 10 minutes, and you know the face of the serial killer from the first. But that would not be damaging the film if it holds some dramatic tension between this stranger in town and those sister-brother characters, in order to develop the initial idea about the bond between this murderer and the kid, or his sister. No. The film is all about ordinary love scenes with cheesy dialogue and self-indulgent, extended guitar play as its soundtrack."

The Critics Vote

  • Apollo 49/100

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. Voting results: IMDb voters score it 3.9/10. It is not that weak. Apollo voters say 52/100
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. 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 even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My 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. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. 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, C- as a suspense yarn, D as an erotic thriller. It is watchable, but just barely. It is OK by the standard of neo-Hitchcock mystery thrillers. Berenger is good, and some scenes have real tension, but others don't work. Apollo's score of just below two stars is reasonable.

Return to the Movie House home page