Hangman (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This is a type of criminal mastermind story that seems to have disappeared from movies and TV for a while. 

Remember Wo Fat on Hawaii 5-0, who would not only commit a perfect crime for the sheer fun of it, but would leave a telescope behind at the crime scene, and when McGarrett would look through it, he'd see Wo waving at him from a helicopter? That kind of criminal had a sheer joy in malevolent, sociopathic behavior, and a consistently cruel sense of humor. This kind of cultured evildoer follows in the line of evolution leading from the Fantastic Four's Dr. Doom to Wo Fat to Dr Loveless on Wild, Wild, West. 


Madchen Amick is naked in a sex scene, but the camera angles show almost nothing

Stephanie Moore is topless, as one of the victims

 In this movie. The serial killer manages to completely hose Lieutenant Richie Valens with about 11 different scams.
  • She leads ol' Richie to about six different theories, and gets him to believe each one in turn, thereby completely destroying his credibility with the department in case he ever figures it out for real.
  • She has an accomplice commit one of the murders in a hotel room next to where Richie is at the time, and allows him to hear the sounds coming from the next room. (He thinks it's a couple having noisy sex)
  • Oh, yeah, that same room - guess whose name it was rented in? The name of the Lieutenant!
  • She bugs police headquarters, so that she or her accomplices can call in and know every single thing the police are doing, and even which cop is doing it.
  • She tricks the Lieutenant into arresting a guy who was actually with the Lieutenant at the time of the second murder. This is a marvelous play on the old court and crime story cliché of "where were you on the night of Wednesday, June 13th?". Obviously, nobody can answer questions like that without fixing the date by certain events or reference points, to the point where even the lieutenant can't remember where he was that day. Pretty funny, when you think about  it. The cop asks - "where were you at the time of the murder?"  ... "Oh, I was with you"
  • She commits one of the murders in the basement of police headquarters while she is sitting in a room with the cops, and her accomplice is behind bars for another one of the murders. (Too complicated to explain)
  • She gets Richie into such deep doo-doo that he actually has to apologize to the psychopath he arrested (who really was the accomplice!)
  • She gets an inexperienced cop to follow around an old lady, thinking it was someone else.
  • She manages to get away with everything at the end, and the police (except Richie) are completely satisfied that they have the case wrapped up. Richie knows she did it, but is powerless to do anything about it. In fact, based on some procedural errors he was goaded into, he's lucky to be out of jail himself. He beat up a suspect who told him to "fuck off", even though he hadn't arrested the guy for a crime, and hadn't read the guy his rights. Then, after he beat him up, he threw him in jail for "resisting arrest". It was kinda embarrassing when the guy's lawyer asked publicly, "resisting an arrest on what charge, exactly?" Oops! Needless to say, the lawyer made him crawl around on all fours for a while, since he was actually tricked into admitting a criminal assault on the guy.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.78:1

  • Full-length director commentary

  • Making-of featurette

  • The usual bios, trailers, TV ads, and a music video

So the movie is definitely not your run-of-the-mill cop story. It's much close to a comic book story, substituting this brilliant psychologist for Dr. Doom. 

The title, by the way, related to the children's game of hangman. The killer plays the game with live victims. The police have to solve the word or phrase on their computers within a certain time limit, as they hear the terrified screams of the victim in a live streaming feed. 

I would have scored it higher, except that Richie didn't sing La Bamba, yet again.

The Critics Vote

  • Apollo 67/100

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 5.6, Apollo users only 33/100. 
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or 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. 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,  I will score this a C+. Something different - a clever zero budget made-for-cable film. Not The Bicycle Thief, probably no crossover appeal, but a solid genre picture.

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