The Midnight Hour (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The softcore "erotic thriller" format is not known for its great contributions to the world of cinema, but this one takes the cake as about the worst of the lot. It combines boring sex scenes with inept acting, amateur direction, bad editing, one single set, flubbed lines that are simply left in, and the worst script yet.

Let's start with the script. The basic outline of the film is that a woman has been murdered and her sister comes to that town undercover, hoping to expose the murderer. So the mystery is: who is the murderer? And guess what the first scene is? The murderer and the victim having sex on the night of the murder. Well, that was kind of a spoiler, eh? So now where is the thrill in the erotic thriller?

Of course, it doesn't matter, because it isn't erotic either.

In the first scene, there are about 10 different camera angles of Yvette McClendon having sex with Mr. Murderer. In each of these angles, she is standing, we see her robo-hooters, we see Mr Murderer kissing her tummy. Period. No buns, no frontal, no variety. Just breasts while his head is in her stomach. The 10 different angles are sloppily cut together as if you did a camcorder thing where you stopped the action, then moved the camera, then started again.

In the second scene, two cops have a little spat while standing over the body. They are standing about 12 feet apart, so they can't both fit into a tight two shot. How did the director resolve the problem of how to film the scene? He shot it in real time with one camera. The camera focuses on the one detective while he delivers his line, then pans at dizzying speed to the other detective for her line, then back and forth so many times that I was getting dizzy. The actors flubbed lines or delivered them wrong (one character says "she would have ... went"), but the director never stopped the camera from rolling. One camera, one take. In the process of the discussion, Mr. Male Detective determines that this is the work of a serial killer, even though there are no other prior victims. I guess they never told him at the Police Academy that "serial" killing would have to require a minimum of two people, killed at separate times. Perhaps he meant "cereal," or perhaps he went to that same Police Academy as Steve Guttenberg.

My favorite scene transition was when two of the three workers at a radio station ran out of the station because the third guy was killed. In the next scene, those two are relaxing in the hot tub, already haven given the police a report, now talking about sex and food, already oblivious to the pain caused by the loss of their dead comrade.

In three other scenes, we are supposed to get those "jump cuts" where a character surprises us by coming into the shot suddenly from out of the picture. In all cases, the camera was placed at an angle so that we could see the character approaching!

Every scene in this movie was filmed at the director's house. The den with a wet bar is a "bar" (with a hastily pasted "exit" sign added for ultra-realism!). His rec room is a "disco". The upstairs bedrooms are a "college dorm". His editing room is a "radio station". 

Pretty much all the sex scenes are identical. The woman's stomach gets kissed while we see her playing with her own breasts, and the camera captures the woman above the waist only, over the shoulder of the man, with only minor differences in the angle. Although this is a softcore sex film, there are no buns or crotches to be seen. Just breasts.

There isn't any sex to be seen either, for that matter. 


No buns or frontals. The following women were topless:
  • Amber Smith
  • Yvette McClendon
  • Zoe Anderson
  • Erika Michaels

No male nudity of any kind.

Oh, yeah, did I mention that it has a sappy-ass Alternative Rock score?

There is only one good reason to see this film: Amber Smith is one of the most beautiful women in the world, and she takes off her top, and some of the shots are lit quite well.  Amber Smith is also the best performer in the film, although that has less to do with the thespian abilities of the exquisite supermodel than it does with the remainder of the cast. Amber's acting consists mostly of looking adorable and waving her hands a lot. If Amber's part were played by any of the following, they would also be the best performer in the film:

  • Pam Anderson

  • Yoko Ono

  • Sofia Coppola

  • Garry Shandling

  • Bonzo

  • Bill Shatner

  • Ron Jeremy

  • Divine

To top off the DVD, the director wrote a little message to his viewers about his "True Erotic Punk-Rock Suspense Drama": (all the caps here and below are his own. He loves caps.)

"As I wrote it once in a song "You cannot kill what cannot die." I meant that the Soul, the Spirit within us, cannot be destroyed, only the body can be, somewhat, bent. Little that I know that I was going to be able to express this philosophy in an Erotic Thriller! I want to thank the Grand Mystery of Life, and Death, to always keep me on the Rocking side of Eternal Inspiration"

Now that is some profound shit right there. OK, I know Antonioni said equally incomprehensible gibberish, but Antonioni didn't make any movies like this.

Oh, wait.

I forgot "Zabriskie Point" 

DVD info from Amazon.

  • full screen pan 'n scan

  • no features except a few minutes of behind-the-scenes interviews

I strongly recommend this director, Emmanuel Itier, to the Taliban, to produce their army training films. Two reasons:

1. The Taliban don't watch movies, so he will do the job as well as Coppola or Kurosawa.

2. Even though the Taliban forbid movies, I've noticed that they do make TV broadcasts. Sorry, but I don't understand the reasons why they make a distinction, but the point is that if they do show the training films to their troops on TV, it should be helpful to the opposition. 

The Critics Vote

  • Consensus: one star. Apollo 16/100. 1.5/4

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it an impressive 2.3 
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, this film is a D as an erotic film. It doesn't have much, but at least it has Amber Smith and three other women topless, sometimes in good light and focus. As a thriller it has no positives, and would be an F

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