Shadows Run Black (1986) from Tuna

Someone is killing young women. The end up getting him. That is about the entire film.

Shadows Run Black is easily the worst thriller I have ever seen. The villain is called the "co-ed strangler," not in the sense of a co-ed who strangles, but rather someone who strangles co-eds ... except that the nickname is undeserved. He doesn't kill by strangulation at all. Most of the victims he just seems to bore to death, but that doesn't really lend itself to a snappy nickname. Fortunately for the murderer's efforts, the 90-minute film gives away the surprise ending at the 30-minute mark, thus giving the killer plenty of time to bore more victims.

(The real causes of death are listed below.)

The film has only two points of interest:

1. There is an early appearance from Kevin Costner as a suspect. .

2. There is a lot of nudity from the victims. Here's the death and breast tally, in the format "victims - naked flesh - cause of death."

  • Jacqueline Rochelle Brodley - Breasts. - Decapitated by trunk lid.
  • Rhonda Selesnow - Breasts. - Stabbed between said breasts.
  • Ann Hull - All three Bs. - This one was actually strangled. Hey, the killer had a nickname to uphold.
  • Barbara Peckinpaugh - All three Bs, including outer lips. - Hacked to death with a cleaver.
    • Ms. Peckinpaugh, also known as Susanna Britton, has also appeared in adult features.
  • Terrie Congie - Breasts in a swimming pool - Her head is bashed on the diving board.
    • Ms Congie had the honor of appearing with Costner in his first two films! Shadows Run Black followed their joint appearance in another stinker called Sizzle Beach

Those positives are more than balanced off by these liabilities:

  • The acting is uniformly bad.
  • The story has no flow as it moves from one murder to the next.
  • Characters are introduced, then just seem to vanish.
  • There is not a single interesting camera angle in the entire film.
  • The 4/3 transfer on the bare bones DVD is dark, green and grainy.


  • no widescreen
  • no features



See the details in the main commentary

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online


The People Vote ...

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 an F, totally incompetent in nearly every aspect.

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