Phonecian Entertainment/Roadshow Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 89 mins .
MA15+ . PAL
Two minutes into the film, the tone is set.
There’s nothing all that unusual about a movie being retitled for international distribution - it happens all the time, from Harry Potter to Weird Al Yankovic, after all. But when you run across a movie that’s sported three different titles in its short little life, not a single one of those actually relevant to the movie itself, you get that feeling you’re in for a decidedly Z-grade experience. Midnight Vendetta comes to us in Australia under its original working title; in initial US release it was Thy Neighbor’s Wife and for US home video it was Poison. That’s three crap titles for the one film. But maybe that’s appropriate, because this one’s three times as crap as anything else currently playing.
Ann (Kari Wuhrer) is the devoted wife of hard-working office man Chris (Larry Poindexter), who’s in line for a key promotion at work (‘cos that’s what married bliss is all about, after all - the job, the promotion, and the doting wife sitting at home watching her husband climb the ladder). But Chris is denied his jump up the ladder to corporate bliss in “That Vice Presidency” by a competitive woman, and this doesn’t fit into his ideal of what it means to be a big successful square-jawed man in a square-jawed world. So he promptly kills himself. As you do. Ann, devastated, blames the new female VP Nicole (Barbara Crampton) for her loss, and decides to take revenge. Here beginneth the vendetta. Despite the title, though, this vendetta extends a little past mere midnight. Ann moves in to Nicole’s super-rich house as the new au pair (!) and begins her campaign of evil. Much of this campaign, happily for the film producers, involves people with great big breasts that conveniently fit into the 16:9 frame in extreme close-up.
"But I was sure my agent said Wachowski..."
This inept, badly acted, dumbly plotted and often downright embarrassing excuse for a “thriller” comes to you from a man who’s made so much B-grade schlock that you’d think he’d have figured out how to get it vaguely right by now. Shamelessly derivative, it’s like watching a daytime soap cast ham their way through a script written by a pimple-faced 14 year-old who has just gotten his first glimpse of a nekkid woman and can’t get his mind off those… huge… BREASTS! And let’s face it, 99% of the audience for this one are going to be watching for the breasts. They’ll be well pleased. Those watching for the plot, however, will be wishing they too could be butchered while showering, curiously shedding not a drop of blood in the process, then dumped into the deep freezer amongst next week’s supply of prime rib.
Bored? Then ask questions! For example, why do actors in these soft-porn “thrillers” happily show off their naughty bits during sex scenes and then bashfully cover up as soon as they start, err, “acting”? And why is it that Kari Wuhrer, who’s the only person in this godforsaken disaster who can actually act, spends so much of her time in B-grade crap? And was the naming of the fictional company in this film “Slider Investments” a way for the producers to remind Kari of one of her better career moves? Answers on a postcard please; the best one wins an official DVDnet modesty patch and a bonus vice presidency.
An edge-of-your-seat, gripping, nail-biting thriller. If anyone’s got one of those, could they please bring it over right away? Cheers.
"Would you like a drink... and to DIEEEEEEEE??"
Offered at 1.78:1 and 16:9 enhanced, Midnight Vendetta looks reasonable enough on DVD. The workmanlike transfer does the job without ever being even remotely eye-thrilling, and there is a real problem with movement throughout - smooth pans and tracking shots look decidedly juddery, and occasional sequences involving fast movement appear almost like they’re running too fast. What’s probably happened here is either a poor NTSC to PAL conversion from a composite source, or else someone decided it’d look more cinematic if they only used a single video field. The target audience will be thrilled to know, though, that the breast close-ups are not affected. Compression problems crop up too, including pixelisation during fade-ins and fade-outs - though going by the low-res look of the film company logo at the start, maybe the source was sub-par to begin with.
Audio was mixed in “DTS Stereo”, which is Yet Another Matrixed Surround Format. It’s Dolby Surround compatible, but the appropriate flag hasn’t been set so you’ll have to push the Prologic button yourself. The clear, unfussy audio would have been just fine were it not for the annoying pre-echo which can be heard on the dialogue throughout the movie. How this happened boggles the mind but it’s there, it’s annoying, and it seriously reduces the audio score.
The only extra, aside from the accursed Dolby “City” promo (looking decidedly visually average on this occasion), is a trailer that makes the film look like the kind of fun that it really isn’t.