Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 15th, 2006
Theatrical Release Date: USA, February 14th, 1964
Director: Richard Hilliard
Writers: Richard Hilliard, Robin Miller
Cast: Lee Philips, Shepperd Strudwick, Jean Hale, Lorraine Rogers
DVD released: March 28th, 2006
Approximate running time: 92 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
DVD Release: Dark Sky Films
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $14.98
Elliot Freeman is an eccentric painter who has lived a reclusive life since returning form the Korean war. He becomes the prime suspect in a murder case when one of his models is murdered. His half sister Lynn has recently moved in with Elliot. Lynn meets a girl at college named Alice who is hell bent on seducing Elliot who has other things on his mind spurns all of her advances. One day when Alice’s corpse turns up Elliot once again becomes the prime suspect in another murder. Will Elliot be able to prove his innocence with this evidence mounting against him before the killer disappears forever leaving him the only viable suspect?
Violent Midnight aka Psychomania would mark Del Tenney’s debut as a producer. Violent Midnight’s visual style owns a lot to its cinematographer Louis McMahon as its stark and moody photography are clear inspirations for George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead which was made few years after Violent Midnight. The lead character in Violent Midnight bears a strong resemblance to the Norman Bates character from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Actor Lee Phillips is extremely effective in the lead role of Elliot Freeman.
The rest of the cast of characters are a colorful bunch like a pepping tom professor and a mute limo driver. The films beautiful shot and composed black and white photography is stylishly done through out the whole film. One scene in particular that really stands out visually is when the first murder of the model occurs. It is all shown in shadow as the killer repeatedly stabs the victim and blood splatters on the wall. The look of the killer is reminiscent of the killer used in classic Italian thrillers as the killer wears black gloves and kills only with knifes. One technique used that becomes annoying fast is when someone looks shocked and the camera zooms in and freezes on their face.
Dark Sky Films presents Violent Midnight that preserves the films original full frame aspect ratio. The black and white image display strong shadow detail and contrast levels look exceptional through out. Overall this transfer is in great shape and there are no print defects.
This release comes with one audio option an English audio language track which is presented in a Dolby Digital mono. Dialog sounds crisp and music and effects are evenly balanced as they never overpower each other. This film sounds amazing for a film over forty years old and there are no problems with hiss or distortion. Removable English subtitles have also been included for this release.
Extras for this release include original trailers for Tenney’s The Horror of Party Beach and The Curse of the Living Corpse. Other extras include a photo gallery with stills and lobby cards for Violent Midnight/Psychomania. Rounding out the extras is an audio commentary with Del Tenney who is joined by moderator Shade Rupe. This is one of the more fascinating commentaries out there as Tenney talks about how he actually shot most of the film and various stories about the vast and crew.
Overall Violent Midnight is a polished low budget thriller that gets a solid DVD release from Dark Sky Films.
For more information about Violent Midnight and other titles released by Dark Sky Films visit their website.