“The Pit” (1981)

Jamie Benjamin (Sammy Snyders) is a twelve year old boy who seemingly can’t get a break. He’s bullied at school, his neighbors are not fond of him, his father (Richard Alden) professes he loves him, but is curt with him, and his mother (Laura Press) doesn’t know how to help him. In fairness to the aforementioned, Jamie has some quirks as the viewer will learn. Furthermore, his companions are his pet reptiles and his teddy bear, whom he refers to as Teddy. He talks to the bear as if it is a living thing and he still sleeps with it, even though the majority of children his age are past that phase of their lives.

The Benjamin’s have had trouble keeping a babysitter for Jamie. They seem to come and go with no explanation given as to why they can no longer sit for him. The latest babysitter is Sandy O’ Reilly (Jeannie Elias). She is a psychology student who considers it a good opportunity to work with a child like Jamie. She will do her best to give him every benefit of the doubt and attempt to be his friend. As soon as Jamie sees her he is taken with Sandy. Is it an innocent school boy crush that he develops, or is Jamie thinking perverted thoughts?

An example of Jamie’s problem making friends is his dealings with Abergail (Andrea Swartz). The young girl taunts Jamie and plays mean tricks on him. If she would just be his friend, perhaps it wouldn’t lead Jamie to take some of the actions that he does later on in the film. Abergail is the niece of Ms. Livingstone (Laura Hollingsworth), the local librarian. She is another older woman who Jamie has an unhealthy obsession with. One scene shows the lengths Jamie will go to invade her privacy.

Deep in the woods, on one of his outings, Jamie has discovered a pit. Inside of the pit are creatures called Trogs. They are vicious sharp fanged primates who eat meat. At first Jamie makes trips to the butcher shop and buys them food, but then his devious mind, thanks in part to his conversations with Teddy, thinks up a plan of revenge. The plan will both feed the creatures and get rid of those who’ve wronged him. (As an aside: The pit for the film took two weeks to build).

Does the pit really have man eating creatures, or is it nothing more than a large hole in the ground? Are the conversations Jamie has with Teddy real, or a byproduct of a disturbed imagination? How far will Jamie go to carry out his plan of revenge? All of those questions will be answered before the film’s conclusion.

“The Pit” was directed by Lew Lehman, who during his career was a cinematic jack of all trades; he acted, wrote, produced and directed. The screenplay was written by Ian. A. Stuart (The Highland Regiments of Canada). The film was based on the novel “Teddy” which Stuart co-wrote with John Gault. According to the authors, the book was more serious than the movie and took a much darker tone. The film premiered on October 23, 1981. Parts horror and mystery, the movie has a runtime of 96 minutes.

I had heard about this Canadian film for a long time, but up until recently had never watched it. I was able to watch it on Amazon Prime on the Shudder channel. The movie is the type where a viewer must suspend disbelief, in order to enjoy the film, and not get caught up questioning some scenes that are implausible, given the age of the main antagonist. Overall, I got a genuine kick out of the film and without giving anything away, I thought the ending wraps things up nicely, considering the film didn’t garner any sequels.

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“Afterburn” (1992)

“Afterburn” is a television movie based on a true story. The movie stars Oscar winner Laura Dern (Marriage Story). She portrays Janet Harduvel, wife of Air Force, F-16 fighter pilot Captain Ted Harduvel (Vincent Spano).The couple are raising a child, their daughter Kiki (Casey Friel). A short while into the movie, Captain Harduvel is sent to South Korea, much to Janet’s disappointment. (As an aside: Dern won a Golden Globe for her work on Afterburn).

While on a training maneuver, Ted crashes his plane and dies. The accident is ruled his error, but Janet can’t believe a pilot of Ted’s superior skill level would make the sort of mistake he’s accused of. She seeks more information from both the Air Force and General Dynamics, the company which makes the F-16, but she is unsatisfied with the responses she receives. Ted’s pilot friends, such as Casey ‘Z’ Zankowski played by Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy), implore Janet to drop the issue, but she’s steadfast when it comes to wanting to clear Ted’s name.

Janet seeks legal representation. She finds a lawyer, Leo Morrone, who specializes in aeronautics law. The part is played by Oscar nominee Robert Loggia (Jagged Edge). Morrone is hesitant at first to take on the case. He has successfully sued commercial airlines, but never a company associated with the military.

Further aiding Janet, in her efforts, is her sister Mary (Welker White). She also has help from an unlikely source, Dr. Carl Haller (Andy Romano), a career Air Force service member. Janet’s attempt to have the accident ruled a mechanical error is an arduous one. She encounters resistance with every move she makes. Collecting evidence and proving it in court will also be difficult. Representing General Dynamics is talented lawyer, Acton Ryder portrayed by Emmy winner and two time Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins (Olive Kitteridge).

Will Janet be able to clear Ted’s name? Was Captain Harduvel’s accident his fault? Did he die because of mechanical failure? All of those questions will be answered by the movie’s conclusion.

“Afterburn” was directed by Emmy nominee Robert Markowitz (Decoration Day). The teleplay was written by Elizabeth Chandler (The Red Tent). The movie premiered on HBO on May 30, 1992. The drama is 103 minutes in length.

The cast for the movie were uniformly excellent with Dern, Loggia, and Jenkins being the standouts. I had known about the movie for a long time, it used to be on HBO often. Up until recently I had only seen portions of it, but never from the beginning. The subject matter of the story held my interest from start to finish.

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“The Devil’s Advocate”

The opening scene of the film “The Devil’s Advocate” takes place inside a courtroom. Keanu Reeves (John Wick) portrays the character Kevin Lomax, a tenacious lawyer with over sixty consecutive victories. In fact, in his entire young, brilliant career, he’s never lost a case. Kevin is defending Lloyd Gettys, played by Chris Bauer (True Blood). Gettys is a math teacher who has been accused of touching one of his students inappropriately. The role of the student is acted by Heather Matarazzo (Welcome to the Dollhouse). When the prosecutor (Leo Burmester) gets done questioning the girl, it doesn’t look good for Kevin’s client, but the lawyer is fully prepared to counter any damage that has been done to his client in the minds of the jurors. Employing some pointed questioning, and aided by a piece of evidence that contradicts the witness, Kevin once again walks out of the courthouse victorious.

Later that evening, while celebrating at a bar with, among other people, his wife Mary Ann portrayed by Oscar winner Charlize Theron (Monster), Kevin is approached. Leamon Heath, played by Emmy nominee Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Lackawanna Blues) is in town from New York. He has been sent to Florida to recruit Kevin for a high powered law firm, whose headquarters are based in New York City. Kevin, at first, doesn’t believe the offer, but when he opens an envelope handed to him; while not spoken, Kevin’s reaction conveys to the viewer that he is going to be paid a great deal of money to come and pick a jury for the law firm. Leamon tells Kevin that he will get paid win or lose.

Kevin and Mary Ann set off for New York, much to the disappointment of Kevin’s mother Alice. She is a religious woman, who quotes scripture to Kevin, which he promptly ignores. The character is played by Emmy nominee and two time Tony Award winner Judith Ivy (What the Deaf Man Heard).

Kevin arrives in New York and begins working for the firm. After meeting, among others, the firm’s managing partner Eddie Barzoon, played by Golden Globe nominee Jeffrey Jones (Amadeus), as well as becoming enamored with Christabella (Connie Nielsen), a sophisticated and attractive fellow lawyer, Kevin meets the firms enigmatic head partner, John Milton. The character of Milton is portrayed by multiple award winner, including the Oscar for Best Actor, Al Pacino (Scent of a Woman).

As time passes, Kevin immerses himself in his work, to the point where his career is overtaking his time and attention from everything else, including Mary Ann. The viewer will notice that in order to please Milton, as well as maintain his spotless record, Kevin starts to make decisions which call his morals into question. The further he rises in the law firm, the more ominous things start to take place.

Why was Kevin, of all the talented lawyers in America, brought to work for the law firm? Who is John Milton? Why has he taken such an interest in Kevin? Will Kevin give up everything he cares about in order to keep winning, or will he realize the person he was prior to coming to New York and the man he’s becoming are two different people? Those questions and more will be answered by the film’s conclusion.  

Trivia buffs take note: The character of John Milton is named after the author of the epic poem “Paradise Lost” which was published in 1667. Al Pacino turned down playing the part of Milton on several occasions before finally agreeing to play the character. He didn’t think he could perform the role the way it needed to be handled. He suggested to the filmmakers that they try to cast BAFTA winner Sir Sean Connery (The Untouchables) or Oscar winner Robert Redford (Ordinary People). Joel Schumacher (The Client) was originally set to direct the film, at the time he wanted to cast Oscar winner Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) in the Kevin Lomax role. The film won the Saturn Award in 1998 for Best Horror Film. The Saturn Awards have been presented annually since 1973 by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror films.

“The Devil’s Advocate” was directed by Oscar winner Taylor Hackford (Everybody’s All American). The screenplay was written by Jonathan Lemkin (Shooter) and Oscar and two time BAFTA nominee Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton). The writers based the screenplay for the film off of the 1990 novel of the same name written by Andrew Neiderman. The music for the movie was composed by multiple Oscar nominee and Emmy winner James Newton Howard (Gideon’s Crossing). His music strikes the right balance for any given scene and blends seamlessly throughout the film. Andrzej Bartkowiak’s cinematography does an excellent job of capturing the right mood during the course of the movie’s 144 minute runtime. The film premiered in Westwood, California on October 13, 1997. The movie is comprised of the genres of drama, horror, mystery and thriller.

I’ve seen “The Devil’s Advocate” a number of times, but it had been awhile since the last time I saw it, before sitting down to watch it this past weekend. The cast as a whole, especially Pacino, Reeves, and Theron do an excellent job with their respective roles. There is not a single moment of the film that is wasted. Every scene helps to advance the narrative. The film will most likely appeal to fans of the three leads or those who like a film that takes its time revealing the answers to what is truly taking place.

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“The Owners”

I had read a number of tepid reviews of “The Owners” before I sat down to watch the film. Even with that in mind, I still wanted to see the movie. The reason is because two time Emmy nominee Maisie Williams, of “Game of Thrones” fame, who played Arya Stark, my favorite character in the series, was the film’s lead.

Gaz (Jake Curran), Nathan (Ian Kenny) and Terry (Andrew Ellis) are sitting in a car, in the English Countryside. The trio are surveilling the Huggins residence. Terry’s mother Jean (Stacha Hicks), is the Huggins’ cleaning woman. Terry has informed his friends that there is a safe in the house. He also knows that the Huggins are planning to go out for the evening. The friends wait and watch for the couple to leave. Complicating matters is the arrival of Mary portrayed by the aforementioned Maisie Williams; she is Nathan’s girlfriend. When she learns about what Nathan and his friends are planning, she protests. The friends ignore Mary and she unwittingly gets entangled in their plans.

Once inside the house, the friends go in search of the safe. They eventually find it, but the type of safe it is, is one that Gaz, the friends’ leader, can’t crack. While the friends are working on the safe, the Huggins return home much earlier than expected. In the role of Dr. Richard Huggins is Sylvester McCoy, who played the seventh doctor on the iconic series “Doctor Who.” Dr. Huggins’ wife, Ellen, who is mentally infirm, is portrayed by Golden Globe winner Rita Tushingham (A Taste of Honey).

The friends tie the Huggins up in the basement. The tension mounts as they try to persuade Dr. Huggins to give up the combination to the safe. Gaz is not above outright torture in order to achieve his goal. Having had enough, Mary helps to free the Huggins. The couple, while older and seemingly harmless, however, might not be as helpless as they appear. Has Mary unknowingly put herself and her friends in peril?

“The Owners” was directed by Julius Berg (The Forest). In addition to directing, Berg co-wrote the screenplay for the film with Mathieu Gompel (The Dream Kids). Furthermore, there were creative contributions to the screenplay from Geoff Cox (The Visitor). The film is based on the graphic novel “Une Nuit De Pleine Lune” written by Yves H with illustrations by Hermann Huppen. The graphic novel was published in France by GLENAT on September 14, 2011. On September 2, 2020, the movie premiered in France at the L’Etrange Festival. Parts comedy, crime, horror, mystery and thriller, the film has a runtime of 92 minutes.

“The Owners” wasn’t as bad as some reviewers make it out to be, at least not in my opinion. The film certainly doesn’t break any new cinematic ground, but nor does that appear to be the intention of the filmmakers. From what it seems they were out to make an entertaining home invasion film. Maisie Williams and Sylvester McCoy do admirable jobs with their respective roles. The film doesn’t imply anything in terms of its gore and blood; those aspects of the movie are showcased front and center, which might turn some viewers off. Overall, “The Owners” is a passable film with some very good performances by certain cast members. The movie should appeal to most fans of the horror genre for at least a one-time viewing.

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“The Wolf of Snow Hollow”

The film “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” opens at a restaurant in the mountain town of Snow Hollow, Utah. A young couple, PJ (Jimmy Tatro) and Brianne (Annie Hamilton) are there eating dinner. The two are on a romantic getaway, where unbeknownst to Brianne, PJ plans to propose to her. PJ overhears two men talking. One of them is making disparaging remarks, which PJ verbalizes his displeasure about. The local men apologize and leave the establishment, but a viewer might get the sense that the apology isn’t the end of their encounter with the couple.

A short while later at the cottage the couple are staying at, PJ is showering and waiting for Brianne to join him. When she doesn’t, he goes looking for her. PJ finds Brianne, or more accurately, her remains. He is repulsed by the brutality that has been inflicted on his beloved. The horror aspects of the film, for the most part are implied rather than shown to the viewer.

The police are called in to investigate. Sheriff Hadley portrayed by Oscar nominee Robert Forster (Jackie Brown), is ill and getting ready to retire. Sheriff Hadley’s son, John (Jim Cummings) for all intents and purposes is heading up the investigation. John is a recovering alcoholic and single father to his daughter Jenna (Chloe East). Throughout the film he is perpetually on edge, which lends the movie most of its comedic moments. Assisting John and keeping a veneer of steady confidence is Detective Julia Robson. The role of Robson is acted by Emmy nominee Riki Lindhome (Garfunkel and Oates: Trying to Be Special).

What’s perplexing to John, Detective Robson, and the other Snow Hollow officers, throughout the film’s runtime, is that the victims’ murders always coincide with a full moon. This fact leads people in the town to engage in rampant speculation that the murders are a result of a werewolf. John doesn’t subscribe to the theory and argues against it with anyone who tries to promulgate the idea that the town residents are being killed by a supernatural force.

Who or what is responsible for the murders? Is a deranged killer on the loose? Could there really be a werewolf in Snow Hollow’s mists? Will law enforcement be able to piece together enough clues before the next full moon to capture the person or creature causing the carnage? All of those questions will be answered by the film’s conclusion.

The film was written and directed by Jim Cummings (Thunder Road), who also stars as the lead. The 83 minute movie encompasses the genres of comedy, horror, and thriller. The film was released on October 9, 2020 in America, Brazil, Canada and Italy. Even though the budget wasn’t very large, it looked like it cost more thanks to the well executed cinematography of Natalie Kingston (Shapeless).

I was at first turned off by what I felt was Jim Cummings over the top acting, but it soon become clear to me, that it was appropriate behavior for the character he was playing. The film was dedicated to the late Robert Forster, who I would have liked to have seen in a larger role in the movie; one of his final film appearances. Riki Lindhome, who I had only seen in comedic roles, like the character she played on the show “Another Period,” did a competent job with a more serious part. I am interested to see if she gravitates toward more dramatic roles in the future. Overall, “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” was an entertaining film, that should keep viewers guessing until the end as to what exactly is taking place.

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“Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel”

In February 2013, yet another mysterious occurrence took place at the infamous Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Twenty-one year old, Canadian tourist, Elisa Lam, vanished – seemingly without a trace. Her worried parents contacted authorities after not hearing from her for several days, which was not in her nature. Law enforcement began searching in earnest, but there was not much to go on. The uncovering of what could be a clue as to what happened to Elisa, only led to a deeper mystery and a barrage of speculation. The on-line community became invested early on in uncovering the circumstances surrounding her disappearance.

Throughout the series a number of people, involved both directly and tangentially with the investigation, are interviewed. Included amongst them are LAPD Homicide Detectives Tim Marcia and Greg Kading. Furthermore, journalist Josh Dean and You-Tuber John Lordon, who was one of several on line sleuths who tirelessly investigated Elisa’s disappearance, are featured throughout. In addition, Amy Price, who managed the Cecil for a decade, talks among other things, about what was going on with Elisa the day before she went missing.

Re-enactments are shown throughout, as well as the actual last known video footage of Elisa Lam, acting in a bizarre manner inside, and directly outside, of the hotel’s elevator. Many people have offered up their opinions as to what happened to Elisa. Some of the theories I found to be plausible, others not so much. One theory that was espoused drew a direct correlation to the 2005 film “Dark Water.” The film, directed by two time BAFTA winner Walter Salles (Central Station) stars Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind). The film was a remake of a 2002 Japanese film of the same name, which was based on the 1996 novel “From the Depths of Dark Water,” written by Koji Suzuki. In the film, Connelly’s character’s daughter meets the exact same fate as Elisa Lam. Did some deranged person use the film as inspiration? Is that how Elisa met her end?

“Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel” was directed by Oscar nominee and two time Emmy winner Joe Berlinger. The limited series premiered on Netflix on February 10, 2021. The four episodes that comprise the series contain the genres of documentary, crime and mystery.

After I was finished watching the series I wasn’t convinced that it was case closed. There is compelling evidence to suggest that the outcome provided by authorities is what happened to Elisa Lam, and perhaps it did. I do, however, feel that there is enough mystery surrounding her final hours that the truth of what took place might never be known. Was there someone else with Elisa before she took the steps which led to her demise? The last known video footage of Elisa makes it appear, for a split second, that there was someone else with her, standing outside the elevator, but perhaps it was nothing more than a trick of light. The limited series was sad because it was real, but absorbing nonetheless, because of the enduring mystery.

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“A Good Woman Is Hard to Find”

In the film, “A Good Woman Is Hard to Find,” Sarah, portrayed by Sarah Bolger (In America), is a single mother. Her husband, prior to the start of the story in the film, was killed during a drug deal gone wrong. Sarah lives in Ireland and strives to do her best for her son Ben (Rudy Doherty) and daughter Lucy (Marcie McCauley). Sarah’s financial situation is less than ideal. For example, while shopping with her children for groceries, she has to ask the cashier to take back some items because she doesn’t have enough money. The sad fact is, she wasn’t purchasing all that much to begin with. Alice (Jane Brennan), Sarah’s mother, is not in a position where she can help her daughter or grandchildren. At wit’s end, Sarah doesn’t know what to do next, but unbeknownst to her, the decision will be made for her.

Terry (Caolan Byrne) and Mackers (Packy Lee) are drug dealers. Their boss, Leo Miller (Edward Hogg), has tasked them with selling a new shipment of drugs. The two men are dealing in Sarah’s neighborhood. Tito (Andrew Simpson), a small time drug dealer takes a calculated risk. He crashes a stolen car into the vehicle that Terry and Mackers are driving. While the two men are momentarily incapacitated, Tito takes the drugs.

In an attempt to escape, Tito runs into Sarah’s house. She is forced, from that moment forward, into a situation in which she has no say. Tito states to her that he will go out and sell the drugs in the neighborhood and use her house to store the drugs and hide out when he’s not selling. In exchange, he will give Sarah a percentage of everything he makes. In fear for her children’s lives she cooperates. At first she is distraught over the arrangement, but when the money starts coming in and she’s able to afford everything she and her children want at the supermarket, she starts to not mind, what at first, was an unwelcome presence in her life. What seems to be a straightforward film, will take some unexpected twists and turns before the conclusion.

“A Good Woman Is Hard to Find” premiered on July 29, 2019 at the Fantasia Festival in Canada. The film was directed by Abner Pastoll (Road Games). The screenplay was written by BAFTA winner Ronan Blaney (Boogaloo and Graham). The movie has a runtime of 97 minutes. The genres included in the film are crime, drama and thriller.

I thought that Bolger’s performance embodied her character, and the rest of the cast gave credible performances with their respective roles. The film had some good twists and turns to keep viewers guessing, until toward the end, as to exactly what the outcome will be for Sarah and her children. For those of you, who might be interested in seeing the movie, I watched it on Amazon Prime.

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“Gwendy’s Magic Feather”

“Gwendy’s Magic Feather” is the follow up to “Gwendy’s Button Box” written by Richard Chizmar and Stephen King. For the second book, detailing the exploits of the main antagonist Gwendy Peterson, King opted not to contribute to the story, but he did write the foreword to the book.

Gwendy Peterson is no longer a twelve year old girl, who has in her possession a magical box. The box was not a product of a child’s overactive imagination. Instead, it was entrusted to her by a mysterious man, she met in her youth, named Richard Farris. Chizmar picks up with Gwendy’s life twenty five years into the future. She’s married to her husband Ryan, a foreign correspondent. She is a successful author, and when the story begins, is representing the people of Castle Rock, Maine as a member of Congress.

Congress is about to go on a holiday hiatus. Christmas is less than a week away and Gwendy is getting ready to return home to spend the holidays with her parents. Her mother, not too long ago, had been in ill health. A few days before her vacation begins, the button box from her childhood, which both enthralled and frightened her has inexplicably returned. This time, however, Richard Farris did not hand her the box, with the explanation of why he wanted her to have it.

The box calls to Gwendy, and its pull on her is inexorable. She remembers the power she was able to wield when she ate one of the chocolate, animal-shaped treats it would dispense when she pulled a lever on the side of the box. She seemingly became smarter, stronger, and faster. She became richer as well, because the box would also dispense Morgan Silver dollars whenever Gwedy wanted one. The box, however, had a down side to it. If she pushed the wrong button because she got monetarily angry, a catastrophe could take place. The positive attributes of the box, however, have often left Gwendy wondering about her life. How much of her success in life was due to her own accomplishments? How much of what she had achieved was directly related to the the power of the box.

Making matters worse, when Gwendy arrives back in Castle Rock, not everything is wonderful, far from it. Leaving aside her personal life, which has issues, a report she gets from Sheriff Noris Ridgewick, only heightens her sense of foreboding. Two local girls have gone missing. The only physical evidence of the girls that has been recovered are teeth, which causes the media to dub the abductor ‘The Tooth Fairy.’

Will Gwendy give in to the power of the box? Does she do so in order to fix the problems in her personal life? Can she save the lives of the missing girls by using the box? Can she prevent other girls from meeting the same fate by identifying the ‘The Tooth Fairy?’ The answers to those questions and more will be revealed by the book’s conclusion.

“Gwendy”s Magic Feather” was published by Cemetery Dance Publications on November 19,2019. The illustrations for the book cover were done by Ben Baldwin. The interior drawings were handled by Keith Minnion. The book, which is divided into two parts, is 330 pages in length.

Those who haven’t read the first book, will be doing themselves a disservice. There are numerous references to things that took place, as well as characters who won’t be known to readers if they begin with the second book. Overall, it was an enjoyable read. I found it interesting that Chizmar decided to explore Gwendy’s life as an adult, as well as, write, to some extent, what had taken place during the intervening years from her childhood to the present.

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“Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer”

Richard Ramirez, A.K.A. “The Night Stalker,” committed abhorrent crimes. The notorious rapist, murderer and avowed Satanist used Southern California as his hunting grounds. Although earlier crimes are suspected, from April 10, 1984 until his capture on August 31, 1985, Ramirez kept residents in San Francisco and the greater Los Angeles area in a perpetual state of fear. During the time period he was committing his crimes sales of guns, alarm systems and dogs, increased exponentially.

The total known destruction of Ramirez’s unrepentant reign of terror resulted in 13 murders, 5 counts of attempted murder, and 11 counts of sexual assault, as well as 14 counts of burglary.

At the conclusion of his trial, he was found guilty. During the penalty phase, he was sentenced to death and sent to San Quentin Prison. His numerous legal appeals kept him alive on death row for years, In the end, instead of being put to death by the state of California, he died of B-cell lymphoma on June 7, 2013.

I provided the aforementioned background information, because “Night Stalker; The Hunt for a Serial Killer,’ currently streaming on Netflix, is not a comprehensive documentary about Ramirez. Instead, the four episodes of the limited series, is an all encompassing look at those whose lives Ramirez personally affected, sometimes even in the most fleeting of ways. For example, Los Angeles Public Library reference desk librarian, Glen Creason, described meeting Ramirez. He had no idea that he was face to face with the Night Stalker. Creason said that Ramirez dressed in all black clothes that were dirty, had awful teeth and he smelled terribly. When Creason asked Ramirez what he could help him with, Ramirez replied that he was looking for books on horoscopes and torture. Creason was thankful those books were located in another section of the library, so he didn’t have to assist Ramirez further.

Interviews throughout the series are conducted with members of law enforcement, as well as reporters such as Tony Valdez of KTTV News and Laurel Erickson of KNBC News, both of whom reported, on a nightly basis, the deadly exploits of the Night Stalker. Furthermore, members of the victims’ families were also interviewed. In addition, Anastasia Hronas, a survivor of her encounter with Ramirez, was a child when he abducted and sexually assaulted her. She described her ordeal with him, but states that she hasn’t allowed the devious exploits of Ramirez to shape her life. Hronas refuses to give him another second of power over her.

The episodes, however, primarily concern themselves with two homicide detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office, who were instrumental in bringing Ramirez to justice. Gil Carrillo and Frank Salerno doggedly pursued Ramirez and were so invested in his capture, that it became a detriment, to the point where it affected every other aspect of the two men’s lives. Gil Carrillo’s wife Pearl, who speaks a number of times during the episodes, relays that she didn’t feel safe being alone all the time with her children in the house. She eventually moved the family out and informed Carrillo that she wouldn’t come back until after the Night Stalker was behind bars. In addition, Inspector Frank Falzon of the San Francisco Police Department worked tirelessly in his pursuit of Ramirez.

“Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer” was directed by James Carroll and Tiller Russell. The series premiered on Netflix on January 13, 2021. Parts documentary, crime and mystery, it has a runtime of 189 minutes.

For those who are interested in true crime, and want to watch something that focuses primarily on the pursuit of the criminal as opposed to the life of the criminal, this should be of interest to you.

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“Sound of Metal”

The compelling film “Sound of Metal” centers on Ruben portrayed by Emmy winner Riz Ahmed (The Night Of). He is a drummer who plays in the band “Backgammon” with his girlfriend Lou. The part of Lou is played by Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One). The two live in an RV and are currently touring across the country to promote their music. Toward the beginning of the film Riz begins to have a great deal of trouble hearing, which is not surprising considering the heavy style of music he and Lou play.

Taking a trip to the pharmacy, hoping to alleviate the problem with something he can purchase over the counter, Riz learns he has a serious problem. The pharmacist (Michael Tow) makes a phone call to a doctor’s office, and sets up an immediate appointment for him. While there Riz is informed by Dr. Paysinger (Tom Kemp) that he has lost the majority of his hearing. He only, according to the doctor, has about 20% left and it is going to get progressively worse.

Ignoring the doctor’s warning, Riz wants to continue with the tour. Lou won’t hear of it. She makes arrangements for Lou to go to a place that helps deaf people. The place is a self contained country commune, where cell phones are not allowed and Riz has to turn over his car keys. The overseer of the community is Joe (Paul Raci). He is a former Vietnam veteran and he embraces his deafness. Joe has set up the community to allow people to live in a place where being deaf is not viewed as a disability, but just another way to live. (As an aside: A large portion of the cast came from the deaf community).

Riz makes the most of his time with the deaf community. Even though the people he comes in contact with there have a positive impact on him, and vice versa, he yearns to get back to Lou. Furthermore, he is doing everything he can to get enough money together to be able to pay for an expensive operation. The procedure Riz wants to have is to get cochlear implants, an option he first learned about from Dr. Paysinger. The operation, however, costs in excess of $40,000 and is not covered by insurance. Will getting the operation and returning to Lou turn out to be everything Riz hoped for?

Sound of Metal” was directed by Darius Marder (Loot). Additionally, Marder co-wrote the screenplay for the film with his brother Abraham (The Dress). The movie is based on a story Darius Marder co-wrote with Derek Cianfrance (The Place Beyond The Pines). Parts drama and music it has a runtime of 120 minutes. The film has been garnering positive reviews since its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 6, 2019

The cast was uniformly excellent, especially Riz Ahmed. He completely embodies his role and had to learn two skills for his performance. He learned American Sign Language and also spent six months learning how to play drums. I was invested in the movie from beginning to end. The film is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

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