Blu-ray: Heart of Midnight

HeartBluSTUDIO: Kino Lorber | DIRECTOR: Matthew Chapman | CAST: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Peter Coyote, Frank Stallone, Brenda Vaccaro, Steve Buscemi
RELEASE DATE: 10/27/15 | PRICE: DVD $19.95, Blu-ray $29.95
BONUSES: commentary
SPECS: R | 93 min. | Thriller | 1.85:1 widescreen | stereo

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall

 

Just a few words about the 1989 thriller Heart of Midnight starring one of our always-watchable favorites, Jennifer Jason Leigh.

JJL is Carol, a damaged, apparently unstable girl who inherits a run-down L.A. nightclub, The Midnight, from an uncle she barely remembers but who, in a series of flashbacks, seems to be a pretty creepy guy. As a construction crew begins to renovate the space, a loft-like room with a bunch of club lights that inexplicably still work, Carol sets up residence in the building’s top-floor apartment. It’s not too long before she’s attacked by a gang, stalked by a strange investigator (Peter Coyote, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial) and convinced there’s something above the ceiling and behind the walls and floorboards that’s out to drive her crazy (or kill her). It turns out that she’s right—sort of…

Jennifer Jason Leigh and Steve Buscemi in Heart of Midnight

Jennifer Jason Leigh and Steve Buscemi in Heart of Midnight

Heart of Midnight has picked up a cult reputation over the years, which is acceptable, but said rep proposes that it smacks of Polanski and Lynch, which I ain’t buying. Writer/director Matthew Chapman’s (The Ledge) screenplay is too, well, silly, to warrant a Polanski or Lynch comparison, and the film’s uninspired set-ups, while brashly colorful, aren’t clever or well-composed, missing the opportunity to create any significant suspense or foreboding or tension that one associates with Polanski or Lynch.

Leigh, who starred in this one during her Last Exit to Brooklyn and Miami Blues “broken gal” period, is the best thing about Heart of Midnight, ludicrous appearances by Frank Stallone as a cop and Steve Buscemi (The Incredible Burt Wonderstone) as a would-be rapist, notwithstanding.

A new commentary track by Chapman and star Coyote is worth mentioning for a couple of asides made by the commentators, beginning with Coyote, who notes the possible romance between his character and Leigh’s with, “I vant to eat your pussy.” Chapman, on the other hand, informs us that, “I find the whole rape thing to be completely bizarre. Apart from it being wrong, it just seems so completely pointless.”

There are those who might say the same about the movie…

 

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.