Violent Midnight (1963)

Story & Directed by: Richard Hilliard

Written by: Robin Miller


Lee Philips .... Elliott Freeman
Shepperd Strudwick .... Adrian Benedict
Margot Hartman .... Lynn Freeman
Jean Hale .... Carol Bishop
Lorraine Rogers .... Alice St. Clair
Dick Van Patten .... Police Lt. Palmer
Mike Keene .... Police Inspector Grey
Sheila Forbes .... Janet 'Lolita' Terhune
James Ferentino .... Charlie Perone
Kaye Elhardt .... Dolores Martello
Sylvia Miles .... Silvia
Mike O'Dowd .... Max

Release Dates: Theatrical: May 22, 1963 (Hartford, Conneticut)

*Images courtesy at:





A photographer named Elliott Freeman (Lee Phillips), who finds out that his father was murdered in a duck hunt, does a living by taking pictures of nude models for his artwork as he has a clash with one of them named Dolores Martello (Kaye Elhardt) and right after she is brutally murdered by a person in a dark suit with a blade and then he becomes a suspect for the murder along with a tough greaser named Charlie Perone (James Ferentino) who misuses women at a dorm and starts bar fights as he has a dispute with one of the students there named Alice St. Clair (Lorraine Rogers) who ends up being killed as well.
Both Lt. Palmer (Dick Van Patten) and Inspector Grey (Mike Keene) tries to put the missing pieces together to find out who it can be while questioning these two but yet can't find any evidence on them as this maniac can be others.


In the beginning of the film there's a cheesy moment with hunters trying to shoot ducks or other birds as this looked somewhat disturbing but good close up shots on the rifles as well as a moment when a mysterious hunter guns down another hunter which looked fairly suspenseful and killing him as this looked fairly intense to spot all of this.
The we have some impressive moments with the lead character Elliott Freeman doing some nude model shoots with Dolores Martello as well as some dull situations on an attorney named Adrian Benedict and his chauffer Max questioning her about a murder that happened which seemed to look pretty stale within all of this happening.
Some excitement picks up a bit when both Elliott and Dolores go to a rough bar and we spot the nasty greaser Charlie Perone causing trouble along with a broad next to him named Silvia as well as him trying to start a fight but the battling moments here looks slightly sloppy to watch but at the same time pretty intense too.
We also spot a dispute between Elliott and Dolores as the timing looked at a fair pace and you have a feeling that he's going to smack her as this just happens which was well put in as well by how everything was coming along here. Then a nice camera closing in with the killer as well as a good shadow shot on this killer stabbing her but yet it doesn't look too spooky like it was supposed to have been.
A perfect intense moment when Elliott is being brutally questioned in police headquarters about the unsolved murder of Dolores as there's great solid writing and performance here as well as nice shots on all of this making you wonder if Elliott will snap or not by all of this. This was a perfect situation on him being a possible suspect here but yet we all know that this would be a bit too obvious.
Also there's a nice heartwarming moment when Elliott meets his sister Lynn at a train station as this was well focused and their conversation flowed naturally here and was pretty easy to follow by what was going on at this moment.
There's also good timing when Silvia acts strongly towards Charlie as well as them about to get it on which is a nice pointer in the film exposing two roughnecks as this really brought attention onto the screen and then there's a disturbance with Police Lt. Palmer at the door wanting answers from them. A good one in a horror story of another suspect which works all the time.
There's even different situations at a dorm with women in their lingerea's or about to take a shower grooving to some music but this looked a little too set out like they were asked to do this instead of this coming off naturally.
Another good moment with Charlie trying to fool around with another student there named Alice St. Clair and one of the teachers nearly catching her and she acts fresh about it all which was nicely written in too.
In the middle of the story there's a perfect romantic situation with Carol Bishop getting aquainted with Elliott in a barn and holding a kitten which really looked cute to watch and very heartwarming too. The makers did a good job focusing on this scene making it look dramatic and natural since we need a nice scene like this in a mysterious horror story.
A good moment with Charlie going to a pond with Alice which she gets flirtatious towards him and forcing him to go into the water when he says that he can't swim which is a nice pointer wondering if he's the killer by how it's all done especially when we see on how he reacts towards her. Nice close up shots on the killers feet later on closing in with the knife to kill this woman as well as another good close up shot on her about to come in for the kill.
Then we spot a local running away shortly after panicking to his wife about a situation as this for sure teases you wondering if this person was responsible for this woman's death. Worked in pretty clever here.
We have a real effective situation when Silvia tries to call the police on Charlie which seemed suspenseful especially when he catches her in the act and a good painful situation on what he does to her earrings as this for sure draws in making you wonder if he is the suspect of the killings.
Great suspenseful shots on Charlie running away at a pier with the police on his tail along with him falling in the water not being able to swim since there's good action involved with this case.
Then the horror really piles up as there's a thunderstorm happening with Carol in the house as well as a power outage along with the killers feet coming in and nice shots on the killer's hand taking out a knife as this looked for sure terrifying in it's time along with perfect suspenseful struggling moments between the two of them making you wonder if she will survive this terrorising moment.
Bottom line is that this almost seemed more like a mystery than a horror but showing the killings just passes it being a horror with the mysterious killer too. It borrowed a bit of elements off of Psycho on that matter. The story drags a bit and could understand why this film was considered to be obscure and a cult item too. Has some good dramatic scene's and many memorable dynsfunctional situations but if you want to be scared this one doesn't cut the cake.

The acting is quite dated here. Lead actor Lee Philips (Elliott Freeman) seemed to do okay coming across as a bit odd and mysterious proving to be a good suspect in the film but there's odd moments where he's sloppy like when he gets into a fight as it looked lacking and his aggressions sometimes seemed a bit wooden too. Yet there's the odd intense moment when he gets aggressive. Also he brings on a nice calm and charming attitude for the odd romantic moments as this came across naturally. He shows off some good anxious energy when the suspense surrounds him so he has some good pointers in his performance. Just some needed a bit of improvement.
Shepperd Strudwick (Adrian Benedict) seemed fairly sharp in his role as a detective in which he draws a good attitude by getting to the point on things and having a perfect light headed type of personality too. He also had the right looks to portray this kind of role. He for sure comes across as someone mysterious as well.
Margot Hartman (Lynn Freeman) does a nice job and shows off a good outgoing type of behavior especially greeting her online sibling from the train station and showing some nice adrenaline with her attitude in the flick. She was great by acting nervous on stuff as well as showing a good emotional type of behavior acting a bit tense in certain spots which worked out well on her behalf. She was a true character actress.
Jean Hale
(Carol Bishop) shows off a nice wholesomeness into her part of the film coming across as believeably genuine and having a very warm personality. She was great with her words and speaking calmly and acting believeably romantic. She also does well near the end of her performance when she is pitted against the killer by acting perfectly anxious and shows off some perfect energy with her blocking and struggling attitude as well.
Lorraine Rogers (Alice St. Clair) shows off a perfect sleaziness in her role as one of those loose bar girls who will do anything to attract the wrong types. Was also perfect with her sarcastic behavior too. Does a nice job with her flirtatious type of behavior while going in a pond and acting believeably playful and manipulative too. Just one of those typical pretty type of bitches in the flick. However when she screams while she's attacked she seemed a bit low on her energy which was the only criticism I have for her.
Dick Van Patten (Police Lt. Palmer) was the best actor in the film in which he was perfect in his role as a tough as nails cop. Was perfect with his stern and serious behavior plus comes across nicely when he gets aggressive towards someone and good stern expressions too. Is on track with his blocking whenever he tries to go to the scene of the crime. Plus was believeable with his controlling emotions as well. He had the perfect knack for all of this and deserves a good pat on the back within everything that he did here and can be well remembered for anyone who saw this film.
James Ferentino (Charlie Perone) lived to play an obnoxious greaser in which he had great timing by doing everything in the film. Does nicely with his forceful personality as well as acting believeably sleazy. Plus comes across nicely by being intimidating when he's crossed which was another nice gold star for him. He really knew on how to act violent and didn't seem to lack at all within doing this either. Plus shows a great amount of adrenaline while chasing away from the police not letting an ounce of energy down while acting like this.
Kaye Elhardt (Dolores Martello) was a bit off at times especially when she freaks out on someone who approaches her as the energy seems very low here. But there's other situations in which she shows some decent energy like gets argumentive and freaking out at someone as she really brings this situation up a great deal and grabs your attention big time whenever she does this.
Sylvia Miles
(Silvia) looked good in her performance at an early time in her acting career and lives to play a broad at a bar as she seemed to speak tough which came across nicely as well as doing a good job with her firm attitude too along with really coming on strong in other situations acting lustful as well as convincingly needy too. She also does a good job acting scared in her last performance which she studied this role incredibly well with everything that she does in it.
Mike O'Dowd (Max) stood out terrifically as Adrian's chauffeur with his tall and masculine presence as he came across as a sort of a Ted Cassidy type of figure and approaches like someone who is perfectly creepy. He also studied his part as someone who was mute and showed a nice expressionless attitude too. He also does well acting forceful and believeably powerful too. He drew across onto the camera perfectly within all of this.

Brief butt shots on women taking a shower or skinny dipping in a pond

Mild bloodsheds on victim's being stabbed.

Alot of great jazz type tones used in this flick as there's alot of harp plucking and bass string playing too. Plus there's many peaceful flute sounds for the pleasant situations along with quiverring violin music for other suspenseful areas. Many good sexy saxophone music too for the sleazy situations. Also good strong sounds for a bar fighting scene too. Plus nice drum tapping and more saxophone groovy beats for moments at a fraternity along with good trumpet playing too. More good jazz tunes throughout the flick with the saxophone and trumpet playing. Plus we have the nice romantic ending music which fits in wonderfully all put together by Wilford L. Holcombe