Letters from a Killer(SE)/C-,B

Sterling/1998103m/ANA 1.78/

     Somebody must have thought they had a good idea here. Convicted wife murderer Race Darnell becomes a best selling death row author. (We never do find out what the book's about. Maybe they should have made a movie from that material.) During the seven year internment, he continues the legal battle for freedom from the crime he didn't commit. His best seller attracts many letters from lonely and sympathetic women. The Letters from a Killer  in this case on delivered on tape as Darnell strikes up a passionate tape correspondence with a quartet of the ladies. Each of the women thinks she is the only one. In prison, there's the sympathetic guard and the nasty guard and the stupid guard, but prison isn't the focus here. Before long, in an embarrassing scene, Darnell's attorney tells him a new witness has surfaced and Race soon has a new trial and freedom.

Don't expect to find any dirty dancing here. ©Sterling

     Freedom isn't all is peaches and cream. One of the women is out for revenge because she has discovered Race has been unfaithful. The suggestion here is that women who correspond with men on death row must be nuts themselves. Race does all the wrong things, never goes to the police for help and as the plot thickens with sickening predictability, Race is on the run from the unknown woman and the police.
     The script is constructed with little logic or polish. Characters are paper thin. The situations ring false at every turn and chases are plain silly. The murder set-ups are unconvincing. You do the math.
     Patrick Swayzee plays Race Darnell in a somnambulistic stupor. He must have been thinking "what did I do to deserve this flick?" Hopefully, he got a good pay day. And Swayzee's performance may actually be the best in this dull-witted thriller.
      Packaged as a special edition from Sterling, the DVD includes audio commentary from director David Carson. There are video interviews with the director, producer and cast members that do little more than explain the characters and situations. There's also a video montage, theatrical trailer, a trivia game and nine  additional trailers (That's right, nine) from the Sterling catalog. 
     The transfer is pretty decent. It doesn't have much snap, but it's reasonably sharp. Colors are fine. I am not sure if the dull material numbed my visual sensibilities, but the DVD seemed thoroughly unexceptional. The Dolby Digital 5:1 sound, with a score that pounds emphatically at every portent moment, is very good. There's a fair amount of information encoded to the surrounds, and the dialogue is painfully clear.  The best thing I can say about this movie is that I watched it through and did not fall asleep. I'm glad I didn't have wine with dinner. On second thought, maybe I should have had a whole bottle.






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