|GUILTY AS CHARGED (director: Sam Irvin; screenwriter: Charles Gale; cinematographer: Richard Michalak; editor: Kevin Tent ; music: Steve Bartek; cast: Rod Steiger (Ben Kallin), Lauren Hutton (Liz), Isaac Hayes (Aloysius), Heather Graham (Kimberly Adams), Lyman Ward (Congressman Mark Stanford), Zelda Rubinstein (Edna), Irwin Keyes (Deek), Thomas F. Duffy (Evans), Ricky Dean Logan (Ricky Landon), Michael Beach (James Hamilton), Michael Talbott (Billy Sparrow), Mitch Pileggi (Dominique), James Dybas (Juan), Shawn Thompson (Gary), Terrence “Terry” Ellis (Georgie), Gale Mayron (Fran); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Randolph Gale; Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; 1991)|
|"The tawdry premise is a killer
by Dennis Schwartz
early directorial effort by Sam Irvin ("Kiss
of a Stranger"/"Magic Island"/"Elvira's Haunted Hills")
is a convoluted vigilante black comedy, that's stylish
but implausible. It's written by Charles
Gale as if he were high on weed. Rod Steiger,
the film's star, gives a scene-stealing over-the-top
performance that there was no escape from.
Kallin (Rod Steiger) is a nice guy but a religious
fanatic, who is a frozen meats millionaire. His wife
was murdered by someone released on parole before his
sentence was up. The mournful hubby reacts by
kidnapping those who deserved the death penalty but
were spared by the system. In the basement of his meat
packing plant makes them repent before he executes
them in his home-made electric chair. Ben's assistant
and organist is Aloysius
(Isaac Hayes). His other helper is Deek (Irwin Keyes).
The victims are invited to watch the execution.
Adams (Heather Graham) is an
intern for the parole board. She notices that most of
the early released paroled convicts vanish. The
right-wing Congressman Mark Stanford
(Lyman Ward), in his campaign for
governor, cries out for no more parole pardons.
Kimberly, though a campaign volunteer for Stanford,
thinks differently, that everyone deserves a chance to
be rehabilitated. What she doesn't know is what a
venal person she is working for. Stanford previously
killed a woman he was involved with who threatened to
expose him to his wife if he didn't leave her.
Stanford then set it up so petty thief James Hamilton
(Michael Beach) would get convicted for the murder. To
prove his innocence, Hamilton makes a jail break. But
Ben plans to capture Hamilton and give him the chair.
All these parties will meet again for a diverting but
contrived conclusion, that defies logic.
turned actress Lauren Hutton plays the
embittered wife of the corrupt congressman. Mitch Pileggi
is one of Ben's prisoners.
doubt if this film was meant to be taken seriously,
but it does nevertheless seriously lambaste proponents
on both sides of the capital punishment issue for
being hypocrites. Though an obscure film, there were
enough viewers who found this film when it was on
video and made it a cult favorite.
me, the tawdry premise is a killer to overcome. It's a
flawed film that seems to want to say something
important, but never gets around to it.
REVIEWED ON 2/20/2015 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ