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Nightstalker (2009)

Nightstalker - Nightstalker (2009)Reviewed by The Foywonder

Starring Adolph Cortez, Elissa Dowling, Jeff Dylan Graham, Jamie Bernadette, Cassandra Church

Directed by Ulli Lommell

I thought I was pretty much at the point of washing my hands of any and all things Ulli Lommell. Then Uncle Creepy pawned off a slew of DVDs for me to review, and just my luck one of them is Ulli Lommel’s latest. To quote Godfather 3: “Every time I think I’m out, they pull me back in.” Given the old saying “saving the best for last”, I figured I’d flip that and make the worst my first. At least I hope Nightstalker proves to be the worst of the lot. God help me if I’m wrong.

I know what some of you are thinking — That I went into this movie expecting to hate it; how fair is that? It’s not. But such is the reality of watching a Ulli Lommel movie. The burden is on him at this point to prove that he has finally made a film that’s worth the DVD it’s printed on. To call Lommell a hack is being too generous. Given his M.O. of making ungodly pseudo-art films based on the exploits of real-life serial killers while showing utter contempt for the facts of the cases, calling Lommel a sleaze merchant would not be going too far. Scam artist might also be a fitting moniker. I mean someone keeps giving him money and pumping his plotless pseudo-arthouse serial killer films out onto DVD shelves consistently.

So here we go again. Sigh.

This time the subject matter of Lommell’s grainy handi-cam composition is Richard Ramirez, dubbed “The Night Stalker” by the media, a serial killer who killed somewhere in the neighborhood of 16 souls during his reign of terror in Los Angeles back in the Eighties. We first learn that Ramirez’s unsavory uncle practically raised him to grow up a pot-smoking woman-hater. Moving from El Paso, Texas to Los Angeles, California as a young adult, Ramirez falls in with a coven of devil worshippers. To hear them talk about their satanic freedom-to-do-whatever-they-want ideals, they sound less like satanists and more like Goth hippies. Getting involved in satanism proves to be the trigger that inspired Ramirez to cross the line and begin sneaking into the homes of mildly chunky women with big boobs and gunning them down as they shower.

As always seems to be the case, one need only look up the basic facts of the “Nightstalker” murders to realize that Lommel had about as much use for facts as he does the basic tenets of quality filmmaking. It’s the typical no-budget Lommel “mumblegore” (as I dubbed his style in a previous review) affair told entirely via confusing flashbacks with the actor playing Richard Ramirez providing inane inner dialogue voiceover before, after, and during visualizations of the slayings he committed. To hear this young man who looks less like the real-life Richard Ramirez and more like Warren Peace from the film Sky High ramble on, it’s like being subjected for 80 minutes to the puerile ramblings of a 15-year-old emo kid who watched Fight Club too many times. Ramirez has nothing interesting or insightful to say because Ulli Lommell has nothing interesting or insightful to say, and we should all know by now that these diatribes are more Lommell’s pen-and-paper I-wrote-the-script-in-five-minutes long-windedness than they are glimpses into the psychopathic mind of a serial killer. I lost track of the number of times anyone declared “Hail Satan!” It practically becomes a running joke.

It’s pretty pathetic that Lommel keeps getting the opportunity to take up shelf space with such relative ease while other better filmmakers struggle to get their movies distributed to a wide audience. Makes me wonder how much of Lommel’s own career can also be attributed to the phrase “Hail Satan!”

knifezero - Nightstalker (2009)

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