In the Cold of the Night is directed by that “Palme D’or winning auteur” Nico Mastorakis, responsible for such transcendent slowcore masterpieces as Hired To Kill, The Zero Boys and Island of Death, to name just a few of the films that won him critical acclaim around the world.
No, sorry, none of that is true. Mastorakis is a total and utter hack, but an incredibly entertaining one.
This film, In the Cold of the Night, came out the same year as Hired to Kill. Both starred the low-rent Arnold Schwarzenegger, Brian Thompson. Fans of Steve De Jarnatt’s apocalyptic masterpiece Miracle Mile will recognise him as the “Power Lifter” who can fly a helicopter but has to bring his boyfriend along for his attempt to escape nuclear holocaust, (all done in a such a surprisingly matter of fact way for a film made in the ’80s.)
Like many Z-grade filmmakers, Mastorakis often rips off something that was hip at that time, making a cheaper and crappier version. Although Brian De Palma had moved into bigger movies by this point, he was known for his Hitchcockian thrillers. Here, Mastorakis basically rips off De Palma: the De Palma of Body Double more than any of his other films. Jeff Lester plays fashion photographer Scott Bruin, who is having a series of nightmares in which he kills very attractive women. He soon meets his “dream woman” in real life, but something strange must be afoot!
The film is utter trash. but that’s the point. It was released straight to video in most territories (according to IMDB, it was theatrically released in Japan and Portugal) because who is going to pay to see this in a theatre? It’s such a ridiculously silly offering in the erotic thriller genre, you almost think it must be some of kind of post-modern send-up. They even name-check Brian De Palma in the dialogue! Tippi Hedren shows up for no reason, even David Soul is in this damn thing. It has sex, glowing waterbeds, a bunch of cool car crashes, a scene where the protagonist wakes up strangling a woman in real life (but she is turned on… she “almost came”), insane dialogue that sounds like it was written by a 15-year-old, and primitive computer graphics (they must have spent money on this). The greatest moment is when Scott Bruin plays the Criterion laserdisc of The Graduate…. but what shows up on the TV is some other non-descript film, not Katherine Ross seducing little Dustin Hoffman.
Overall it’s a horrendously poorly edited film. It could’ve been an extremely tight 80 or 90 minutes, and although it would’ve made even less sense it probably would have been much better! However, it’s gleefully crazy in its own way, and the cinematography alone saves it. The ’90s erotic thriller was a hotbed for talented cinematographers… Christopher’s Nolan’s former go-to guy, Wally Pfister (what a perfect name for the genre), got his start there.
Vinegar Syndrome has done a great job on this release. It’s a bit light on the extras, with only an archival behind-the-scenes featurette, stills gallery and the original trailer, but it’s a lovely 4K transfer.