Movie Review- `Stalker' can't find credibility

The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution - October 9, 1986

Author: CAIN, SCOTT, Scott Cain Staff Writer: STAFF

Charles Napier, a rugged character actor usually seen in supporting roles, is the Dirty Harry of Los Angeles in "The Night Stalker," a lively but unconvincing murder mystery.

Napier plays J.J. Striker, a boozing police detective who muscles his way int o a bizarre homicide case in which the victims are prostitutes. Their corpses are painted like Oriental silkscreens.

Director Max Kleven goes for a tone of gritty realism in most of "The Night Stalker," yet the killer's first victim empties a pistol into his body at point-blank range without doing substantial damage. This immediately puts "The Night Stalker" into the supernatural realm and, when a down-to-earth explanation is provided, it simply can't be credited.

Napier is a solid professional. He does classic hangover scenes and is wonderful as he huffs and puffs during a foot chase, telling himself that he's too old for these antics. Napier is perhaps best known as the cynical bureaucrat who betrays "Rambo" and, if "Night Stalker" had worked out, he might have become a star in the Charles Bronson mold. Too bad.

Robert Viharo, another craggy actor, is a fit companion for Napier as the detective's doomed partner. (Partners exist in movies of this type for the purpose of getting rubbed out.) Gary Crosby plays Napier's jaundiced competitor on the police force. Crosby may yet carve out a career playing egomaniacs who get humiliating comeuppances.

"The Night Stalker." A horror movie. Rated R for abundant violence, profanity and nudity

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