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The first film to be funded entirely by a “Chicago Bankroll.”

DVD Review: Nightstalker (2009)

I once tended bar in a casino. One of my customers (who was both an alcoholic and a gambleholic) once made a reference to a “Chicago bankroll,” which he maintained was a wad of one-dollar bills wrapped inside of a larger denomination bill — thus giving one the illusion of a big hunk of dough. While the bankroll has many variations — several of which are very politically incorrect (although the very premise of such is not exactly politically correct to begin with, so don‘t blame me, folks) — there is no doubt in my mind that Ulli Lommel’s Nightstalker was funded by such.

For those of you who have never seen a moving picture bearing a “Directed by Ulli Lommel” credit, allow me to sum it up in three words: you are fortunate. Lommel, a German-born filmmaker, began his movie career making them artsy flicks. In 1980, he directed The Boogeyman — a film that, for reasons unknown to this day, was a hit. Since then, Lommel has churned out one crapola feature after another (usually handling most of the pre and post-production work himself, but attributing it to many aliases), with his most recent ventures being poorly shot-on-video shitfests based on famous serial killers.

Nightstalker is absolutely unwatchable, even if you’re just looking for some cheap laughs. Set in the good ol’ early ‘80s, Ulli makes no attempt to hide or disguise the fact that it was shot in modern times and gives us the (highly inaccurate) tale of a young psychopath (the interestingly-named Adolph Cortez, who reads his lines like English is his second or third language) who roams the streets of Los Angeles shooting people. That’s the whole point of the film, people: a guy walks around, sucking on lollipops, shooting people. As simple a plotline like that might be, Ulli of course has to live up to his “standards” (cough, cough) of padding his film out as much as possible, be it with shaky half-assed artistic photography or corny half-assed attempts at dialogue — most of which is indecipherable due to the film’s piss poor captured-with-a-camcorder quality.

I'm sure it goes without saying, but the acting is really appalling, too.  You see the picture of the kid here?  That's supposed to be a look of fear.

As to why anyone that wasn’t being blackmailed would willingly distribute something as putrid as this on home video is beyond me. Nevertheless, the movie is available on DVD via North American Motion Pictures. The DVD that was sent my way was for screening purposes (are you really worried about somebody pirating this?) so I cannot give a fair and balanced judgment of the film’s audio/video presentation. And so, I will simply say it looks and sounds terrible just to further dissuade you from picking it up.

Bottom line: Nightstalker sucks. Big time. It’s one of the worst things Ulli Lommel has made, right up there with the last 20 pictures he directed. And yet, I do have to stop and wonder what the consequences might be if Ulli Lommel actually had a budget and a real live crew. Hell, he might even be able to give Michael Bay a run for his money — but I’d honestly prefer Michael Bay to this any old day.

And that’s saying something.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the alter-ego of a feller who loves an eclectic variety of classic (and sometimes not-so-classic) film and television. He currently lives in Northern California with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.

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