The Art of Murder (1992) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

How many of these straight-to-vid murder mysteries come out every year?

This is yet another one, distinguished from the run-of-the-mill only be the presence of a cast which has some recognizable names. Michael Moriarty, Joanna Pacula and Peter Onorati are slumming in the "b" world for this film, but I think that is less a benefit for the film than an indication of how their careers are going, at least for Onorati and Pacula. Moriarty obviously took the role because they told him he could do whatever he wanted with the role, and he hammed up the part of the rich, old, cuckolded husband with a quirky speech pattern - very slow, very whispery, very deep, and with an outrageous Confederate accent of some indeterminate Southern origin west of Savannah, east of Foghorn Leghorn. He sounded like an old white guy doing a bad impersonation of Barry White.


Joanna Pacula's character does a fairly explicit sex scene, (as well as a hot tub scene) but it seems to be an obvious body double

1) they never show the woman's head in the same frame as the breasts and buns

2) the body seems to belong to a MUCH younger woman (Pacula is in her mid-40's)

3) they have different fingernail polish!

The plot is as follows:

A rich, old yacht-builder has a young trophy wife. Some years before, when the old fella swindled his former partner out of half of the company, he agreed to take on his ex-partner's son, who now seems to be a trusted associate. But the ex-partner's son is only feigning friendship. Underneath the surface he's doing everything he can to hurt the old geezer, including having an affair with the trophy wife.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • no widescreen

  • no major features

But wait - somebody else has seen the young guy with the trophy wife, and he's blackmailing them.

If I said any more I would spoil the plot, and this one is kind of fun. There are lots of twists, and nothing is ever what it seems, so it's an OK genre picture if you like this kind of film. If you don't like these anfractuous plots, with all the twists and counter-twists and red herrings, this doesn't have much crossover appeal, because the convoluted plot is the film's entire appeal. There is no interesting characterization or humor or deeper meaning to ponder, and there is no sympathetic character to identify with.

The Critics Vote

  • Apollo 64/100

The People Vote ...

IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C. OK genre offering, but no more.

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