Cruel and Unusual (2001) from Tuna

Cruel and Unusual is a direct to vid Canadian film which has been released in Australia and the US. IMDB, for some unaccountable reason, has decided to call it Watchtower. This thriller has absolutely no tension or suspense, but is full of gorgeous scenics of Vancouver, BC.

In scene one, we see Tom Berenger kill Elizabeth Carol Savenkoff, so, right off, we know he is a killer. In scene two, we see him kill a man who picked him up hitchhiking with the same knife to the heart method he used on the woman. We now know he is a serial killer who befriends his victims, then puts them out of their misery.

We are then introduced to a lovelorn Rachel Hayward and her younger brother, who is in trouble with the law, and will be half of a lighthouse crew for the year to avoid jail. The kid has an attitude and a poor self-image. Of course, the murdered man was to be his partner at the lighthouse, and Berenger takes the man's place. A clever three-year-old could predict the plot from here, and he would be exactly right.


E.C. Savenkoff, who is better known as a voice actress, shows breasts in a shower scene, then again in bed with Berenger just before he kills her.

Rachel Hayward shows breasts in several very dark sex scenes with Berenger.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • 4-disc Box Set

  • Full-screen format

Not enough have seen this for a score, and the only review I was able to find agreed completely with me. The DVD transfer is good, the sound track is also nice, and the scenics are nearly worth the rental price, but a thriller with no thrills, no action, and no suspense is about as useful as a basketball court with no baskets.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: three stars. Ebert 3/4, Berardinelli 3/4, Apollo 71/100

The People Vote ...

  • with their dollars:



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 D+.

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