Saturday, September 5, 2020

Asesino nocturno (1987)

... aka: Night Killer

Directed by:
Fernando Durán (Rojas)

A Mexi slasher / detective story that's about as bland, forgettable and generic as its title. A limping man in a hat and trench coat shows up at a sleazy hotel, gets a hooker, takes her upstairs to a room and then stabs her to death with a scalpel. The psycho responsible is revealed to be a police forensics science doctor / mortician named Dr. Losca (Gregorio Casal). Considering his position and seeing how he's the one examining the bodies, he has the capability of covering up his own crimes yet the script disappointingly doesn't really go there, which could have be interesting. Because another hooker - Caramilo - discovered her friend's corpse and saw him coming and going at the hotel, she becomes the next target and is put under police surveillance in case the killer should come after her. Sadly for her, she sends her posted officer out to run an errand, which gives the psycho enough time to pick her lock, sneak into her room and slash her throat. When the officer returns to the hotel, he's also killed.

Police Comandante Alfredo Reyna (Andrés García) is on the case... and he has a comic sidekick (Pedro Infante Jr.) who keeps going on and on and on about "las putas!" The two trail a potential suspect who picks up a hooker, drives her out into the country and pulls a scalpel out. He's yanked out of the car by the hair and punched several times in the gut but he's not the guy they're looking for but merely a second maniac who likes to pick up hookers and threaten them with scalpels (?!) Later that night at a bar, we get to listen to a mariachi band perform for several minutes while everyone sits around chain smoking and looking bored. After they close for the night, an obnoxious and very drunk barfly refuses to listen to her girlfriends and decides to drive herself home. When she hops in her car, the killer's waiting for her in the backseat and slashes her throat.

Alfredo's superior Victor (Alfredo Gutiérrez 'El Turco') is starting to come down hard on him as the victims pile up. They think they've found the psycho when someone shoots at them when they're out patrolling but the man is killed during a car chase after he flips his vehicle and it blows up. Soon after, the killer goes to a massage parlor and kills another girl there. Dr. Losca's assistant becomes suspicious of him and, when he calls him out, he gets stabbed to death with an embalming needle. This helps lead to a series of events that spells the killer's downfall. As he's loading the body in his trunk in the hospital parking garage, a police officer catches him and calls it in. Losca knocks him out, puts him in a body bag, drives him out into the country and throws him into a deep ravine along with the other body.

As for psycho-analyzing the nut, he has black-and-white flashbacks to his traumatic childhood. His kindly though depressed father (also played by Casal) is in a wheelchair while his mother is either a prostitute or just a garden variety "puta" who frequently goes out to bars, gets drunk and brings strange men home to fuck. And going by her loud laughing and moaning while she's getting busy, she doesn't appear to care what her hubby and son think about it. After little Dr. Losca walks in on her in bed with one of her tricks, she slaps him in the face until he's spitting up blood. The dad then blows his brains out and he finds the body.

Edna Bolkan (GRAVE ROBBERS), playing Garcia's love interest Dr. Edna Montez, is given next to nothing to do here until the very end. She has a few comic scenes with her TV-and-junk-food-obsessed maid, Sara (Nena Delgado), goes jogging and then takes a shower, where a below-the-waist camera shot shows her removing her panties yet wearing another pair underneath of that. She finally becomes involved in an attempt to trap the killer using herself as a decoy, which is comically botched when the officers posted outside her home decide to go to the mad doctor's apartment to try to find him, leaving her and Sara all alone!

When a cheap slasher skimps on blood, gore and nudity, has static camerawork, more scenes of police officers standing around talking than slashing and no element of mystery or surprise whatsoever as the killer is revealed right away, it kind of defeats the purpose, eh? As a result, this one comes off as dull and only manages to become a little atmospheric during the very last scene.

The director started out as an assistant director and co-director in the early 60s before moving up to primary director by the end of the decade. He made around 100 films from 1969 to 2008, including the difficult to find horror / western Hot Snake (1976) and THE SHERIFF'S STRANGE SON (1982). There was a VHS release through Mex-America Video Corporation and several DVD releases, including one from Baja Films. None of these have English subtitles.


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