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A police officer suspects that a local husband and father who has recently undergone facial surgery because of injuries received in a car accident is in reality the same man who committed a quadruple murder several years before. Written by
Well here's another fine example to state why you shouldn't always judge movies on their appearance and production values. I almost deliberately missed out on this "gem" of the 1980's because it's a made-for-TV movie, and those usually stand for no blood, politically correct story lines, derivative plots and an annoying overload of sentimentality. "Blackout" immediately bursts through this clichéd image of the TV-movie with an exceptionally tense and atmospheric opening sequence. The story opens with the disturbing discovery of 3 dead bodies, a mother and her two children, nightmarishly exhibited as if they were celebrating the youngest one's birthday. The elderly cop Steiner promptly becomes obsessed with finding the killer, which undoubtedly is the husband and father. Almost at the same time of the discovery and a couple of States further, a man survives a horrible car accident, albeit with a total loss of memory and in desperate need for plastic surgery. His memory doesn't return, but he starts a new life under the name Allen Devlin and marries the nurse who treated him. Six years later, the meanwhile retired Steiner is still looking for the killer and receives an anonymous letter with a picture of Devlin and his new family. Is he the vanished killer who doesn't remember his past? Or is someone trying to sabotage his newly found happiness? "Blackout" is a truly effective and suspenseful thriller. There are very few possibilities of whom the killer may be, yet the intelligently written script keeps you guessing and doubting till the very last twist. Even with the quite large number familiar themes, like amnesia and love-triangles, the plot feels original and the suspense feels genuine. As expected, there aren't any vile murders shown on screen and the use of blood and make-up effects is kept to a minimum. Hey, it's a TV-movie, remember, and the emphasis lies on tension. Naturally a lot of credit must go to director Douglas Hickox, who's clearly one class above the average TV-movie director. Hickox previously directed the Vincent Price horror classic "Theater of Blood" and the historical drama "Zulu Down", so he definitely knows how build up an ambiance and how to guide his cast in the required direction. Speaking of which, the cast is excellent with Richard Widmark, Keith Carradine and Michael Beck. "Blackout" comes with my highest possible recommendation and, for once, one the IMDb's recommendations is spot-on as well. The site encourages you to watch "The Pledge" (starring Jack Nicholson), which also revolves on a retired copper continuing to obsessively hunt down the culprit of a long-forgotten crime.
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