Paint It Black (1989)

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A serial killer covers his victims in modeling clay, and a local sculptor is accused of the crimes.


, (uncredited)


, (as A.H. Zacharias)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jonathan Dunbar
Eric Hinsley
Gina Bayworth
Marion Easton
Daniel Lambert
Jason Bernard ...
Lt. Wilder
Monique van de Ven ...
Kyla Leif
Marion Eaton ...
Lenore Hinsley
Frances Chaney ...
Mrs. Russell
Andy Romano ...
Mark Cuniff
Mr. Lee
Lang Yun ...
Mrs. Lee
Claudia Robinson ...
Mrs. Wilder


A serial killer covers his victims in modeling clay, and a local sculptor is accused of the crimes.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Horror | Thriller


R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

14 January 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Cor Negra da Morte  »

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Did You Know?


Tim Hunter rewrote much of the script, developing Doug Savant's role considerably. See more »


References Torn Curtain (1966) See more »


Composed by Johann Strauss
Performed by the Philharmonic Orchestra of London
Courtesy of MCA Music Publishing
See more »

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User Reviews

Tim Hunter's homage to Hitchcock
8 May 2003 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

It may help when viewing "Paint it Black" to bear in mind that director Tim Hunter is one of the world's leading experts on the films of Alfred Hictchcock, having taught classes on the subject while an instructor at the University of California at Santa Cruz in the '70s. I believe this film is Hunter's way of acknowledging Hitchcock's influence on his own directorial style, which lies somewhere between those of Brian De Palma and the Hitch himself. There are numerous elements in "Paint it Black" that are taken directly from Hitchcock films: a chance encounter with a sociopath who sees murder as a form of favor-granting ("Strangers on a Train" 1951), characters dangling precariously from a cliff face ("North by Northwest" 1959, and check out how one of them falls apropos this reference!), a female lead who is unsure of her paramour's intentions ("Suspicion" 1941), a slowly turned object revealing a wrenching surprise ("Psycho" 1960), prominently displayed scissors ("Dial M for Murder" 1954). And these are only the references that jumped out and screamed at me as I was watching the film. I'm sure a closer viewing would reveal many more. "Paint it Black" is fun viewing for any fan of Hitchcock's work, and on that basis is worth catching on video or TV.

But as a film in and of itself, well that's another matter. Doug Savant and Sally Kirkland are fine as the 'disturbed young man' and venal art gallery owner, respectively. And Martin Landau is effective in his smaller role as an equally money-oriented gallery owner, as is Peter Frechette as the conflicted employee of Kirkland's character. The protagonist, however, is portrayed in an utterly leaden manner by Rick Rossovich; there is more animation in the beat up Volkswagen bus he drives. Julie Carmen as his love interest is eye candy, but adds little else to the film. The script is pedestrian and the editing sloppy, but Hunter does manage to work in some great shots in a few scenes. Clearly a low-budget film, the production values leave a lot to be desired, but one can only do so much if there isn't much cash to spread around.

Highly recommended for Hitchcock lovers as a 'spot the reference' exercise, but otherwise a mediocre film. Rating: 5/10.

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