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An archery contest results in the murder of the rich family head by someone with an arrow. Of course, the roving competitor trying to win the money becomes the chief suspect, despite everyone else there also being archery experts and many of the others being heirs in the dead man's will. Written by
John Sacksteder <email@example.com>
Let me tell you a little story. Years back, I used to look in the backs of TV Guides at descriptions of the lesser known movies playing on cable channels I didn't have access to so I could find a title that might be worth looking for at my video store. Occasionally, I came across a title that sounded neat but that I could not find anywhere. I eventually wrote a list of about twenty of these films and vowed that I would one day see each one of them. For six years I slowly got to erase movies from my special list until only one remained: `Night of the Archer.' Having long since disappeared from even late night cable, this one looked like it would be an enigma forever. But then I found it on the Internet for a small price and bought it. I was excited to put an end to a troublesome movie quest and watch what I had for years hoped would be a kick-butt murder mystery. But the end of my adventure would prove to be a letdown.
Most of the story is set in Italy, where we have a spoiler rich family headed by Joe Bologna, a slimy rich guy if there ever was one, living in a huge castle that he is planning to sell soon. He is married to Barbara Carrera, but neither are in love with each other. Instead, Bologna sleeps with his busty secretary and Carrera with the family horse trainer (Sandahl Bergman!), oblivious to the effect this might have on their two daughters: one estranged and living in Nevada and the other a real daddy's girl. We find out that there is about to be an archery contest and that Bologna's younger daughter will be a part of it. Then saunters in Travis Ward (Jeff Griggs), a man on the run from mafia hitmen who just happens to be an expert archer himself and who convinces Bologna to sponsor him in the contest. Then one night Bologna gets murdered with----Guess what?---YEP! Of course, the police suspect Travis, hands down, despite the fact that everyone else knows how to string a bow and acts even stranger than a man on the run. What follows is not the stalk-&-slash fun I thought this movie was all these years, but a rather bland whodunit, peppered with an occasional murder that more often than not was not the result of a psychotic William Tell.
What is wrong with the movie? It's hard to pinpoint one single thing, but you can pretty much cobble together a lot of things that bring down the excitement, like lackluster acting, bad plotting, hard-to-understand dialogue spoken through thick accents, and a lack of, well, archery killings. Nearly all of these setbacks fall squarely on the shoulders of writer-director Lutz Schaarwachter. The few killings are boring, and it is made very obvious who is behind it all. A few interesting and unexpected plot twists would have saved the low production values (which scream out at you, especially when Bologna's murder and/or corpse isn't shown until the final minutes of the film, when all is already lost), but they just aren't there. I guess he tries with the mafia subplot, but it isn't well inserted in the film and certainly doesn't improve it. It isn't a bad movie, but it is a dullard end to my Twenty Movie Quest. And now that I have come full circle with this movie, it is about time I sold my own copy to someone else who may have made his or her own little list of movies to watch. Zantara's score: 5 out of 10.
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