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Smile for the sniper rifle
Cujo10810 August 2010
A crazed sniper is killing prostitutes in Toronto. Using a camera mounted on the rifle, the victims are photographed as they're gunned down. Boyd (Richard Crenna) is a police sergeant who suspects high-level (but physically diminutive) pimp, Julius Kurtz (Paul Williams), of being behind the slayings. Harboring an intense distaste for Kurtz, Boyd would like nothing more than to lock him up and throw away the key, but are these cases ever that easy?

"Stone Cold Dead" is a grimy amalgamation of giallo, crime drama and exploitation archetypes. The sniper's appearance and M.O. are straight out of a giallo, as is the terrific music that pops up whenever they're in action. I also loved the scenes in the culprit's darkroom, whispering voices running rampantly through a damaged psyche. The addition of the camera mount to shoot pictures and bullets at the same time is certainly an inspired touch. Psychological aspect aside, it ensures that the various murder scenes lack a feeling of repetition.

The atmosphere of the film is one of grunge and decay. Lensed in a cold, distant style suiting the material, there's an ample amount of sleaze on display as we're treated to the underbelly of Toronto. Kurtz dealing with his girls and Boyd's quest to bring him down get as much screen time as the hunt for the killer.

Paul Williams gives a standout performance as Kurtz, a classy type who actually shows a level of compassion and respect for those under his employ. His character is supposed to be scum, yet I actually found him more likable than Crenna's hard-ass sergeant. Boyd isn't all bad, however, as he makes sure that his pet fish are taken care of when he's too busy to come home. How? By rigging up a contraption that feeds them when he calls his house. Genre favorite Michael Ironside shows up in one of the briefest roles ever as an ill-fated cop. Tease. I was going back and forth between two characters when it came to determining the sniper's identity. I managed to get it right about 15 minutes before the reveal. The revelation scene itself is a winner, as the individual playing the guilty party gives an impressive performance.

While it isn't perfect, this seldom-seen little cheapie has a lot going for it, especially if you're into gialli. It's also quite similar in overall feel to another seedy Canadian flick from the period, "American Nightmare", only this one's actually worth watching!
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8/10
Stone cold solid 80's thriller
PeterMitchell-506-5643646 December 2012
Another well plotted thriller, sees a prostitute hating nut taking out his victims with a fancy rifle, silencer attached. That's not all, our nut has a camera mounted on his rifle, so at the point of shot, he takes a series of photos until they are, as the title refers. Obviously typecast, is Sly's good mate, caring cop, Richard Crenna, out to bust this pimp, Kurtz, and awesome piece of acting from Paul Williams, who just outdoes the others. His women, including one of his favorites, are being taken out. Again this is a highly constructed thriller, where your guesses to to the killer will waiver from one to another. Some real American style violence, one scene with a disgruntled black pro who takes it in the neck, some blood cascading out, is a little sick. Her john, (a professor) staggered, trying to plug the flow of blood, apanic, becomes an informant for Crenna in the case, who keeps the poor guy's spit clean reputation intact. There are some scenes you don't expect to see in a film, like this. Still quite hot looking, 50's pro (Belinda Montgomery-great in the part) where time has worn her through this profession, becomes romantically involved with Crenna. She suggests to him "Lets do something that I haven't done for ages". They go ice skating, Crenna, not a good skater, by any means. Also we get to see the time activating gadget for feeding his fish which starts with a phonecall. Crenna's female friend, who's working undercover, to try and bust his arch rival, Kurtz, is fun too. She takes her undercover role a little too seriously, her demise near the end, came as quite a shock in it's first viewing. Stone Cold Dead is a solid rate thriller, that does tend to fall a bit into sleaze here and there. But we learn a little bit more about people in this flick. How many other films like this, do that. A must for psychological thriller fans, good performances, all round. The actress who plays Montgomery's daughter is creepy as.
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6/10
Canadian Police Drama
sol12185 December 2003
Contains Spoiler!!! Just to see Paul Williams, Julius Kurtz, playing a big time city pimp should make "Stone Cold Dead" worth watching. With the always reliable Richard Crenna, Sgt. Boyd as the Toronto cop with an obsession for putting Kurtz away and off the streets to make the city safe.

Some deranged sniper has been offing prostitutes and at the same time photographing them and sending the photos to the police to taunt them and make them feel helpless in catching him. Sgt. Boyd thinks that it's Kurtz that's the killer and is out to get the goods on him. You would wonder why Kurtz would kill his own employees and hurt his prostitution business? Does Boyd know something?

Fairly good whodunit with a surprising performance on the part of Paul Williams as the cool pimp with a heart of gold when it comes to taking good care of his "ladies" even though he can be rough some times but as everyone watching the movie knows Julie doesn't really mean it.

A very effective and sympathetic scene in the film is when Kurtz is at a funeral of one of his murdered "ladies" and Sgt. Boyd arrives uninvited hassling him. Kurtz then quietly tell him "Can't you see that I'm here to pay my respects". It just made me wonder who was the good guy and who was the bad guy in the movie.

Sgt. Boyd gets really involved in the murder case when one of the hookers murdered by the sniper turns out to be a woman undercover detective who's also a good friend of his and it all becomes very personal with him. The ending of the movie is made to shock and surprise and it does very convincingly with the audience not seeing it coming.

"Stone Cold Dead" has that rough and gritty look to it more because of it's small budget then it's filmmakers artistic talents in movie realism with better then average acting from it's supporting cast of Linda Sorenson, Monica Page, and Alberta Watson, Olivia Page, then you would usually see in a B-Movie.
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" Remember Rule Number One, Never take it home with You "
thinker16919 November 2011
Within the dark wet streets of any city, there lurks the criminal thoughts of any of it's equally dark inhabitants. Some are good, others bad and still others are downright lethal and often lead to murder. This black 1970's murder, mystery was originally written by Hugh Garner and directed for the screen by George Mendeluk. It's the story of Decective Sgt Boyd (Richard Crenna) who despite his years of police service to the Dept. cannot fathom the endless violence which continues night after night. In this latest crime spree, there seems to be a night-time sniper who is killing ladies of the night or prostitutes for no apparent reason. In addition, there are suspicious characters like a local drug lord named Julius Kurtz (Paul Williams) who also has a stable of Whores and secret ties to the police. Personal involvements to several women in the stable makes the case difficult for Boyd as he is interested in helping them. The movie is slow to develop and the audience is thrown more than it needs when it comes to trying to pinpointing the killer. Still with Williams and Crenna playing off one another the film makes for interesting viewing. Recommended to mystery buffs and fans of both stars. ****
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7/10
"I direct people to things that they're looking for."
Hey_Sweden14 January 2018
Richard Crenna is once again solid as a rock, playing a dedicated police sergeant named Boyd. Working the mean streets of Toronto, he has a distaste for the way the world has gone to seed. He also has a vendetta against slimy, diminutive pimp Julius Kurtz (an oddly, but amusingly cast Paul Williams), and would love nothing more than to pin SOMETHING on him. When a rooftop sniper begins methodically taking out hookers, it's up to Boyd to solve the case. Giving him assistance are veteran prostitute Monica Page (Linda Sorensen) and sassy undercover detective Sandy MacAuley (Belinda J. Montgomery).

"Stone Cold Dead" is based on the novel "The Sin Sniper" by Hugh Garner, and written for the screen by George Mendeluk, making his filmmaking debut. It's particularly interesting for a Canadian audience, to see the sleazier sights and sounds of late 70s Toronto. In general, it doesn't tell a *great* story, necessarily (some people will likely figure out the identity of the sniper ahead of time), but it *is* entertaining, offering a fair amount of grit. It combines elements of the Italian murder mysteries known as "Gialli", crime dramas, and exploitation cinema, and viewers will delight in the abundant nudity and sordid (ultimately sad) aspect to the tale being told. It's greatly enhanced by a fine score by under rated Canadian composer Paul Zaza. There are even some nice little touches here and there, such as the ice skating sequence, and Boyds' method of feeding his fish at scheduled times by phoning his own number.

Crenna is well matched against Williams, who gets to play his slimy role with a bit of nuance and humour. Sorensen is well cast as the potential love interest for Boyd, and Montgomery is a real ball of fire as the female cop. She even gets to belt out two numbers. There are various other familiar faces present to any veteran viewer of Canadian cinema: Chuck Shamata, Alberta Watson, Monique Mercure, Jennifer Dale, Frank Moore, George Touliatos. Legendary Canadian boxer George Chuvalo has a brief cameo; also look fast for a young Michael Ironside at around the 82 minute mark (he's not seen clearly, but that voice is unmistakable).

Trashy, and pretty violent, "Stone Cold Dead" is very fine entertainment for people eager to check out some Canuxploitation.

Seven out of 10.
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4/10
Moody but muddled thriller
Wizard-88 October 2018
It's a rare thing for a Canadian film to be released on the Blu-ray format, and it's even rarer when it's an older movie such as this one. If you do see this movie on the Blu-ray format (as I did), you will see that unlike a lot of other Canadian movies of its era, it's pretty well made on what wasn't a lavish budget. There is some genuine atmosphere here, coming from well chosen creepy locations, skillful lighting, and clever camera angles. The acting is also pretty good, not just with Crenna and Williams, but also by the unknowns in the cast. As a bonus, there is also some good music on display.

Unfortunately, despite these good ingredients, the movie stumbles enough in a key area that as a result it doesn't work. And that is with the script. The narrative of the movie is frequently at a muddle. The story seems to be starting at chapter two or three instead of right at the beginning. There is also frequently juggling between many characters and various plot threads, so sometimes there is a long time before one particular plot thread is returned to. Another problem with the story is that it's pretty easy to figure out who the "Sin Sniper" is long before the "surprise" reveal.

While this isn't a terrible movie, it's too muddled to be as effective as it wants to be. I would only recommend the movie to (very) forgiving people who are fans of grindhouse B movies from this era.
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Decent But Waterdowned Thriller
Michael_Elliott9 July 2018
Stone Cold Dead (1979)

** (out of 4)

Richard Crenna plays Sgt. Boyd who is out trying to solve a group of bizarre killings where a sniper is taking out women involved in the sex business. As he grows closer to the killer it's very possible that someone he has a connection with might end up on the hit list.

If you're a fan of 70s cinema then you probably know about 42nd Street and the various types of sleazy movies that would play there. Snipers, pimps, dirty cops, hookers and drug use were just some of the subjects that would be covered in those types of films and all of those elements are on display in STONE COLD DEAD but sadly the film tries to be too mainstream and it just doesn't work.

STONE COLD DEAD has a lot flaws including the fact that it's just never brave enough to cross the line into a darker territory. The film plays around with various dark elements but it never crosses the line to where the film would be more memorable. It really comes across as a watered down version of something you'd see on 42nd Street and it's anyone's guess why they didn't try to push the envelope further.

What really kills the film though is the fact that there's really not any suspense and none of the characters are all that detailed or interesting. Crenna gives a good performance as he always does and he certainly helps carry the film. Both Paul Williams and Linda Sorensen are good in their supporting parts as well. I will also say that the reveal of the killer is another plus as I certainly didn't see it coming.

STONE COLD DEAD certainly isn't a bad movie but at the same time there's just nothing here to separate it from the dozens of other films out there like it.
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8/10
Solid little crime drama
Woodyanders1 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Hard-nosed detective Boyd (Richard Crenna in fine rugged form) and street smart undercover vice cop Sandy MacAuley (well played with sassy aplomb by Belinda J. Montgomery) work together to catch a sniper who's picking off prostitutes. Boyd's investigation puts him in the path of smooth pimp Julius Kurtz (a surprisingly credible and effective portrayal by Paul Williams) and high class call girl Monica Potter (a sharp performance by Linda Sorensen).

Writer/director George Mendeluk relates the compellingly sordid story at a steady pace, offers a vivid evocation of Toronto's lurid urban underbelly, maintains a grim'n'gritty tone throughout, and delivers a satisfying smattering of tasty gratuitous female nudity. Moreover, there are sturdy supporting contributions from Alberta Watson as the forlorn Olivia Page, Chuck Shumata as Boyd's fed-up partner Sgt. Tony Colabre, Andre Cousineau as pathetic junkie Bernice Carnival, and Monique Mercure as helpful shrink Dr. Bouvier. Dennis Miller's slick cinematography gives this picture a glittery neon look. Paul Zaza's pulsating score hits the funky spot. Worth a watch.
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6/10
Tantalizingly Close, Yet So Far
shoobe01-17 January 2017
Richard Crenna and Paul Williams are excellent, a few supporting actors are also outstanding. The photography is occasionally too gimmicky, but is mostly good to exceptional. The music is great, even when it's not music I love it fits. It establishes a mood, time and place (It's Very, Very Toronto, not NYC or LA...) nicely. There's some lovely editing, lighting and the sound design and recording is vastly above par for the era, and pretty good for today's technology and sensibility.

A lot of it is filmed in real locations, and it's a lovely slice of 70's TO. Sets stick out like a sore thumb, and the occasional covering of a brand with gaffer tape is too obvious also. The snowstorm seems like a mistake as well they had to go with for budget/schedule, and there are a few radio VOs to explain things that are just very oddly/badly done. Some key supporting actors are just awful and similarly stick out, which is all too bad.

But most disappointingly, for much of the film there's no plot to speak of, and the story rambles for no good reason.

The serial killer plot is poorly done, unlikely, and while the ending is somewhat interestingly done, in the final analysis I think unnecessary and too clever by half. I feel instead that this film would have worked much better with Richard Crenna going after a single murder in the same awful place full of crime and the immorality that eats at him, and trying to pin it on Paul Williams much as he does already.
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