5 user 12 critic

The Art of Dying (1991)

A cinematographer and his assistant are attracting aspiring young actors and actresses by getting them to try out for their movie. Once filming, the evil cameraman actually kills them. The ... See full summary »


Wings Hauser


Joseph Merhi (screenplay)




Cast overview, first billed only:
Wings Hauser ... Jack
Kathleen Kinmont ... Holly
Gary Werntz Gary Werntz ... Roscoe
Mitch Hara ... Latin Jerry
Sarah Douglas ... Sara
Michael J. Pollard ... Delbert
Sydney Lassick ... Wallie
Angela Rae Angela Rae ... Summer
T.C. Warner T.C. Warner ... Janet
Jean Levine Jean Levine ... Rita
Henry Brown ... Captain
Tony Longo ... Victor
Pamela Dixon Pamela Dixon ... Wilma (as Pam Dixon)
Mary Bond Davis Mary Bond Davis ... Jessie
Michael Easton ... Bobby
Learn more

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A cinematographer and his assistant are attracting aspiring young actors and actresses by getting them to try out for their movie. Once filming, the evil cameraman actually kills them. The detective on the case has his hands full trying to help out runaways with stars in their eyes. When some of the people he knows turn up dead, he takes it personally, and as he gets closer to the truth his girlfriend is endangered. Written by Ed Sutton <esutton@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence, sensuality and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Roscoe: Ow! Stop shooting me!
See more »


References Scarface (1983) See more »

User Reviews

An excellent film covering a controversial subject.
9 May 1999 | by ChoiBabySee all my reviews

In the profane streets of Hollywood, California, dreams are realized...and lives are wasted. Hollywood, California is home to not only the stars, but to the absolute abject who are desperate to make a living. Jack (Wings Hauser) is a police detective who works for the vice squad. He is aggressive yet compassionate with a soft spot for teenage runaways. This tough, street-smart detective is about to be thrust into the depraved world of snuff films...

Several aspiring actors and actresses with stars in their eyes are accosted by two mysterious filmmakers. They have promised each individual model the "role of a lifetime." Little do each of these people realize that the price for stardom includes...their very own lives...

Meanwhile, Jack's one-night stand with Holly (Kathleen Kinmont) has somehow mounted to a six-month long affair. Though Jack has enjoyed every single moment with Holly, he must still find a way to rekindle their fading romance...

As the body count rises and the tension mounts, Jack must spring into action. He must investigate the case and find out who are the culprits responsible for these grisly, murderous acts. What's even more terrifying is that the staged premeditated murders are copycats from (in)famous horror movies...

People know that THE ART OF DYING is perversion in the first degree. Yet, the viewer will find him/herself strangely engrossed in the nefarious world of "murder on film." Horror film buffs in particular will take pleasure in seeing homage to such classic films as PSYCHO (1960), THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974), etc. THE ART OF DYING is one of the most psychologically moving horror flicks in years. The tough, film noir -type detective knows that he has a lot to handle emotionally in dealing with psychotics who enjoy capturing the suffering of others on film. Yet, this detective knows that once he gets involved in this case, he is plunged into a decadent world of evil where escape is impossible...

A huge asset in THE ART OF DYING is the prevailing atmosphere for the moribund souls dying to be in the pictures... The jazz score played as background music only heightens the suspense to an immoral atmosphere. There are lots of violent bloodshed and nudity, but unlike most films from PM Entertainment, this movie contains no car crashes or explosions so action fans may feel alienated. However, for those who are willing to immerse themselves into a strange world where reality and illusion collide will find this film a surprise...

The supporting cast is excellent. Michael J. Pollard is a standout as Delbert, an informative criminal psychologist who seems to know too much about the criminal mind. Gary Werntz is frantically devious as Rosco, a filmmaker pushed over the edge of sanity. He is appropriately unbalanced as a struggling albeit conceited filmmaker who considers himself superior to such highly regarded film directors as Brian De Palma, Martin Scorsese, and yes, even Alfred Hitchcock. Rosco always adds a touch of "realism" in all of his scenes he directs. Mitch Hara is woefully nasty as an assistant snuff filmmaker, "Latin Jerry." Kathleen Kinmont is also a visual treat for the eyes. She is amazing sexy.

What is engaging about this film, THE ART OF DYING is that it gives a glimpse of the dark side of Hollywood. Beneath the glamour lies the phone-sex businesses which are common, prostitution which is rife, and struggling actors and actresses who are frantic to make ends meet (and also to make a few extra bucks). THE ART OF DYING is a sardonic satire on the film industry and the independent filmmaker. In this art of perverse filmmaking, money does not always equate pleasure...

Unfortunately, as superb as THE ART OF DYING may be, this film always has its weaknesses. The most significant weakness is its lapses of characterization. For example, no explanation is given as to why the crooked filmmakers behave the way they do. No motive is given to justify their sickening actions. Another weak point in this film is the chemistry between Jack and Holly. Even though these two share a wonderful relationship, their vacillation between love & kisses and then to arguments & abuses is rather unconvincing. As observed, logic and credibility sometimes take a backseat.

THE ART OF DYING is a slick, well-made thriller with strong performances and powerful subtexts about the other side of Hollywood. Stylishly directed by star Hauser himself, THE ART OF DYING is a sinister, first-rate masterpiece. Fine acting, a morbid tone, scathing one-liners, and a grim sense of humor buoy this modest sleeper hit. Although this film is an unnoticed hit for now, it will eventually earn its much-deserved recognition.

RATING: *** out of ****.

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Release Date:

8 August 1991 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Arte de Morrer See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

PM Entertainment Group See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



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