Reviews

Blue Murder (1985)

Blue Murder is about a serial killer in a clown mask who guns down filth peddlers in order to rid the world—or at least Toronto—of sin.

That’s my two-cent summary.

But Blue Murder is so much more than that. It’s also so much less than that.

Dan Blake is a golden-haired, square-jawed, smooth-operating, hard-nosed crime reporter. The serial killer calls Blake and threatens to continue the rampage until his demands are printed in the paper. The demands are clear: stop prostitution and pornography or else more innocent—or rather not-so-innocent—prostitutes and pornographers will get murdered.

Blake and a crab named Lieutenant Rossey meet up with Father Richards, who explains that he went to Columbia and studied psychology, so he’s kind of a shrink, but also a priest. Obviously this makes him an expert on serial killers. The murderer, he explains, is someone who’s taking god’s work into his own hands and doing the things that others are too scared to do. But deep down, the killer is scared, too. Blake and Rossey are on the case.

The demands aren’t met and so the killing spree continues. Pornographers are gunned down in their own living rooms. A bomb is placed under a bed where a sex scene is being filmed. A warehouse filled with smut films is burned down. At some point, a man and a woman wearing a cheerful yellow sundress go to a hotel room. The killer, of course, appears out of nowhere. What you eventually figure out is that the woman is a prostitute. Perhaps on the mean streets of Toronto, ladies of the night look like they’re heading to a church picnic.

Eventually Blake and Rossey follow a series of leads that are needlessly complicated and tedious. They talk to one person who tells them to talk to another person who tells them to talk to another person. That person then tells them to talk to another person. It’s like watching a game of Telephone play out on the small screen. The clues eventually lead to a shootout in a theater, but not before the appearance of an adorable Great Dane. Who’s a good boy? Who? It’s you, what a good boy!

Blue Murder is unapologetically Canadian. It’s also unapologetically a TV movie. This means there’s very little cursing, blood, violence, or sex—all the things you expect to find in a film about a serial killer, sleaze artists, and the gritty underbelly of pornography. If this were a PM Entertainment film starring Wings Hauser, then Blue Murder would be dripping in pithy one-liners, sex hotlines, and people getting thrown out of windows. But this hails from Canada—perhaps their sleaze is much kinder and gentler than ours. The plot is tedious, the killer is obvious, and the violence is bland. This is the film equivalent of dry, room temperature white toast. So why is it good?

There are random details in this film that are completely charming, such as the junior varsity Marilyn Monroe impersonator, a rugged henchman named Beverly, and the amazing theme song called “Blue Murder” by a band called One Life to Live. There’s the police station interrogation room that is must surely be a high school gym and a “sleazy” photographer who takes “dirty” pictures of women who are just wearing full-coverage bathing suits and feather boas. There’s also the scene where Blake talks to Rossey while he’s taking a luxurious bubble bath. The final showdown happens in the killer’s house—which you know because there’s a clown mask hanging on the door like a holiday wreath.

Like director Charles Wiener (Dragon Hunt), Blue Murder is pure at heart. It tries to scintillate, but then pulls back, as though it’s worried it might offend someone. Blue Murder is like when someone tells you in a hushed, low voice if you want to hear a dirty joke and when they actually tell it, it’s completely mild and something you’ve heard before, from your own uncle. This is a movie that attempts to be exploitive, but still cares about your feelings. Exploitation, of course, is designed to shock and provoke you. But Canadians are much too polite and kind-hearted for that. So what you get is a gentle reminder that Canadians are our friends and want to make sure you’re comfortable.

One very crucial detail to note is that Blake is played by Jamie Spears, perhaps best known as Britney Spears’ father.

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