This third and best entry in the already above-average direct-to-video RELENTLESS series finds Detective Sam Dietz (Leo Rossi)--who's been resting "up north" from the psychological trauma of his previous case (tracking the occult killer played by Miles O'Keefe in DEAD ON: RELENTLESS II)
--pressured by Captain Phelan (Tom Bower) to rejoin the LAPD's Major Crime Unit. Its detectives, led by Lieutenant Muldowney (Edward Wiley) have been stymied by a savage killer who murders his thus-far two victims, biting and having sex with their corpses for days afterward before dumping them,
keeping a few body parts as mementos. Dietz is reluctant, but agrees to take a look, demanding that his former partner Roy Kalowsky (Robert Costanzo) rejoin him.
The killer, Walter (William Forsythe), who's psychologically torturing his nervous-wreck lover Marianne (Savannah Smith Boucher), picks up and slays congenial waitress Toni Keely (Stacy Edwards) and, to needle Dietz, sends him a fan letter along with the tattoo from her shoulder. Dietz can't
resist the challenge, and soon begins to suffer mentally for his diligence, causing his new lover Paula (Signy Coleman) concern. Walter soon starts toying with her, sending her a box of dead flowers, then kills Francine (Mindy Seeger), a cop-friend of Dietz's now working for the DA's office. A
line from Walter's letter nags at him, and Dietz traces it to the grisly diary kept by Arthur Porter, a serial killer Dietz previously put away. A visit to the Danemorra mental institution confirms that the doctors mixed up their inmates; Porter has escaped and, as Walter, is on the rampage once
again. Tracing him via her Danemorra visits to the home of Marianne, Dietz and Roy find only Marianne's dead body. Interrupted in a drag reverie, Walter kills two detectives (George Tovar, Jack Knight), depositing their scalped bodies in Paula's building's parking garage. Without their knowledge,
Dietz sets up Paula, then Roy, as bait, and when Roy is attacked at his home, Dietz brutally beats up Walter, who dies hours later in hospital. The final scene finds the divorced-for-three-years Dietz, suitcase in hand, visiting his son on a sunny playground.
Writer-director James Lemmo (HEART) inventively replays the search-for-serial killer scenario of the first two films with only a few illogical lapses. The film's premise recalls MANHUNTER(1986) and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991) (both based on novels by Thomas Harris), and Lemmo's screenplay is
sharply written, with crisp, noirish dialogue, while his direction is smooth and assured. The movie peters out somewhat toward the end, so that the final, hasty apprehension and vanquishing of the murderer is a tad anticlimactic.
Lemmo downplays the violence in favor of a more psychological study of hunter and hunted, and in keeping with its themes, the film's cinematography by Jacques Haitkin is dark-toned (unusual in the video area), with an excellent, effectively sparse use of Scott Grusin's somber score. (Violence,nudity, sexual situations, profanity.)
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- Released: 1993
- Rating: R
- Review: This third and best entry in the already above-average direct-to-video RELENTLESS series finds Detective Sam Dietz (Leo Rossi)--who's been resting "up north" from the psychological trauma of his previous case (tracking the occult killer played by Miles O'K… (more)