A gruesome, heavily fictionalized rehash of the notorious case of California serial killer Richard Ramirez (whose frenzied crime spree also inspired William Friedkin's 1988 RAMPAGE), this exploitation picture looks as ugly as it is. Set in 1985, the film begins as Ramirez (Bret Roberts), high on crack cocaine, graduates from S&M porn fantasies to serial killing, terrorizing Los Angeles neighborhoods with random assaults. Policewoman Gabriela Martinez (Roselyn Sanchez), who doesn't realize her recent promotion to detective was just a cynical departmental nod to women's rights, joins the seasoned male homicide cops stymied by the Nightstalker. While Gabriel's former partner, cynical Frank Luis (Danny Trejo), is merely disgusted by the clannishness of the department's white officers, Gabriela chooses to battle racism and sexism by being twice as good at what she does. The team's chief detective boozes on the job and derides Gabriela's efforts, but her new partner, Detective Elliot (Derek Hamilton), pays attention to her opinions. Meanwhile, the Nightstalker's reign of terror continues: He slays a gas station attendant and, in one of his most horrific attacks, murders a man, rapes his wife and then returns for their teenage daughter. The two brutalized women escape Ramirez's clutches and their eyewitness testimony backs up many of Gabriela's suppositions about the killer. Unfortunately, she's betrayed by a nosy newswoman who leaks official information that angers the killer. That breach endangers both the reporter and Gabriela's family. Gabriela and Elliot risk their lives to rescue a prostitute from the Nightstalker and capture the cornered killer. Even after his arrest, Ramirez raises hell within the California penal system. This meretricious shocker uses fast-motion photography to suggest the murderer's wired mental state but ultimately offers less insight than a newspaper headline. Though writer-director Chris Fisher revels in details of the crimes, he doesn't even attempt to analyze Ramirez's viciously aberrant behavior.
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- Released: 2002
- Rating: R
- Review: A gruesome, heavily fictionalized rehash of the notorious case of California serial killer Richard Ramirez (whose frenzied crime spree also inspired William Friedkin's 1988 RAMPAGE), this exploitation picture looks as ugly as it is. Set in 1985, the film b… (more)