All-American Murder

  • 1992
  • Movie
  • R
  • Crime, Mystery, Thriller

For freshman Artie Logan, a college education means majoring in murder. Filled with overheated one-liners, ALL-AMERICAN MURDER infuses a complicated mystery plot about a young man wrongly accused of murder with incendiary suspense and a "Twin Peaks" style conclusion. Not since THE LAST OF SHEILA has there been such an entertaining blend of homicide and...read more

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For freshman Artie Logan, a college education means majoring in murder. Filled with overheated one-liners, ALL-AMERICAN MURDER infuses a complicated mystery plot about a young man wrongly accused of murder with incendiary suspense and a "Twin Peaks" style conclusion. Not since THE LAST OF

SHEILA has there been such an entertaining blend of homicide and humor.

For anyone planning the perfect crime, the embittered, attitude-oozing Artie Logan (Charlie Schlatter) is the perfect patsy. With a family quick to believe the worst about him and a questionable personal history involving arson, this schlemiel is given one last chance by his pompous father to

prove he's worthy of his privileged upbringing. Shunted off to a bible-thumping college in the midwest, Artie is bored senseless until he meets campus queen Tally Fuller (Josie Bisset). He sees her not only as a dream girl but as a symbol of the wholesome values his father wants him to espouse. No

wonder Artie's shaken to the core when someone torches Tally following their first date--every available clue points to him.

Another big-city refugee, Detective Decker (Christopher Walken) investigates the allegedly open-and-shut case but doesn't share the quick rush to judgment of his compatriots on the force. Giving Artie the benefit of the doubt, he appeals to the student's renegade spirit and allows him to go out

and find evidence that might clear him. Trying to solve the whodunit leads Artie to a dead end at first because Tally seems to have been such a squeaky-clean beacon of virtue. Once he realizes that Miss Pillar of College Society was just a role that Tally assumed to please her family and friends,

however, the pieces start to fall into place.

The campus turns out to be a cross between PEYTON PLACE and WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? If Artie didn't light Tally's fire, who did? Was it Tally's jock boyfriend with whom she snorted coke and enjoyed kinky threesomes? Should Artie be afraid of that brain-damaged handyman who sniffs lacy

underwear and stealthily snaps pornographic photos of the students? Could the killer be the dean's wife, Erica Darby (Joanna Cassidy), a boozehound who's already seduced Artie but may have been tiring of her husband's non-stop carousing? And what about Tally's dumpy pal Wendy Stern (Amy Davis) who

had learned that her treacherous friend had secretly blackballed her at a sorority? Before the film's chilling conclusion, several of these duplicitous characters meet untimely ends. At the climax, Artie manages to vindicate Decker's belief in him and to unmask the real "killer."

ALL-AMERICAN MURDER is a cheeky thriller strewn with enough red herrings to baffle the most inveterate armchair detectives. Almost impossible to review without divulging information that will spoil the surprise ending, ALL-AMERICAN MURDER is fast-paced fun that is short on logic but abundant in

thrills.

Surrounded by wonderful actors, Schlatter (HEARTBREAK HOTEL, 18 AGAIN!) walks a fine line between outright obnoxiousness and youthful exhuberance. Walken, appropriately saturnine, hits all the right notes as the dogged cop who has a hunch about Artie's innocence. Even better are Amy Davis as a

sharp-tongued collegiate outcast who fails to remold herself in her school's white-bread image and the always reliable Joanna Cassidy (THE STEPFORD WIVES, WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT), memorable as an alcoholic who's a sexual den mother for fraternity row.

Riddled with a senseless barrage of one-liners (not all of which hit their intended target), ALL-AMERICAN MURDER manages to amuse without ever sacrificing suspense. What lends the movie distinction is the subtext that the outward appearance of goodness may mask all manner of insidious evildoing.

What the film does is expose the worms lurking under the surface of this bedrock of the community--a Christian college. And what an intriguing group of worms they are--the cleancut jock who's a sex addict, and the holier-than-thou dean who believes retribution may come in the form of sexual

flagellation in bed.

In Barry Sandler's clever screenplay, no one is exempt from blame, as the audience questions the mentality of both religious zealots who hide behind their claims of being "saved" and the facile cynicism of the local cops who are more interested in a quick arrest than in finding a killer. In

penetrating the layers of hypocrisy beneath an institution and the surrounding community's feigned chasteness and rectitude, this thriller forges its mystery with a much more finely detailed foundation than is the case with run-of-the-mill policers. Like Tally, who is far more complex than she

appears to be, ALL-AMERICAN MURDER is a social satire about conformity, camouflaged as a darkly comic thriller. (Violence, substance abuse, profanity.)

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  • Released: 1992
  • Rating: R
  • Review: For freshman Artie Logan, a college education means majoring in murder. Filled with overheated one-liners, ALL-AMERICAN MURDER infuses a complicated mystery plot about a young man wrongly accused of murder with incendiary suspense and a "Twin Peaks" style… (more)

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