Tuesday, August 30, 2022

MURDER STORY On Blu-ray From Severin


Included in Severin's THE EUROCRYPT OF CHRISTOPHER LEE COLLECTION 2 Blu-ray box set is the very obscure--and very generically titled--MURDER STORY (1988). 

American teenager Tony (Alexis Denisof) lives in the Netherlands (his father is stationed on a U.S. Air Force base there). Tony is an aspiring writer, and he encounters mystery novelist Willard Hope (Christopher Lee). While coming up with story ideas, Tony and Willard stumble across a murderous plot involving an alternate energy source. 

MURDER STORY was written and directed by Eddie Arno & Markus Innocenti, who gained noticed by working on several famous music videos in the 1980s. This was the duo's first feature film, and it's capably done....but it feels very much like an episode of an American mystery/adventure TV show that goes on too long. This movie is rated PG, and it could easily play unedited on prime time television. The story is focused on Tony and his girlfriend Marty (Stacia Burton), and they're very clean cut. MURDER STORY is much more like a modern-day Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew tale than a engaging mystery thriller. 

It's surprising that the film is so tame, considering it was made at the height of the hone video rental era, when low-budget independent filmmakers would go out of their way to get their products any sort of attention. Despite Arno & Innocenti's music video background, there's no over-the-top camera or editing tricks used here. 

The decision to set the story in Holland was the idea of the producers, apparently to save money. This results in the movie getting a bit of a different look than similar projects made around the same time. But it's a bit strange that a story that takes place in the Netherlands does not have any major characters who are natives of that country. 

MURDER STORY does give Christopher Lee a chance to play a "normal" character for change. It appears that Lee enjoyed this opportunity. Lee could have taken the easy road and portrayed Willard Hope as a crusty curmudgeon, but his Hope is a kindly (if a bit formal) fellow who doesn't look down on Tony and Marty. Lee has an easy rapport with the young actors he shares most of his scenes with, and the movie sorely misses his presence when he's no longer around. The mid-to-late 1980s was not the best period for Lee when it came to the type of projects he was working on. Willard Hope is actually one of the better roles for Lee around this time. 

Alexis Denisof and Stacia Burton are likable (if somewhat bland) as the young leads, and Bruce Boa is a decent villain. Boa played Rebel General Rieekan in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, and MURDER STORY has another STAR WARS connection, other than Lee--Garrick Hagon plays the part of Tony's dad. Hagon was Biggs in the original STAR WARS. 

MURDER STORY is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and the picture and sound quality are excellent. The extras include a trailer, and a short talk with producer Tom Reeve, who discusses why the movie was made in Holland and his relationship with Christopher Lee. 

There's also a new audio commentary with writer-directors Eddie Arno and Markus Innocenti, moderated by Severin's David Gregory. The duo give out all the background info you could want on the film, while going over their own careers in the entertainment industry. Christopher Lee is not the focus of this talk, but the two men do share some stories about him (they both enjoyed working with Lee). 

Also included on this multi-region (A,B, and C) disc is a bonus feature: 1985's MASK OF MURDER. I'll cover that in a separate blog post. 

MURDER STORY isn't a major highlight of Christopher Lee's acting career, but it's much more watchable--and likable--than most of the other work he was involved in during the 1980s. I have a feeling that most Lee fans have never even heard of it, let alone seen it. Despite its rarity, Severin gives it a high-class presentation. 


  1. I agree with you that this film has a made-for-TV aura, and that it's nothing terribly special. Still, it's nice to see Mr. Lee at this stage of his life and career. He does a good job, but I wasn't pleased with the demise of his character!

    1. I certainly wasn't either! My immediate reaction was "This movie's still got over a half hour left!"