Picks and Pans Review: Manhunt: Search for the Night Stalker

updated 11/13/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/13/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

NBC (Sun., Nov. 12, 9 P.M. ET)

C+

In 1985 California was terrorized by a random string of brutal murders, sexual assaults and burglaries, a series of crimes for which Richard Ramirez, the so-called Night Stalker, was convicted little more than a month ago. Now viewers are beset by an equally brutal, random TV movie about Ramirez's crimes and capture. Like ABC's recent Preppie Murder, Manhunt lacks a unifying point of view or any insight into the criminal mind—relying on the lurid notoriety of its subject alone to bring in an audience.

Richard Jordan and A Martinez star as the Los Angeles detectives in charge of the investigation in this scattered and strident shlockudrama. The disassociated mood of the film is exacerbated by Jordan's schizophrenic performance. He shifts his character all over the lot—one moment he's reassuring and compassionate, the next he's sarcastic and cynical.

Soap star Martinez, of Santa Barbara, is much more controlled, at least in the first half hour. After that, he and the rest of the cast walk around grumpily sniping at each other. Early on, Jordan remarks of the Night Stalker's MO: "This doesn't hang together." Neither does this violent, repugnant movie.

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