Out of the Darkness (TV Movie 1985) Poster

(1985 TV Movie)

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Michael_Elliott27 February 2008
Out of the Darkness (1985)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Made for TV movie about Detective Eddie Zigo (Martin Sheen) who is trying to keep his personal life on track while hunting down the Son of Sam killer. This movie left me pretty disappointed because it promised to "tell you new things" but it hardly deals with the actual Son of Sam case. Most of the film deals with Sheen's sick wife, which is fine but it's all very routine. The Son of Sam case is barely talked about and we really don't get too much behind the scenes info on what the police were thinking or doing at the time. Towards the end when they finally capture the guy things really pick up but by then it's too late. Sheen is good in his role as is Hector Elizondo, Robert Trebor and Joe Spinell.
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Overdone and melodramatic: film tries too hard.
kergillian27 April 2001
I didn't realize this was a TV movie while watching it, though in retrospect it makes perfect sense. This film tries to be a cop film and a romantic drama all wrapped into one package. It fails miserably; in the end it's pure cheeze. I don't know how historically accurate this is (though I assume it's quite accurate as Ed Ziggo was technical advisor - and appeared in the film (look for him as the negotiator with a megaphone) but accuracy aside, it doesn't matter how realistic it is because not enough time is spent on the story anyhow. There's *way* too much focus on Ed's private life, and the focus, though interesting at times, doesn't fit in with the main plot. Too much background, too much straying into his personal life, too much time spent on detail we don't need to see. Much of it doesn't have anything to do with the main story or an effect on the main story. And we need more of a main story - there's not enough tension in the cop part of the film, and I quickly lose interest without it.

On the other hand, Sheen and Elizondo steal the show. Their normally brilliant acting isn't quite as brilliant as usual (mainly due to a poor script and hopelessly generic characterization) but nonetheless saves the film from utter horror. Sheen especially makes this film much more interesting than it should be. Trebor was also quite interesting as Berkowitz, though his dialogue was pretty cheezy as well... Unfortunately, most of the rest of the cast, each playing stereotypical and cliched characters, are not of nearly the same acting caliber and therefore pull the film back down again. Especially annoying was his daughter, a second-rate job on a character who was much more instrumental than she should have been.

Sightings: look for a *very* young Eriq LaSalle (aka Dr. Peter Benton on ER) playing Bobby. And look for D.B. Sweeney (Cutting Edge) in another small role.

Overall: Was mildly amusing. I don't particularly regret seeing it. But it was definitely nothing special. Because of the solid acting job by Sheen, Elizondo and Trebor: 5/10.
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Martin Sheen and Hector Elizondo....
MarieGabrielle2 September 2006
more than make up for the story line in this film, supposedly dealing with Son of Sam/David Berkowitz, but also depicting Detective Ed Zigo's private life, and work on the case.

Martin Sheen seems to consistently transcend poorly written material; even in the film "The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane" also starring Jodi Foster, he is the standout.

This film may not accurately address all the "Son of Sam" crimes, but we are probably due for a remake (now that they are producing a film about Mark David Chapman/John Lennon's assassin).

Robert Trebor is very good as Berkowitz, certainly resembles him physically. Elizondo, as the local priest, has a few lines which are indelible. When they are in the NY aquarium, observing oddities of nature, he reminds Sheen: ..."" that there are people still alive, walking around, who are more dead inside""... A brilliant insight which may have been more developed.

All in all, if you like Sheen or Elizondo, you will appreciate their performances. 8/10.
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tone-perfect docu-drama
jimi995 May 2009
Most negative comments on docu-dramas usually focus on factual inaccuracies, which is certainly valid. My highest rating for this intense TV movie is based entirely on the dramatic elements, not knowing all the details of the Son of Sam case myself. There seem to be two camps who "own" the story, the Jimmy Breslin group which includes Spike Lee, who based his "Summer of Sam" film on Breslin's book. Ed Zigo is the hero here, and Breslin is dissed early in the "Out of the Darkness" by the Brooklyn cops who are the focus of this tight and emotionally rewarding film.

As portrayed by Martin Sheen, Ed Zigo's professional and family life is richly revealed. Sheen is completely believable (except probably for those who know Ed Zigo personally), and he sets the acting bar at an extremely high level. The fine supporting cast, led by Elizondo as the aquarium-loving priest, are up to the task. The script is as naturalistic and engrossing as any you will find in a TV movie, and the outstanding location shooting add to the pitch-perfect atmosphere.

When you see the real-life hero of the film listed as the technical adviser, you always suspect he or she is going to be shown in a positive if not downright glorified way. I don't need to know Ed Zigo to know that this is a truly great film, made-for-TV or not, with real drama, suspense, fascinating characters, and large emotional rewards.
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Decent made for T.V. about Son of Sam
melissa-5818 August 2002
Pretty good for a made for T.V. Voted a 9 because of all the small parts played by actors not yet famous. Pretty neat to spot them all! Look for Eriq La Salle and Charlie Sheen to name a few. Fun to watch and a good story telling!
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Read a book or something...
rmax30482313 August 2002
What could be an interesting story about a madman and the police in pursuit of him is turned into a soap-opera tragedy of the week punctuated by a few anonymous shots fired from a pistol in close up. We learn an awful lot about Detective Ed Zigo's tribulations, mainly centering about his wife's terminal illness, and very little about the key figure in the story. David Berkowitz was a paranoid schizophrenic who worked for the post office and obeyed orders given to him by a neighborhood dog, which he called "Sam." He led the police and the press a merry chase. The newspapers and TV reporters of the time were going berserk with speculation. He was an ex-policeman because he used the two-handed combat crouch that cops used. (All he had to do to learn that stance was go to a movie.) He was on the lookout for girls with long brown hair parted in the middle because of some buried trauma. (Every young woman in the United States of America had long brown hair parted in the middle.) He was an artist or an architect because of the fussily neat printing he used in his letters to journalists. (He was nothing of the sort, just a guy with neat printing.) He had some kind of cowboy complex because he used a .44 caliber weapon. (It was just convenient, he had other weapons too.)

He turned out to be, not David Berkowitz, but rather "David Berkowitz," an adopted child with an Italian background. (All my Jewish friends breathed a sigh of relief.) Whatever his background he was nutty as a fruitcake. A hole in his apartment wall had a cartoon balloon over it, saying, "Hi. My name is Mr. Williams and I live in this hole." The fact that a guy so flagrantly nuts could work in an ordinary post office without detection is almost as scary as the fact that he could stalk the streets at night.

The story was filled with ironies. The ol' .44 he toted was built by Charter Arms. It's a large-caliber gun. Yet, despite firing at very close range, he only managed to kill six of his 13 victims with it. Was it possible that Charter Arms' .44 pistol wasn't really as lethal as everyone had thought? A spokesman for the firm was more or less forced, in effect, to defend the product and apologize for the fact that most of the victims survived.

None of this is in the film. Not that the acting is poor. Martin Sheen is quite good, as usual, especially hustling across the street to inform his partners that he has just discovered the shooter's identity after searching his car, practically dancing with excitement. But the people making this film didn't seem to know what they were aiming for. The first several shootings take place without elaboration or explanation before we meet any of the characters. The procedures involved in tracking Son of Sam down are skipped over, as if they were interruptions of the tragic drama of Zigo's life, the main subject of the movie. James Edward Olmos, a first-rate actor, is given a surfeit of screen time at the expense of the detective story. There are extended family scenes that deserve no more than footnotes. All of this detracts from the impact and suspense of a sensational story, even from our interest in it.

Where did the director and the writers think they were going with this? Into Plan A, The disease of the week protocol? If you want to learn about the case, read one of the several books available about it, including a novelized version by Jimmy Breslin. Don't waste time on this misguided effort.
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Inaccurate movie: John Falotico arresting officer of Son of Sam
michaeltfalotico26 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
In my view, this film is misleading and inaccurate. The film glosses over the real story, which is how my uncle, Detective John Falotico, was OFFICIALLY CREDITED BY THE NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT as the arresting officer of the Son of Sam. Indeed, Ed Zigo was not even present at the arrest. REPEAT: Ed Zigo was not even present at the arrest. REPEAT AGAIN: Ed Zigo was not even present at the arrest.

The discovery of a parking ticket which led to the killer's vehicle was made from interviews my uncle took from witnesses at the scene of the last murder. Det. Falotico then made the arrest of the Son of Sam. Again, Det. Falotico was officially credited with the "collar" i.e., the arresting officer of the Son of Sam. Detective Zigo's role seems to be limited to searching the vehicle (without a warrant). Det. Zigo was not present at the arrest because he was getting a warrant.

Interested readers should read the account from the Los Angeles Times, October 12, 1985. In it my uncle is quoted as saying,

"It is my contention that this program that is being aired is like a travesty of justice," Falotico told The Times. "It's a hoax played on the public because, as you know, in any major investigation no one person is a hero."

Falotico claims that Zigo was his assistant on the case and "not the major investigator in this case." Yet Falotico's name is never mentioned in "Out of the Darkness."

Moreover, check out the obituary for Detective John Falotico from the New York Times in 2006. That gives an accurate version of the facts. Contrast that New York Times obituary with that of Ed Zigo from the New York Times. The New York Times gets the facts right! Don't believe the "docu-drama" . . . it is more drama than "docu". James Justus was the detective that traced the ticket to the Ford vehicle (after my uncle learned from witnesses of the parking ticket). Read the obituaries for both Falotico and Zigo from the New York Times to get a better and true idea of what really happened.
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A colossal disappointment
gmm-212 December 2002
The above average ratings of this made-for-TV movie seem way too high. I expected an in-depth look at the search for the "Son of Sam," and instead found a mushy look at the familial life of the lead investigator, played by Sheen. In fact, the Son of Sam character was not developed at all. The only reason I stuck through the film was my prior interest to find out how the police captured Sam. It is very difficult to believe that this is the same Sheen who made Apocalypse Now just six years before this.
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Very true and very romantic
annery18 March 1999
The movie presents a horrific time in New York in a very positive way. Giving facts. Also letting us in on what it is like to be a policeman with a family. Very good movie.
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