"Death Wish II," now blighting the lives of moviegoers in several major cities, gives you a rotten 89 minutes of night photography and close-ups of a man with the face of a dessicated bulldog.
This is Charles Bronson, as architect Paul Kervey, who wears a suit during the day and a black watchcap at night. When he dons the cap, people die.
The picture puts Bronson in Los Angeles five years after the murder of his wife and rape of his daughter made "DW I" such a great success. Surveying Hollywood Boulevard with the outrage of an Arthur Dimsdale, Bronson has new crimes imposed on his life and resumes his vigilante shtick.
Ugly and perversely lascivious, "DW II" not only has the usual pornography of violence, but is an endurance test without a glimmmer of life or ingenuity.
In the first 10 minutes Bronson's housekeeper is raped and ravaged; it is to her nakedness and suffering that we are most directed by the director, Michael Winner. A gang of young thugs, so integrated and well- organized they look like a CETA project that works, attacks her, kidnaps Bronson's daughter (still catatonic from her last Michael Winner picture) and coshes Bronson.
The daughter doesn't make it through the next 10 minutes, and when he comes to and finds her murdered, old frogface gets his gun, rents a seedy apartment in ethnic Los Angeles, and is on the loose once more.
This 89-minute dance of urban violence resembles a movie only when Vincent Gardenia, as a New York detective who comes looking for Bronson in L.A., is onscreen. Gardenia chews cigars and scenery, sweats kitchen grease, wheezes and does his almost inimitable walking pastrami number during his dozen minutes.
But his lines disgrace him: His farewell down-the-drain speech drags even the Lord's Prayer into this fog of filth.
The movie does have plenty of rodents, knifings, one exploding car and a horrific visual pun of electroshock therapy as crime prevention. There's no kick, just sick: people who weren't being paid to watch walked out of the screening.
Jill Ireland, a stunning woman who is Mrs. Charles Bronson onscreen and in fact, also walks out on him in the movie. It's the only satisfying scene. DEATH WISH II -- At 30 area theaters.