A quicksilver, threatening interp by Michael Biehn supplies most of the vigor in the telefilm "A Taste for Killing," in which two wealthy pre-law students, thanks to parental pull, go to work on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico and bump into murder. As pulp magazine material, Dan Bronson's teleplay, based on a story by Allen Rucker and Hudson Marquez, hits bedrock.

A quicksilver, threatening interp by Michael Biehn supplies most of the vigor in the telefilm “A Taste for Killing,” in which two wealthy pre-law students, thanks to parental pull, go to work on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico and bump into murder. As pulp magazine material, Dan Bronson’s teleplay, based on a story by Allen Rucker and Hudson Marquez, hits bedrock.

Wealthy Jason Bateman and Henry Thomas, who plan to work on the rig for the summer, right off the bat run into trouble with their bad-tempered boss, Blue Deckert.

Welder Biehn, playing it charming, not only takes their side in a fight with Deckert but slays him with a plank and makes it look as if Bateman and Thomas are the killers. Then, it’s blackmail.

Director Lou Antonio keeps the actioner moving along fast but not fast enough to hide such dumbo moves as Bateman taking an expensive gold watch to the rig site, neither of the men asking for help from their powerful lawyer-dads, or Bateman letting vicious murderer Biehn feed him booze and dope.

The vidpic makes a stab at psychological insight into Thomas’ reticent character by having him reel off a tale about his father molesting one of his dates, but it’s irrelevant; Thomas plays the part credibly enough as someone who is dependent on a friend but who becomes a man on his own terms.

As for the character played by Bateman, he’s a wealthy man’s spoiled son who’s minus a quart of oil; Bateman works out the role in OK fashion.

Helen Cates as a rig worker tumbling for Thomas displays authority, and Deckert offers a good nasty blowhard. But it’s Biehn who’s the project’s live wire; his is a cool study.

Production designer C. Robert Holloway gives the vidpic a naturalistic feel, and Gayne Rescher’s customary top-flight camerawork is in order–including a scene in which Bateman sits alone drunk in the dark in the family dining room. Gary Griffen’s editing is a plus.

Usa World Premiere Movie a Taste for Killing

(Wed. (12), 9-11 p.m., USA)

Production

Filmed in Houston and Galveston, Texas, by Bodega Bay Prods. in association with MCA TV Entertainment. Exec producer, Barry Greenfield; producer, Michael S. Murphey; director, Lou Antonio; writer, Dan Bronson; story, Allen Rucker, Hudson Marquez.

Crew

Camera, Gayne Rescher; editor, Gary Griffen; sound, Stacy Brownrigg; music, Mark Snow; production designer, C. Robert Holloway.

Cast

Cast: Jason Bateman, Henry Thomas, Michael Biehn, Helen Cates, Blue Deckert, Fred Lerner, Dan Ammerman, Richard Dillard, Diana Perella, Dru Mouser, Renee Zellwegger, Dennis Letts, Rutherford Cravens, Woody Watson, Brandon Smith, Helena Humann, Harry Melching, Cyril Lavender, Jimmy Pickens, Nelly Burns, Karen Taylor.
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