Relentless (1989)

I can't say any member of the 1980s "Brat Pack" had a lasting career.  Emilio Estevez had the most success after The Breakfast Club, with Molly Ringwald being fondly remembered for the few movies she was in around the same time.  Judd Nelson was the one that I'm sure a lot of people thought would go further.  Traditionally good looking and able to play the bad boy with a heart of gold he instead became evolved into a b-movie actor.  One of those happened to be William Lustig's 1989 serial killer film Relentless. 

Sam Dietz (Leo Rossi) is a former New York police officer who has relocated to Los Angeles with his wife Carol (Meg Foster) and son Corey (Brendan Ryan).  On his first day being promoted to detective he is teamed with veteran detective Malloy (Robert Loggia) who has become disenchanted with his job to the point of not caring if a case is solved or not.  Dietz, however, is of the opinion that he is the only one concerned with doing real police work.

The case they are assigned is that of a serial killer that leaves pages torn out of the phone book with messages mocking the police.  That killer happens to be Buck Taylor (Nelson), the son of a former police officer that was rejected for service on the force.  Feeling that he is a failure to his father he begins his reign of terror, daring the police to come find him.  Soon Dietz manages to get Malloy involved in solving the case, but his obsession with catching the killer may have personal repercussions.

Like much of Lustig's director-for-hire material Relentless is thin on plot but worth a watch because many elements bleed over from his own horror and exploitation films.  One of those elements is Rossi, who frequently collaborated with Lustig, and would play a major role in Maniac Cop 2He typically does a great job, and here he has some easy chemistry with both Robert Loggia and Meg Foster, despite the short run time stripping back much of the character development. 

Rossi may get a good portion of the screen time, but Judd Nelson got top billing.  Buck Taylor is not the most memorable serial killer, but at least Nelson does a solid job.  Taylor often goes into a robotic mode when it comes to killing, methodically obeying all the laws and rules until he makes it to the location of the murder.  He is also thin-skinned which, like a lot of television and movie serial killers, proves to be his undoing.  He is able to maintain an unsettling aura when committing the murders, so he is at least believable.

As usual Lustig is good at set pieces, and the best here is a musician being stalked by Taylor through her house and a scene near the end where Dietz desperately tries to make his way through the crowded streets of Los Angeles to bring the killer down.  The movie was popular enough to make a slight profit at the box office, resulting in three direct-to-video sequels with Rossi reprising the role of Dietz as he goes after a number of other serial killers.  This film will not be on the top of anyone's list for crime films of the 1980s, and it certainly did more for Rossi's career than it did for Nelson's, but it has its moments and is a decent enough hard-boiled thriller.  

Relentless (1989)
Time: 92 minutes
Starring: Leo Rossi, Judd Nelson, Robert Loggia, Meg Foster
Director: William Lustig 



  1. Another one that it's too bad it's not streaming "free" or I'd probably watch it. Too bad it didn't work out for Judd Nelson.


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