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  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
    English, English - Hearing Impaired


    Warner Bros./Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 110 mins . M15+ . PAL


    Surprisingly, this film impressed me a bit. I was expecting a run of the mill horror flick, but actually got a fairly intelligent and well-crafted mystery film with a horror theme.

    Based in New York City, a rich corporate type and his wife are brutally slaughtered in Battery Park, leading washed-up detective Dewey Wilson into an increasingly bizarre investigation. With the help of cutting edge forensics in the form of Withington (Gregory Hines), an attendant with the coroner’s office, curious facts begin to emerge as similar crimes continue.

    "You can’t eat just one..."

    With diseased organs being removed and parts of the bodies being eaten, Dewey gets closer to the truth through Eddie Holt (Edward James Olmos), a Native American now working the high steel of New York’s bridges. Running alongside is a terrorist angle that has some similarities to the case and it isn’t long until the two collide, revealing the truth... or do they?

    Like I said, it’s a mystery, so I won’t rat out the ending here, regardless of the title kinda doing so. And as to the cover art on the DVD, well... I might say that this actually detracts from the quality of the film, as it looks like a cheesy horror film when it actually delivers so much more.


    A lot of the film is set among the ruins of the projects, with some incredibly nice gothic shots of a burnt-out church among the slums. Delivered in the full cinema aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (despite the cover saying it’s only 1.85:1) with anamorphic enhancement, the full use of the screen size has been beautifully crafted to include the full scope of the city and the ruins and the church against bloody sunsets. This is a lot of the film’s appeal right here in the visuals that truly set the scene and put across the film’s point.

    Whilst some interior scenes are grainy, these don’t occur frequently, although a good example can be seen at 1:33:55 - 1:34:00. Colours are bright and vibrant, though we don’t get a wide range of warm colours, rather a wide array of earth tones to lend feeling to the urban decay. Contrast is quite dark in the opening night scenes of the film, though this sets itself right before the next night shots come along and doesn’t repeat itself. Film artefacts naturally occur, although these aren’t frequent and not too distracting when they do. There is a film reflection or ripple at 1:22:43 that is probably the worst offender, and even this is brief and barely noticed. Shadow detail is quite excellent as well and pretty important in a horror vehicle with a lot of night scenes and eerie shadows. A remarkably nice visual transfer overall.


    Dolby Digital stereo seems the option of the day in these older pieces, but for the film’s purposes this is entirely adequate. Dialogue is perhaps a little lower than the surrounding music, unbalancing the levels just slightly. However, the music is an important part of any horror film, and the score by James Horner (Titanic, The Mask of Zorro) is quite able and does build the tension nicely.

    Sound effects, while few, do come from the stock canister a little in gunfire, but then, what doesn’t? When we see through the eyes of the ‘unknown predator’ there is a peculiar vision to the picture accompanied by a sort of audible hissing/understated growling much in the same way the Predator saw and heard in the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle, Twins. No, Predator, actually, not Twins. Oh well, same thing.


    All down in the morgue with tags on their toes. Oh, no, wait, there are interactive menus and scene access. My mistake...


    Entirely watchable, if a little long at 110 minutes, this is a truly surprising film. The quality of some bloody special effects are pretty top notch, even by today’s standard and haven’t aged much at all. Great performances from the entire cast - who are taking the film seriously - really add depth to it. Unfortunately, Dewey’s character doesn’t quite get developed enough, as we learn something about him burning out, but are never quite filled in on how or why and why it should matter to the case.

    Be that as it may, this is still a visually stunning film with some fantastic shots of New York City circa 1981 from some unusual vantage points and has an interesting storyline and great performances. Plus, when given the cheap asking price, this represents some pretty fine value. Recommended viewing for the horror fan, or even those who enjoy an X-Files-style mystery.

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=3244
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      And I quote...
    "The gothic New York City captured in a visually stunning and curiously X-Files style horror mystery from 1981."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nintaus DVD-N9901
    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
    • Receiver:
    • Speakers:
    • Surrounds:
          No Name
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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