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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Mono
  Subtitles
    English, English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras

    Deathtrap

    Warner Bros./Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 114 mins . M15+ . PAL

      Feature
    Contract

    Deathtrap is a 1982 ‘whodunit’ mystery thriller starring Michael Caine, Christopher Superman Reeve and Dyan Cannon. It is a film with numerous sudden and dramatic plot twists and turns, double and triple-crosses, and many surprises that make it a difficult film to review without providing spoilers, but here goes.

    Caine stars as Sidney Bruhl, a respected and successful playwright who is on a losing steak. His latest play has been panned by the critics for its hackneyed dialogue, lack of originality and bland story. Wallowing in misery is not usually his style, and his wife, Myra (Cannon) tries her best to convince him that he still has what it takes and that a new and great script idea will come his way, which it does, but not from where he expects.

    Enter Clifford Anderson (Reeve), a former student of Sidney’s who has so much respect for him that he has sent his first play script for Sidney’s approval – and it’s a ripper. It’s so good in fact, and Sidney is so jealous and sure that it will be a winner, he makes plans to claim it as his own, but one thing stands in the way – the writer, Clifford!

    He formulates a plan to help Clifford workshop the play for it has “potential”. Letting it slip to Myra that he plans to murder Clifford and steal his work, Sidney finds himself in a corner when she is shocked by the idea. What to do? What to do?

    There is no way I can tell you much more without revealing some major plot twists and thereby ruining the surprises. Suffice it to say that many of them will be totally unexpected. The second half of the film gathers pace quickly, and the minimal cast does a great job maintaining the tension and delivering the surprises.

    Deathtrap began life as a play and became a Broadway hit for writer Ira Levine. The small number of sets, small cast, and the crucial props betray the film’s origins. The cast is very good as you would expect, and there are some rather humorous lines amongst the tension and drama. Those who can stick out the first half of the film which works hard to prepare for the second half will ultimately be rewarded.

      Video
    Contract

    At 20 years of age, the film is beginning to show its age, but there is no reason to despair. The aspect ratio of 1.85:1 is 16:9 enhanced and looks reasonably good. There is sufficient detail though it is not razor sharp. Colours are generally fine with some scenes appearing slightly washed out, but there is little evidence of bleeding and noise is not a factor.

    Black levels are solid without being impressive, and shadow detail is mostly good, apart from some deliberately very darkened scenes at the end of the film, with lightning flashes used to great effect.

    The print is really quite clean with very little in the way of dirt and marks, with just a few small and quick white specks that occasionally flash. Aliasing and shimmer would appear not to be a problem, and there is no layer change on this single layer, bare bones DVD. Only those expecting brilliance will be disappointed.

      Audio
    Contract

    Can you say ‘bland’? Good, because that’s really what this Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track is. There are no problems with the basics of clarity, volume and synchronisation, but that’s where it all begins and ends really. There is no separation of sound, no rear channel action, no subwoofer and not much of anything else. The thunderstorm scene fails to impress as far as the audio goes, and there is a general lack of fidelity overall. A perfectly serviceable effort, but one unlikely to win any awards.

      Extras
    Contract

    There are no extras.

      Overall  
    Contract

    This DVD has to be judged purely on the feature and the audio and video quality, but then again, so do many others. The film is quite engrossing (once it gets going), the video looks fine, the audio is pedestrian, but there are no extras. Michael Caine fans will tell you he does a good job, but then he always does. Reeve is likewise good, but I guess the film will always be remembered for that Caine/Reeve moment, and while for many it will come from left field, the more observant may not be quite so surprised.


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      And I quote...
    "Double and triple crossing, more twists than a fairground ride, a thunderstorm, a blackout, and a pistol… classic whodunit fare!"
    - Terry Kemp
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Akai
    • TV:
          TEAC CT-F803 80cm Super Flat Screen
    • Receiver:
          Pioneer VSX-D409
    • Speakers:
          Wellings
    • Centre Speaker:
          Wellings
    • Surrounds:
          Wellings
    • Subwoofer:
          Sherwood SP 210W
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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