Wednesday, April 16, 2014

THE REFLECTING SKIN (1990) (Echo Bridge DVD Review)


Label: Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
Duration: 96 Minutes
Rating:  R
Audio: English Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 
Video: Fullscreen (1.33:1) 
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Jeremy Cooper, Duncan Fraser, Lindsay Duncan
Director: Philip Ridley 
Tagline: Sometimes terrible things happen quite naturally.

Seth is an impressionable and disturbed eight-year-old growing up in the rural America of the 1950, a warped David Lynchian-Norman Rockwell nightmare, an American Gothic tale populated by murderous greasers and an eccentric one-eyed sheriff with a prosthetic arm. The kind of place where a bored young boys resort to exploding frogs for fun and a child's friends are murdered one by one until his only companion is the discarded corpse of a fetus kept in a box under his bed. The sort of place where the widow down the road is certainly a vampire, where a domineering wife drives her husband to to commit suicide in a gasoline fueled dust devil. Prepare yourself for a melancholic nightmare set to endless fields of grain and big sky.

For years director Phillip Ridley haunting debut film The Reflecting Skin (1990) was unavailable on DVD and sat in the Miramax vault gathering dust. Echo Bridge Home Entertainment licensed a number of titles from Weinstein's and now we have it on DVD for the first time. Unfortunately the transfer is a fullframe port of what would appear to be a VHS master or Laserdisc with the grain smeared away. The image is undefined, drab and plagued by artifacting. The Dolby Digital stereo audio is soft and the levels fluctuate wildly, it's just not a pretty sight.  

This is a gorgeously shot film and for it to languish on such a poor DVD is quite a crime, this might not be a lost classic but it's certainly a neglected slice of 90's cinema deserving of a new HD transfer. Fans of  disturbed youth cinema like Butcher Boy (1997) or The Other (1972) definitely need to check this one out, it's a kindred spirit.