Saturday, October 25, 2014

AUDREY ROSE (1977)

AUDREY ROSE (1977)
Label: Twilight Time 
Region Code: Region FREE
Rating: PG
Duration: 113 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 with Optional English SDH Subtitles
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: Robert Wise
Cast:  John Hillerman, Anthony Hopkins, John Beck, Marsha Mason, Susan Swift, Norman Lloyd

SYNOPSIS: 
Audrey Rose (1977), the incomparable Robert Wise’s eerie adaptation of Frank De Felitta’s novel, gives us an affluent New York couple (Marsha Mason and John Beck) at a loss to explain the transformation of their heretofore happy little girl (Susan Swift) into a nightmare-ridden visionary, haunted by intimations of violent death. Until, that is, a stranger (Anthony Hopkins) appears, insisting that little Ivy is, in fact, the reincarnated—and tortured—soul of his own daughter, Audrey Rose, who died in a tragic accident just as Ivy was being born. Shot by the great Victor Kemper (Dog Day Afternoon), and featuring a score—available on this Twilight Time release as an isolated track—by that prince of dark music, Michael Small (Klute, Marathon Man).

THE FILM: 
Audrey Rose opens during a down pour, a mother and daughter are driving to an unspecified location when a car heading the opposite direction veers down an embankment and into oncoming traffic which results in the mother and child dying a fiery death. It's a scene that eerily mirrors a similar opening scenario in the classic haunter THE CHANGELING. We’re then introduced to Janice and Bill Templeton and their young daughter Ivy (Susan Swift, HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS). Ivy suffers from tormented visions of a fiery death. The nightmares are getting progressively worse and have begun manifesting in the form of violent waking nightmares and sleepwalking. About this time her parents notice a strange man bearded following them on several occasions. The stranger seems unnaturally drawn to their daughter. The stranger turns out to be Elliot Hoover, the grieving father of the the young girl killed in the crash at the top of the film. Hoover is played by a very sympathetic yet intense Sir Anthony Hopkins (SILENCE OF THE LAMBS). It eventually comes to light, though convoluted it may be, that Elliot believes the day his daughter died her soul was reincarnated into the body of the newly born Ivy. Hopkins plays the role with such sincerity but also a bit demented, you never believe he might harm the girl but you’re not quite sure what his end game might be. The parents balk at the notion though eventually the mother comes around to believe while the father becomes more hostile towards Elliot, frustrated that he is powerless to help his own daughter while this stranger comes into her life offering her some relief.

The first time I watched this film I think I may have come to it with a bit too much enthusiasm or expectation on my part. I’d the preconception that it would be an eerie chiller along the lines of Robert Wise's fantastic spook film THE HAUNTING. The docudrama style felt a bit antiseptic at times and once the courtroom drama part kicked in the film ground to a halt for me and never quite picked-up again. What we have here is far less a supernatural thriller and more of an examination of reincarnation, which was interesting in theory but did not wow me at the end of the day.

Thankfully we have some very good performances of Hopkins and the awkward Swift who was quite a strange looking adolescent at the time. The night terrors she suffered were pretty damn tense, the most chilling scenes involved Ivy running through the house clawing at the windows in an attempt to escape the fiery car of her nightmare, it's very effective. Hopkins portrayal of Mr. Hoover is tense and demented but not quite over-the-top, though I did crack a smile a few times at just how intense both Hopkins and Swift can be.

BLU-RAY: 

The Blu-ray from Twilight Time is quite an improvement over the letter boxed DVD I've had sitting on my shelf for years but it's not the most stunning HD presentation. Colors are decent but it's a grainy affair that's not very crisp image, but still a pleasing image just not optional.

The English DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio handles the dialogue, effects and score quite nicely, there's even an isolated score track for fans of Michael Small's eerie score. 

Extras consist of the aforementioned isolated score track, a trailer and the 8 page collector's booklet with writing on the film from film authority Julie Kirgo with a theatrical poster and still photos from the film. 

VERDICT: 
While I don’t think that AUDREY ROSE is a classic film along the lines of THE HAUNTING or THE CHANGELING but it’s an interesting examination of reincarnation and fans of psychological horror and paranormal cinema should take note, but not a film I can see revisiting a whole bunch.As part of Twilight Time's limited edition series of Blu-ray this is limited to just 3000 for sale, so act quickly if your keen to get one, available exclusively from www.screenarchibes.com.  3.5 out of 5 stars

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