Tuesday, March 24, 2015

NIGHT GAME (1989)

 
NIGHT GAME (1989)
Label: Olive Films
Region: A
Rating: R
Duration: 95 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo 
Video: HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Peter Masterson
Cast: Roy Scheider, Richard Bradford, Lane Smith,Karen Young, Lane Smith, Paul Gleason

Night Game (1989) is a crime-drama with some very minor slasher tendencies and a killer with a novel baseball-themed motivation. We have Roy Scheider (Jaws) playing Detective Mike Seaver, a former minor league baseball player turned copper who is investigating the murders of several young women in and around the Galveston area of Texas. The killer is slashing the throats of young women with some sort of hook implement and leaving condescending notes on their corpses. Spoiler alert, if you have seen the artwork on the Blu-ray just what that hook-type weapon might be will not be a surprise. 

Det. Seaver is an avid fan of the Houston Astros and soon pieces together that the murders are only happening during the Astros night games at the Astrodome and only when they win the game. There are bot too many sports themes slashers out there, in fact the only two that I can think of are Graduation Day (1981) and Night of the Dribbler (1990), and maybe with good reason after watching this one.

Aside from The French Connection (1971) and Jaws (1975) I must say I have never been a fan of Roy Sheider's work for the most part, the guy to me does not have a leading man presence and never was that truer than with Night Game. He seems to be just sleepwalking his way through this one, everyone does. Karen Young (Jaws: The Revenge) plays his much younger fiance Roxy, a short-haired cutie who is kind enough to flash some titty for the film but I must confess that the scenes of intimacy with these two made my skin crawl. The May-December romance is sort of creepy, particularly when you factor in that Seaver dated Roxy's mother in high school...gross, are there any women out there who would marry their mother's high school boyfriend? 

Another issue is the slow pacing of the film and connecting scenes of Seaver sleuthing the murders which go nowhere fast with convoluted detours into his own father's connection with organized crime, some seriously snooze-worthy stuff. Even though the film flirts with the most basic of slasher-esque tendencies the actual stalking scenes have zero atmosphere and and the kills scenes are uninspired and flat. There's a death on the beach, another in a construction area and one that happens in a carnival funhouse of mirrors which had potential but there over so quickly and without any fight from the victims, this is just a lazy film all the way around. 

On the plus side we have some fun side characters throughout the film, the Police Chief played by an aspirin-popping Richard Bradford (The Untouchables) and an appearance from Paul Gleason (Breakfast Club) as the county cop with a distaste for the base ballplayer turned cop, and the always enjoyable Lane Smith (Dark Night of the Scarecrow), unfortunately for the film spotting these cameos are about as exciting it get which does not make for a very interesting viewing experience. 

The Blu-ray from Olive Films looks quite nice, presented with AVC encoded hi-def transfer in the proper widescreen aspect ratio. Grain is nicely managed and does not appear to have been subjected to any heinous digital manipulation, there's a fair amount of fine detail and clarity to the image but this will not be a stunner of an HD presentation by any means. Minor print damage that does crop of throughout but the source material looks to have been in decent shape, colors are strong but the image does feel a little soft at times, skin tones are natural looking and the black levels are good throughout. 

The only audio option on the disc is a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track and it is solid and offers a nice balance of crisp dialogue, effects and the Pino Donaggio score, which is decent but not one of his more memorable efforts. There are no extras on the disc, not even a trailer. 

Night Game (1989) was not my cup of tea, a weak-pulsed late '80s cop-drama with no atmosphere and only a few sub par death scenes. You'd have to be a pretty hardcore Roy Scheider fan to need this one on Blu-ray but here you go, on DVD and Blu-ray for the very first time from the folks at Olive Films. 

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