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Synopsis
George C Scott stars as composer and Professor of Music, John Russell, who tragically looses his wife and child in a road accident. Some time passes and he retires to an old lonely house which has been empty for twelve years (unbeknownst to him). Strange things start to happen and so the story of the house and its ghostly occupant begins. The force in the house is trying to tell John something, but what? The story really gets going as John starts delving into the houses horrific past. Scott performs well in this as do the other main members of the cast; however some of the supporting members are a little weak.

Creepy Old House
Video
This film was made in 1979, so don’t go expecting reference quality stuff. The print is grainy and shows its age but has actually cleaned up quite well – there are few artefacts present on this anamorphic print. Keeping its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the direction is sound with some good (if sparsely used) interesting camera angles creating a better sense of presence for the house’s ghost.

Music features heavily in this film
Audio
This disc remarkably has several language tracks on it. The English track is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 and the rest (Spanish, Italian and German) are in Dolby Digital 1.0. These are also accompanied by subtitles for each country and an audio commentary from director Peter Medak (Species 2, The Krays and many TV series, including the Twilight zone, Beauty and the Beast and Homicide: Life on the Streets). One of the tings you might notice about this movie is that there is a lot of “suspenseful” music all the way through. It is very 70’s and is a little over the top. However there are times when it does work and adds to the drama. I think it could have benefited from a 5.1 mix, but I guess the target audience is too small to warrant that sort of expense.

Look at the size of that phone! Electronics have improved somewhat since 1979
Extras
As I mentioned, there is an audio commentary which is interesting, especially since the movie is 23 years old. The first menu is a language one, and is a good idea as selecting your preferred language here, actually translates the rest of the menus into this choice.  The other extra is a photo gallery slideshow accompanied with more suspenseful music.

Firing on all cylinders, or should that be banisters?
Overall
Horror movies have changed a lot over the last twenty years. While the 80’s were all about blood and zombie effects, the 70’s were about suspense. This is done fairly well in this movie, and although it is slow to start the movie is reasonable scary. Unfortunately the old music, old haircuts and what is now, an old story, do show through and make it a less enjoyable experience than it would have been in its year of release. A few nice touches make this a decent disc and the movie itself will take you back to the way horror movies started. Perhaps with all the effects, and exploding heads we have in horror movies these days, we do need a horror movie with a good suspenseful story, but in my opinion, this isn’t quite it.


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