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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Psychological > Noir > Horror > Slasher > Canada > Bewitched (1945/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)/Curtains (1982/Synapse Blu-ray)

Bewitched (1945/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)/Curtains (1982/Synapse Blu-ray)

Picture: C+/B Sound: C+/B- Extras: C-/B- Films: C+

PLEASE NOTE: Bewitched is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

Here are two lesser-known thrillers worth your time. Even when they don't work all the time, they have interesting elements going for them and should each be seen at least once...

Arch Obler was a Rod Serling for his time and as noted before, since his work was more often for radio, he tends to get forgotten, but he always tried to make interesting work out of the out of the ordinary. He wrote and directed Bewitched (1945) for MGM and with a few Noir elements, the film is actually not the basis for the TV sitcom, but a darker tale about a woman (Phyllis Thaxter) who is having mental health issues, has a slit personality and when her darker side takes over (it talks to her!), she kills!

Issued the same year as Hitchcock's superior Spellbound (reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site), the film takes its subject matter seriously, but becomes unintentionally funny at times and has some dated devices to convey a more obviously serious situation, down to oversimple solutions. Still, this was daring and unusual in its time (the original Cat People had been issued by RKO only 3 years before) psychology was finally arriving on the big screen.

Warner Archive has issued this as an online-only DVD to order and it is worth a look for several reasons, including a supporting cast that includes Edmund Gwenn and what a major studio like MGM was willing to try out as thing in the world were starting to change.

An original theatrical trailer is the only extra.

By the early 1980s, a slasher trend was happening thanks to Carpenter's Halloween (1978), but that trend can be traced back to the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and the late, great Bob Clark's Black Christmas (1972), made in Canada. Curtains (1982) was also made in Canada and actually started production at the turn of the decade with one director, then picked up 18 months later (!!!) with another, then was released in theaters with the name of the main male lead (John Vernon as Jonathan Stryker) listed as the director.

He is a theater director with an old friend (Samantha Eggar of The Girl In The Car With Glasses & A Gun) and actress ready for a big new stage role, but instead, he has her committed to a mental hospital (the kind in horror films where everyone overacts and doctors and nurses never treat anyone, but walk around a lot), yet this is on purpose so she can method-act research the madness of the character she will play. However, she is not released by him soon enough, so a friend gets her out and when she sees him, he has invited several young woman and one other pro to audition for the role.

The veteran is played by no less than Linda Thorson (Tara King on the original British TV spy classic The Avengers) and the rest include Sandra Warren, Deborah Burgess, Lesleh Donaldson, Anne Ditchburn and Lynne Griffith, but someone is killing them off one by one. The original shoot turned up about 45 minutes of footage, so the reshoots (more on that in the extras) added new footage and storylines that don't quite cohere. Because of this, the film has built a cult following and the film fits well in the incoherent texts of horror film as recognized by the late Robin Wood in his landmark book Hollywood: From Vietnam To Reagan... And Beyond (reviewed elsewhere on this site). It is a film worth seeing, now restored in this later final cut (as an earlier one was trashed!!!) and has some fine moments, including as a good mystery movie.

Extras include two feature length audio commentary tracks (one of vintage recording of Producer Peter R. Simpson and co-star Samantha Eggar, the other a new one with co-stars Lesleh Donaldson & Lynne Griffith), the Original Theatrical Trailer and two featurettes: the vintage Ciupka - A Film-Maker In Transition film on the cinematographer-turned-director Richard Ciupka (the first director on this film) and the new 2014 The Ultimate Nightmare: The Making Of Curtains.

The 1.33 X 1 black and white image on Bewitched has some nice shots and comes from a really nice print of the film, though there are some soft spots here and there as expected for a film its age, but anyone watching will be pleasantly surprised. The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Curtains may have been shot in two halves a few years apart, but the print is in nice shape and though there is grain, it never gets in the way of detail or depth. This is how the film should look, is a new 2K transfer from the best 35mm materials and the hard work to bring it to Blu-ray pays off.

The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Bewitched can have a few spots of distortion or softness, but it sounds fine for a production of its time. Curtains offers lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) in both a newly upgraded 5.1 mix made for this new Blu-ray release and a 2.0 Mono mix for purists, but the 5.1 mix is better and brings out the most in the music score, sound effects and dialogue, so it is preferred choice.

To order Bewitched, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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