In the final days of the Vietnam War, a psychiatrist, Col. Kane, takes charge of an experimental military facility studying soldiers who appear to have suffered a psychotic break. Kane believes he can cure the inmates, but his methods are challenged both by the military men guarding the facility and by the patients themselves, some of whom suspect that Kane isn’t what he seems.
The opening of the movie itself is almost like a music video for a country song. No credits for nearly three minutes, and Denny Brooks singing ‘San Antone’ whilst a solider looks longingly out of a the window with the rain pouring down outside. It’s nearly 10 minutes before Stacy Keach’s Col. Kane enters proceedings. He exudes a charisma that makes you acutely aware that there is more to him than meets the eye.
The inmates of the psychiatric hospital are hilarious with there many different problems. It’s almost like watching ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ watching the inmates act out there problems. It inserts moments of comedy into the unsettling atmosphere that permeates throughout the movie. At times it almost feels like a stage play too. The script feels like something that could be performed in a small room, and the movie doesn’t change location often, which adds to that feeling.
The supporting cast which includes the likes of Jason Miller, Ed Flanders, Joe Spinnell and even Tom Atkins all do wonderfully in lending believability to the movie. The gothic castle in which the hospital is situated is stunning. A fun fact was that the movie was partially funded by PepsiCo as they had money in Hungary that couldn’t leave the country, so the movie was filmed in Budapest with that money.
A strange movie with an unsettling story, and one that makes you feel like you’re living the insanity of one of the inmates.
The video is presented in MPEG-4 AVC (29.99 Mbps) with 1080p HD and an aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The picture is crisp with deep blacks and some vibrant colour that shines through on occasion. The only real issue was at the beginning of the movie when it seemed to shift almost to 480p in places which was jarring. No noticeable edge enhancement displayed which is always a pleasant surprise with these movies from the 80’s.
Audio is DTS-HD 2.0 and there is no option on the menu to change it. That said it wasn’t a problem at all, and not once did I feel the need to turn the volume up. The voices come across clear and the music is sharp.
Wow. Well Second Sight really have knocked it out of the park with the extras here, as there are quite a few. First up is an interview with writer, producer and the director William Peter Blatty in which he details the genesis of the story. That lasts just over 16 mins. Next is an interview with star Stacy Keach talking about how he got the role which last 14mins. Then an interview with actor Stephen Powers which lasts just over 7mins. An interview with production designer William Malley and art director J. Dennis Washington talking about the making of the movie, lasting 11mins. An interview with soundtrack composer Barry De Vorzon which lasts over 8mins. An interview with actors Tom Atkins, Jason Miller, Richard Lynch and William Peter Blatty who has a small role in the movie. That lasts just over 14mins. Archive featurette with critic Mark Kermode lasting 6mins. Also some outtake and deleted scenes and a commentary with William Peter Blatty and Mark Kermode.
All in all a great release from Second Sight, and one that is well worth getting. The Ninth Configuration is due for release on 25th April and is available for pre-order now.