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Spontaneous Combustion (1990) - Blu-ray Review

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Spontaneous Combustion (1990) - Blu-ray Review

3 beersThe unexpected passing of director Tobe Hooper has given us good cause to do a re-evaluation of his work in horror and in the science fiction/thriller genre of film.  There’s a lot to take in.  From the excellent Lifeforce to the blood-red hues of Eaten Alive, there are a lot of solid genre offerings to dive into.  Someday soon, I will make that leap.  For now, though, let’s talk about Code Red’s blu-ray release of Spontaneous Combustion, a low-budget thriller that often gets overlooked when folks look at Hooper’s legacy. 

Starring Brad Dourif (Child’s Play) as Sam, the lone survivor of an Atomic Bomb experiment back when his mother was pregnant with him, this is the tale of a ticking time bomb.  Unbeknownst to Sam, those who conducted the experiments upon his mother and father, who died tragically after his birth, surround him.  They even, it could be argued, attempt to control him.  Keeping tabs on his movements, they become concerned when he starts to behave erratically.

Dourif might not make it into the film until 20 minutes or so after it has begun but he sure is having a blast.  The power of pyrokinesis flows through Sam, you see.  He remembers none of their work, though, and his parents are simply heavenly angels in his memory.  Good thing because what happened to them – bursting into flames as an uncontrollable energy spread throughout them – would be a horrible thing to see, hear, and smell.  But, as Sam ages and discovers more and more of the truth, he begins to “wake” himself up to new abilities.  Even Rock 'n' Roll High School's Dey Young gets in on the fun in her turn as a femme fatale. 

Watching Dourif completely spiral out of control as he flexes power over electricity is one enjoyment of the film.  He’s an engaging actor and is unfortunately NEVER the main character.  Here, he gets top billing and completely nails it with an unhinged performance that remains one highlight in his storied career as a character actor.  He even gets some solid dialogue to chew on.  The other fun, when it comes to performances, is seeing just how the rest of the engaging cast, featuring Cynthia Bain, Jon Cypher, William Prince, and Melinda Dillon, respond to Dourif’s meltdown.  Heh.  Heh.  Heh.

The story is all Hooper.  So, too, are the faults in the film.  Very few directors can make b-movies as entertaining as Hooper can.  Good or bad, Hooper can certainly salvage a shipwreck with resourceful imagination and sharp intellect.  Those talents are certainly on display throughout Spontaneous Combustion, which starts out flexing its muscles and then chokes on its own smoke.   There’s not enough waving of the hands or clearing of the air to make this one standout against the likes of a David Cronenberg film, which is what it seems to aim for.  That doesn’t make it terrible; it makes Spontaneous Combustion ambitious and, as far as I am concerned, Hooper was all about ambition.

Simply enough, the talk of Hooper’s legacy in horror is about to catch fire.  Get hip to the heated discussion with Code Red’s 1080p release of Spontaneous Combustion.  Flame on!

Spontaneous Combustion (1990) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
97 mins
Director
: Tobe Hooper
Writer:
Tobe Hooper
Cast:
Brad Dourif, Cynthia Bain, Jon Cypher
Genre
: Horror | Sci-fi
Tagline:
From the Director of Poltergeist... The cleanest Kill on Earth
Memorable Movie Quote: "The vital signs are all perfect. There are no signs of radiation."
Theatrical Distributor:
No US theatrical rlease
Official Site:
Release Date:

DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
May 26, 2015
Synopsis: A young man finds out that his parents had been used in an atomic-weapons experiment shortly before he was born, and that the results have had some unexpected effects on him.

Spontaneous Combustion (1990) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Code Red
Available on Blu-ray
- May 26, 2015
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: None
Audio:
DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Region-free playback

 

Code Red delivers the goods with the blu-ray release of this science fiction-minded film.  With an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the new 1080p MPEG-4 AVC upgrade of Spontaneous Combustion is pretty appealing.  There are some pretty cool effects done on a dime that this release highlights.  Simply put, the film has never looked as crisp and clean as it does here with the 2014 remaster. Shadows are a bit more engaged and the film just looks a bit more professional than remembered.  Thanks to Code Red, the title certainly looks better than it ever did on previous releases.  Cleaner and with a bit more life, the audio is presented in a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track.

 

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

  • Katarina's Bucket List Theater mode, with fun information about the film and its cast and crew, is the way to go with this release.
  • Katarina's Bucket List Theater mode

Spontaneous Combustion (1990) - Blu-ray Review

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