BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

Black Rainbow (1991) - Blu-ray Review

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Black Rainbow

The mystery! The murder! Corruption inside America’s Bible Belt!  That’s the territory of Black Rainbow as writer/director Mike Hodges blends genres, creating a movie that takes on chemical plants and spiritual links to the After Life.

"Dark around the edges and full of unexpected twists and turns, Black Rainbow is a satisfying and disturbingly prophetic film"


Hodges (director of Get Carter and Flash Gordon) got hosed with the ill-fated release of Black Rainbow, a supernatural thriller about a young medium who, during a public reading, sees the murder of a whistleblower and informs his wife as it happens.  It’s a pattern that Hodges can’t seem to avoid when it comes to his films.  

The movie, with Rosanna Arquette as the medium, Jason Robards as her alcoholic father, and Tom Hulce as an investigative journalist trying to get behind a series of murders stemming from suspected corporate malpractices all turning in damn fine performances, was the victim of two failing production companies which were both financially sinking.  While critically well-received (and for damn good reasons), the movie got a very limited release before disappearing into the graveyard of forgotten films.

Well, now, thanks to Arrow Video, writer/director Mike Hodges, and this brand-new 4K transfer from the original 35mm negative, Black Rainbow gets a resurrection of sorts as Martha (Arquette) discovers that she is immediately in danger as the victim (Olek Krupa) is in fact killed while watching James Cagney in 1948’s White Heat.  She predicted the murder and she did it in front of an audience, now all guns are aimed at her and her father.Black Rainbow

But who is behind the killing?  Hulce as reporter Gary Wallace has an idea, but he doesn’t believe she is, in fact, a courier to deceased loved ones, so he tags along on the tour with her and her father.  He drinks with her dad and sleeps with her, all while trying to get to the bottom of the corporation that is involved with worker exploitation, corporate and governmental corruption, and environmental destruction.

And Hodges does this all through the lens of religious fundamentalism as Martha’s connection to the other side gets wilder, more unpredictable, and more honed in to future events - somehow all connected to the local factory that has a lot of killing on its mind.  Something is happening and she’s going to need a lot of protection in order to get to the bottom of it all.  Unfortunately, there are few people she can trust as these “nightmares keep exploding in her mind”, that’s how it goes with news reporters and police departments who think her act is a certifiable scam.

Dark around the edges and full of unexpected twists and turns, Black Rainbow is a satisfying and disturbingly prophetic film about Christianity and its affair with Capitalism.  The truth usually gets buried . . . or shot in the back and killed.  America might be too late in heeding the warning of Black Rainbow, but the expressive fatalism in the movie makes for solid viewing, especially thanks to the 4K work done here.

Thanks to Arrow Video, a Black Rainbow is now visible.

4/5 stars

Black Rainbow

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Arrow Films
Available on Blu-ray
- July 7, 2020
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: LPCM 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Mike Hodges (Flash Gordon, Get Carter) wrote and directed this supernatural chiller as a meditation on the human race’s ability to destroy the world, a gothic tale of suspense and the occult, guaranteed to send shivers down your spine.

Martha Travis (Rosanna Arquette, Pulp Fiction, Crash) is a travelling clairvoyant on the road with her sceptic father (Jason Robards, Once Upon a Time in the West, Magnolia). During a séance Martha communicates a message from a dead man to his wife in the audience. Shocked the wife insists her husband is still alive. Later that evening the husband is killed by a ruthless assassin. As Martha foresees more and more tragic events journalist Gary Wallace (Tom Hulce, Amadeus, Animal House) follows the pair in pursuit of a hot story… with catastrophically eerie results.

Sent direct-to-video by its struggling distributor on initial release, Black Rainbow unfairly never got the exposure it deserved, newly restored from the original negative audiences can now discover the darkness at the end of the rainbow, as never before.

Video:

This brand-new HD release of Black Rainbow sports a brand-new restoration by Arrow Films from a 4K scan of the original 35mm negative.  The aspect ratio is 1.85:1 and the image itself is loaded with fine details as black levels are consistent, defined, and brilliantly replicated here, holding their edges.  The image is crisp and black levels – especially on the streets – absolutely POP. Colors are bold, bright, and shadows are thick with lines and deep blacks. The night scenes – and there are a lot of them – are detailed and heavy with edges. The colors, thanks to some awesome lighting effects, are bold and bursting with color. Saturation levels are on point and so too is the restored audio. 

Audio:

Loaded with the original stereo 2.0 PCM uncompressed audio and new 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Surround Sound options, Black Rainbow delivers both the thumps and the bumps of the thriller genre.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • There are two commentaries.  See Special Features for the details.

Special Features:

With this release, you get the brand new restoration from the original negative approved by writer-director Mike Hodges, the original stereo 2.0 PCM uncompressed audio and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Surround Sound options, a new audio commentary by film historians Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan, an archival audio commentary by Mike Hodges, a “Making of” documentary, archival interviews, featurettes, a reversible sleeve, and, attached to the first pressing only, new essays on the film by author Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Mike Hodges and more illustrated with stills

  • New audio commentary by film historians Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan
  • Archival audio commentary by Mike Hodges
  • Message in a Bottle: Archival ‘Making of’ documentary
  • Archival interviews with Jason Robards, Tom Hulce, Rosanna Arquette
  • Archival featurettes ‘8 Minutes’; ‘Disasters’; ‘Seeing the Future’; ‘Behind the Rainbow’ featuring interviews with Hodges, Arquette, Robards, producer John Quested including behind-the-scenes imagery
  • Trailer

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 4/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

4/5 stars

Black Rainbow

MPAA Rating: PG-13 on appeal for crude sexual content and language.
Runtime:
103 mins
Director
: Mike Hodges
Writer:
Mike Hodges
Cast:
Rosanna Arquette, Jason Robards, Tom Hulce
Genre
: Horror | Thriller
Tagline:
She can see the killer's face. She knows the victim's name. The only thing she doesn't know ... is when the murder will take place.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Men lie with me, not to me!"
Distributor:
Arrow Films
Official Site: https://arrowfilms.com/product-detail/black-rainbow-blu-ray/FCD2041
Release Date:
December 5, 1991
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
July 7, 2020.
Synopsis: Martha Travis (Rosanna Arquette, Pulp Fiction, Crash) is a travelling clairvoyant on the road with her sceptic father (Jason Robards, Once Upon a Time in the West, Magnolia). During a séance Martha communicates a message from a dead man to his wife in the audience. Shocked the wife insists her husband is still alive. Later that evening the husband is killed by a ruthless assassin. As Martha foresees more and more tragic events journalist Gary Wallace (Tom Hulce, Amadeus, Animal House) follows the pair in pursuit of a hot story… with catastrophically eerie results.

Black Rainbow

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