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Rituals (1976) - Blu-ray Review

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Rituals (1977)

Rituals, underrated and rarely seen, is a masterpiece of moody mud-caked horror, especially the unedited version.  Never heard of it?  Well, that might be because this Canadian backwoods thriller – filmed in a charred-out forest – got unfairly dismissed as a Deliverance wannabe at the time of its release.  It’s not, though.  While low in budget, Rituals manages to come out darker than most survivalist flicks and, considering its message about war, a whole hell of a lot bloodier. 

Thanks to Scorpion Releasing and Ronin Flix, the AWESOME B-movie is now on blu-ray with a brand-new HD scan of the uncut and uncensored version from a film element held by the producer.

"a survivalist nightmare with deadly consequences.  That peaceful weekend of bonding and beer guzzling?  Yeah, i just got decapitated."


Starring Hal Holbrook, Lawrence Dane, and Robin Gammell, Rituals is what happens when five friends go on their annual trip to the Canadian mountains and run into someone so unexpectedly terrorizing that they find themselves in survivalist nightmare with deadly consequences.  That peaceful weekend of bonding and beer guzzling?  Yeah, i just got decapitated.

Barefoot and unprepared for this level of terror, the group of friends are torn apart as their free-wheeling camping adventure come to an unexpected end fairly quickly.  Their boots are stolen and then, one by one, they start getting picked off by someone who has no interest in seeing them leave the wilderness.  The movie takes its time with the identity of the killer and, giving us clues along the way, likes to keep us guessing.  It is a good strategy and it pays off when one hell of a shocking conclusion.

Forget about morals, man, when your friends – keep in mind they all something to do with the medical profession – are getting beheaded and tortured, you have to fight for every breath you take.  This film is full of great tension and is, if you want my honest opinion, far superior to Deliverance in almost every way possible.  It feels raw and is shot in a manner that makes you feel as threatened as this group of professionals are.  There are also some fairly demented and tragically ironic scenes depicted here – lots of bizarre chants while at, what the Native Americans refer to as, the Cauldron of the Moon.Rituals (1977)

There is a dark truth to Rituals which proves to be disturbing. This may be, in fact, why a lot of people steer clear from its gritty ways and means.  These men, especially when they are threatened, completely fall apart and turn against each other.  It is unsettling to see as these men refuse to help each other out, start bawling at their own insecurities, and yell at each other like there is no tomorrow.  They don’t band together; this is war. 

And that is what’s behind Rituals.  I mean, just look at Holbrook toward the end of the movie.  This wasn’t a camping trip.  What happens in Rituals is WAR, baby, and its consequences – as there is revenge at its center – for these men has everything to do with surviving a battle where some did not.  Kill or be killed, mofos, and this film GETS IT RIGHT.  No guilt here.  It’s just grime and gristle. 

All other backwoods slashers can just bow the fuck down.  Rituals is back!

5/5 beers

Rituals (1977)

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Scorpion Releasing
Available on Blu-ray
- January 15, 2019
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English: Stereo 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Presented in a crisp 1080p transfer, the new HD scan of the original film elements is a thing of pristine beauty.  The film is dominated with reds and greens that absolutely burst with color.  It’s a low budget film, for sure, but the woodland backgrounds burst with new details and a nice level of clarity, making those smoked-out woods look all sorts of eerie and bizarre-like.  Black levels are solid and skin tones are natural.  This is, after all, a dark film. There are lots of night scenes; thankfully, the lines hold their edges. Shadows are defined and the film has a new depth previously unseen.  Audio wise, the DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono soundtrack is clear and the dialogue is never lost or hard to hear.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • There is a NEW Audio Commentary with star/producer Lawrence Dane.  It is moderated by Lee Christian.

Special Features:

The NEW features include interviews with stars Lawrence Dane and Robin Gammell, the film’s original trailer, and a reversible cover.  The blu-ray includes a Limited-Edition slipcover and 9x11 Mini Poster with fantastic artwork by Nathan Thomas Milliner.

  • Lawrence Dane Interview
  • Robin Gammell Interview
  • Trailer

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 5/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

4.5/5 stars

Rituals (1977)

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
83 mins
Director
: Richard Friedman
Writer:
Mark Frost, Daniel F. Bacaner
Cast:
Andrew Stevens, Mary Page Keller, David Ramsey
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
There's no place left to hide.
Memorable Movie Quote: "If you go out in the woods today, you're in for a big surprise."
Theatrical Distributor:
Aquarius Releasing
Official Site:
Release Date:
August, 1978
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
January 15, 2019
Synopsis: Adventure-seeker Mitzi and his friends take off for their annual camping trip to the unexplored Canadian mountains. The five of them thought they were going to be alone in the wilderness, but they were wrong. A crazed psychopath wants to play a psychological game of survival with the campers in a game of kill or be killed.

Rituals (1977)

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