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The Believers (1987) - Blu-ray Review

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The Believers (1987)

There is a lot I remember from originally seeing The Believers in 1987 for the first time.  That was years ago, but the thing that struck me – and continues to be striking (especially after watching this release from Olive Films) – is its opening sequence: Martin Sheen on a run with the milk truck behind him.  Simple enough, right?  Sheen comes up over a hill in the morning sun.  The sequence continues with the next cut.  Sheen, playing psychologist Cal Jamison, enters his house and starts his morning routine with his wife and son.  But a tragic accident, involving a malfunctioning coffee pot and spilled milk on the kitchen floor, takes his wife’s life, played by Janet-Laine Green.  The shocking scene is the first of many that showcase just how easily the domesticated life can become absolutely horrible.

"With wickedly intense performances from Robert Loggia as Lieutenant Sean McTaggert, Jimmy Smits as Tom Lopez, and Raúl Dávila as Oscar Sezine, The Believers is a horror film that dared tackled the occult in the late 80s"


Directed by Midnight Cowboy’s John Schlesinger, The Believers is a modern take on classic horror as a series of ritualized killings of small children takes New York City by surprise.  Something strange is happening to those working undercover in Spanish Harlem and, as Cal is now working with the New York Police Department (taking the job some time after the death of his wife), the person behind the killings will soon be targeting his own child, Chris, played by Harley Cross.  

With wickedly intense performances from Robert Loggia as Lieutenant Sean McTaggert, Jimmy Smits as Tom Lopez, and Raúl Dávila as Oscar Sezine, The Believers is a horror film that dared tackled the occult in the late 80s.  There weren’t a lot of films that did this thanks to the fear of Satanists and Satanism that was sweeping the mid-west at the time.  Yeah, it was a crazy time and parents, concerned that the music their kids were listening to was telling them to worship the devil, weren’t helping things.  I remember it vividly, which is why I wasn’t allowed to see this cultist-themed movie.  Yeah, I had to sneak out of the house. 

As this horror film deals with witchcraft, Haitian voodoo, and Santeria, it might not be for everyone’s tastes.  There is a big leap of logic you have to take with a movie like this, but Schlesinger balances the crazy with the spooky elements quite nicely and delivers a film that is unnervingly edgy, very suspenseful thanks to its preying upon children’s fears, and a bit silly at times.  Critics, at the time of its release, weren’t very kind to the film.  But, in 1987, there was only Angel Heart also playing in the same fields.  Perhaps, the public wasn’t ready for something that stated quite plainly that yuppies would do ANYTHING for their fortune and fame and status, including the selling of their souls.The Believers (1987)

That’s right, The Believers DEFINITELY has its targets and it suggests, quite explicitly, that no one is without dirty hands.  And now, thanks to Olive Films, it arrives to mystify New Yorkers once again.

3/5 beers

The Believers (1987)

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Olive Films
Available on Blu-ray
- June 25, 2019
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Using an older master, the transfer from Olive Films is okay.  There aren’t any traces of digital noise, which is good, but the colors aren’t the brightest and the details aren’t the best either.  It is what it is.  Including an English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, this horror film – for people who didn’t pick up the Twilight Time release – will suffice, especially for the scene in which Chris is spanked by his father in the middle of the city. 

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

There is a trailer.

  • Theatrical Trailer

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 2/5 stars
  Extras 1/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

2.5/5 stars

The Believers (1987)

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
114 mins
Director
: John Schlesinger
Writer:
Mark Frost
Cast:
Martin Sheen, Helen Shaver, Harley Cross
Genre
: Crime | Drama | Thriller
Tagline:
Nothing Can Stop Them. No One Can Help You. They Know Who You Are.
Memorable Movie Quote: "They can get to anyone, they can kill anybody. You want them to know who you are? Do you?"
Theatrical Distributor:
Orion Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
June 10, 1987
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
June 25, 2019
Synopsis: Following the tragic death of his wife, psychologist Cal Jamison (Sheen) and his young son Chris (Harley Cross, Someone to Watch Over Me) relocate from Minneapolis to New York City to start a new life. Enlisted by Lt. McTaggert (Loggia) to help solve a baffling suicide case involving voodoo, Cal soon finds himself in the middle of an investigation with ties to a Caribbean religious cult and a series of ritualistic murders that will place him and those he loves in grave danger.

The Believers (1987)

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