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The Craft – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

With Scream Factory’s (And of course Shout! Factory overall’s) continued dive into the Sony catalog of horrors, The Craft is a perfect marriage in terms of a title to enhance via a Collector’s Edition. This feels the first of its super teen horror type since their release of Disturbing Behavior back in 2016. The Craft has been a rock solid generational touchstone for over two decades now, proving to be somewhat between a hit and a cult item over time. Very much a big title in the VHS/home video era, its now coming to Blu-ray for the second time around. Scream Factory has aligned some impressive names for new interviews, but unfortunately none of them happen to be any leads from the film which I’m sure its going to be a deal-breaker for many on the fence that would be considering an upgrade of the title. Scream Factory is bringing it out as a part of its March lineup at the top of the month on the 5th and you can pre-order to have it in your hands via the Amazon link below. 

Film 

After transferring to a Los Angeles high school, Sarah (Robin Tunney) finds that her telekinetic gift appeals to a group of three wannabe witches, who happen to be seeking a fourth member for their rituals. Bonnie (Neve Campbell), Rochelle (Rachel True) and Nancy (Fairuza Balk), like Sarah herself, all have troubled backgrounds, which combined with their nascent powers lead to dangerous consequences. When a minor spell causes a fellow student to lose her hair, the girls grow power-mad.

The Craft can easily be labeled “teen horror” but its ultimately a film that is confident and is the story it wants to be without adhering to any sort of genre demands or hitting the certain points in the checklist. While the trappings and marketing are an easy sell, you’re ultimately watching a story that happens to fall under that banner that never feels compromised. The film leans toward a certain crowed, but one can’t help appreciate and enjoy its successes and sense of confidence it delivers.

Majority of the film is driven by its four leads. Fairuza Balk is the highlight of them all as she fully invests and just goes for it to both deviously grounded and big comic booky moments throughout. No matter what, you’re going to remember her. Robin Tunney, to this day, is a teen film actor that I’m shocked didn’t cross over to a massive star in bigger films. She’s terrific here as always in a role that’s a bit tamer for her. Never Campbell and Rachel True are solid, but the best moments are when the four are all together sparring off. Never Campbell here oddly feels like she is channeling Jennifer Love Hewitt. Its almost as if she decided to play Hewitt for this character. Oh and must be mentioned Christine Taylor has one of those “hate them cuz you love them” performance as the wicked, racist high school mean girl.

The film doesn’t put all its eggs in one basket and rely on being either a teen movie or a horror movie. But when it wants to go horror, its pretty damn good at going horror. Combination of Balk’s menace in the final act to go along with some haunting visuals its quite killer, and unsettling. Everything seems to work very well on even just a purely visual level that stands above most of the horror on display in the genre at the time. And with the character work and relationships built up to this point, it has earned and developed even more dread that comes along with the viewer in experiencing the finish.

This teen witch classic is a film that is very 1990s, but the themes, characters and enjoyment is plenty timeless. It’s core ensemble is a fun group to watch bite into the material and they are the prime source of why this movie succeeds and has been able to continue to hold onto and grow an audience over time. The film ultimately does for witchcraft movies what a later Canadian film, Ginger Snaps, would do for the werewolf genre. At bare minimum, its a charming little film that can reach out to many different types of film lovers.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: The Craft returns to Blu-ray sporting the same transfer it did on the 2009 Sony release of the film. There are no notes, but comparing photos of the previous release, I’m pretty certain it is. Regardless its a pretty good transfer that an update wouldn’t hurt, but this is more than okay in its appearance. It has that 90s sheen on it, but its still shows plentiful in details and has good color with solid depth work.

Depth:  Depth of field is a above average, nothing wildly three dimensional, but enough spacing and confident movement to give it a good free look.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and a hair lighter due to some of the foggier looks in the film. Details on hair, leather jackets and more come through without any loss of detail impeding the enjoyment. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: The image overall has a bit of normal 90s film washed out appeal to it. Colors are bold but a bit softer with good saturation about. Some flowers and fashions do pop given their accuracy. There is a blacklight heavy scene late in the film that is probably the most impressive looking moment in the transfer.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial features like make-up lines, scars, freckles, dimples and more shine through very well in close ups and most medium shots (Though sometimes it can be a bit more smooth in the further away shots).

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: The Craft ports over its 5.1 mix for this new Blu-ray release (Ultimately the exact same presentation you’ve had before in audio and video). Its not a mind-blowing experience, but it has a terrific balance and delivers in the moments you’d want it to.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Nothing gets extremely deep here, but does give some nice punches on bigger sequences, though normal sounds like crashing or doors shutting and such are on the lighter end of expectation.

Surround Sound Presentation: The whole movie isn’t overly consuming, but when it asks of the rear channels to give it a go, it doesn’t disappoint. A few spellcasting sequences and some bigger moments really drive up the atmosphere and has the films 5.1 mix performing at its peak.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extras 

The Craft – Collector’s Edition comes with a reversible cover featuring the original poster art.

Audio Commentary

  • With Andrew Fleming

Interview with Director Andrew Fleming (HD, 15:12) – Looking to do a comedy as his next film he was willfully “tricked into it”, but found the story something he put a lot of himself into and didn’t want to give it up and make a witch movie that hadn’t been done before. He had done plenty of research and engulfing himself in the culture to bring it to screen. His preparation is fascinating and his look back is pretty colorful and entertaining.

Interview with Producer Douglas Wick (HD, 13:28) – His love of movies about outsiders brought him in to this project in this tale about “fringe women”. Wick is quite intricate in the themes, character struggles and going through and finding the right people into the production and what they bring to the life of The Craft. He calls the movie generic before Andrew Fleming was brought onboard to direct and injected his personal experiences into the project. His business aspect on casting and such is quite informative an educational if you’re ever wondering how things can work. A good hybrid in terms of business and artistry.

Interview with Screenwriter Peter Filardi (HD, 10:44) – First off, the lighting for this is extremely blue to a point where Filardi’s image looks really cold. He talks coming off of Flatliners and going over creating the project with Douglas Wick and trying to make the story and magic in the film as authentic and bankable as possible. Its a nice compliment to the Douglas Wick interview to get the other point of what was going on.

Interview with Effects Artist Tony Gardner (HD, 11:02) – Gardner jumps right in it and discusses effect by effect in the movie with good detail. The funniest thing is when he talks of Robin Tunney having a buzz cut and saying “normal was even an effect in this movie”. He didn’t feel his crew was a big piece of the film and they weren’t given much of a budget.

“Conjuring The Craft” (SD, 24:35) 

“The Making of The Craft” (SD, 5:59) 

Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary (SD, 6:36) 

Theatrical Trailer (SD, 1:50)

Summary 

The Craft is a solid film that definitely stands above a cult classics status, but really that’s why its lived this far along. What’s at question here is how big of an upgrade is this for fans. While the film carries the same transfer and audio presentation (Both terrific, mind you), its the extras which will ultimately trigger the purchase. Scream Factory has amassed an impressive bunch for interviews, but the sticking point is going to be that they have ZERO of the main girls from the movie back for interviews. And its not like they don’t try for this stuff (Something many people don’t frickin realize and its drives me nuts), but its strange that all of them have been doing conventions and now there is the highly publicized reunion coming up. Baffling they wouldn’t sit down for interviews for this disc, but that’s on them NOT Scream Factory. Kudos to them for getting who they got. If you don’t own The Craft yet are a big fan, this is THE release to get. However, some may be happy with the release they already have and that is understandable.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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