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Superstition (Blu-ray Review)

Scream Factory has a pair of cult classic horror films from the era of the later 70s/early 1980s coming through the line on April 16th. Superstition is one of those titles. Released in 1985, but shot in 1982, Superstition is one of those notorious Video Nasty titles and a little seen bit of terror from that era. This Blu-ray debut for the film will feature some new interviews with the film’s director Jame Roberson and star James Houghton (Of Knott’s Landing fame), commissioned by Justin Beahm’s Reverend Entertainment. The film itself will feature a nice new 2K scan from the original film elements according to the blurbs for the release. Personally I’m looking forward to this one as I’ve actually never seen it and like the video store kid I am, “That poster/box looks awesome”. You’ll be able to pre-order this one (And as always, help out the site just a little), by using the Amazon link following the review. It will be released alongside The Manitou, both of which are debuts (In the US at least), on April 16th. 

Film 

Something horrible is happening at the old house on Mill Road. A series of ghastly accidents has occurred near the site where a witch drowned centuries earlier. But when an alcoholic minister and his family move into the cursed residence, an idealistic young priest (James Houghton) and a cynical police detective (Albert Salmi) start their own investigation into the unexplained violence. Has the daughter of Satan returned for a rampage of vengeance? Will the laws of the Church be strong enough to cast out this demon? And if evil has truly found a new home, is the entire neighborhood headed straight to hell?

Superstition carries a whirlwind of different horror influences, but is competent enough to carry its own through line and develop quite an enjoyable late night film. Watching the film for the first time, it felt like that discovery I’d have made back in my “rent everything in the horror section of the local video store” youth days. Of course something like this, with outstanding cover artwork would have led me to quickly gloss over the wording on the back and rent it regardless. This would be one of the low percentage films to actually live up to the key art. And as an adult, I’m actually able to still find an appreciation and admiration in a movie like this.

Low budget affairs like Superstition are where we can find who carries a lot of talent and who doesn’t. Aside from a severed head in a microwave looking obviously (But in return, delivering some goopy blood splurts) fake, Jamers Roberson delivers a gore-fest that really looks impressive, gross, painful and at the very worst like a comic book frame come to life. The screenplay and film also deliver an unpredictability and genuinely shocking demise for multiple characters in the film. Its pretty stunning or surprising at times to see who goes and just how brutal their exit is.

I mentioned influences above, and overall, this plays like a slasher film with supernatural capabilities and powers. But here’s the thing; this was made in 1982, before slashers with supernatural abilities were popular. This was a bit ahead of its time. The slasher is dropped in the environment and surroundings of an Amityville type movie about possession. And to dig even deeper, the backstory of everything and witchcraft feels like that of a gothic Mario Bava film. There are even gore-heavy Italian giallo/zombie-esque “go for broke and offend” types of kills here too. But, in good taste, it feels wholly original with everything it does.

Superstition is a little underground film that fans will be plenty happy to see it shining back onto Blu-ray and hoping others find it. For those others, you’re in for a treat. Especially if the 1980s is your forte with the horror genre. It hist many groovy beats and has enough mythological fun and decent (Though admittedly a tad thin) characters to push this thing through. Its also super short, feeling like a breeze and leaving you wanting more.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail:  Scream Factory debuts Superstition on Blu-ray with a new 2K scan from the original film elements. Grain, specs, streaks at times. I’m actually quite surprised what I’m looking at isn’t a 4K scan, but all the more impressive. This has a nice full, fresh look to it while retaining a lot of the character of the film’s reels. There is a bit of grain and stuff left on, but that really helps give the full experience and feel of watching a good film print.

Depth:  Solid depth of field on display, especially in a lot of the exterior shots, though the interiors fare well. There was talent running the camera and shots on this one and its on display here. Movements are smooth and cinematic with no distortion issues.

Black Levels: Blacks are quite deep and pretty close to natural. They do get a bit more grainy, but nothing bad here. No crushing present.

Color Reproduction: Colors are quite flush and bold here. Greens, reds, blues and wood colored browns all come on quite strong. Its well saturated and displays the sunlit scenes with good expertise.

Flesh Tones: Skin has a little more red in it when well lit, but they hold consistent form start to finish. Skin tones show every bit of detail and texture from dried blood to a good wrinkle, any reasonable distance really delivers.

Noise/Artifacts: No digital issues, the print has a some character as I mentioned, but it really adds a more genuine feeling to the movie.

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: Superstition has a mono track provided to haunt your front speakers on the film. Its a well mixed track with good layering and balance to the effects, vocals and score. Its pretty loud and effective, with some surprisingly deep moments in the film. Overall, its good and effective enough to deliver.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and pretty crisp.

Extras 

Superstition features reversible cover art displaying an alternate poster design.

Lake of Fire: James Houghton on Superstition (HD, 30:08) – An interview with actor James Houghton. The actor goes through many of his notable roles and achievements prior to taking on the film including collaborations he and his father were attempting. Houghton talks plenty about the film from the offer to the end of the shoot and working with effects, being pleased with what had been accomplished with so little. He also found himself surprised upon its final release as he had no idea they had reshot and added so much to it.

That Crazy Witchcraft: James Roberson on Superstition (HD, 23:56) – An interview with director James Roberson. Starting from his filmmaking roots he goes over a “good shoot, it really was”. There are prompts for him to recall specific events which he has a pretty fresh and honest memory of how things were done. He’s got some fun insight like the guy who played the klller in The Town That Dreaded Sundown playing The Witch in the film. Roberson also goes into plenty of detail on what he changed from the original cut to the final one of the movie.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:54) – Oddly has both The Witch and Superstition title cards within it.

TV Spot (SD, :31)

Summary 

Superstition is a pretty wicked and gory bit of supernatural terror that holds many strong slasher elements. Fans of either should finds some core enjoyment. There is also plenty of enjoyment to be had in this release. The new transfer is both impressive and charming to a more drive-in, b-theater look. The new interviews are the normal top tier output going beyond just the film itself and giving you a full rounded perspective on the individuals. This former Video Nasty is a nice add to the Scream Factory collection and is a nice curiosity itched or gore and slasher fans.

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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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