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The Kindred (Synapse Films) Blu-ray Review

    Ian Jane

  • The Kindred (Synapse Films) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Synapse Films
    Released on: October 25th, 2022.
    Director: Jeffrey Obrow, Stephen Carpenter
    Cast: Rod Steiger, Kim Hunter, Amanda Pays, Talia Balsam, David Allen Brooks
    Year: 1987
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Kindred – Movie Review:

    Co-directed by Jeffrey Obrow and Stephen Carpenter, the team behind The Dorm That Dripped Blood and The Power, 1987’s The Kindred tells the story of a scientist named Dr. John Hollins (David Allen Brooks) whose mother Amanda Hollins (Kim Hunter), also a scientist, wakes up out of a coma she's been in for some time. When he comes to visit her, she urges him to go to her house and destroy her experiments and do away with Anthony... his brother. One catch? John hasn’t ever had a brother, at least not one that he is aware of.

    When Amanda passes away quite suddenly and mysteriously after that chat, John meets a woman named Melissa Leftridge (Amanda Pays) at his mother's funeral. She tells him that she had corresponded with his mother over the years and that she was a huge influence on her own work and that she'd love to see any unpublished journals that she might have involving her work with hemocyanin.

    Soon enough, after clearing things with boss Dr. Phillip Lloyd (Rod Steiger), he and his girlfriend, Sharon Raymond (Talia Balsam), have teamed up with co-workers Brad Baxter (Peter Frechette), Hart Phillips (Timothy Gibbs), Nell Valentine (Bunky Jones) and Cindy Russell (Julia Montgomery) to meet up with Melissa and sort out Amanda's estate. As they go about exploring the house and figuring out just what exactly it was that Amanda was up to in the remote laboratory that she’d set up in her home, all involved figure out the truth not only behind her experiments but their connection to Lloyd and to Melissa as well.

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out most of the twists that The Kindred throws at us during its ninety-three minute running time but that hardly takes away from the movie’s fun factor. The Kindred hits all the right notes at all the right moments and delivers some great gross out effects work in a tense setting with some interesting characters – what more could you want from a monster movie?

    Performances are strong and come from an interesting cast. Steiger is his typically boisterous self here, playing the heavy with all of the bravado you’d expect from him and he’s a lot of fun to watch. Hunter, best known for A Streetcar Named Desire, is solid if underused in her supporting role while Talia Balsam, who mostly did TV work but who did appear opposite Klaus Kinksi a year earlier in Crawlspace, makes for a pretty sympathetic partner to Brooks’ lead. As to Brooks’ work here, he’s good. His performance is quite understated and he’s totally believable as a scientist despite his fairly goofy hairdo (hey, it was the eighties, we’ll cut him some slack for that). It’s surprising that he didn’t go on to bigger roles. Amanda Pays, of Max Headroom, brings her mysterious charms to her role in a big way, with Gibbs, Jones, Montgomery and Frechette all doing fine work in their supporting parts.

    The effects work, however, is the real star of the show. The movie teases us with a few previews of ‘Anthony’ before the first reveal, and while those teases are solid, the first reveal is excellent, hitting audiences with one of the film’s only truly unsettling moments. From there, the monster, which is weirdly phallic looking at times, pops up throughout the picture culminating in the showdown you probably expected right from the start, but anytime that the creature appears on screen, the movie is gold!

    The Kindred – Blu-ray Review:

    The Kindred arrives on Blu-ray taken from a new 4K high-definition remaster of the unrated version of the film in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and framed at 1.78.1 widescreen. Picture quality is great, with plenty of depth and detail evident throughout pretty much the entirety of the film, even during the many darker sequences that take place inside the house. Color reproduction looks really strong throughout and flesh tones appear lifelike and accurate throughout. We get nice, deep black levels here and the image is free of any noticeable compression artifacts, edge enhancement or noise reduction issues, always looking properly film-like with nice, natural grain and virtually no actual print damage.

    Audio chores are handled by your choice of a new 5.1 stereo surround sound remix or the original 2.0 mono theatrical mix, both in English language 24-bit DTS-HD. Purists will opt for the mono mix, which is nicely balanced, very clean and quite clear with a decent amount of depth to it. The 5.1 remix sounds pretty solid, however, spreading out effects and music to the rear channels where appropriate and even delivering some nice separation with the dialogue in the movie. Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing are also provided.

    Extras kick off with an audio commentary with directors Jeffrey Obrow and Stephen Carpenter and moderated by horror journalist Steve Barton. It’s a good talk that goes over how excited they were to work with Joseph Stefano of Psycho fame on rewrites, the dated fashions and hairstyles on display in the movie, thoughts on the performances and what the different actors were like to work with, how they got Steiger to appear in the film and some amusing stories he told at a dinner before production started, working with Kim Hunter (who won an Oscar for A Streetcar Named Desire), only shooting exteriors on locations at the house and shooting pretty much everything else on a really well constructed set, the gross out quality of some of the effects set pieces, memories of shooting specific scenes in the movie, the importance of having great poster and release cover art, funding the movie by making a promotional sizzle reel and lots more.

    Up next is Inhuman Experiments – The Making Of "The Kindred," which is a new, fifty-two minute documentary made up of interviews with directors Jeffrey Obrow and Stephen Carpenter, production designer Chris Hopkins, co-writers / co-editors John Penney and Earl Ghaffari, actors David Allen Brooks and Amanda Pays, special effects artists Matthew Mungle and Michael McCracken, Jr., special creature effects artist James McPherson and last but not least, the film's composer David Newman. This piece is really well made, taking us through the films story from the beginning, starting with how the two directors came to know each other than then work together on The Dorm That Dripped Blood, moving on to make The Power, coming up with the seeds for The Kindred, securing financing, working on the screen play, securing locations, casting the movie (including how Steiger came to be in the picture and what he was like to work with), what it was like on set, details of some of the specific effects set pieces, scoring the movie, the film's eventual release and the cult following that it has developed over the years. This is great stuff – very thorough and detailed and genuinely interesting throughout its lengthy running time.

    The disc also includes eighteen minutes of creature effects artist Michael McCracken, Jr.’s on-set footage shot during the making of the movie. The footage here is definitely worth checking out as it gives us a bird’s eye view of what it was like on set as we see the cast and crew going over the details of a few key scenes and tweaking some of the practical effects work featured in the movie.

    Finishing up the extras are a still gallery, a collection of original storyboards, the film’s original theatrical trailer, an original video promotional trailer, a few TV spots, menus and chapter selection options.

    The Kindred - The Final Word:

    The Kindred is a pretty great monster movie filled with practical effects that are as impressive as they are… gooey! It’s a whole lot of fun and should appeal to anyone with even a remote interest in monster movies, and the Blu-ray release from Synapse is not only loaded with solid extra features but it looks and sounds great as well. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized The Kindred Blu-ray screen caps!

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