BLACK RAINBOW BLU RAY REVIEW

Mike Hodges is well known for making GET CARTER, the seminal 60s British crime film. Some know his film TERMINAL MAN, a Michael Crichton novel that was adapted, with some success, into a film. BLACK RAINBOW is often forgotten. Maybe because its a blend of gothic horror and the supernatural, when the genre was ebbing out of favour. More likely is the reality that it just disappeared under the mountain of more current films from the time.

Martha Travis (Rosanna Arquette) and her alcoholic father Walter (Jason Robards), are grifters. They say she is a medium. Probably in clothing, nothing more. When they host a clairvoyant show in a small town, she foretells the violent death of a local factory employee (Olek Krupa). Many dismiss it. Odd statements are often met with odd looks. When he is found dead and the fact he was a whistleblower, wanting to reveal corruption in local business comes to the surface, it looks like Martha might just be in more trouble than a few unhappy locals.

Arrow seem to find a selection of good to great, lost films. BLACK RAINBOW is one of them. It is at its best when looking into the American self. Be it small towns, religion and identity. Hodges seems to get the identity of American is as much built on the abstract as it is the absurd. Where it falls down is in its execution. Hulce is laboured and feels like he was unsure of what to do. This is not so much his or the directors fault. The script wants little from him and so he plays to this.

THE DISC

The restoration has kept grain, weight and frame resolution. Little losses here and there of light and colour but overall a marked improvement on its DVD version from mid 2000s.

EXTRAS

The best thing is Archival audio commentary by Mike Hodges. We heard it before and we know it well. However its worth a revisit. Hodges is charismatic and knows what he wants to say. American self, ego and actors are the top parts of this.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:

  • Brand new restoration from the original negative approved by writer-director Mike Hodges
  • Original stereo 2.0 PCM uncompressed audio and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Surround Sound options
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • New audio commentary by film historians Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan
  • Archival audio commentary by Mike Hodges
  • Message in a Bottle: Archival ‘Making of’ documentary
  • Archival interviews with Jason Robards, Tom Hulce, Rosanna Arquette
  • Archival featurettes ‘8 Minutes’; ‘Disasters’; ‘Seeing the Future’; ‘Behind the Rainbow’ featuring interviews with Hodges, Arquette, Robards, producer John Quested including behind-the-scenes imagery
  • Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Nathanael Marsh

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Booklet featuring new writing on the film by author Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Mike Hodges and more illustrated with stills

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