The Dark Half


Viewed – 22 February 2020. Blu-ray

In the early nineties I was quite the horror nut and on one occasion I recall renting two horror movies from a local video rental store and considering them two of the best I’d watched in years. One was the underrated zombie gem Return of the Living Dead Part 3 … and the other was this movie. Now looking back over the many Stephen King adaptations, it’s a shame that this 1993 effort is generally forgotten. Directed by horror legend George A Romero (Night of the Living Dead) this was the second time the famed author & director had teamed up (previously they worked together for Creepshow), and at the time there was quite a bit of hype for this.

Writer Thade Beaumont (Timothy Hutton) chooses to literally put to rest his writing alter-ego George Stark in hopes of being recognised in his own right and stages a publicity stunt where he has a funeral for his pseudonym. However shortly afterwards people involved in the stunt start getting killed, and Thade begins to realise that George isn’t happy being dead.

It’s classic early nineties fair, but under the watchful eye of Romero is done with style and plenty of sinister atmosphere – the sadly deceased horror master clearly had more to him than the zombie movies that made his name. Hutton delivers a commendable duel performance as both Thade and George, aided by gradually impressive make up effects and camera trickery especially during a fight sequence between the two characters. Support comes from Amy Madigan as Thade’s wife and more notably Michael Rooker as a local Sheriff.

The story is creepy but a little lightweight, not helped by rather tame violence despite an ever growing body count. The climax though, delivers the necessary gore. I was also left with some questions but the credits rolled before the movie could tackle them. Yet with solid direction and a strong turn from Hutton (whatever happened to him?) I still got a lot out of this.

The Blu-ray from Eureka is impressive, with decent image quality that only occasionally suffers from excessive grain. Detail and colours are mostly great throughout. For audio we get 2.0 uncompressed and a new 5.1 DTS Master Audio mix, both of which impress with clear dialogue – and the sequences involving thousands of sparrows pack a punch. Extras are plentiful including a commentary with George A Romero, a making of, an episode of The Incredibly Strange Film Show, a Romero retrospective, behind the scenes, deleted scenes, trailers and a collectible booklet.

Verdict:

(the movie) Good

(the Blu-ray) Recommended

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