• Spontaneous Combustion (Cheezy) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Cheezy
    Released on: October 23rd, 2018.
    Director: Tobe Hooper
    Cast: Brad Dourif, Cynthia Bain, Jon Cypher, Melinda Dillon
    Year: 1990
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    Spontaneous Combustion – Movie Review:

    A husband and wife team of scientists in the 1950s play guinea pig for a corporation’s new drug, an antidote to radiation. When they emerge unscathed from the test shelter, it’s revealed that the wife is pregnant. She gives birth to a baby boy, who they name David Bell, seemingly in perfect health. And then the parents burst into flames.

    Cut to the present day. We’re introduced to an orphan named Sam (played by Brad Dourif of Childs Play, Trauma, and Exorcist III fame), now grown up and a teacher at the local high school. On the way out to his car to go home for the day, he sees an unfamiliar girl dressed in 50s style clothes placing a box in his car. She runs off, and he goes to meet his ex-wife, Rachel (Dey Young of Rock N Roll High School and The Serpent & The Rainbow) to discuss the details of their divorce over lunch. A rather unfriendly woman, she tells him that her grandfather, Lou (William Prince of The Stepford Wives), would like to see Sam again, as he’s always liked him and would like to wish him well on his birthday. She also mentions that their mutual friend Amy was found dead last night of spontaneous combustion. Sam was the last person to see her alive, as he was talking with her last night at her apartment. Sam becomes stressed when his ex leaves him with the check, and a spark suddenly shoots out of his hand. On the way home, he stops off to see the school doctor and have his hand looked at.

    On the way back home to meet his girlfriend, Lisa (Cynthia Bain of Pumpkinhead), for a birthday dinner, he hears a radio talk show about spontaneous combustion and his friend Amy’s death. Not thinking too much of it, he goes home and builds a fire in the fireplace. Again, sparks shoot out of his hand, this time turning into flames, and the fire suddenly rages. When he stares into it, he sees images of the two scientists from the beginning of the film and he somehow senses that these are his parents.

    Things go from bad to worse when Lisa shows up late, explaining to him that the reason for her delay is that the school Dr. that Sam had gone to see earlier about his hand was found dead, also from spontaneous combustion. Later that night, they hear the same talk show on, this time Sam calls in and explains his flash to the radio psychic hosting the show, who tells Sam that he can feel a great wave of emotion coming from him. Just as the show closes, a woman calls in claiming that she knows who Sam really is and knows the truth about his parents and his upbringing. Unfortunately, the phone loses its connection. Again, frustrated, flames shoot out of Sam’s hands again. Lisa rushes him to the hospital while he’s barely able to control the fire coming out of his body.

    When they get to the hospital, their trusted physician Dr. Marsh (Jon Cypher of Masters of the Universe) looks him over and refers him to a different doctor on staff. When Sam is left alone with Dr. Cagney, he realizes that they’re trying to kill him, and he finds his medical file in the office. After he opens it and reads it over, he realizes the truth, and his pyrokinetic powers begin to rage out of control as he sets out to find out what really happened to him as a child and the truth about his parent’s death.

    Although the basic premise for the film is interesting enough, it starts off pretty slow and it doesn’t really pick up until almost an hour into it. Dourif gives a decent enough performance, but it seems that everyone in the cast around him is having trouble delivering the goods and the movie does suffer from some bad acting and some really bad dialogue at times. Hooper’s direction isn’t terrible in the film; it does have moments of interesting cinematography and the use of 50’s style propaganda films to tell the first part of the story where the scientists are going through the testing is pretty effective. Ultimately however, the film doesn’t live up to it’s potential, as the dialogue and bad pyrotechnic effects keep it from hitting the level of believability that it needed to succeed.

    Spontaneous Combustion – Blu-ray Review:

    The film is presented on a 25GB disc with the feature taking up just shy of 23GBs of space. The transfer is an MPEG-2 AVC encoded 1080p offering with the movie framed at 1.78.1 widescreen. The quality is not particularly good. The image has clearly had very heavy DNR applied to it, removing all of the natural film grain and turning skin and texture into smoothed over wax. Fine detail has been sapped away in the process. Colors look a bit on the flat side and there’s a fair bit of crush here as well. This movie does not look good on this disc. And on top of that, Cheezy put a video bug on the opening title, visible in the first screen cap below. It only lasts a few seconds but it's there. Compression is not great either, there are occasionally instances where macroblocking is visible.

    The only audio option for the feature is a lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 track. There are no alternate language options or subtitles offered. Quality is okay though obviously this doesn’t take full advantage of the format. Dialogue is at least clear enough to understand without any issues and the levels are properly balanced.

    No extras here aside from promos for something called Stripper Land The Movie and a film called Penance.

    Spontaneous Combustion – The Final Word:

    Spontaneous Combustion is far from Hooper’s best work, nor is it the film Dourif will be remembered for. It’s pretty mediocre stuff, not terrible, but far from amazing. The Blu-ray release, however, is pretty lousy. There are no real extras, the audio is lossy and the transfer is lousy.

    Click on the images below for full sized Spontaneous Combustion Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. John Lyons's Avatar
      John Lyons -
      Has anyone noticed that only the companies that actively tamper with the image quality of their releases/insert new matter are the ones obsessed with adding bugs and 'new matter' copyrights?
    1. Darcy Parker's Avatar
      Darcy Parker -
      Yup. It’s a combination of self-promotion and a disrespect for the customer and the product. Disgusting.