• Superstition (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: April 16th, 2019.
    Director: James W. Roberson
    Cast: James Houghton, Albert Salmi, Lynn Carlin, Billy Jacoby, Maylo McCaslin, Heidi Bohay
    Year: 1982
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    Superstition – Movie Review:

    James W. Roberson’s 1982 film Superstition revolves around an old house out in the country. The property is owned by the local church and it’s long been a source of contention for the locals. The typical stuff that happens in old abandoned homes happens here – graffiti, trespassing and horny teens doing what horny tends do. But when a couple of kids are murdered on the site, it’s decided that something has to be done.

    Reverend David Thompson (James Houghton) is the new kid on the block as far as the church goes. He decides to spearhead the operation to get the old place cleaned up so that fellow man of the cloth Reverend George Leahy (Larry Pennell) can take up residence there. Leahy, who was recently brought on board to replace Reverend Maier (Stacy Keach Sr.) – who died in a freak skill saw ‘accident’ - looks forward to moving in with his family: wife Melinda (Lynn Carlin), daughters Ann (Heidi Bohay) and Sheryl (Maylo McCaslin) and young son Justin (Billy Jacoby). While the Leahy’s are moving in, local cops Sturgess (Albert Salmi) and Hollister (Casey King) arrive, wanting to inspect the place in hopes of finding Arlen (Josh Cadman), the mute son of the home’s caretaker, Elvira Sharack (Jacqueline Hyde). When an arm is found in the pond nearby, Thompson decides to look into the old home’ past and, after going back a couple of centuries, realizes that it’s history of death and violence likely stems back to an old witch’s curse!

    Superstition is one of those movies that starts off strong, drags for forty minutes or so, and then picks up the pace again towards the big finish. Despite the obvious pacing issues, there is still a lot to like about this entertaining early eighties effort. The first twenty-minutes or so feature a trio of impressive murder set pieces (the skill saw scene is great!) and the finale with the witch is well done. There are some interesting twists and turns in the plot that hold our attention easily enough even during the slower scenes. The movie is also visually pretty impressive, not surprisingly given director Roberson’s background as a cinematographer. He manages to make the old house where much of the action takes place a reasonably atmospheric locale for the story to play off of.

    Where the film loses a few points is with the Leahy family. George seems nice enough and his wife is fine but his three kids are all reasonably annoying and hard to like – even Billy Jacoby, who seemed to pop up in a lot of eighties genre oddities such as this! The rest of the cast are pretty strong. Knot’s Landing star James Laughton makes for a decent lead, he’s good here. And Salmi and King are both a lot of fun as the cops.

    Overall, this is a fun watch. It was clearly made on a modest budget but despite its flaws, some of which are pretty obvious, there’s enough going on to make for a fun time killer.

    Superstition – Blu-ray Review:

    Shout! Factory brings Superstition to Blu-ray on a 50GB disc in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition widescreen transfer properly framed at 1.85.1. taken from a new 2k scan of ‘original film elements.’ If the enhanced detail and clarity make some of the effects work a bit more obvious, so be it, you can’t fault technology for that. Overall, this is quite a nice image. Some scenes with heavy colored lighting show less detail than those without but otherwise this is a nice filmic presentation with strong colors, good black levels, nice skin tones and no real problems to note at all. Some occasional minor print damage shows up in the form of small white specks, but that’s it. Superstition looks quite nice here.

    The English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track is clean, clear and properly balanced. Free of any hiss or distortion it does a nice job offering the score a bit of additional punch while keeping the dialogue easy to follow. Optional subtitles are offered up in English.

    Extras start off with a featurette called That Crazy Witchcraft which is a new interview with director James Roberson that lasts twenty-four-minutes. Here he speaks about how he got his start in the film business and his early years working with Charles B. Pierce before then moving to Los Angeles, working on Superstition and what it was like making that particular film. A second featurette, Lake Of Fire, gets actor James Houghton in front of the camera for a half hour to talk about how his father got him interested in film, his early days as an actor and some interesting roles that he had and then, of course, how he came to play the lead in Superstition. He also talks about what it was like on set, his thoughts on the film and offers an amusing story about his hair.

    Rounding out the extra features are the film’s original theatrical trailer, a TV spot, menus and chapter selection. Reversible cover sleeve art is also provided.

    Superstition – The Final Word:

    Superstition is as enjoyable as it is imperfect. It has some pacing problems but makes up for that with some interesting casting choices, a few impressive murder set pieces and strong cinematography. Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray release contains two interesting interviews and offers the film up in very nice shape. This was a lot of fun and it looks pretty solid in high definition.

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

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Scott's Avatar
      Scott -
      I've always liked how mean-spirited this movie is.