• Blackout (Code Red Releasing) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Code Red Releasing
    Released on: April 11th, 2019.
    Director: Eddy Matalon
    Cast: James Mitchum, Robert Carradine, Belinda Montgomery, June Allyson, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Ray Milland
    Year: 1978
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    Blackout – Movie Review:

    A massive storm is about to hit Manhattan, leaving utility company workers scrambling to keep the power on – but it isn’t enough. Just as night falls, a blackout hits New York City leaving millions without power. The NYPD calls all hands on deck to do what they can to stop the inevitable looting that’s going to occur and to keep traffic moving safely.

    What they don’t realize is that four dangerous inmates - Christie (Robert Carradine), Eddy (Terry Haig), Marcus (Victor B. Tyler) and Chico (Don Granbery) – have escaped and decided to hide out in a giant apartment complex. After they kill the superintendent and steal his keys, they start making their way into and through the various apartments in the building looking for cash and valuables hoping to make a quick escape once they’re finished. Things quickly get out of hand after Eddy rapes a tenant named Annie Gallo (Belinda Montgomery) who is savvy enough to move to her balcony and flag down a cop named Dan Evans (Jim Mitchum) for help…

    Directed by Eddy Matalon, the same man who was good enough to give us the cinematic gift that is Cathy’s Curse a year earlier, Blackout was trimmed of five-minutes for its VHS release but is presented uncut on this disc. The film is a solid thriller mixed with elements of the disaster movies that were popular in the seventies, it’s well-paced and quite tense. While the film isn’t as exploitative as you might expect, it still gets pretty gritty at times – the four criminals aren’t nice guys at all, and the movie makes sure we know this!

    As to the performances? Carradine is very good here, managing to create a character that provides a genuine sense of menace throughout the picture. Tyler, Granbery and Haig are solid as well but Carradine makes a stronger impression than the rest of them. Jim Mitchum is quite good here too, perfectly believable as the cop brave (or dumb?) enough to go into the apartment building alone to try and sort all of this out. Belinda Montgomery (instantly recognizable to some of us as Doogie Howser M.D.’s mom and/or Caroline Crockett from Miami Vice!) is also good in her role. It’s also worth pointing out a supporting part for none other than Ray Milland, whose character is surprisingly unlikable here, though his performance is quite strong.

    Shot pretty much entirely in Montreal, there are times where those more familiar with New York City will realize that this isn’t actually taking place there, but aside from that, this one delivers. Production values are more than decent, Matalon keeps things moving briskly, the cinematography is strong and the score is good.

    Blackout – Blu-ray Review:

    Code Red Releasing debuts Blackout on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p presentation framed at 1.78.1 widescreen. There are some minor compression artifacts visible in a couple of spots but this is a decent if less than perfect presentation. The stock footage inserts stand out a bit – no surprise there, that’s what tends to happen with stock footage inserts – but overall the image is pretty clean, just some minor print damage here and there, nothing too distracting or noticeable. Colors look decent. This is a very dark film, obviously, so don’t expect things to pop the way that they might in a brighter looking film but detail is pretty nice and frequently impressive.

    The DTS-HD Mono audio has a little bit of minor hiss in spots that you’ll notice if you’re listening for these things, but it’s never really a problem. The track is well-balanced and the dialogue is generally easy to follow. There are no alternate language or subtitle options offered on the disc.

    Extras start off with a commentary track featuring actress Belinda J. Montgomery moderated by Code Red’s Bill Olsen and Damon Packard, who appear to be flying by the seat of their pants on this one. Regardless, there’s some good information here and Montgomery seems happy to share her memories from the project. She talks about how she got into acting, some of the roles she had before she was cast in Blackout, working with Carradine on the shoot as well as Mitchum and quite a bit more.

    The disc also includes an eleven-minute interview with Robert Carradine that sees him talk about how he got into the business, some early stage work that he did, what appealed to him about the role he took in Blackout, his thoughts on shooting on location in Canada and other related topics.

    Rounding out the extras is a TV spot and trailer for the feature, bonus trailers for Maniac (a.k.a. Assault In Paradise), Street Law, The Fifth Floor and Curse III: Blood Sacrifice (a.k.a. Panga) as well as some menus and chapter selection.

    Blackout – The Final Word:

    A rock-solid thriller with a great cast, Blackout is tense and entertaining stuff. Code Red’s Blu-ray release of the full, uncut version of the film is a good one, presenting the film in nice shape and with some good extra features documenting the film’s history. Recommended, particularly to those with an affinity for 70’s crime or disaster pictures.

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