• Slaughter Of The Innocents (Synapse Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Synapse Films
    Released on: June 11th, 2019.
    Director: James Glickenhaus
    Cast: Scott Glenn, Sheila Tousey, Jesse Cameron-Glickenhaus, Darlanne Fluegel
    Year: 1993
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    Slaughter Of The Innocents – Movie Review:

    Scott Glenn (who has had a really nice comeback lately with excellent work in Castle Rock for Hulu and Daredevil for Netflix) is top billed in this picture as a grizzled FBI Agent named Stephen Broderick. Within the halls of justice, he’s regarded as the best of the best, one of the finest men to ever work for the Bureau. He’s also the father of Jesse Broderick (Jesse Cameron-Glickenhaus), a tenacious young kid with an unusual knack for computers and a whole lot of attitude!

    When Stephen is tasked by the higher ups to crack the case of a serial killer whose work has all the hallmarks of religious fanaticism and who has a penchant for killing kids, he does what he can. Unfortunately for him, the cops nab the wrong man in a misguided effort to appease the public and close the case as quickly as possible. This leaves the actual killer a free man and, well, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happens next. As the killer continues his work, father and son team up but, rather predictably, it all goes south when Jesse gets grabbed by the killer leaving Stephen in a somewhat clichéd race against time to figure out the truth and save his son’s life.

    Written and directed by James Glickenhaus, who probably remains best known for his seminal vigilante film The Exterminator, Slaughter Of The Innocents rises above the rather pedestrian script thanks to some admittedly solid direction and some genuinely good acting from Glenn and Cameron-Glickenhaus. They have a believably strong relationship in the film and had we not been able to buy them as father and son, it would have completely sunk the movie. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen. They’re both very good here, allowing us to look past things like the fact that Jesse really is too young to be trying to help his old man catch religious serial killers (there’s some very questionable parenting decisions on display throughout this picture – Stephen takes his twelve-year-old son to a crime scene or two!).

    The film feels influenced by the box office success of The Silence Of The Lambs (which Glenn had a decent role in, oddly enough) and the whole concept is absurd from start to finish but there’s plenty of entertainment value to be had here. Glickenhaus always had a good eye and a talent for pacing his films well and that carries over to this later entry in his filmography (after this picture he’d direct 1995’s Timemaster and then leave the industry for good). There’s some decent tension here made all the more effective because we do like the father and son duo, as ridiculous as they may be, enough to care about their collective plight. There’s some decent violence in the film, although most of it occurs off screen, leaving only the grisly aftermath for the gorehounds out there to geek out over, but there’s a lot of attention to detail here and the movie does take us into some decidedly dark territory.

    This is one that, on paper at least, shouldn’t work but Slaughter Of The Innocents takes its ludicrous concept and runs with it with enough gusto and charisma that it turns out to be a pretty damned entertaining picture.

    Slaughter Of The Innocents – Blu-ray Review:

    Synapse Films brings Slaughter Of The Innocents to Blu-ray on a 50GB disc in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.78.1 widescreen and it looks very good. Detail is strong throughout, though the fact that this is, stylistically speaking, a rather dark looking movie means that the film’s color scheme is a bit on the bland side. Still, that’s clearly the intended look of the film and it suits the movie well. Black levels are fine and color reproduction seems quite accurate. Skin tones are fine and the image is free of any noise reduction or edge enhancement issues. Shadow detail is pretty solid too. No problems here, the movie looks very good on Blu-ray.

    The English language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track, which comes with optional English subtitles, is clean, clear and properly balanced. The score sounds nice, the sound effects are well-placed and powerful enough but never bury the dialogue. No problems here to note, it sounds very good.

    Extras for this release start off with an audio commentary featuring writer/director James Glickenhaus. He flies solo here, starting with a story that inspired him to write the story that would become the movie before then going on to deliver a pretty scene specific talk about the picture. He covers shooting the film in Utah and in Cleveland, casting local actors, what was ad-libbed in the picture, the trickiness involved in getting certain shots right, rehearsing certain scenes to get them right, shooting on location in a prison with real prisoners, why certain scenes involve more camera movement and quick cuts than others, working with Scott Glenn and the other actors, directing his son and lots more.

    The disc also contains archival interviews with cast and crew. James Glickenhaus speaks for four-minutes about how the movie deals with the relationship between father and son, having to give your kid freedom versus needing to protect them, where story ideas came from, how the film deals with religion and more. Jesse Cameron-Glickenhaus talks for a minute about his character, what makes the storyline special in this picture and what it was like working on his first feature film. Scott Glenn gets three minutes to talk about what appealed to him about the picture, how the core of the picture is about relationships, how he got along with Jesse, his relationship with James Glickenhaus, his thoughts on his character and more.

    Up next, dig into a Murders Of Mordecai, a make-up effects featurette with SFX designer Gabe Bartalos (the man who gave us the great Saint Bernard) that runs eleven-minutes. He talks about what drew him to the project, his thoughts on the story and the movie itself, his thoughts on having to do realistic gore effects versus fantastic creature effects, his admiration for Glickenhaus as a director, having to create realistic effects featuring dead kids, how they tried to go for realism with the set dressings and more. There are some cool archival and behind the scenes photos used in here that are quite interesting to see as well.

    The disc also includes a new featurette with director of photography Mark Irwin entitled A Killer Look that runs just shy of ten-minutes. He talks here about how he got to know Glickenhaus, getting involved in working on Slaughter Of The Innocents, his thoughts on the story and the mystery involved in that story, the intended look of the film and how he tried to get it right for the director, a few key reference points that he feels Glickenhaus wanted to hit in the movie, shooting some of the film’s more memorable and admittedly bizarre set pieces (including the Ark scene), architecture featured in the picture and plenty more. Great stuff.

    There’s also some interesting archival material here, including five-minutes from the Dylan Dog Film Festival 4 in Italy where both Glickenhaus’ show up to be interviewed by an Italian host about what it was like to work with Glenn, Glickenhaus’ love of ‘angry, long haired, hippie films people like you guys’ and what the movie is really all about. The archival Electronic Press Kit featurette is nine-minutes of behind the scenes footage and talking head interviews. It’s all very promotional in nature, which makes sense, but it does give us a look at what it was like on set and it contains some neat vintage interviews with Glickenhaus, Glenn, producer Frank Isaac, Jesse Cameron-Glickenhaus and a few others.

    Also included here are thirteen-minutes of deleted scenes. A lot of this material is inconsequential, if still interesting to see, but there are some bits with the killer that definitely add merit to the picture and a fair bit more material with Scott Glenn being Scott Glenn, which counts for a lot.

    The disc also includes an alternate assault sequence (made for the German market, and so it is sans Nazis), a U.S. theatrical trailer, an international theatrical trailer, a TV spot, an HBO spot, two-minutes of test footage featuring Jesse-Cameron Glickenhaus, menus and chapter selection.

    Slaughter Of The Innocents – The Final Word:

    Slaughter Of The Innocents is, if nothing else, a very entertaining thriller thanks to the performances and some solid direction. Synapse brings the picture to Blu-ray in style with a very nice presentation and some pretty great extras too. All in all, a fine release for an enjoyably wonky film.

    Click on the images below for full sized Slaughter Of The Innocents Blu-ray screen caps!