• The Fear (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: April 20th, 2021.
    Director: Vincent Robert
    Cast: Eddie Bowz, Heather Medway, Ann Turkel, Vince Edwards, Wes Craven, Erick Weiss
    Year: 1995
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    The Fear – Movie Review:

    The one and only feature film directed by Vincent Robert, 1995’s The Fear introduces us to Richard Strand (Eddie Bowz), a turtleneck-wearing psychology student who, after getting permission from his department head (Wes Craven), spearheads a project wherein he sets up a group intent on exploring different peoples’ fears. He sets out and gets a gets Ashley (Heather Medway), Leslie (Ann Turkel), Troy (Darin Heames), Tanya (Anna Karin), Geralrd (Antonio Lewis Todd) and Vance (Leland Heyward III) together and when it is time for the study to take place they all decide to head out to his parents’ place out in the middle of the woods.

    When they arrive, the group is a little weirded out to meet Morty, an adult-sized dummy made entirely of wood that was Richard’s favorite toy when he was a little kid. He insists upon the study’s participants that they all use Morty as a confessional of sorts, encouraging them to talk to him as they go about discussing their fears and the effects that they have had upon them. As this occurs, strange things start to happen to the group and once Richard lets the others know that even as a kid he was always frightened of Morty, things intensify considerably.

    Soon enough, people wind up dead, the study ties into some sexual assaults that happened recently at the college and… Morty starts to move.

    A film that was in EVERY video store in the nineties and which featured some pretty iconic VHS artwork upon its original home video release, The Fear is a decent enough time waster if far from a classic horror picture. The plot gets pretty muddled at times and the ending is more than a little abrupt. Large plot details are left unresolved and/or poorly explained and the film’s finale never quite pays off the way that you hope it will thanks to a reasonably decent build up in the first half of the movie.

    That said, it’s worth seeing. Morty is a genuinely creepy ‘character’ and the effects used to bring him to life (actor Erick Weiss is the guy in the suit) are legitimately effective and unnervingly weird enough to work quite well. The remote locations used as the primary setting for the film feel ‘right’ for a horror movie like this, and the picture moves at a pretty decent pace. The acting ranges from okay to quite good, no one here is terrible, and it’s interesting to see Wes Craven in a cameo role in the picture as Robert’s department head. The production values are decent overall and the film benefits from some strong cinematography from Bernd Heinl and a solid score from composer Robert O. Ragland. A tighter script would have elevated this considerably, but we didn’t get that. Still, The Fear is a perfectly entertaining B-horror picture and a fine way to kill an hour and a half in front of the television.

    The Fear – Blu-ray Review:

    The Fear arrives on region Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.85.1 on a 50GB disc with the feature taking up 30.5GBs of space. Taken from a ‘new 4K restoration from its 35mm negative,’ the picture quality is very strong. There’s plenty of depth and detail here to appreciate and color reproduction looks excellent. Black levels are nice and strong and skin tones look lifelike and accurate. There are no issues with any noticeable compression artifacts nor are there any problems with noise reduction or edge enhancement. Some natural film grain is present but there isn’t really much in the way of print damage here at all, the image is very clean and the transfer impresses.

    The main audio option for the feature is a 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track, in the film’s native English. Optional subtitles are offered up in English only and a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is also included. Audio quality is rock solid. There are no issues with any hiss or distortion and the levels are perfectly balanced throughout. The score and effects sound great and there’s a decent amount of depth here as well.

    Extras start off with a new commentary track with director Vincent Robert, moderated by Brad Henderson, that starts by talking about the quote that opens the film (he doesn’t know!) before then going on to cover shooting the film mostly at Lake Arrowhead, how lucky they were to get the locations that were used, how the shooting schedule was 'compressed,' getting Wes Craven to appear in the picture, the importance of screen presence when casting your picture, Robert's thoughts on the different actors that appear in the picture, how they SFX man was brought on board and what he brought to the picture, how popular the movie was at the video store, keeping a few secrets for the big reveal at the end of the film, the quality of the cinematography in the film and more. There’s a bit of dead air now and then but overall this is a pretty interesting talk.

    The disc also includes a new commentary track with executive producer Greg H. Sims, also moderated by Henderson. They talk about the origins of his Devin Entertainment company, the opening quote (he also doesn’t know), shooting in and around Lake Arrowhead where Sims lived at the time and how the locations were great for a horror movie, shooting much of the film without permits, casting the film and how great the cast members were to work with, Sims' theory on how to make a good horror movie, how complicated it was to create 'Morty,' the different dynamics that the characters in the movie bring to the picture, the psychological aspects of the storyline and how the cinematography accentuates this, how everyone got along during the shoot, the film's success in video stores and the importance of the VHS cover, the quality of the makeup and effects used in the picture and more. Again, this is a solid track with some good information in it.

    Face To Face With The Fear: The Making Of A Cult Classic is a fifty-minute making-of documentary featuring interviews with the crew and cast including Sims and Robert, writer Ron Ford, actors Darin Heames, Erick Weiss, Heather Medway, Eddie Bowz, Ann Turkel, SFX artist Tom Irvin and SFX technician Jason Hamer. This documentary, which is divided into ten chapters, covers pre-production work, writing the film, crafting the dialogue, casting the picture, securing the locations, the influence of The Shining, the special effects that were required for the film and having to realistically create a wooden man, what it was like on set during the production, starting to actually film the feature, getting Wes Craven to appear in the movie, how friendships formed during the shoot, the film's release history, what the cast and crew members have been up to since The Fear was finished and thoughts on the film looking back on it all these years later.

    This release comes packaged with some nice reversible cover artwork. It’s also worth pointing out that copies purchased from the Vinegar Syndrome website will include a very cool embossed slipcover that is limited to 4,000 pieces designed by Richard Hilliard.

    The Fear - The Final Word:

    As entertaining as it is flawed, The Fear is a decent time killer thanks to some nice effects work and some interesting ideas. Vinegar Syndrome has done their typically excellent job bringing the film to Blu-ray with a very nice presentation and a nice selection of extras as well. Fans of this film should be exceptionally happy with the way that this release has turned out.

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

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Newt Cox's Avatar
      Newt Cox -
      Nice I can finally replace the crappy dvd I got of this almost 10 years ago. I wonder if the sequel is hitting Blu Ray?