DVDSleuth.com is your source for daily Blu-ray Disc & DVD news and reviews
Audrey Rose (1977)
Blu-ray Disc Released: 10/14/2014
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/11/2014
(This Blu-ray Disc is available through ScreenArchives.com.)
If there's anything that Hollywood loves more than a success, it's a success which leads to a trend, and that's exactly what we got in the late 60s and early 70s. With the enormous popularity of Rosemary's Baby, Carrie, and The Exorcist supernatural horror movies were very hot, especially those based on novels. And while it wasn't based on a book, 1976's The Omen continued this cycle. So, when Audrey Rose, based on a novel by Frank De Felitta, hit theaters in 1977, there was no mistaking that it was attempting to ride this wave. Unfortunately, several key elements were left out of the movie.
Janice (Marsha Mason) and Bill Templeton (John Beck) are a seemingly normal (if not rich) couple who live in Manhattan with their daughter Ivy (Susan Swift). Bill is a partner in a successful advertising agency and Janice loves to pick Ivy up from school. But, their tranquility is broken when they notice a man following them to various places. The man eventually introduces himself as Elliot Hoover (Anthony Hopkins) and explains that he believes that his deceased daughter, Audrey Rose, has been reincarnated as Ivy. Obviously, Janice and Bill scoff at this and threaten to have Elliot arrested. Then, Ivy begins to have nightmares in which she is inconsolable and won't stop screaming. Elliot witnesses this, reaffirming his belief that Audrey Rose's soul entered Ivy's body at the time of her birth. Thus begins a debate to learn who is right.
Audrey Rose may not be familiar to some of you, but I definitely know this movie. I can remember seeing the commercials for it when I was a child and the box was always present in the video store. (More on that in a moment.) And yet, while I think I may have caught bits and pieces of this on TV over the years, it wasn't until this viewing that I saw the movie in its entirety. Given that I devour horror films made after 1975, why hadn't I seen Audrey Rose. Well, the honest answer is that based on what I knew about the movie, I couldn't figure out what the "And" would be. Every story should have an "And". A group of scientists discover that they can trap ghosts "And" they must battle a demon. A group of Nazis steal the Ark "And" Indiana Jones must get it back. The "And" is what makes a movie move along and have a fully-formed story.
As it turns out, I was right about Audrey Rose. There simply isn't much of an "And" here. Elliot says that the girl is the reincarnation of his daughter. Bill says that she isn't, and that's about all we get. The second half of the movie involves a trial and further arguing over this point. We don't get much more story than that. The result is a movie which is incredibly boring. Films from this period can certainly seem dated today, but Audrey Rose moves at a snail's pace and the nearly 2-hour running time doesn't help. Director Robert Wise, who made The Sound of Music, West Side Story, and The Haunting, clearly has a great pedigree, but he probably wasn't the right choice for this film. He shoots this too much like a drama (Which is basically is. See below) and lingers far too long on certain scenes. There some creative elements here, most notably a shot which travels outside of the Templeton's apartment, but the pacing is simply too slack. And while the movie doesn't have a cheap look, the courtyard of the boarding school may be the most obvious set which I've ever seen.
All of that aside, Audrey Rose's greatest crime may have been that it was falsely marketed. Again, the movie was clearly meant to fall in line with the other supernatural horror films listed above. Just look at the Blu-ray Disc cover art, which is taken directly from the source novel. (Legend has it that Brooke Shields was the model for that cover.) You've got a girl whose eyes have no pupils standing in fire in front of a tombstone. That just screams horror movie! And yet, Audrey Rose is not a horror movie. If anything, it's a philosophical debate on religion and the meaning of life. While reincarnation sort of falls into the supernatural realm, there are no horror elements in the movie. The real insult comes during the finale, which is clearly meant to mirror and exorcism. And then we have the down ending, which wouldn't have felt out of place in the dark 70s, but simply doesn't work here. (Mostly because we aren't told what happened.) In the end, the only interesting thing about Audrey Rose is seeing the relatively younger (he was 40 at the time) Anthony Hopkins showing that he can commit to any character.
Audrey Rose...hey, wait a minute, did they every celebrate her birthday...comes to Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Twilight Time. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 28 Mbps. The image is fairly sharp and shows only very, very minor defects from the source materials, mostly in the form of small, black spots. The image does show a sheen of grain throughout the film, and it gets more noticeable at times. One scene looked as if a swarm of gnats had invaded the set. On the positive side, the colors look very good and never look washed out. The picture is not overly dark or bright. Some shots look a bit soft (this may have nothing to do with the transfer) and the depth is really impressive at times, as the actors are clearly separated from the background. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.7 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The film's score sounds very good and it, near the sound effects never drown out the dialogue. There is no cracking or hissing on the track.
The Audrey Rose Blu-ray Disc contains only a smattering of extras. We get the ORIGINAL THEATRICAL TRAILER for Audrey Rose, which runs at 97 seconds and makes the movie look much more exciting than it is. The only other extra is an Isolated Music Track which offers Michael Small's score in its entirety.
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long