Fatal Frames: Special Edition

January 28, 2012 9 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Alex Ritt (Rick Gianasi) is the hottest music video director in New York, which is why he has been summoned to Italy, where a new client awaits. His task is to create a stellar music video for Stefania Stella, the smash success pop performer in Europe. She is the hottest singer in the business, so it is only good enough if Ritt helms her newest video, of course. But his time spent in Italy will not be all business, as he soon finds himself drawn into a game of sex, mystery, and even murder. It seems as though a killer has started to stalk the streets, cloaked in all black and using a massive machete as his weapon. His method of murder is not that unusual, but there is a unique element involved, as this killer videotapes his victims. Thus dubbed the video-killer, the madman continues his rampage and soon, Alex discovers he has been sucked into the mess, which is bad news indeed. Now on the short list of suspects, Alex must remain one step ahead of everyone and discover the truth, before he is either killed or framed for the crimes.

I have to tell you, Fatal Frames is a bad movie all around, but I also have to admit, my collection wouldn’t be complete without this disc. I don’t even know where to start with this one, but I suppose I should mention the good points, if you can call them such. As is often in the case is these Italian horror flicks, the visuals play a large part in the scheme and in this instance, the visuals are downright strange at times. Some unusual camera tricks are used in Fatal Frames and while they sometimes work, more often than not, they prove to distract the audience. But in a movie as bad as Fatal Frames, perhaps distraction is a desired element, so who knows. The rest of the picture involves bad writing, over the top performances at best, and some laughable production values, but in the end, it proves to be a worthwhile experience. As a horror fan who loves bad movies, I found a lot to like with this flick, as it is loaded with unintentional humor and when watched with friends, can result in pure hilarity, to be sure. So if you’re a lover of bad horror movies, I recommend Fatal Frames and since Synapse outdid themselves with this disc, fans of the flick shouldn’t hesitate to pick this one up.

Although his role is very small in Fatal Frames, the presence of Donald Pleasence (Halloween, Phenomena) is important here, as it marked his final screen performance. Yes, the man who turned in so many excellent performances in and out of the horror genre, topped off his career with this sludge. While I do like Fatal Frames as a bad flick, I do wish Pleasence could have ended his run on a more potent note, rather than this picture. He is not in this one much, but he does well with the material he is given, which is about all you could ask here, from any of the performers involved. He is also the key figure in the film’s finest moment, which is enough to redeem the entire film, it is that cool indeed. This won’t be known as his best work by any means, but in truth, Pleasence is the only actor who could have ensured the role worked. The cast here also includes Rick Gianasi (Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD), David Warbeck (The Beyond, Razor Blade Smile), Rossano Brazzi (Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks, Fear City), Stefania Stella (Roseanna’s Grave), and Angus Scrimm (Phantasm, Subspecies).

Video: How does it look?

Fatal Frames is presented in a 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. This is where the disc loses steam, as the source material is weak as it is, but the lack of anamorphic treatment pushes the score down even more. The print used shows grain and other wear signs, but not to an extreme degree, although it is easily seen. These flaws don’t distract much, but in darker scenes the contrast is compromised, which is not good, especially in a dark flick like this one. The colors seem on the drab side, but this could be intentional, I am not sure to be honest. While I am sure this will let down some fans, I can understand why extensive work wasn’t done, as this is such a niche title. I think Synapse has issued a less than stellar transfer here, but I can’t imagine the film getting a better release than this. I do want to say though, until Synapse embraces anamorphic enhancement, their product will be always be a cut below the standard, which is a shame as their catalog deserves better.

Audio: How does it sound?

In much better news, the included 2.0 surround track is a good one, much better than expected in fact. I never get too excited about these kind of tracks, but this one is a real winner and has more depth than I would have thought. The techniques used to capture the sound prove to be laughable, but this mix ensures it all sounds as good as possible. I was pleased with the amount of surround use and atmosphere, which was more effective than most 2.0 surround options, to be sure. As I mentioned, the production values here sometimes limit the audio presence, but I was more than impressed here, terrific work indeed.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Synapse has labeled this a special edition and it lives up to the name, with a plethora of value elements included. Let’s start with the commentary track, which is hilarious due to some language barriers and an unusual audio trick, as the track sounds like was recorded inside a massive cave of some kind, because of a strong echo present. The track is focused on director Al Festa and star Stefania Stella, but an Italian writer and the voice over actor from the trailer also find themselves involved, as well as some offbeat noises that emerge at times. This track has production stories, mangled English, humorous anecdotes, back patting, and of course, no acknowledgment of just how bad Fatal Frames really is, which adds even more to the track’s worth. A whole load of music videos are also includes here, some from Al Festa and others from Stella, all of which prove to be superior to the usual drek seen on American television. I am not usually a fan of music videos as supplements, but man, these are some cool ones, to be sure. A behind the scenes featurette can be found here also, which runs just under thirty minutes and provides some solid information on the production. This is not the usual fluff piece by any means, with some terrific interviews and even some footage taken while production was underway, which is cool. This disc also houses some deleted scenes, talent files, two television spots, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

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