Plot: What’s it about?
Charlie Pope (Miguel Ferrer) is a writer and his latest assignment is to rush out a story, one that is needed in short order. A movie is already in production and Pope must provide the premise, so he dives in head first. In order to get his mind on the right track, he travels to Mexico and immerses himself in the darker side of the culture. This isn’t a sign of his dedication, more of an indication of his lack of focus, as he wants a free vacation out of the deal. His producer Bob Lakin (Harvey Fierstein) is just about fed up with his slacking work, but he sends out the project anyway, with hopes that Pope will come through. His screenplay is based on a real event, a murder that baffled authorities and has some unusual circumstances. When he arrives, he learns that some people don’t want the murder solved, so his presence isn’t always welcome. But his attention is soon diverted, when he bumps into a beautiful woman named Natalie (Leilani Sarelle). The two engage in some romance on the beach, but before the deed is done, Charlie is knocked out. When he wakes up, he discovers that a hideous event has unfolded. Someone has stolen his kidney while he was knocked out and soon, he learns they will be coming for the other one. Can Charlie finish his script, get the girl, and keep his kidney, all at the same time?
The Harvest is a movie that I would normally hate, thanks to overdone flashbacks, dream sequences, and hallucinations. In other words, you’ll never know what is real, what is in the lead’s mind, and what is just pure bullshit. But The Harvest somehow moves past that and turns out to be a solid picture, quite impressive indeed. A writer within a movie opens up pathways for odd stuff to unfold, a trend continued in this movie. If you need smooth, simple to follow roads in movies, then you’re screwed with this one. The Harvest is a cocktail of old, new, and made up elements rolled into an urban legend style tale of human organ sales. Yes, someone gets tanked and wakes up to find a kidney missing, but don’t be fooled. Miguel Ferrer (Robocop, Traffic) is solid as usual in the lead, while costars Tim Thomerson (Near Dark, Cherry 2000), Harvey Fierstein (Duplex, Mrs. Doubtfire), and Henry Silva (Dick Tracy, Chained Heat) provide adequate supporting turns. The Harvest does miss on chances to be better, such as more of a horror slant, which could have helped avoid a sometimes weak thriller angle. More blood and atmosphere could have went a long way here, but without those elements, The Harvest is a mere suspense thriller. I would recommend a rental, but Columbia’s poor disc isn’t worth that.
Video: How does it look?
The Harvest is presented in full frame, with no option for a proper widescreen version, which is a shame. I would assume the trend of altering aspect ratios would be extinct, given high consumer awareness and the advance of widescreen televisions. But Columbia has stiffed us with another hacked up treatment, which is a serious disappointment. Even beyond the lack of a proper aspect ratio, this transfer seems rushed and ported over from the video release, as if no real effort was put into this treatment. The image is soft and washed out, like most VHS editions were, so there isn’t much to praise here. In truth, I found little improvement to mention and that is pathetic, given the poor visual status of previous video versions.
Audio: How does it sound?
The elements are in place and accounted for, but never have much depth or presence to mention. This is a shame too, as this movie could have used the added atmosphere a well crafted soundtrack can provide. Instead, the tense sequences have a flat sound to them and normal scenes have an even more lifeless texture. The audio is by all means passable, kind of like watching a standard television broadcast, but I expected a little more. The dialogue is decent in most scenes, but sometimes come across as overly soft, which makes it hard to pick up all the lines. Not the worst soundtrack I’ve ever heard, but it should have been better. This disc also includes
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes no bonus materials.