Quadruple Feature Thriller Pack – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Every now and then, studios get the idea that throwing together some films in a similar genre will be a bright idea and it really is. Getting a bundle of films for one low price sounds like an awesome way to save some cash and liven up a boring night when nothing is on the tube. But one has to wonder how they finally come up with which films are going to be included in each bundle. Surely there have to be a number of films that constitute the “thriller” title, and some have to be better then others. How on earth then do you wind up with films from 1991, 1992, 1996, and 2000? Random much?



Fear

Nicole is like every other high school student except for the fact that her dad is rich and she is incredibly beautiful. Of course being spoiled has a way of coming back to haunt some parents as they end up with a rebellious child who thinks they can do whatever they please. Nicole doesn’t exactly have that frame of mind, but its close. And when her dad ends up breaking plans with the family and trying to make a few stricter rules, she finds revenge in the form of David. David who is a hulking guy that is a loner and pretty much lives by his own rules.

Soon Nicole begins to realize that David is a bit out of her league because he is more experienced in many other things and he’s also a first-class psycho. But David doesn’t believe such a wonderful couple should be broken up so he takes it upon himself to make sure Nicole knows that she will never be able to forget about or get rid of him. This leads to David and his group of nutso friends taking matters into their own hands and tormenting not only Nicole, but her entire family.

A lot of people would look Fear and call it stupid or even quite humorous at times. You need to watch it with an open mind and try to imagine that you never once saw Mark Wahlberg dance around with the funky bunch. This was early on his career and he does a tremendous job of being an incredibly frightening whacko that will do any and everything to make sure he gets his way. Who can forget “Nicole 4 Eva” or “SO LEMME IN THE F*CKING HOUSE!” when thinking of this film? Creepy stuff if you ask me. Fear may have some over the top situations and corny lines, but it’s one of those films that will really make you think when you aren’t making fun of it.



The Watcher

Joel Campbell is an ex-FBI agent who had a lot of trouble when he was living back in Los Angeles. Most particularly he had trouble with a serial killer that was targeting young women and leaving them for the police to find and track him down. Only they could never quite catch him. Fast forward to Chicago and Campbell is hoping he is now free from the case that almost ruined his entire life. He is burnt out on being a cop and seeking therapy for the trauma he’s been dealing with for so long.

Campbell soon realizes that the killer who had somewhat of a “relationship” with him has followed him to Chicago and is continuing his game. David Allen Griffin watches young women in their homes, at their jobs, and walking around on the street. He follows them and learns every aspect of their lives before deciding to kill them. When the time is right, he sends a photograph of the girl to Campbell and gives him but one day to save them. Before his sanity is totally gone, Campbell knows he must solve the case for his own sake and to keep anyone else from dying.

The big change of pace in The Watcher is that Keanu Reeves has stepped out of the good guy surfer role and into that of a creepy serial killer. Yeah he’s been a cop and other serious characters before, but nothing like the evil that you witness here. Unlike Harrison Ford (What Lies Beneath) and Robin Williams (Insomnia), Reeves isn’t nearly as convincing as Mr. Freaky. It hurts the film too because the concept is interesting and good performances from James Spader and Marisa Tomei end up being overlooked since Reeves is the supposed “star.”



Raising Cain

Carter is a well known psychiatrist that has made a fantastic career for himself. It has led the way to plenty of money meaning that his family could live in comfort for all of their lives. Being the nice person that he is though; he volunteers to take time off from his practice to watch his young daughter allowing his wife Jenny to pursue her own career. He raises her, feeds her, and even takes her to the park where he is loved by everyone. Yet there is a dark side to this so-called perfect man, but it isn’t Carter’s fault. No, not at all. The dark side of Carter is all the fault of his alter ego, Cain.

Carter has always wanted to be a child psychologist like his father, but knows that his strong relationship with his daughter simply isn’t enough. Cain decides to help Carter and begins kidnapping children from the park. This along with numerous other weird occurrences makes Jenny begin to wonder about her husband’s perfect ways. It also leads her to an affair with one of her patients and more trouble then she could ever imagine because when Carter finds out, Cain gets extremely angry.

Wow, just wow. Raising Cain came out in 1992 and I know I’ve seen it before, but this had to be the first reviewing of it in at least ten years. It had completely slipped my mind why it never found its way into my DVD collection. The film is just so confusing at times that it verges on the borderline of being incredibly retarded. John Lithgow is someone that can play the sweetest characters in the world and also be convincing as a total freak which is my guess as to why he was chosen for this role. But the film just jumps around so much that you never can keep up, and by the time you do realize what’s going on, it’s time for it all to change again.



A Kiss Before Dying

Jonathan Corliss is one of those guys who grew up poor and was pretty much destined to stay that way his entire life. From the bad side of town, he used to sit and watch the Carlsson Copper freight trains rumble past his apartment window wondering what it would be like to have a small piece of that bank. He knew that he could be more then poor and wanted to have his name on the sides of those trains when he got older. We move ahead to Jonathan attending the University Of Pennsylvania and dating a girl named Dorothy. Dorothy happens to be one of the twin daughters of a very rich and powerful man named Thor. Thor Carlsson that is.

Keeping their relationship a secret from her father was the wrong thing to do after Dorothy ended up dead at the hands of Jonathan, but it was ruled a suicide after a note was found. Thor wanted to keep things out of the press, so he covered up her death and Jonathan simply moved on. After graduating from college, Dorothy’s twin sister Ellen started dating a man named Jay who was so very helpful with everything and seemed like the perfect boyfriend. Little did she know that information would soon be revealed about her sister’s death and show that Jay once went by a different name.

For a film that is trying to be a “guess-who-dunnit” mystery; it isn’t done very well. Right away you are shown who the killer is (Jonathan/Jay) and all that is left is to find out why he did it. Which if you’re smart enough to add two plus two then you kind of can figure that out before long. Matt Dillon’s performance is the mere bright spot in this film, and all that was truly enjoyable. He is forced to play what seems like four different roles in good and bad Jonathan and then good and bad Jay. He pulls them off perfectly and is virtually the only redeemable thing in a lackluster film.

The films are shown in both Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 (Fear) and 1.85:1 (The Watcher, Raising Cain, A Kiss Before Dying) formats. All of the films look decent enough but there was obviously nothing done to spruce them up whatsoever. Fear and The Watcher look really good while Cain and A Kiss are beginning to show their age with faded colors and other bad spots.

The films are heard in both Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound (Fear and The Watcher) and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Sound (Raising Cain and A Kiss Before Dying). Again the newer films sound a lot better and that would be obvious with the surround sound. The others with stereo sound come through alright, but are kind of low at times.

None – Not even a scene select option.


Ok, so taking four mediocre films and putting them all together in one little bundle seems like a decent enough idea. If you were to buy all of these films separately then you’d probably spend about twenty to thirty bucks. Here you get all four for about eighteen, but you don’t get a single solitary special feature. I mean come on Universal. I already own Fear and The Watcher and there were some trailers and even a “behind the scenes” featurette or two. All they had to do was throw them on there from the previous releases, but nope…we get bupkiss. By the way, the two films I just mentioned that are already in my collection are the only two worth watching. Raising Cain and A Kiss Before Dying are the types of films that should be ridiculed on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and given no more credit. Strictly a matter of choice here if you want to end up with four films, two watchable, and not a damn thing else. Otherwise go scour the bargain bin at Wal-Mart for any of these and get some special features for the films you actually care to see.

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Universal presents Quadruple Feature Thriller Pack. Directed by: James Foley (Fear), Joe Charbanic (The Watcher), Brian De Palma (Raising Cain), James Dearden (A Kiss Before Dying).

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Reese Witherspoon, William Petersen, Alyssa Milano, Amy Brenneman (Fear), James Spader, Marisa Tomei, Ernie Hudson, Chris Ellis, Keanu Reeves (The Watcher), John Lithgow, Lolita Davidovich, Steven Bauer, Frances Sternhagen (Raising Cain), Matt Dillon, Sean Young (A Kiss Before Dying).

Written by: Christopher Crowe (Fear), Darcy Meyers & David Elliot (story), David Elliot & Clay Ayers (screenplay) (The Watcher), Brian De Palma (Raising Cain), James Dearden (A Kiss Before Dying).

Running time: 379 minutes on 2 discs. Rating: R. Released on DVD: August 5, 2008. Available at Amazon.com