Blu-ray Review: Audrey Rose - Twilight Time Limited Edition

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Audrey Rose is a dull reincarnation-themed drama from 1977 masquerading as a horror film. Twilight Time has recently issued a limited edition Blu-ray (3,000 copies). What makes it of interest for film buffs is that it was directed by Robert Wise (1914-2005), the legendary filmmaker behind West Side Story and The Sound of Music. This was late in Wise’s career and his best days were behind him (though his next film was Star Trek: The Motion Picture). The other key point of interest in Audrey Rose is the co-starring role for Anthony Hopkins, still a ways off from being what anyone would call a big name.

Hopkins delivers a tightly controlled performance as grieving father and widower Elliot Hoover. The car crash that claimed the lives of his wife and daughter opens the film, the only moments of real terror even attempted by Wise. Janice (Marsha Mason) and Bill Templeton (John Beck) welcomed their daughter Ivy (Susan Swift) into the world almost at the same moment Audrey burned to death. Elliot, after consulting some clairvoyants, has arrived at the conclusion that the now-ten-year-old Ivy is the reincarnation of his daughter. Everything about the girl reminds him of Audrey.

Audrey Rose cover (215x280).jpgWhen Audrey’s recurring nightmares intensify, the Templetons invite Hoover into their home to see if he can relate to her. It’s a last resort for the couple, given that they’re naturally freaked out by Elliot, who has pretty much become their stalker by this point. Whatever screenwriter Frank De Felitta (who also wrote the source novel) had to say about reincarnation is pretty much lost in TV movie-style histrionics. It doesn’t seem that Wise was really attempting to ape The Exorcist, but someone obviously had the misguided notion to disguise the film as a possession-style fright flick. It results in an inconsistent tone and borders on false advertising in terms of how the film was marketed. Young Susan Swift is no Linda Blair, although she does have a few choice moments during a climactic hypnosis session.

This is not a particularly pretty film to look at. The transfer provided to Twilight Time by MGM is marred by frequent print debris, with black specks popping up at a distracting rate. The grain, though it varies somewhat from scene to scene, is so thick it almost looks like static. Black levels are weak overall as the image seems generally low contrast and washed out. The audio fares far better, presented as a lossless DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo mix that is simple but free of any problems.

Michael Small’s score is offered as a lossless DTS-HD MA 2.0 isolated track, which is the only significant special feature (isolated score tracks are a hallmark of Twilight Time releases). The film’s theatrical trailer is included. Always worth reading, film critic Julie Kirgo contributes a new essay for the Blu-ray booklet.

To order Audrey Rose on Blu-ray (while supplies last), visit the official distributor of the Twilight Times Limited Edition Series, Screen Archives.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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