Director – George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead)
Starring – Timothy Hutton (#Horror, The Haunting of Hill House), Amy Madigan (Uncle Buck, Field of Dreams), and Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer)
Release Date – 1993
Rating – 4/5
Blu Release – 4/5
Tagline – “There is a very good reason to be afraid of the dark”
When I was in high school I was dedicated to horror. My obsession had turned into almost a lifestyle with horror consuming every aspect of my life. I couldn’t get enough of the controversial genre. I was constantly looking up stuff on some of my favorite directors, actors, companies, and franchises. I absolutely loved horror and it was around this time that I discovered George A. Romero. I had watched Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead as a kid and enjoyed the films but it wasn’t until my teenage years when I started to appreciate him from the horror viewpoint. From then on I was hooked and sometime during my senior year in high school my local video store closed.
I was able to buy a box of tapes during this time with one of them being The Dark Half. I had never seen this Romero adaptation of King’s work but I was curious and for 50 cents I couldn’t pass it up. After that first viewing I was hooked. I fucking loved the film and when I had the chance to upgrade my tape to DVD I did. Sometime back Eureka Entertainment released the film on a region B blu. I reached out to them and they were kind enough to send over a copy for review.
**Spoiler Alert**The film follows author Thad Beaumont who suffered from migraines and seizures as a kid due to a brain tumor that was actually an absorbed twin. He would have episodes that would coincide with the sounds of birds chirping. He was fine once the tumor was removed and grew up to become a notable author who also released a series of gruesome horror novels under the moniker George Stark. When a fan discovers his secret identity he is blackmailed and forced to go public instead of paying them the ransom they desired. They turn it into a public spectacle and run a piece in a magazine on the whole ordeal. Thad thinks it’s all behind me but soon those involved with the publicity stunt start turning up dead and the police suspect he’s the one responsible. The more bodies that turn up the more Thad suspects that his alter ego George is the one responsible for the murders. Soon his accusation turns real and Thad must face George face to face in order to stop him from taking over his life and hurting his family.**Spoiler Alert**
I know The Dark Half has the horror community split. I see so many horror fans proclaim their love for the film while others shun it as Romero’s worst often comparing it to his film Bruiser. I don’t think the film is as amazing as NotLD and DotD but I still thoroughly enjoyed it.
The acting in this one is a little uneven but enjoyable. Timothy Hutton truly carries this film. His dual performance is absolutely insane to watch unfold. His performance as the mild mannered and eccentric author is award winning in itself but watching him tackle both characters is highly entertaining. The fact people never reference his performance in this film is a damn shame. Michael Rooker is solid in his role as well. It’s strange seeing him in a role of authority but he pulls out a very entertaining sheriff that fits him very well. I was not expecting that from him. My only real complaint with the acting is how bland and generic Amy Madigan’s character and performance is. She is so underwhelming in her scenes that she almost brings the tone of the film down. She underreacts in so many scenarios that I feel like she forgot that the camera was actually rolling.
The story for this one does get a little predictable at times but the mystery is not the highlight of the film. The movie only exists to show the breakdown of Thad’s mental state and the creation of George. Watching these contrasting characters take over the screen is what makes this film so entertaining. The slower scenes still offer up character and story development and you find yourself never looking away.
Finally, this movie doesn’t dish out the gore but does deliver some serious blood. We get some pretty brutal deaths with plenty of blood and some of the best knife wounds you will find in horror. The practical effects are top notch and really knock the kills on home. Overall, The Dark Half is a fantastic Stephen King adaptation that looks fucking fantastic on blu from Eureka Entertainment. I highly suggest you pick this one up for your collection.
1080p presentation of the film on Blu-ray (with a progressive encode on the DVD)
LPCM audio (uncompressed on the Blu-ray) and 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio options
Optional English SDH subtitles
Audio commentary with Writer/Director George A. Romero
George A. Romero episode of Son of the Incredibly Strange Film Show [38 mins] – documentary on the director originally aired on UK television in 1989
The Sparrows Are Flying Again! The Making of The Dark Half [36mins] – Retrospective with George A. Romero, special make-up effects creators Everett Burrell and John Vulich, visual effects supervisor Kevin Kutchaver, actor Robert Joy, editor Pasquale Buba and more!
A selection of Behind-the-scenes and archival video material
Original Theatrical Trailer
Limited Edition Collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Simon Ward