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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
See No Evil (1971)

"Coming back.... He, he left something behind. Coming back for it."
- Barker (Brian Rowlinson)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: August 18, 2003

Stars: Mia Farrow, Dorothy Alison, Robin Bailey, Brian Rowlinson
Other Stars: Diane Grayson, Paul Nicholas, Norman Eshley, Barrie Houghton, Christopher Matthews
Director: Richard Fleischer

Manufacturer: DVSS
MPAA Rating: PG for (violent content)
Run Time: 01h:29m:06s
Release Date: August 19, 2003
UPC: 043396008540
Genre: suspense thriller


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- B-B+B- D

DVD Review

As Hitchcock understood well, one way to increase the suspense factor is in making your hero/heroine particularly vulnerable, such as Jimmy Stewart's broken leg in Rear Window. The handicap of blindness had been used to excellent effect in the 1967 thriller Wait Until Dark, and it gets a somewhat less classy retread in this 1971 British thriller.

Sarah (Mia Farrow), a woman blinded after a fall from a horse, returns to her family home in Berkshire. While out with boyfriend Steve (Norman Eshley), her family is brutally murdered by a mysterious person identified only by his gaudy cowboy boots. When she returns to the house, it takes some time for her to realize what has happened to them, and by then the killer is returning to the house for an identification bracelet that he dropped. Sarah must somehow survive her sighted attacker and hopefully find a way to identify him. Considerably more spoilers are on the keepcase, which I don't recommend you read prior to watching.

Although Farrow does a fine job with her blind act, demonstrating a wide variety of coping techniques for her handicap, the whole effort is rather forced. One gets the sinking feeling that the plot is being worked expressly so that she will be alone in the house with the corpses (and later the killer). Once there, the suspense as she wanders around the home, oblivious to the dead bodies, is well done and really the high point of the picture. Once the killer comes back things quickly become rote and some weak red herrings as to the killer's identity don't help matters much. If you dislike Farrow, however, you may enjoy the picture since she is repeatedly humiliated and degraded; I really find it difficult to believe that she took this part while her career was still at its highest.

The script is by Brian Clemens, principal writer and producer of The Avengers television series, but the pedestrian direction by journeyman Richard Fleischer doesn't give this any of the life, humor, or enjoyability of that series. The opening sequence, which gives the killer his (slim) motivation, is an example. Even though well shot and carries a creepy air with the sound off, it's set to a raucous bit of theme music better suited to a violent car chase than an ominous mood piece. The result is totally destructive of any kind of coherency to the opening, which weakens the later story as it unfolds.

There are also some fairly sloppy sequences, such as the dizzying handheld shots as Farrow makes her way through a clay pit. The result feels much like a particularly weak made-for-television movie, with a tendency to rely on cheap exploitation. This isn't limited to Farrow's blindness, but also a reliance on the prejudices of the viewers against a local band of gypsies that figure into the story. Worth a rental, maybe, unless you really like to see Farrow abused. I'm guessing Woody Allen owns a couple copies.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Columbia's anamorphic widescreen transfer generally looks pretty good. There is some minor speckling but no significant frame damage. Grain tends to be a bit on the sparkly side, but there is vibrant and warm color, with some good textures at times. Edge enhancement and ringing are fairly limited for a Columbia title.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: The sole audio is a 2.0 mono English track that suffers from a fair amount of hiss and noise. At times there is also a highly annoying electric hum audible in the background. Dialogue and effects sound decent if undistinguished. Bass is quite weak, but treble sounds, such as a teapot whistle, are very bright and piercing.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Homicidal, Obsession
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Nothing much here for extras beyond a badly beaten-up full-frame trailer for the feature. There's also a brief 15-second teaser for the William Castle psychosexual classic, Homicidal, and a longish one for Cliff Robertson and Genevieve Bujold in Obsession. Although both are anamorphic widescreen, they have little to do with this film beyond being thrillers that happen to have been released by Columbia. Chaptering is the standard 28 stops. How did Columbia decide that was nature's perfect number for chapter stops, I wonder? In any event, it's copious chaptering for this relatively brief film.

Extras Grade: D

 

Final Comments

A weak British knockoff that relies too much on its exploitative nature and undercuts its own effectiveness throughout. Farrow does turn in a good performance, though, and the transfer is very nice despite a lack of meaningful extras.

 


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