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December 30, 2014

Movie Review: Darkman (Blu-ray, 1990)

When Sam Raimi bursted on the horror scene in 1981 with the classic Evil Dead (1981), it was inevitable that respect for the talent of this young writer / director would bring Raimi a new level that would propel his career in the genre film ranks. The Evil Dead captivated horror fans all over the world and even caught the eye of the legendary Stephen King. Amazingly, it wasn’t until his 1987 sequel, Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn where he really started to get his career into top gear. Just a couple years later Raimi was able to direct his most ambitious project at the time, the superhero / Phantom of the Opera mash-up Darkman. After the success of Darkman, Raimi’s career was given a new life that would make him into box office gold with the Spiderman trilogy.

Scream Factory has been no stranger in grabbing the right to some of the finer genre films from the past few decades. Fans of Darkman will be happy to know that thanks to Scream Factory and Shout! Factory you can now see Darkman looking better than ever in the High-def format with all kinds of fun supplementary materials.

When brilliant synthetic skin specialist, Dr. Peyton Westlake (Liam Neeson, Taken, Batman Begins) is ruthlessly attacked by a gangster named Durant (Larry Drake, LA Law, Dr. Giggles) and his colorful group of goons, vengeance couldn't come faster via a mysterious vigilante. Thought to be dead by our fellow baddies due to a nasty explosion, Westlake has actually survived but is horribly burned. With his brain and knack for doing amazing things with synthetic skin, Westlake takes on the persona of a vengeance seeking superhero named Darkman. One by one the scumbags meet their demise courtesy of Darkman and pay for their involvement.

While occasionally hampered by some dated  and hokey green screen effects Darkman man is really a fast-paced, violent and frequently funny (thanks to Raimi’s odd sense of humor)ride that in a lot of ways are right up there with Raimi’s MUCH bigger films in the Spiderman trilogy. Neeson and Larry Drake are fantastic as are the talents of character actor and Raimi regular Danny Hicks (Intruder, Evil Dead II).

A copious grouping of well-rounded special features accompany this lovely high-definition incarnation of Raimi’s classic that surely tickle the fancy of Darkman and Scream Factory fans. There is a commentary and numerous interviews with several cast members. I had a good time with one that was just centered on Durant’s group of goons and the surprisingly inclusion of Liam Neeson on the features. Neeson talks very highly of Darkman and his relationship with Raimi in an interview that appears to be held inside a skyscraper.

This is definitely Darkman at its best and without a doubt another fine release by the genre experts over at Scream Factory. Highly Recommended

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