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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 11/5/99

The Dark Half
1991 (1999) - Orion (MGM)

review by Todd Doogan, special to The Digital Bits

The Dark Half Film Rating: C

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): C-/B-/C

Specs and Features

121 mins, R, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical trailer, production note booklet, film-themed menu screens with music and sound effects, scene access (36 chapters), language: English (DD 2.0), subtitles: English and French, Close Captioned

Although they worked together before, this is the first (and so far) only Stephen King novel filmed by George A. Romero. Adapted by Romero, The Dark Half focuses on Thad Beaumont (Timothy Hutton), a novelist/college professor who writes all of his shadier hits under the pen name George Stark. When a blackmailer enters Beaumont's life, threatening to uncover his secret, Beaumont "kills off" his alter ego... or does he? Beaumont learns the hard way that sometimes, that darker part of ourselves is not easily hidden away -- especially when it develops a mind of its own.

The Dark Half is a neat film, but not the best in either Romero's or King's oeuvre. Hutton is interesting to watch, the effects are pretty hard to stomach (in a good way), and the environment does contain a certain chill that should work, but doesn't. This could be blamed on the film's lackluster climax, that seems to just abruptly put an end to the story. It's definitely worth a watch, but certainly not on the top of anyone's hit list.

The DVD version will do nothing to fix that. MGM seems to be skimping a bit on their stuff. Sure, they went whole-hog with the Bond stuff, but with the same hand they giveth, they taketh away here, by giving us a full frame version of this film, with nothing extra aside from a simple two-page production note booklet and a trailer. It's really disappointing. Because of the full frame blow up, the image has a slight digital look to it, with a bit of artifacting in the darker scenes. The sound is pretty good, but nothing spectacular. Overall, I'd liken this DVD edition to a glorified VHS tape. This is a rental. Purchase at your own risk.

Todd Doogan
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