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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 6/1/99

The Johnsons
1992 (1999) - Meteor Film Productions/B.V. Lenox Holding Amsterdam (Anchor Bay)

review by Todd Doogan, special to The Digital Bits

The Johnsons Film Ratings: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B-, B+, B+

Specs and Features

98 mins, NR, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical trailer, commentary with director Rudolph Van Den Berg, and original writers Roy Frumkes and Rocco Simonelli, crew biographies, film-themed menu screens with music, scene access (23 chapters), languages: English & Dutch (DD 2.0), subtitles: English

All you people who claim that horror has gone the way of the dodo - well, you're probably right. These days, theaters are a horrible place to catch a really good scare flick. Hell, even if one comes out, there are too many teenagers either in the theater, or in the movie itself, to fully enjoy it anyway. The only place one can catch a well-made horror film these days is on DVD. DVD has quickly become the home for great movies that can scare the pants off you, and it's the smaller companies like Elite and Anchor Bay that are pumping them out. Recently, Anchor Bay released a really great horror flick with the unfortunate name The Johnsons. If you haven't heard about it, well, let me tell you, if you like 'em scary, go out and pick this movie up.

The Johnsons tells the tale of seven young boys who, the legends say, will one day raise up the evil god Xangadix, and bring the downfall of mankind. To do this, they must create a rainfall of bloodshed, murder and rape.

The Johnsons is an export from Holland, and even with a cool opening crawl and hospital scene, the film doesn't really look like it's going to amount to much at the beginning. There's a piss poor fetal-like monster rising out of a lake, a bad fire effect, and some guy covered in mud -- whoopee. But if you stick with it, you'll find a huge film packed with fright, blood and some pretty disturbing images.

I was pretty excited when I found the disc - I'd heard about the film for a few years, but never was able to find the damn thing. Then, lo and behold, here it is on DVD. I've been a happy camper for a week. The film is really enjoyable, especially during the best part of the film, when the Johnsons themselves storm a high rise looking for their "lady love". I put "lady love" in quotes, because it's a mystery for the audience exactly what the Johnsons are after.

As I said, The Johnsons is a bloody romp, but unlike a lot of other bloody romps that have surfaced in the last few years, there is an underlying fear factor to this film, thanks mostly to the nightmarish images put on screen by director Rudolf Van Den Berg. He's a talent I hope to see working in America soon - he really delivers stunning work.

On to the disc - The Johnsons looks pretty good, especially for an Anchor Bay DVD. There is a tad bit of compression noise, especially in the dark area, but mostly the transfer is okay. The sound is really good - the English dub is really well done, as is the Dutch track. Along with the Dutch track, you get optional English subtitles that are very well written and placed, so they're easy to understand, and stand out nicely against the picture. There's a few extras on the disc, to make the purchase easier as well: a nice trailer, bio information, and a great commentary track featuring Van Den Berg and the two American writers of the first draft of the screenplay, Roy Frumkes and Rocco Simonelli (the guys who brought us The Substitute). They go over the complete history of the making of the film, and a bunch of fascinating facts about the film - it's a good listen.

The Johnsons is a disc well worth picking up, even just for the good horror tale itself. Although the picture isn't perfect, it's a good step forward for Anchor Bay. I'd say, if you're a fan of horror, this is a movie you shouldn't let slide under your nose.

Todd Doogan
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