The Craft

Details At A Glance

Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - DVD trailer
Year Released 1996 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 96:55  Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 4 Director Andrew Fleming

Columbia Tristar
Starring Fairuza Balk 
Robin Tunney 
Neve Campbell 
Rachel True
RRP $34.95 Music Graeme Revell
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None 
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement
Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s) 
English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s) 
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s) 
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 394Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles English
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    When this film arrived in 1996, the pagan community online was in an uproar. Their reasons are as confused and diverse as the objections to films such as Mad Love (a horrid film about a young woman with bipolar disorder played by Drew Barrymore, of all the people) that I have. However, most of it boils down to the accuracy of the plot and the validity of The Craft's actual points, whatever they might be. The plot mainly revolves around a teenaged girl named Sarah (Robin Tunney), whose mother died in childbirth and whose past is haunted by breakdown and suicidal behaviour. I found the believability of this character to be utterly laughable, and she's probably the best thing about this film. As she travels to a new life in a new town with her father and some sort of consort (the film is not too clear on this one-scene character's identity), she finds herself plunged into a new school. After being treated in such a disgusting manner that would basically get the single-digit-IQ perpetrators beaten to a pulp anywhere else, Sarah basically falls in with a threesome of the greater losers in this school . In order of priority, these are the egomaniacal Nancy (Fairuza Balk), the dizzy and shallow Bonnie (Neve Campbell), and the stereotypical Rochelle (Rachel True). I'd list the other characters involved, but they match the four main stars - cardboard cut-outs. Sarah is the only character in the whole film who gives the slightest suggestion of a third dimension.

    Once you get the taste of the obvious prejudices of the media out of your mouth, this film is a much easier pill to swallow, especially when presented in the DVD format. However, having said that much, you have to have your mind in a really relaxed state to be able to enjoy this film in spite of its stupidity. Shortly before it opened in Australia, the advertising would have us believe that this is a horror film, but nothing could be further from the truth. When I saw it in the theatre, I came to the conclusion that it was a comedy. However, most pagans tend to take an opposite view of this film, and I don't blame them. The ending sequences of the film really sum the whole thing up - we could have had a responsible, reasonable, and entertaining dissection of the dangers inherent to entering a spiritual path of any sort, especially one such as Wicca, with your eyes closed. Instead, what we get is a sequence of totally unjustifiable special effects, extremely bad acting, and possibly one of the silliest endings I've ever seen on a film of this sort.

Transfer Quality


    This is a refreshingly good transfer, with most of the film receiving excellent treatment. According to some reports, there is a major artefact during the beginning of the opening credits, where the actual title of the film is displayed, about 1:20 into the film. While the flickering and seizure-inducing frame changes are intended as part of the exhibit, there does appear to be a few film spots in this sequence. However, given how fast each frame flashes by in this part of the film, I doubt you're really going to notice it unless you get out the slo-mo button and actually start looking for it. Which, in my view, is more trouble than the film is worth, especially given that this sort of artefact is to be expected with this sort of sequence composition (astoundingly enough, it actually appears to have been done using optical methods). The film is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. The aspect ratio is a bit of a waste, given that there really isn't much to get excited about in the cinematography department, anyway. On the other hand, this DVD contains some of the most well-detailed night-time sequences ever shot. It's just a pity they were wasted on such a hysterical film with such an incredibly poor plot.

    As it is, there are no artefacts of any sort to be found, unless you consider the deliberate fast-framing of the title shot to be an artefact, and count the mild film artefacts that have resulted from the manner in which this title shot is composited. However, in video terms, the DVD version of this film comes up even better than the original theatrical exhibition.


    Again, this is an excellent transfer, although I somehow disagree with the Hall Of Fame placement. Maybe this is because I am severely biased against this film for its stereotyping of just about everyone under the sun, but I think that is perfectly understandable. There are four audio tracks to choose from in a choice of two languages: English and French. Both languages have a choice between Dolby Surround 2.0 and Dolby Digital 5.1, although for some curious reason the disc defaults to English Dolby Surround. I believe this film was originally exhibited in Dolby Surround, so it makes sense to defer to the original cinematic conditions. However, the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix has a little more appeal.

    The dialogue was mostly clear and coherent, although the points where it wasn't could be easily attributed to the fact that the dialogue wasn't meant to be clear and coherent at those points. One particular point where the clarity of dialogue suffers is a party at a late point in the film. During this party, Nancy and Sarah confront each other in the presence of Chris (Skeet Ulrich), who apparently has mistreated them both, but the screaming and tantrums that ensue are more punishment than even he deserves. Most of the other sequences in which characters argue are not much better. In a film where a lot of the so-called scares come from loud noise and jerky movements, cohesive dialogue tends to be a secondary consideration.

    The music of this film comes from various sources within the MTV-approved pseudo-alternative "generation X" crowd. The only pieces of music in this film which I found tolerable were to be found in the opening credits (an interesting version of the Beatles' classic (a contradiction in terms in my view but I'm not here to criticise music) "Tomorrow Never Knows" by Our Lady Peace) and the end credits (Heather Nova's "I Have The Touch"). I consider them to be third-rate versions of other songs which I possess somewhere in my CD collection (most notably David Bowie's Ashes To Ashes and Sons Of The Silent Age), and they are the best songs on offer in the soundtrack album. I don't think I need to say any more.


    Only one thing on this disc that vaguely qualifies as an extra - an advertisement extolling the virtue of the DVD format. The advertisement in question begins with a graphic of a disc spinning through a spacescape, and then shoots off into clips from other films that are designed to excite the user about the wonders of a new format. Putting such an advertisement on anything other than an esoteric demo-disc is really not a smart move, in my ever-so-humble view. While this extra would be suitable for a salesman in an electronics store, it doesn't have a place in the home user's collection.


    I honestly believe that the video quality of Columbia's DVD releases are directly and inversely proportional to the actual quality of the film on them. Compare the difference between The Craft and The Thing, and you'll see what I mean.

    The video quality on this DVD is truly reference quality. I wouldn't be too surprised to see it being used to demonstrate the DVD format at one of the Hi-Fi stores in my local area.

    The audio quality is mostly great, but there are moments when you may find it annoying. Except for one sequence, there are occasions when the music also seems to be at twice the volume of the dialogue.

    The extras verge on the negative-value and insulting.

Ratings (out of 5)

© Dean McIntosh
January 13, 2000
Review Equipment
DVD Grundig GDV 100 D
Display Panasonic 51cm and 68cm sets
Audio Decoder None
Amplification Sony STR-DE535
Speakers Panasonic S-J1500D x2, Sharp CP-303A x2, Sony SS-CN120 Centre Speaker