Pretty Poison (Blu-ray) (1968)

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer-Masters Of The Universe
Theatrical Trailer-Dr. Phibes Rises Again
Theatrical Trailer-The Abominable Dr. Phibes
Theatrical Trailer-Elektra Glide In Blue
Theatrical Trailer-Vanishing Point
Theatrical Trailer-Killer Klowns From Outer Space
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1968
Running Time 89:16
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Noel Black
Studio
Distributor
20th CENTURY FOX
Shock Entertainment
Starring Anthony Perkins
Tuesday Weld
Beverly Garland
John Randolph
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Johnny Mandel


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

"What brought a nice kid like Sue Ann to a shocking moment like this?"

     At age 15 Dennis Pitt (Anthony Perkins) set fire to his aunt's house and the ensuing destruction claimed her life. After an extended stint in a mental institute Pitt is released on parole to begin a new life working at a chemical factory in a small Massachusetts town. His parole officer Morton Azenauer (John Randolph) makes it clear that Pitt has to forget about his delusions and work to gain acceptance in the community and also to prove his ability to function normally. Pitt however dreams while on the job, and imagines being a CIA agent secretly investigating chemical dumping by his employer.

     After a chance encounter with student Sue Ann Stepanek (Tuesday Weld) Pitt convinces her of his mission and the enthusiastic girl is "enlisted" as a CIA "civilian" agent. Manipulation turns to passion with Pitt becoming entranced in Sue Ann's spell and the balance of power turning in her favour. As the lies build up Pitt's work relations plummet and Sue Anne clashes with her mother. As the pair plots their espionage on the chemical plant events take a turn for the worse, with outcomes becoming more and more desperate. To say more will spoil the plot, but suffice to say that not all is as seems with this unlikely duo and an unhappy ending is almost certain.

     Pretty Poison is a black psychological drama that joins the post Psycho Anthony Perkins with poster girl of the 1960's Tuesday Weld in a crazy game that turns and twists like a snake. Before coming together in this film by Noel Black, Perkins had largely gone to ground after the huge success of the Hitchcock thriller, and Weld had passed on films such as Lolita, Bonnie and Clyde, and Rosemary's Baby. Oddly enough Pretty Poison failed at the box office, but since then has become a cult classic - not least for the clever script by Lorenzo Semple Jr and the fabulous performances of Weld (in particular) and Perkins. This would probably be Weld's best work on film but she apparently hated working with Black and disliked the movie because of it. It's a shame because Weld is truly captivating as Sue Ann Stepanek, the impossibly beautiful high school drum-majorette with the black heart. Perkins as Dennis Pitt is perfect as the delusional arsonist who slowly feels his assumed control over the girl he falls in love with twist around, until it is him being played like a marionette.

     Pretty Poison turns a light on small town culture, and the ethics of industry where regulators turn a blind eye to the practices of the town's biggest employer. On the outside the town is peachy clean middle America, but on the inside there is a toxic stain that spreads from the citizens to the environment. It is clear that the "Pretty Poison" from the title has infected more than what is apparent.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Video is presented in the original aspect of 1.85:1 with 1080p high definition resolution using MPEG-4 AVC codec. Despite its age this transfer is clean and free of blemishes. Although being 1080p this is far from high definition with a very soft focus and a lot of grain. There is also evidence of edge enhancement but other than that no real digital artefacts. Colour is quite good with natural looking skin tones and a vibrancy in the external shots. Overall this is pretty good for such an old film and I doubt if anything better will be available any time soon.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The only audio option is a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track at around 1700 Kb/s. Surrounds and subwoofer usage is restricted to whatever your player of choice can extract from the stereo track, and in my case that was virtually nothing. Some outdoor noises were directed to the rears but basically everything comes via the three front speakers. Gunshots came through with a sharp crack and the factory chute crashing into the river brought some life to the soundscape. That being said this is a dialogue based movie anyway so discrete effects weren't really missed. Synchronisation with the video was fine and the voices were clear if a little harsh.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

     Static menu with no audio.

Trailers - all HD video.

     Masters Of The Universe (1:39) - LPCM stereo audio at 1536 Kb/s; Dr. Phibes Rises Again (2:08) - LPCM stereo audio at 1536 Kb/s.; The Abominable Dr. Phibes (2:34) - DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track at 1557 Kb/s; Elektra Glide In Blue (3:17) - LPCM stereo audio at 1536 Kb/s; Vanishing Point (2:14) - Dolby Digital stereo audio at 224 Kb/s; Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1:52) - LPCM stereo audio at 1536 Kb/s.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There doesn't seem to be a Region A release, only a German import with different language options.

Summary

     Pretty Poison is smart, sinister and at times amusing with charismatic leads. The styling is very much 1960's, but the plot is topical and the twists and turns are engaging.

     The video quality is very good given the source.

     The audio quality is good.

    Extras are poor.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Mike B (read my bio)
Friday, April 03, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge Audio 751bd, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic TH-58PZ850A. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
Amplificationdenon AVR-4311 pre-out to Elektra Theatron 7 channel amp
SpeakersB&W LCR600 centre and 603s3 mains, Niles in ceiling surrounds, SVS PC-Ultra Sub, Definitive Technology Supercube II Sub

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