Frozen in Fear (Flying Dutchman, The) (2000)

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Sell-Through Release Status Unknown
Available for Rent

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Filmographies-Cast
Rating ?
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 85:43
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Robin P. Murray
Studio
Distributor
Hannibal Pictures
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Eric Roberts
Rod Steiger
Catherine Oxenberg
Scott Plank
Joan Benedict
Ellina McCormick
Douglas Sebern
Barry Sigismondi
Case ?
RPI Rental Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I'm not sure where the alternate title for this movie, The Flying Dutchmen, comes in - presumably this might have been the original working title for this film, but according to The Internet Movie Database this film never received a theatrical release under that name, and instead was only ever released direct-to-video in the USA as the re-titled Frozen In Fear. This latter title is a much less obscure, more dramatic and more appropriate title to grab one's attention as a horror film. In any event, what we have on this DVD is clearly a transfer from that original direct-to-video release, coming complete with the video release title and the made-for-video 1.33:1 transfer.

    This film starts out as an entertaining horror flick that doesn't take itself too seriously. I'm sure it would have been relatively successful if it had just stuck to that premise, but unfortunately this film loses its way pretty quickly by weaving in an overly convoluted storyline and trying to become a suspense thriller. The characters are nowhere near developed enough for the audience to get into the suspense thriller plot (indeed, its a pretty d*** silly storyline) and the time wasted on the plot leaves less time to develop what should have been the primary focus, i.e. the horror action. Worse still, half way through this plot, the film steals off into a little melodramatic romance for a while, with all the panache and excitement of a Mills and Boon novel. And just to broaden the potential audience appeal even further, we get some gratuitous sex scenes and full frontal nudity to boot! What we end up with here is a low budget horror flick that can't decide exactly what it wants to become. It ends up a rather contrived, undeveloped, stereotypical made-for-TV suspense story.

     The story itself is set in the sleepy US town of Dark Hollow, Montana, where a series of mysterious murders of young girls have taken place. The town is home to several weird and whacko characters, including Sean (Eric Roberts), a young man who experienced a traumatic event in his childhood with the death of both parents, and from which time he has not spoken a word, Sheriff Ethan (Scott Plank), who has a strange habit of creeping up on people and needing to know absolutely everything that goes on in the town, Ben (Rod Steiger), the reclusive and very unfriendly town mayor, and Moira (Joan Benedict), the owner of the local hotel (come art-shop!) and a lady haunted by an ominous past. Into this clichéd town step two even more clichéd young, single, sexy, city-slicker ladies named Lacy (Catherine Oxenberg) and Polly (Elina McCormick). Lacy and Polly are two art dealers who have come to track down the artist of a mysterious painting. The artist turns out to be Sean, the unspeaking, traumatised young man who lives alone in his isolated cabin by the lake. But getting to speak to Sean and arrange a deal with him for the art gallery proves to be a harder task than the art dealers first expect. And so the story develops from here, against a backdrop of a couple of quick and highly unsuspenseful murders and the intrigue of wondering who in this strange town has the motive to be the murderer.

    The actors do their best to have a bit of fun with what they've been given in this film, which is not much. Rod Steiger is the clear stand-out - this is a veteran actor who can easily turn on the acting skills and steal a scene from his younger cast members when he wants to. The film is amiably directed and photographed, but ultimately let down by a deplorably woeful script and one-dimensional character development. If only this film had just concentrated on being a horror flick as it started out to be then it might have been more successful and more fun.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer is very good indeed.

    The presented aspect ratio is 1.33:1. It appears that this this was the original full-frame aspect ratio for this direct-to-video release, rather than a pan and scan effort.

    Sharpness is better than you might expect for a low budget flick such as this. It has been shot on film and resolution is quite sharp. There is only minimal grain and shadow detail is sufficient, although lacking on occasion. There are no material low level noise issues.

   Colour is great. The transfer comes alive with some bold colours, to show off the wonderful backdrop of the mountains, lake and surrounding countryside to great effect. Blacks are fairly deep and skin tones are acceptable. There is no colour bleeding.

    The transfer also scores well on the artefacts front, with no MPEG artefacts, minimal film-to-video artefacts (only minor aliasing) and minimal film artefacts (the odd but very minor film fleck here and there).

    There are no subtitles and the disc is single-layered.

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

Audio

    We only receive one audio track, being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround mix (encoded at 224 Kb/s).

    Dialogue quality is for the most part perfectly fine, however I did have some trouble picking up one or two lines, including one particularly crucial one at 75:47. Unfortunately we don't have any subtitles to turn to here either. Audio sync is not problematic at all.

    The music is largely taken from Richard Wagner's 19th century opera "The Flying Dutchman", interspersed with some other film scoring that is uncredited. The use of Wagner's classical music is at times appropriately haunting but at other times just overused and rather pretentious. The DVD's audio transfer captures the music well, with the only problem being some annoying audio hiss (probably due to poor audio source materials being used). Otherwise, dynamic range as captured in this transfer is sufficient.

    The transfer is surround-encoded, with the surrounds used moderately, starting with an obligatory thunderclap in the very opening sequence. The surrounds are then used effectively many times, notably for things such as the sound of the wind, a dramatic audio queue for dramatic flash-back sequences, several ambient noise effects and also to help bring out the soundstage when the  music swells. This is by no means a constant or immersive use of the surround channels, but is effective when used.

     The subwoofer is called upon by the front main speakers on occasion to lend more emphasis to the dramatic music effects, as well as provide some knocks and bumps.

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

Extras

   The DVD comes with very basic, static, non-audio underscored menu screens, in 1.33:1. The only extra is a filmographies menu, detailing the filmographies of the four main stars; Eric Roberts, Catherine Oxenberg, Rod Steiger and Scott Plank.

R4 vs R1

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

    This DVD is available in Region 2 in identical format. It is also available in Region 1, but technical information for that release is hard to come by.

Summary

    Frozen In Fear is a low budget direct-to-video release and should be approached with low expectations. If you can get through the corny dialogue and the poorly developed, unnecessarily convoluted plot, then you might well be able to sit back and enjoy the fun provided by the mock horror and titillating leading ladies. Possibly worth a rent on a rainy, boring Sunday afternoon, if you're a hard-pressed horror fan.

    The video transfer and audio transfers are great, but there are no substantive extras for this rental release.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Abberton (read my bio)
Wednesday, December 10, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using Component output
DisplayToshiba 117cm widescreen rear projection TV. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum/AVIA. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderYamaha RXV-1000. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum/AVIA.
AmplificationElektra Theatre 150 Watts x 6 channel Power Amplifier
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora III mains, Orpheus Centaurus 1.0 centre, Velodyne CT150 sub and B&W DM303 rears

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