Soulkeeper (2001)

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Released 7-Jan-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Dirty Deeds, The Order, Last Orders
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 100:44 (Case: 102)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Darin Ferriola
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Rodney Rowland
Kevin Patrick Walls
Robert Davi
Tom 'Tiny' Lister Jr.
Brad Dourif
Karen Black
Deborah Gibson
Ali Landry
Jack Donner
Keith Coogan
Ty Treadway
William Bassett
Sam Scarber
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Kevin Saunders Hayes


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 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

    'You've got my back, right ?' - 'Yeah, don't know whether to pop it or shave it!'

    Soulkeeper is one of those American horror-comedy shows, popular in the 80s, based on a grain of lore and filled in with a cheesy buddy duo as epitomised in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure or Dude, Where's My Car. Mixed in with token references to action heroes and series we have a recent production, from tyro director Darin Ferriola, with a serious identity crisis. There's plenty of eye candy, and the film merits its MA rating with a good helping of vampire lesbians, non-erotic sex scenes and enough buxom babes done up in tight, revealing leather to keep the target teen audience's eyes popping. Don't go hoping for much of a story, however, or anything more than strictly C grade acting performances from its largely undistinguished cast, although its leading duo possess a certain charisma and given a better script could probably lift their game. There's a few cameos for the sharp-eyed, although they're pretty low-key - singer Deborah Gibson (no, I hadn't heard of her either) and Karen Black.

    The aforementioned leading duo consist of small-time thieves Corey and Terrence, played by Rodney Rowland and Kevin Walls, succumbing to the honey trap laid by visitor from the after-life Mr Pascal (Brad Dourif). The pair are commissioned to recover the Stone of Lazarus - yes, the very same guy resurrected from the dead some two millennia ago, who passed on his good fortune to a stone which passed into the hands of Bedouin some time later. The feature starts with a rip-off from Raiders of the Lost Ark where the magical stone is imbued with evil and passes the powers of immortality onto its incarnation of 'pure evil' (somewhat oxymoronic), the suitably 6 tattooed Simon Magus (Ed Trotta). Magus continues his evil work to the present day, increasing his army by gathering lost souls using the magical powers of the stone. Somehow, our less than competent heroes bumble through with a little supernatural help - and that's about it. There's some reasonable CGI and a workable but rather clichéd demon - there's also a couple of genuine funny bits but I wouldn't want to spoil your enjoyment by giving these rare gems away. The humour, to me, is on a par with the flood of American sit-coms that flooded our small screens in the 80s and rather pales with its Aussie or British counterpart. Judging by some of the customer comments from online retailer customers, there's some fans out there for this feature but I have to confess I found it all a bit boring and predictable.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a low budget movie, so it gets a low budget single layer transfer, but as is usually the case, the quality of the transfer is inversely proportional to the quality of the movie!

    Well, we've been short-changed here - the original feature was shot on 35mm film and the original theatrical ratio was 1.85:1 but we've scored the pan and scan 1.33:1 version.

    The feature is reasonably sharp - certainly impressive on smaller TVs, but when projected up larger it softens considerably, probably as a result of the compression necessary to fit onto a single layered disc. There's plenty of interior dark scenes, whether in the dungeon, the sewer or the cellar of pleasure, and for better or worse we can see all necessary detail. There was no low level noise.

    Colours were well rendered without artefact but I felt there was a little excess of red tint on the interior flame lit scenes.

    I couldn't pick any significant MPEG artefacts. There was some mild aliasing throughout such as on the hat case at 3:28 but this wasn't irritating. There was noticeable scan judder as often seen in NTSC conversions. The film stock was very clean - I'm sure I didn't see more than a couple of white flecks throughout the movie - one was located at 25:21.

    There were no subtitles and the disc was single layered so there was no RSDL transition point.

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

Audio

   In keeping with the video, the audio transfer is of good quality - Foley effects and the necessary bangs and crashes were well done and could be jump-provoking if the volume was up loud enough.

    There is just the one English soundtrack in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo here - a shame, as this would have suited surround very well as well as LFE augmentation by the subwoofer.

    The dialogue was reasonably easy to make out - any difficulties were due to American slang rather than transfer deficiencies.

    Lip sync seemed slightly out throughout the feature and there was more evidence of visible lag in audio sync during the door knocking at 34:30.

    The music score is credited to Kevin Hayes and is in keeping with the quality of the story - pretty clichéd, unmemorable stuff accompanied by various grungy metal bands that I'm unfamiliar with.

    There were no audio streams for the surround or subwoofer so they stayed quiet.

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

Extras

    Were confined to trailers for the feature and three other films: Dirty Deeds, The Order and Last Orders.

R4 vs R1

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

    Apart from the NTSC/PAL encoding the two versions appear identical.

Summary

    I guess if you're 20 years younger than me and fancy a bit of sleaze on an election night when there's nothing better to watch you could try this for a rental, but it doesn't really cut it as true horror, action or comedy.

    The video transfer is good though marred by being presented at 1.33:1.

    The audio transfer is also good, though again marred by being limited to 2 channel stereo.

    Extras are limited to a few movie trailers - all of which looked more interesting than this feature!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Lancaster (read my bio)
Sunday, January 25, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDEAD 8000 Pro, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE300E Projector onto 250cm screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTheta Digital Intrepid
SpeakersMartin Logan - Aeon Fronts/Script rears/Theatre centre/ - REL Strata III SW

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