Extremities (1986)

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Released 8-Jun-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1986
Running Time 85:46
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Robert M. Young
Studio
Distributor

MGM
Starring Farrah Fawcett
James Russo
Alfre Woodard
Diana Scarwid
Sandy Martin
Eddie Velez
Tom Everett
Donna Lynn Leavy
Enid Kent
Michael Hennessy
Clare Wren
James Avery
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Barry Coffing
J.A.C. Redford


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
French
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Swedish
Finnish
Norwegian
Danish
Greek
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, some action during opening credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    Extremities is based on the Broadway stage play by William Mastrosimone, who also wrote the screenplay. It's basically a story based on a single woman's fight against a would-be rapist. The story is told in three distinct parts, probably following the format of the stage production.

    In the first part, Marjorie, played by Farrah Fawcett (Charlies Angels, Burning Bed, Logan's Run), is sexually assaulted by a masked stranger in her car. After much struggling she manages to escape him, but loses her purse during her escape. When she presents herself at the Police Station, she is treated unsatisfactorily and insensitively, and is told that it all comes down to "her word against his (the attacker)".

    In the next part of the story, set about 1 week later, Marjorie is alone at home when a strange man enters the locked house. It turns out that this man, Joe (played by James Russo), was the man who attacked her previously, and was able to track her down from the driver's licence in her purse. This time she suffers almost a complete day of physical and mental abuse at his hands, some of it depicted quite explicitly in the film.

    In the final part of the film, Marjorie manages to turn the tables on Joe and injures and imprisons him within the house. As she has lost her faith in the Police, she wants to extract the ultimate revenge on him. However, her two female housemates, who have returned at the end of the day, are aghast at her intentions and try to get her to seek help from the Police.

    Directed by Robert M. Young (One Trick Pony, Saving Grace), this film builds up and maintains the tension quite effectively through its relatively short running time. Many times it does have the look and sound of a telemovie, though it was in fact a cinematic release. The acting by Fawcett and Russo is rather good and helps the viewer overlook the somewhat lame and wooden acting by much of the supporting cast. The latter often look like they're reading their lines from a book!

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Overall a rather clean and crisp transfer, especially given the age of the source material. However the colours and some of the lighting do lend it a rather 'early 80s' look.

    The main feature is presented in the ratio of 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. The ratio appears to be close to the original theatrical ratio given the framing used throughout.

    The picture is reasonably sharp throughout. Shadow detail is quite good, though not exemplary.

    There is visible grain in many scenes, such as the squash courts at runtime 2:45.

    The colour is reasonably rich throughout, though at times it does have that dated look to it. There is no trace of oversaturation or colour bleed, even in the bright red titles, which can often cause problems in older films.

    There is some telecine wobble evident in the opening credits. Furthermore there is a slight frame jump between film reels at 18:42.

   Film artefacts are very few and far between. The source material was obviously very good, or had a deal of restoration work. Given the 'budget' nature of this film and the DVD release, I tend to guess it was the former.

    Subtitles were available in English, and a number of European languages. I sampled the English and found that it was close to the spoken word, and was well timed with what was being said on screen.

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

Audio

    A clear but rather 'dated' soundtrack is provided. The original mono has not been remixed into stereo, nor into anything fancier. Being a dialogue driven movie this is not essential, though it would have been nice to have the cheesy 80s synthesiser soundtrack in stereo...or would it?

    In addition to English, the soundtrack is also provided dubbed in German, French, Italian and Spanish, all in mono. I sampled each of the soundtracks and found that the English, German and Spanish all sounded noticeably more dynamic than the French and Italian ones. These latter ones seemed to lack any 'top-end' resulting in an overall dull sound.

    Dialogue, at least in the English soundtrack, was clear and in sync with the actor's lip movements.

    The music, by JAC Redford, had that early 1980s synthesiser-based sound which gives it a telemovie feel. It now sounds rather cheesy and very dated, but does contribute effectively to the tension in many scenes. However, I felt the title theme didn't sit too comfortably with the actual visuals in the post-credits scenes.

    The surround channels were not used at all. In fact, this being a definite mono soundtrack, even the front left and right speakers had some time off work.

    The subwoofer was called upon to support some of the music, though there was obviously no dedicated LFE (0.1) channel output on this disc.

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

Extras

    The only extra on this disc is the original trailer for the film. This is presented in 4:3 full frame and was probably the trailer used on TV. It has a runtime of 2:06 and has a rather cheesy voiceover.

R4 vs R1

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

    The version released in R1 appears to have the same content as that in R4. Given the superiority of the PAL format, the R4 release is the one to go for.

Summary

    Extremities is quite a powerful and harrowing film to watch and definitely not one for the kids to share. The powerful nature of the film is let down a little by the uninspiring visuals and audio on offer often making this look like a typical 80s US telemovie. However, the transfer to DVD is actually quite good. Whilst some of the supporting cast is pretty ordinary, the film is carried well by Farrah Fawcett, and in the latter stages, James Russo.

    Probably not a film to own, unless you were a Farrah fan or completist, but worth a look to see that the lady can actually act quite well, in a decidedly unglamorous role. I believe she went through this shortlived phase of doing serious roles, which also included The Burning Bed. She definitely lost the Charlie's Angels look for this one!

    The video and audio transfer are reasonably good, though there wasn't all that much to work with from the source material anyway. The extras are limited to just the original trailer for the film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Satish Rajah (don't read my bio!)
Saturday, September 04, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-344 Multi-Region, using Component output
DisplaySony KV-XA34M31 80cm. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2801
SpeakersMain: Mission 753; Centre: Mission m7c2; rear: Mission 77DS; Sub: JBL PB10

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