83 Hours 'Til Dawn (1990)

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Released 21-Nov-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1990
Running Time 93:57 (Case: 96)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Donald Wrye

Warner Vision
Starring Peter Strauss
Robert Urich
Paul Winfield
Elizabeth Gracen
Kevin Kilner
Shannon Wilcox
R. Lee Ermey
Samantha Mathis
Cameron Bancroft
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music Gary Chang

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/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 No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

83 Hours 'Til Dawn is the tense, gripping, and sometimes shocking true account of a kidnapping. A young heiress is taken from her family, and buried alive in a purpose built capsule. The capsule has a battery operated air pump, and some food and water. It's a disturbing and moving true story that will have you checking that you locked your doors before you go to sleep.

83 Hours 'Til Dawn is based on court transcripts, police records, and the book written by Barbara Jane Mackle. When two strangers knocked on her door the night of December 17, 1968, Barbara was suffering from the flu, but she was soon to feel much, much worse. Barbara was kidnapped at gunpoint, and buried alive in a plywood box containing a lamp, air pump, three gallons of water and some food. The kidnapping was carried out by University of Miami researcher (and sociopath) Gary Krist and his assistant, Ruth Eiseman-Schier. A California prison escapee, Krist had built the coffin-like capsule at the University of Miami Institute of Marine Sciences, where he worked.

I purposely haven't mentioned what happened in the real case, as the film is very accurate, and follows the startling true events closely. In the film, the names have been changed: Julie (Samantha Mathis) is kidnapped, and her wealthy parents (played by Robert Urich and Shannon Wilcox) are contacted. The kidnapper (Peter Stauss), wants $500,000 in twenty dollar bills in a suitcase. When he gets it, he will tell them the location of the underground capsule. He warns the parents and authorities that if he's caught, he will not reveal the girl's location. R Lee Ermey plays the FBI Agent in charge of the investigation.

For a full account of the real story, and a startling update with recent events, please highlight to read: (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) "Doctor With a Dark Past: He was convicted of kidnapping a college student and burying her alive. Now Gary Krist, M.D., has a license to practice medicine. Dr. Krist now works as a general practitioner in Chesney, Indiana. Three decades ago, Krist was sentenced to life in prison for the 1968 kidnapping of Barbara Jane Mackle, a college student from a wealthy family. Authorities said Krist, then 23, and a female accomplice abducted Mackle, a student at Emory University in Atlanta, at gunpoint from a motel and drugged her with chloroform. They put Mackle in a wooden box with food and other provisions, and buried her in a remote area in Georgia. Police rescued Mackle 3 days later, after her father paid a $500,000 ransom. Krist was captured off the Florida coast in a speedboat he had purchased with the ransom money. The crime became the subject of a movie of the week, and Krist himself wrote a book about it, as did his victim. In her book, Mackle described her reaction as she was buried inside the box. "I screamed and screamed," she wrote. "The sound of the dirt got farther and farther away. Finally, I couldn't hear anything above. I screamed for a long time after that." After serving 10 years in prison, Krist was released and went on to study at medical schools in Grenada and Dominica, eventually earning a medical degree. The state of Alabama rejected his attempt to get a license, but the Indiana Medical Licensing Board approved him in December 2002. Indiana law does not prevent convicted felons from obtaining a medical license, and the state medical board put a number of restrictions on his ability to practice medicine. He remains on indefinite probation, and he must appear before the board every six months. He was required to submit to psychiatric evaluation, and he is not allowed to prescribe certain drugs." (Source: abcnews.go.com)

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Transfer Quality


Have you ever recorded a movie late at night on 'long play'. Imagine you did that, and then left the tape in your garden shed for ten years. Then imagine you found it at the bottom of a box of tools and played it out of curiosity. If you can imagine that, you can imagine the picture quality of this DVD.

The very grainy transfer is presented in its original (pre-widescreen) television aspect ratio of 1.33:1, full frame.

The sharpness, black level, and shadow detail are all very poor throughout. For example, consider the complete lack of detail in the dark interior scene at 23:00, or the lack of detail in the swamp scene at 84:26. There is also low level noise throughout.

The colour has suffered with age, and often looks a little brown and murky.

There are no serious problems with MPEG artefacts, but the grainy image sometimes looked a little pixelated. There are no problems with film-to-video artefacts. Some film artefacts were spotted, but the biggest problems were videotape related. I assume a poor tape master was used, and there are video artefacts throughout, such as the thick, white horizontal line that appears on screen from 19:18 to 19:41.

No subtitles are present.

This is a single-sided, single-layer disc, with the feature divided into six chapters.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


The audio is limited, but it does the job. The only option is English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

The dialogue quality and audio sync are fine.

The musical score is credited to regular TV composer, Gary Chang, and while it is simple and minimal, it helps set the ominous mood for the story.

The stereo audio is not surround encoded, and thus there is no surround sound presence or LFE activity.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Not surprisingly, there are no extras.


A simple menu, it is static with audio.

R4 vs R1

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

83 Hours 'Til Dawn is zoned for all regions. Fortunately, our version is PAL.


This is a great telemovie, and well worth watching, but due to the poor quality of the DVD I would only suggest renting it (unless you saw it in one of those $5 DVD bargain bins).

The video quality is poor.

The audio quality is very limited.

There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Friday, January 28, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

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