Bad Blood (1981)

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Released 26-Jul-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Interviews-Cast-Jack Thompson
Trailer-Attack Force, The Club, Summerfield, Don's Party
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1981
Running Time 109:23 (Case: 108)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Mike Newell
Southern Pictures
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Jack Thompson
Carol Burns
Denis Lill
Donna Akersten
Martyn Sanderson
Marshall Napier
Ken Blackburn
John Bach
John Banas
John Black
Karl Bradley
Greg Naughton
Alan Jervis
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Richard Hartley

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
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

    In 1941, the small and picturesque town of Koiterangi on New Zealand's west coast was the scene of a shocking mass murder and a subsequent manhunt that lasted thirteen days. The tragic events that led to the killings and the lengthy quest to apprehend the killer form the basis of this compelling film, Bad Blood.

    Stanley and Dorothy Graham (Jack Thompson and Carol Burns) and their two young children live on a small farm. Like most farmers of the era, they worked hard and managed with very little resources. The onset of World War 2 together with mounting mortgage payments and livestock problems were constant sources of anxiety. The Grahams were also loners in this small community and kept very much to themselves. They never attended events like the popular community dances and lived their lives in a form of exile on their own property.

    Stan and Dorothy both had a passion for firearms and would regularly shoot at targets very late at night. This also put them at odds with their neighbours and contributed to their isolation within the community.

    A law was introduced that empowered the police to collect all .303 rifles from civilians as a contribution to the war effort. These weapons would be returned to the owners when the war was over. The Grahams treated this law with distain and lied to the local policeman as to the gun's whereabouts when he arrived to collect it. Such was their increasing paranoia and suspicion that they believed they were being persecuted and ridiculed by the entire town. When the dairy cooperative began returning their milk because of poor quality, this paranoia intensified. Dorothy Graham began to wrongly accuse passing locals of poisoning their livestock.

    Stan's anger and frustration reached breaking point when four police arrived at the house in an effort to resolve a dispute with a neighbour. Any chance of rational behaviour was shattered when Stan's already fragile mental state turned manic. He embarked on the gruesome and senseless killing of seven people and subsequently sparked one of New Zealand's most infamous manhunts.

    The bold screenplay by Andrew Brown is adapted from the non-fiction novel Manhunt: The Story of Stanley Graham by Howard Willis. It perfectly captures both the era and the sense of paranoia and isolation felt by the Graham family in this small town community.

    Veteran British director Mike Newell is careful to avoid passing judgement on any of these characters. This in turn allows the viewer to experience the full weight of this tragic and wasted situation without favour.

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Transfer Quality


    The video transfer for Bad Blood is a mixed bag.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. I believe the film's original aspect ratio to be 1.85:1, although I could not confirm this.

    In scenes of ample light, the levels of sharpness and clarity were quite good. This deteriorated considerably in darker scenes, which were rather murky and displayed varying degrees of film grain. Blacks appeared bold and clean during well-lit scenes, but displayed some low level noise when lighting levels were low. Overall shadow quality was diverse and generally inconsistent.

    Colours are suitably drab and very subtle in general. This reflected the era and overall atmosphere of the film very well.

    There were no MPEG artefacts. There was some occasional and minor evidence of aliasing and edge enhancement, but these weren't a significant issue. Film artefacts were quite frequent and consisted mainly of scratches. These were in abundance during the film's opening scene and just before a reel change at 75:15 .

    Unfortunately there are no subtitles available on this DVD.

    This is a single sided, dual layer disc. The layer change is noticeable, but well placed at 78:35.

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


    The audio transfer is only average.

    There is one audio track available on this disc, English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s).

    I found some passages of dialogue notably muffled and difficult to understand. This was particularly evident earlier in the film, but did improve over the duration. Audio sync appeared to be very accurate and presented no problems.

    The original music score by Richard Hartley  is simplistic, but very effective. Strangely, this score reminded me of  Michael Nyman's music, in particular the simple yet hypnotic melodies used in many of Peter Greenaway's films.

    The surround channels and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The extras on this disc are very basic.


    The menu design is very basic. It is static, with 16x9 enhancement and features a looped sample of Hartley's music score.

Exclusive interview with Jack Thompson (10:03)

    In this recently filmed interview, Thompson discusses various aspects of Bad Blood. He recalls with pride his experiences on the film and reveals many interesting and some amusing anecdotes. Obviously with a ten minute running time, this isn't going to provide the same information as a quality audio commentary, but it's still well worth viewing. Small grabs from the film are incorporated with the interview. I strongly recommend viewing this extra after seeing the film, as it does contain significant spoilers.

Umbrella Trailers   

R4 vs R1

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

    At the time of this review there is no R1 version of Bad Blood available.


    Bad Blood is a bold and confronting film of an infamous human tragedy occurring in 1941 on New Zealand's picturesque west coast. Gary Hansen's beautiful cinematography ironically contrasts these superb natural vistas with Stanley Graham's brutal actions.

    The performances from Jack Thompson and Carol Burns in the lead roles are first rate.

    The transfers are acceptable, but average.

    The selection of extras is insignificant, although the Jack Thompson interview is worthy viewing.

There is an Official Distributor Comment available for this review.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDJVC XV-N412, using Component output
DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Transfer source? - wolfgirv REPLY POSTED
Bad Blood Masters and Transfer Feedback - Umbrella Ent REPLY POSTED