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(aka 'Dark Forces" or "The Minister's Magician"")

 

Directed by Everett De Roche

Australia 1980

 

For fans of Ozploitation it is the likes of MAD MAX (1980) or even the trash-tastic TURKEY SHOOT (1982) that may first pop into many a horror hound's mind - however, the cycle offered so much more and never is this clearer than with the surrealist shocks of HARLEQUIN (1980) a true genre standout that was also released under the more ominous moniker of DARK FORCES. In this oddball mix of sci-fi, horror and political espionage (yes, you read that right) a mysterious healer appears in the abode of a leading American senator who finds that his terminally ill son is quickly cured of his leukaemia. The appreciative politician opts to keep this puzzling presence around... although all is not as it seems. With a cast that includes such acclaimed thespians as Robert Powell (TOMMY) and David Hemmings (DEEP RED), the thrills come thick and fast in this genuine curiousity that, once seen, is hard to forget - exactly what one might expect from a script penned by the legendary Ozploitation hand Everett De Roche.

Posters

Theatrical Release: March 28th, 1980

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Review: 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

Box Cover

 

Also available on Blu-ray from Scorpion Releasing in the US:

Distribution

88 Films
Region
'B' Blu-ray

 

Runtime

1:35:39.734

Video

Disc Size: 36,813,457,021 bytes

Feature Size: 28,239,304,704 bytes

Average Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video

Bitrate:

 

88 Films Blu-ray

 

Audio

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps

Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: 88 Films

 

Disc Size: 36,813,457,021 bytes

Feature Size: 28,239,304,704 bytes

Average Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Limited Edition O-Card slipcase [First Print Run Only]
Limited Edition Accompnying Booklet notes by Calum Waddell [First Print Run Only]
Destruction From Down Under, An Ozploitation Retrospective: Interview with Kim Newman (15:33)
Archive Interview with Robert Powell and David Hemmings (05:41)
Audio Commentary with Director Simon Wincer and Producer Antony I. Ginnane
Cast and Crew Interviews with Director Simon Wincer, Producer Antony I Ginnane, Screenwriter Everett de Roche, Actor Gus Mercurio (49:59)
Theatrical Trailer (01:38)

Dr. Callum Wadell writes a piece "Death and Destruction Down Under"


Blu-ray  Release Date: October 8th, 2018
Red Blu-ray case inside slipcase

Chapters: 8

 

 

Comments

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

88 Films present Simon Wincer's "Harlequin" as the ninth release of their 88 Vault sub-label. The 1080p 2.35:1 image is housed on a dual-layered Blu-ray and has a maxed out bitrate. The image quality varies somewhat from scene to scene, most obvious when a visual-trick is being employed. The detail level is decent, though the film has a somewhat softer look and this may be intentional. Certain shots seem to blur at the top and bottom of the frame, due to the anamorphic lens used during filming. There is the occasional damage in the image but it is hardly noticeable unless going through the shots frame-by-frame. Contrast levels are good, with a healthy spectrum of blacks. Colors are faithfully represented in this presentation. Overall, this is Blu-ray's image gets a passing grade, with the aforementioned caveats.

88 Films present the "Harlequin" audio in 24-bit linear PCM. This is a robust track exporting depth in the effects. The composer for this film is the wonderful Brian May
(Snapshot, The Survivor, Turkey Shoot, Nightmares) The dialogue is clearly audible and there are only moderate hisses and pops. There are optional English subtitles on this Region-Free Blu-ray.

First off there is a great audio commentary with director Simon Wincer and producer Antony Ginnane. They discuss many topics, starting off with their mixing of the Rasputin legend with the true story of missing (presumed drowned) Australian Prime Minister, Harold Holt. The two commentators are very well informed and this track is well worth your time. "Destruction From Down Under, An Ozploitation Retrospective" is a 15-minute interview with genre expert Kim Newman. Newman discusses his early introduction to Ozploitation pictures, the early screwball sex comedies (The Adventures of Barry McKenzie), followed by the different genres covered by Aussie cinema, from high brow (new-Australian Cinema of "The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith" and "Picnic at Hanging Rock") to low-brow ("Turkey Shoot") and everything in between. Newman also notes the many actors who seem to always pop up in these films (Bruce Spence, David Argue, John Meillon, Charles Tingwell). This is a wonderful piece exploring
Ozploitation. There is a 6-minute archival interview with Robert Powell and David Hemmings from a television program. They discuss the film "Harlequin" and its cast. Hemmings notably points out the film's similarity with the Rasputin story. "Cast and Crew Interviews" is 50-minutes of outtakes from the filming of the wonderful Ozploitation doc "Not Quite Hollywood". Interviewed here; Simon Wincer (director), Antony I Ginnane (producer), Everett de Roche (screenwriter), and actor Gus Mercurio. There are liner noites - Dr. Callum Wadell writes a piece "Death and Destruction Down Under".

Harlequin is very strange. The film, although totally unique, would make a wonderful double-bill with Croenenberg's "The Dead Zone". 88 Films continue to put out an impressive collection of films, across multiple genres and subgenres. Though the
Blu-ray image quality here isn't reference quality, this is a wonderfully odd film, worthy of your time.

 - Colin Zavitz

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Box Cover

 

Also available on Blu-ray from Scorpion Releasing in the US:

Distribution

88 Films
Region
'B' Blu-ray




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