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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Cult of the Damned aka Angel, Angel, Down We Go [Blu-ray]

 

(Robert Thom, 1969)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Four Leaf Productions

Video: Kino Lorber

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:33:18.259

Disc Size: 22,000,336,097 bytes

Feature Size: 21,838,055,424 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.97 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 17th, 2015

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1702 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1702 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 /
48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Commentary:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1685 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1685 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 /
48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

• Commentary by Nathaniel Thompson and Tim Greer

• Stills Gallery (11:56)

• Trailer (1:37)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Brace yourself for the maddest Hollywood story ever with this stylish, decadent look at what happens when the upper crust meets the down and dirty. Full-figured debutante Tara Nicole (folk singer Holly Near) returns home to her former stag film star mother (Jennifer Jones, Best Actress Oscar winner for The Song of Bernadette) only to fall under the influence of a charismatic, dangerous rock singer (Jordan Christopher) and his way-out deviant band mates (including Roddy McDowall and Lou Rawls). Making its first-ever release on home video, this colorful cult shocker (originally released as Angel, Angel, Down We Go) from Robert Thom, the writer of Death Race 2000, Bloody Mama, and Wild in the Streets. Cult of the Damned is part horror, part pop musical, part black comedy, and all outrageous!

 

 

The Film:

Tara Nicole (Holly Near) is an 18-year-old girl from a wealthy family. She rebels against her parents by taking up with a rock band lead by Bogart (Jordan Christopher). Singer Lou Rawls and Roddy McDowell make up part of the band, whose members end up seducing the young teen and her mother Astrid (Jennifer Jones). Tara's mom makes her first and last jump from an airplane with a faulty parachute and her father (Charles Aidman) is found hanging from the diving board poolside. The band manages to wreck Tara's life in this implausible feature. Holly Near would go on to become a feminist folk singer and begin a series of college tours in the 1970s, promoting peace.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

 

Confusion reigns in this sick film about Hollywood decadence. Christopher stars as a leader of a vile rock 'n' roll band (among whose members are McDowall and Rawls) who disrupt the life of a rich family. Christopher seduces 18-year-old Near and her mother, Jones. Later, Jones is taken skydiving and fitted with a faulty parachute; then her husband is found hung from the diving board of the family swimming pool. All of the performers look like they don't know what is going on, and the lousy rock numbers sung by Christopher don't help. Although made before the murder of Sharon Tate, ANGEL, ANGEL DOWN WE GO is disturbingly reminiscent of the Manson cult killings, and the film was released about the same time newspaper headlines were filled with descriptions of those murders.

Excerpt from TV Guide located HERE

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

Much to the delight of cult-cinema fans, Robert Thom's Cult of the Damned has made it to Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.  The image is surprisingly stronger than I was anticipating.  This is single-layered with a decent bitrate and I expect this is as good as the film has ever looked on digital. There is a tightness and depth - skin tones may be a tad warm at times but I'm not complaining. The colors are what would be pleasingly advanced over SD and contrast rises with some adept layers. It is a shade soft - indicative more of the production limitations than a flaw in the 1080P transfer. Pretty solid. This Blu-ray probably provides batter-than-expected HD preentation.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The DTS-HD Master track at 1702 kbps does a competent job of exporting the film's modest sound requirements. Aside from the Jordan Christopher performances in the film (all written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil), there is a odd score by Fred Karger who has done soundtrack work for The Big Heat, The Miami Story, The Eddy Duchin Story, My Sister Eileen and Picnic among other films. The audio here is subject to the weakness of the production and this is probably as good as it will get. There are no subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

Scorpion Releasing were responsible for producing the audio commentary with film historians Nathaniel Thompson and Tim Greer. It is filled to the brim with information including the surprising original casting choice of Ava Gardner and quite a bit about American International Pictures, plus where the film as shot etc. There is also lengthy stills gallery and a trailer.

 

   

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Yes, Cult of the Damned is horrible, but you can easily see why it has elevated itself to such a niche status. The hippie-engrained atmosphere has a weird, highly unusual, appeal and the fact that it has been, previously censored and largely unavailable these many years. It's a film I might revisit if I felt like punishing myself for some guilt-ridden deed. Actually the Kino-Lorber Blu-ray has the commentary which is infinitely a better way to watch the film than without it.  I only wished I had saved my viewing for a time when I was under some 'influence'. This presentation was not ideal and the film is not as painful as I am making out. A terrible way to remember Jennifer Jones though... better watch, a Bu˝uel favorite, Portrait of Jennie, tonight. :) 

Gary Tooze

February 6th, 2015

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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