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Directed by Victor Halperin
USA
1933

 

This atmospheric suspense film from the makers of White Zombie marked an unusual turn for glamorous Carole Lombard as heiress Roma Courtenay, who is approached by phony psychic Paul Bavian (Alan Dinehart), who claims to bear an important message from her recently deceased brother. After attending a bogus seance, Roma suddenly becomes possessed by the malevolent spirit of executed triple-murderess Ruth Rogen (Vivienne Osborne), whose unfinished business includes killing Bavian, her one-time lover. Fearing that Roma is actually under the charlatan's control, her fiancé (Randolph Crane Scott) sets out to rescue her -- and eventually discovers that the supernatural influence is quite real. Though too subdued to generate real suspense, this atmospheric film benefits from the visual style of director Victor Halperin.

***

Supernatural stars Hollywood legend Carole Lombard as a woman possessed by a murderer’s dark soul. Roma (Lombard), whose twin brother has recently been murdered, becomes easy prey for a corrupt medium who arranges a séance to conjure up the lost twin’s supposedly troubled soul. Meanwhile, a murderess (Vivienne Osborne) accused of strangling her lovers awaits her fate in the electric chair. Before she dies, she agrees to donate her body to a scientist for his unique life-after-death research. Eerily, the doctor's first experiment on the now-deceased woman occurs at precisely the same time as the séance. In an evil twist of fate, Roma becomes possessed by the murderess' wicked spirit. In a race against time, the doctor and Roma's fiancé (Randolph Scott) struggle to undo the horrible curse in this compelling and inventive ghost story.

Poster

Theatrical Release: May 12th, 1933

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DVD Review: Universal 'Vault Series' - Region 0 - NTSC

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Distribution Universal - Region 0 - NTSC
Runtime 1:04:16 
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.99 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s   
Bitrate:
Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Universal 'Vault Series'

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• None

DVD Release Date: October 16th, 2014

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Chapters: 8

 

Comments:

Supernatural is a great little, unbelievable, horror - and Carole Lombard is perfect. Sure, the plot is a stretch but a great idea - a shame it couldn't be fleshed-out with a longer flic. I was in the perfect mood for this 'quickie' and now let's talk about the Universal MoD DVD;

The disc is single-layered but has no menus, or extras, and the transfer is interlaced (see combing in last capture below) but no egregious chroma. Although, it was noticeable in the opening credit sequence (see title above). Aside from that expected condition weaknesses - speckles etc - that aren't too bad - the condition is actually fairly strong considering the age. Contrast seems respectable and there is some pleasing detail in close-ups.

The audio is, also, quite respectable - very clear and consistent. The score can get quite boisterous from an uncredited trifecta of Karl Hajos (Summer Storm), Howard Jackson (China Gate) and Milan Roder (Murnau's Tabu). When the music is used it can be  intense. There are no subtitles and the SD MoD media is region FREE and NTSC.

I developed a soft-spot for Supernatural as the film rolled along. I'm also a Randolph Scott fan. Yes, it is imperfect by today's standards but the decor, fashion and ridiculous plot will probably have me revisiting it when the mood strikes. The Made-on-Demand disc certainly seems pricey at the writing of this review. It lacks value and not even a progressive transfer - so we can't endorse except to those willing to put up with the sloppiness, lack of any digital disc value (menus, subs etc.), and the high price just to see this vintage horror/thriller/mystery. 

Gary Tooze

 

 


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Combing from interlaced transfer
 

 


DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Universal - Region 0 - NTSC



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