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Suddenly in the Dark aka "Gipeun bam gabjagi" [Blu-ray]
(Young Nam Ko, 1981)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Nam-a Pictures
Video: Mondo Macabro
Region: FREE! (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 23,356,029,736 bytes
Feature Size: 19,982,018,112 bytes
Video Bitrate: 23.00 Mbps
Case: Transparent Blu-ray case
Release date: February 14th, 2017
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
LPCM Audio Korean 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
• Interview with producer David Suh (12:27)
Description: A woman’s idyllic middle-class life is
disrupted when her husband brings home a beautiful young
orphan to be their maid. At first she welcomes the pretty
girl, in fact seems oddly fixated on her, but soon comes to
suspect the girl of having an affair with her husband. At
the same time odd, unexplained incidents - most involving
the maid’s mysterious wooden doll - began to make her
question her own sanity. Soon it all spirals out of control
as the film climaxes in a fever pitch of sexual jealousy,
murder, and supernatural vengeance, all set to a pounding
Wealthy entomologist / professor Yu-jin (Yun Il-bong) returns home from a long butterfly collecting trip and, as he's watching a slide show of his discoveries with colleagues, notices a slide of a creepy, white-faced wooden doll brandishing a cleaver has somehow made its ways in with all his butterfly pictures. Yu-jin's wife, Seon-hee (Kim Young-ae), sees this and instantly becomes both frightened by and obsessed with the image and keeps have reoccurring visions of it. Yu-jin goes away on another long trip and this time returns with a guest: 19-year-old Mi-ok (Lee Ki-seon). The professor found her wandering the streets and, since they've been unable to find a replacement housekeeper for one who just quit, has decided to bring her home, give her a job, put her up in a room and treat her as part of the family. The couple know next to nothing about the mysterious girl except that she's the daughter of a famous shaman, her mother died in a mysterious fire, she's very protective over a bundle of something she's brought along with her that she keeps wrapped up in a sheet and she doesn't appear to be all that bright. However, once she gets a shower, lets down her hair and gets her hands on some decent clothes, she's rather attractive.Excerpt from The Bloody Pit of Horror located HERE
Korean horror films from the 70s and 80s can be memorable, fascinating,
and at times even cute, but they are rarely frightening. Suddenly At
Midnight is an exception. As in Kim Ki-young's
The Housemaid (1961) and its subsequent remakings, director Ko
Young-nam locates the film's horror within the space of a happy, wealthy
family home that is contaminated from the outside, but he takes the film
in different directions than that pursued by Kim. The result is a
mysterious psychological study built on the wife's suspicions, that
beguiles the viewer right up to its bizarre closing image.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Suddenly in the Dark has a reasonably consistent image quality on Blu-ray from Mondo Macabro. What doesn't help the film visually is the awkwardness of the cinematography, although this may have been intentional to keep the viewer uncomfortable and establish suspicion. Colors seem vibrant and, while not an abundance of grain, I thought the visuals looks bright and appealing in-motion. There is no extensive damage of disruptive scratches although you may notice some, inconsequential, frame-specific marks. There are instances of depth, especially in the outdoor, naturally lit, scenes. This 1.85:1 Blu-ray is pleasing in its appearance and I think most will be very appreciative of the clarity of the presentation.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Mondo Macabro go linear PCM , authentically 1.0 channel mono, with the audio in original Korean (1152 kbps / 24-bit). It, generally, sounds consistent although there may be some sync issues that could well be part of the original presentation. Dialogue can sound a little muffled - it may be an effect - but it's audible and there are optional English subtitles. There is an unusual 70's-like score by Jong-hyeok Choi with some intentional reverb that adds a scary atmosphere - even when the onscreen activity only supports it with with close-ups of inquisitive eyes.My Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
Mondo Macabro have included some new extras - we get a 12-minute interview with producer David Suh about Suddenly in the Dark aka "Gipeun bam gabjagi" - he discusses his gratitude about the resurgence of overseas interest in the film and its arrival on Blu-ray, as well as the censors of the era and other tidbits to make the piece quite rewarding. There is also a 21-minute interview with critic Kim Bong-seok on the history of Korean horror films where he discusses the similarities with Suddenly in the Dark to The Housemaid (1961) aka "Hanyo" and a number of other interesting themes and production details. Fans may enjoy the many 'Korean VHS Covers' - mostly of horror films shown in a 5-minute gallery slideshow and there is also an 11-minute Mondo Macabro 'Promo Reel'. The package has a cover illustration by Naomi Butterfield.
January 27th, 2017
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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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