Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Blu-ray Review: Cold Eyes of Fear

Article first published as Blu-ray Review: Cold Eyes of Fear on Blogcritics.

While Kino Lorber may be knocking its own films out of the park with each Blu-ray release these days, its Redemption genre division leaves plenty to be desired. Focusing on erotic thrillers and nudity-filled horror seems to be the name of the game, but not every release can lead to coining the genius phrase, “zombie knife fight.” That line will probably wind up being the pinnacle of reviewing this line of films, but I can keep my fingers crossed, right? Unfortunately for the Italian thriller Cold Eyes of Fear, not even a jazzy Ennio Morricone score can keep you enthralled through the talky, wrongfully accused shenanigans.

Cold Eyes of Fear opens with what looks like a woman (Karin Schubert) coming home to a raping, but it’s actually just a performance piece in a bar. In attendance happen to be Anna (Giovanna Ralli) and Peter (Gianni Garko). Anna ditches her drunken cohort and heads off for a night on the town with Peter, leading them both to the house of Peter’s uncle Juez (Fernando Rey).

They’re both in for more than a night of sexual escapades when the murdered butler makes an appearance, and they discover they’re not alone. Turns out a man named Quill (Julian Mateos) has come to hold them at gunpoint, while Arthur (Frank Wolff) will arrive to explain his revenge and hold the two — and viewers — hostage for the remainder of the film.

Co-writer/director Enzo G. Castellari may have a few fun gimmicks up his sleeve as far as his camera work goes, but the snail-like pacing kills any kind of thrills that might have been. Even a sequence involving a wired bomb sputters because you already know what the intended victim is going to do to escape because it’s such an easy way out. Never has a bomb been so easy to disarm. The cast does what they can considering the whole film falls on them. Redemption may be releasing plenty of horror films, but this one is a strictly thriller affair. And it’s also far too talky to be even slightly thrilling. You could call it “Bored Mouths of Monologue.”

As with every Redemption Blu-ray release, the video comes chock-full of nicks, scratches, hairs, and white specks. In this case, the 1.88: 1 MPEG-4 AVC encode has some impressive clarity. Even resolution and detail are better than most of the company’s releases. Fine detail on fabric, clothing, and facial hair is impressive. For further examination, check out the film’s trailer as it’s the only included special feature. It’s of note that the trailer is for the U.S. theatrical release where the film was renamed Desperate Moments, a far more fitting title, actually. The English LPCM 2.0 track leaves far more to be desired. It sounds as if Castellari relied on a naturalistic soundscape as the audio can go from overbearing to unintelligible in the same scene. There’s also an abundance of hiss that gets rather annoying after a while. Also included are trailers for Hatchet for the Honeymoon, Black Magic Rites, The Asphyx, The Comeback, and Night of the Hunted.

Redemption Blu-ray releases are all pretty much take-em-or-leave-em affairs, and in the case of Cold Eyes of Fear, you’re more likely to be bored to death faster than any of the characters can be offed.

Cover art and photo courtesy Redemption

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