Blue Underground drops the spooky cult classic on DVD and Blu-Ray June 28th.
The Film- Lauren Cochran, a writer suffering from agoraphobia (crippling fear of open spaces, crowds, and awkward or frightening social situations) spends all of her time in her apartment- too fearful to venture out into the city. While trying to go out, she panics and runs back to her apartment. After this episode, her psychiatrist, Dr. Webb, advises her to leave the city and head to a rural setting. Lauren has also been struck with writers block, so she believes his advice may cure both of her ailments.
She heads out with her boyfriend Mark into the backwoods of the Deep South, and accidentally stumbles upon a large, desolate mansion. Lauren insists she’s seen the hulking house before, but Mark dismisses her- claiming the design is so rare that she probably just saw a picture in some architectural book.
Immediately, Lauren wants the house. After locating the owner, a delusional WWII Colonel (John Carradine!!!), they begin talks with his grandson, Daniel. He’s only been in town for a short while (essentially, his grandfather summoned him on his death bed), but knows the house had a really, really bad rap. Lauren pleads her case, and the Colonel allows her to rent it.
Daniel knows the house is in decently bad shape, so he hires long-time handyman of his grandfather’s estates, Frank, to patch some of the holes and repair some of the soggy boards. After Frank manages to get a few rooms of the house livable, Mark leaves on a business trip.
With her boyfriend away, strange things begin to happen to Lauren. A window suddenly cracks, she begins to see women walking around the rooms, and she dreams of the same women lounging in a brothel. Despite the odd phenomenon, Lauren begins to lose her agoraphobia. She calls Dr. Webb to come visit her and see how well she’s doing.
While investigating the house one day, she wanders into the attic. After a rotten part of the floor gives away, she is forced to climb out the window to avoid falling through (because side stepping was obviously not an option). This causes her to have an extreme panic attack- but luckily Dr. Webb shows up just in time. He climbs onto the roof to help Lauren, but she is distracted by the apparition on a laughing, red haired woman. The doctor falls from the roof, impaling his skull on a decorative spike.
The entire experience reduces Lauren back to a mental wreck. She wakes up the next morning to find Frank working in the house, already drunk from his seemingly bottomless flask. Believing he snuck in her room and played with her typewriter, Lauren goes off on Frank- but the obvious paranormal shit going on makes her retract the accusation.
Inviting Frank to a cup of coffee to make up for her actions, he interprets her offer of coffee as an offer of “hot coffee”, and tries to put the moves on her- backwoods style (in more civilized areas, this action is called attempted rape). Well the spirits in the house don’t like this too much, and they rough his ass up pretty good. He sees bloody corpses in his truck, and begins to shout “Abby did it!” While felling the house, he runs straight into a pond, where rotten, ghostly hands pull him under.
Lauren teams up with Daniel to uncover the mysteries of the house, which lead to a demented chicken farmer, Abner “Abby” Wells. When confronted about the house, he becomes psychotic and homicidal. Lauren’s dreams and hallucinations begin to intensify, and she realizes the dreams are events from the past that occurred in the house. Also, Daniel finds out his grandfather’s old house was actually a post-war brothel for returning solders.
It’s no coincidence Lauren felt she had seen the house before. Something has drawn her there to punish others. It started with Frank, and no one knows where the supernatural revenge will end. While Lauren’s already weak grip on sanity wears thin, Daniel pieces together the clues (largely from his grandfather and the cover of Lauren’s latest book) of what, or rather who, drew her back to the rotting old mansion.
The Nesting is probably one of the most anticipated and awaited releases to come to disk in America; and for good reason. It’s the only known non-adult film directed by Armand Weston, the last film of Hollywood golden girl/ 70’s horror goddess Gloria Grahame (who starred in possibly one of the best, and simultaneously most neglected slasher films ever, Blood and Lace), and is decently collectable on VHS, released by Warner.
I first saw The Nesting a few years ago when I picked up the X rated Kult release from Germany. Well, that disk SUCKED (which I’ll cover later in the picture and audio section). I remembered liking the first half, but being really underwhelmed by the second. I was hoping it was just because the transfer was so bad that I couldn’t see- but sadly, my opinion stuck. The last act of this film is ridiculous garbage.
What I do like about The Nesting is the look and atmosphere of the film. Not just the first half, because even the ending is pretty atmospheric. There’s a tremendous amount of tension and suspense- mostly over nothing that should cause it. The problem is they never capitalize on this tension. There’s never the scare you expect, never that shadow darting around the corner of the frame, never the figure illuminated by lightening. Only one scene actually caught me off guard, and while it was unnerving, it still lacked the punch of the buildup.
The character of Lauren starts out very sympathetic. Robin Groves plays the part extremely well, and at first you really feel for her mental torment. However, by the end of the film she’s a sappy, melodramatic, whiney, annoying person. Pretty much after she kinda sorta lest her doctor fall off the roof and get skull fucked by a spike, I really didn’t feel sorry anymore.
The only characters that pissed me off more than here were the ghosts. I can’t say much without spoiling anything, but these spirits are just manipulative assholes. There’s not much resolve, and what little bit is there is flat out the most annoying scene in the whole film. If I was used by these ghosts like Lauren was, I would go back with an Ouija board every night just to annoy the fuck out of them.
And the ending, which even gets panned by people who like this movie, is one of the most nonsense, pointless, stupid things I’ve ever seen. It feels like the writer was channel surfing one night and just worked what he saw into the script. There’s fire, ghosts, crazy supernatural shit, and a flaming truck (because why the hell not?)- yet it still manages to be worthless.
Amazingly, after all of that, there are some very good aspects of The Nesting. The characters are awesome, especially Frank, Abner, and the Colonel. The two yokels are entertaining as hell, but drooling, greasy Abby takes the cake. And any movie that has John Carradine doing his infamous “crazy eyes” is worth a watch on its own.
The effects, what little there is, are great. There are people hovering, (somewhat) creepy figures chasing Lauren, a sickle to the face, and a fucking inflamed, demonic truck! Even though there’s not nearly as much payout as there should be, what’s there is awesome. Did I mention the truck that spews hellfire?
What starts out as genuinely creepy and intriguing quickly turns to disappointing and annoying. The characters grind down your nerves, the lack of scares kills most of the atmosphere, the spirits haunting the house are dickheads, and the ending is completely retarded. I consider The Sentinel (also starring Carradine) to be one of the best examples of a haunted house film there is. While The Nesting had tremendous potential, it fell short. And it fell flat on its face. Worth a watch, but lower all expectations before you pop the disk in.
The Package- While I didn’t like the movie, the picture is goddamn gorgeous. I’ve heard the Warner tape was almost unwatchable, and I bet that X Rated Kult disk I mentioned earlier was sourced from it. Here’s a screencap for comparison. The shadows and colors are perfect, minimal damage, no DNR problems, and a smooth and crisp finish make this Blu-Ray possibly one of the best restorations I have ever seen.
Blue Underground has included the original mono track, 6.1 DTS-ES, and what I watched the film with, a 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround EX. Everything was clear, balanced, and virtually flawless. The good is this showcases the creepy, haunting score- and the bad is listening to Lauren cry for a solid minute in 5.1 surround sound. In all seriousness, this is really great work. And just for the record, that X Rated disk only had English subs.
Another solid Blu from Blue Underground. Impressive main menu (that shows footage that makes you really want to see the film), easy to navigate and legible pop-up menu, and a Victorian style that’s indicative of the film makes this yet another great presentation.
As far as extras, we have the US trailer (which is so fucking spoiler heavy), a still gallery, TV spots, and deleted and extended scenes. Originally this release was supposed to be the uncut version, but the quality of the scenes forced Blue Underground to include them as extras. All of the uncut footage is not too bad looking, but I wish they had included the option of watching with them added to the film. Regardless, this is a great way to round out the disk.
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