Superstition – Blu-ray Review

Cult horror film makes its Blu-ray debut 3.5 Stars

The arrival of VHS opened up new opportunities for both filmmakers and studios alike; not only were current box office hits and classic movies being issued on home video for folks to enjoy, but it also opened up a new avenue for films that largely went either unnoticed in theaters or missed the opportunity to do so. Such is the case of Superstition, a film made in 1982, but held on the shelf for a few years before a brief theatrical run and subsequent VHS release, where it became a favorite of Horror genre fans. Now, Scream Factory – through a deal with Studio Canal – has brought this staple of the VHS era to Blu-ray for the first time.

Superstition (1982)
Released: 02 Jan 1985
Rated: Unrated
Runtime: 85 min
Director: James W. Roberson
Genre: Horror
Cast: James Houghton, Albert Salmi, Lynn Carlin, Larry Pennell
Writer(s): Galen Thompson (screenplay), Michael O. Sajbel (story), Bret Thompson Plate (story), Brad White (story)
Plot: A witch put to death in 1692 swears vengeance on her persecutors and returns to the present day to punish their descendants.
IMDB rating: 5.8
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: Other
Distributed By: Scream Factory
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 1.0 DTS-HDMA (Mono)
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 25 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Case Type: Blue keep case with reversible cover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 04/16/2019
MSRP: $27.99

The Production: 2.5/5

The house on old Mill Road has been the site of a series of mysterious and gruesome deaths over the years, most recently the deaths of two teenage pranksters. When the family of a newly arrived priest moves into the house, the idealistic Reverend Thompson (James Houghton) and cynical police inspector Sturgess (Albert Salmi) team up to discover the reason for the murders. What they uncover is a horrifying truth: the spirit of a witch executed nearly 300 years ago still haunts the area and attacks anyone who dares intrude. Now, everyone is in danger and it will take more than prayers to save them all from the wrath of the witch…

For a small budgeted movie, Superstition is a fairly well-executed movie that does deliver in terms of both shocks and gore. Trying to find artistic merit in a film like this is a tall order, but it does deliver a few memorable visual touches that tend to stay with the viewer after the movie has ended. That being said, the film is essentially a 30 minute short film or TV episode stretched to nearly an hour and a half in addition to being an excuse to showcase some gruesome – albeit effective – death sequences (the scenes involving a rogue saw blade and a spike stick out – no pun intended – in this reviewer’s mind specifically). So while the movie covers some familiar territory, it still manages to deliver the goods – more often than not – and has a bit of style going for it, which has helped it survive in the years since its release.

Despite it’s small budget, a few familiar faces turn up in the movie. James Houghton was better known for his appearance in the first few seasons of Knot’s Landing, and he makes for an effective lead here. By the time he appeared in this movie as Inspector Sturgess, Albert Salmi was an established character actor in film, theater and TV, and fills the cynical role here to a tee; sadly, he would be part of his own real life horror movie when a few years after the film’s release, he was found dead along with his wife in what was described as a murder-suicide. Lynn Carlin, better known for her Oscar-nominated turn in John Cassavetes’ Faces (1968), appears here as the wife of the alcoholic minister; Larry Pennell – of The Beverly Hillbillies fame – is decent as the minister whose family becomes targets of the witch’s wrath. Other appearances worth noting are Stacy Keach Sr. as the elder reverend, Jacquelyn Hyde as the caretaker who holds the clue to the area’s past, Robert Symonds as the priest who condemns the witch to death in the flashback sequence, and Carole Goldman as the witch whose execution sets in motion the modern day haunting.

Video: 4/5

3D Rating: NA

The original 1:85:1 aspect ratio is presented in a brand new HD transfer taken from a 2K scan of the original film elements. Film grain is organic and sturdy, with some shifts in density from scene to scene; colors are strong with fine details rendered faithfully. Minimal instances of age-related issues are detectable, making this as likely the best the film will ever look on home video.

Audio: 5/5

The original mono soundtrack is presented on a DTS-HD Master Audio track for this release. Dialogue is strong and clear along with the sound effects, and the score has solid fidelity and range; there’s hardly an instance of age-related artifacts, which makes this a huge improvement on previous VHS releases and represents the best the movie has sounded on home video.

Special Features: 3/5

That Crazy Witchcraft – An Interview with director James Roberson (23:56) – In this newly recorded interview, the director shares his memories of the film while also reflecting on his career prior to the film.

Lake of Fire – An Interview with actor James Houghton (30:08) – Newly recorded for this release, the actor goes over his time on the production as well as memories of being on the set of a few movie and TV productions as a kid – he’s the son of The Twilight Zone producer Buck Houghton.

Original Theatrical Trailer (1:54)

Original TV Spot (0:31) – A brief promo from the short 1985 theatrical run, narrated by Brother Theodore (who notably narrated the theatrical trailer for Lucio Fulci’s House by the Cemetery).

Overall: 3/5

While it came and went without much notice in theaters, Superstition has largely survived on the VHS market and has attained some cult status among horror film fans. Shout Factory has not only honored the requests of horror fans for this release, they’ve exceeded them with strong marks on the transfer as well as provided a few new special features giving some insight into the movie. Recommended for fans of the movie as well as horror movie buffs as well.

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