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Raising Cain
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • English PCM Stereo
  • English subtitles
  • 3 Discs
FEATURES
  • Region B/2
  • Hickory Dickory Doc, a brand-new interview with actor John Lithgow
  • The Man in My Life, an interview with actor Steven Bauer
  • Have You Talked to the Others?, an interview with editor Paul Hirsch
  • Three Faces of Henry, an interview with actor Gregg Henry
  • The Cat's in the Bag, an interview with actor Tom Bower
  • A Little Too Late for That, an interview with actor Mel Harris
  • Raising Pino, a brand-new interview with composer Pino Donaggio
  • Father’s Day, a brand-new video essay about the multiple versions of Raising Cain by Chris Dumas, author of Un-American Psycho: Brian De Palma and the Political Invisible
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Raising Cain: The Director's Cut, a De Palma-endorsed recreation of the film by Peet Belder Gelderblom, re-ordered as originally planned
  • Changing Cain: Brian De Palma's Cult Classic Restored, an introduction by Gelderblom to the Director’s Cut
  • Raising Cain Re-Cut, a video essay by Gelderblom on the origins and differences of the Director’s Cut

Raising Cain

Dual-Format
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Brian De Palma
1992 | 91 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: £19.99 | Series: Arrow Video
Arrow Films

Release Date: January 30, 2017
Review Date: January 30, 2017

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amazon.co.uk

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SYNOPSIS

Having spent the latter half of the eighties trying out new styles of filmmaking – Wise Guys’ knockabout comedy, The Untouchables’ prestige gangster pic, Casualties of War’s Vietnam movie and The Bonfire of the Vanities’ satirical misfire – Brian De Palma returned to what he knew best, the Hitchcockian psycho-thriller, for Raising Cain.

John Lithgow plays three roles: child psychologist Carter, his evil twin brother Cain, and their Norwegian father, Dr Nix, who likes to experimental on the young. Carter’s wife is concerned that her husband isn’t quite paying their daughter the right kind of attention; she’s also having an affair which, upon discovery, threatens to send him into a psychotic rage…

A relentless blend of murder, multiple personalities, cross-dressing, crazed parents, bizarre dream sequences and stunning cinematic assurance, Raising Cain harks back to those twin masterpieces Psycho and Peeping Tom, but is pure unadulterated De Palma.


PICTURE

Arrow Video releases Brian De Palma’s cult classic Raising Cain in a 3-disc limited edition dual-format edition (2 Blu-rays and 1 DVD), presenting the theatrical cut of the film on the first dual-layer Blu-ray disc. A re-edited “director’s cut” is also available on the second single-layer disc. Both versions are presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and are delivered in 1080p/24hz. Both presentations look to also come from the same master, the “director’s cut” having its opening scenes rearranged. This edition is a UK release and is locked for region B. North American viewers will require Blu-ray players that can play back region B content.

Disappointingly it doesn’t look like this transfer was created by Arrow, looking to be an older one supplied by Universal, and there are a couple of problems that more than likely could have been alleviated by a newer scan. On average, though, it does look good, managing to deliver sharp details, rich colours, and decent depth. It has a nice filmic look, rendering grain quite well for the most part, and artifacts aren’t too big a concern. Some sequences look very sharp, incredibly crisp with nice grain (which sometimes better exposes some of the technical shortcomings of the film hidden on the previous DVD, like Lithgow’s old age make-up), but others go a bit soft (not counting De Palma’s use of soft focus in a handful of scenes), and film grain gets a little clunky, not as cleanly rendered as it is elsewhere. It looks as though a different source, somewhere along the line, has come into play for some of the scenes.

The digital presentation is otherwise fine and it delivers the film as best as possible. Again, I didn’t find any real problematic artifacts. The restoration is also good, but there are still noticeable flaws, primarily bits of dirt and other small marks.

Overall it still looks good and does offer a noticeable improvement over the previous Universal DVD. The film does deserve a completely new scan, and I wish Arrow could have done one here, but as it is it’s still great that Arrow is at least giving the film a new lease on life, presenting it in the best way possible for the time being.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

Arrow includes a lossless 2.0 stereo surround PCM track, though not a remastered 5.1 track like the North American Shout! release. This is fine and I don’t feel like I’m missing much. Even if it doesn’t use discrete channels it manages to still create a very dynamic, very enveloping experience. Most of the dialogue and sound effects stick to the fronts, but are nicely spread between the front speakers with noticeable pans and movements. Music is spread nicely through all of the speakers, featuring wonderful range and fidelity. Some effects, during the more “action packed” moments move to the backs as well. It’s a very effective track, mixed well, and it sound very clean.

8/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Arrow’s edition ports, as far as I can see, all of the content available on the Shout! North American release. This includes a number of interviews with members of the cast and crew, the most significant being one with actor John Lithgow. For 16-minutes Lithgow talks about his other work with De Palma (Obsession and Blow Out) and their friendship before getting into details about how he came to work on Raising Cain. One common theme throughout a number of the interviews on this release is that most of the people who worked on the film were actually very confused by the script, Lithgow included, but he ultimately had faith. He also goes over the details of creating the multiple personalities and the fun he had with it, and explains how he played out the scenes where his multiple characters were talking with one another (Gregg Henry apparently sat in for the off-screen Lithgow characters). Lithgow is a fun, engaging, and very entertaining interviewee. He also offers some very thoughtful observations on De Palma’s work, addressing the criticisms he “rips off” Hitchcock, and even makes his own comparisons between De Palma’s and Ingmar Bergman’s work.

We also get a number of new interviews with other members of the cast, the most lengthy of which being a new one with Steven Bauer. I don’t think I’ve seen Bauer in an interview before so I was surprised with how, well, laid back the guy seems to be, almost Dude-ish. He talks about how he first came across De Palma’s films and admits he had initial reservations about his work, but gained a new appreciation for what he was doing after working on Scarface. From there he then talks about Raising Cain and jokes a bit about his performance, explaining that the direction he got from De Palma was to just “look handsome.” His interview runs about 24-minutes.

The remaining cast interviews are with Gregg Henry (16-minutes), Tom Bower (8-minutes), and Mel Harris (8-minutes). Henry and Bower talk about their general experience, both talking a bit about the difficult tracking shot. Bower shares a story about the notice he got from Pauline Kael in the film, and Henry talks about working with De Palma previously on Scarface and Body Double, and also working as Lithgow’s double in this film. Harris, who has the smallest role of the bunch, talks about the role but then actually just shares her thoughts on the film itself, from visuals to editing.

And if by this point you’re not interviewed out Arrow next provides another with editor Paul Hirsch, which runs about 11-minutes. Though other features get a little into this thanks to the alternate cut available on here, the film proved to be a headache for De Palma to edit and Hirsch was brought in to try to help after another editor was removed. Hirsch admits he did have problems with the script, at least in terms of understanding it, but he tackled it, helping De Palma with the ending (which he was really beating his head over) and other areas. It seems Hirsch came in later, though, so he doesn’t have anything to really say about the director’s cut, but he offers a good technical perspective to the release.

Exclusive to this release is a new 36-minute interview with composer Pino Donaggio. I know I’ve seen a number of interviews with the composer through the years, and Donaggio covers some of the same material here I’ve seen in others, talking about his music career, including his albums and pop artist work before getting into his score work. He touches a bit on Don’t Look Now and how that led to meeting De Palma and doing Carrie. Donaggio would of course do many more scores for De Palma’s films, including Raising Cain of course. For Cain Donaggio talks about his intentions, the compositions, and the instruments used, while also sharing stories about De Palma’s dedication to detail: Donaggio scored the film in Rome and De Palma, who decided he wanted to change a couple of notes, flew all the way to Rome to work with Donaggio on it. I like Donaggio’s interviews, and even though I know I’ve picked up some of this material from interviews on other releases, it’s still a strong career overview.

Father’s Day (the film’s original title as we learn) is a 24-minute video essay by Chris Dumas going over the films multiple versions. It’s here that we learn that De Palma really struggled with the opening of the film, originally wanting to open the film from Jenny’s (Lolita Davidovich) perspective instead of immediately opening from Carter’s (Lithgow), which would lead to a more jarring shift later in the film thanks to a lengthy flashback. Unfortunately De Palma felt he couldn’t get it to work and abandoned this idea, going for a more linear narrative. In this essay Dumas explains all of this using a draft of the script as a source, and then goes over the “director’s cut” created by Peet Gelderblom and endorsed by De Palma himself, comparing its flow with the theatrical cut’s flow. I don’t know if it matters if you watch this first or the director’s cut first, but I found it not only offered a rather fascinating history on the film, it also offers a terrific analysis on the power of editing.

The first disc then closes with a gallery of poster art, production photos, and lobby cards; and then the film’s theatrical trailer.

The second disc features the director’s cut of the film, created in high-definition (using the high-def master for the theatrical cut) by Peet Gelderblom. What’s interesting about this is that Gelderblom put it together originally years ago more as an experiment. De Palma actually saw the cut and came to fully endorse it, suggesting to Shout! (and then I assume Arrow) to include it on their Blu-ray release. I think I can see why De Palma was enamored by it: it’s an impressive edit that I think actually does work better for the film. (SPOILERS probably follow) The changes are limited primarily to the first half of the film, changing the order of the scenes, with Jenny being front and cente, and there is nothing about the multiple personality aspect of the film until well into it. The build up also feels far better, which climaxes with what would probably be more of a surprise for someone whose first experience is this cut: in the theatrical cut, since we know Carter has “issues” we’re waiting for him to do something, but in the director’s cut there has been no sign of Carter being threatening in any way, shape, or form. I have always had a soft spot for the film but this cut really does offer a rather large improvement and I do wish I could have seen this cut first.

Accompanying this cut of the film are two other supplements featuring this edit’s creator, Peet Gelderblom. The first is a simple 2-minute introduction where Gelderblom simply explains the motivations behind making this cut. Raising Cain: Re-cut is a 13-minute video essay by Gelderblom where he offers a closer look at the differences between the two cuts and why he feels the opening half of the film works so much better.

The release also will include a booklet by Anne Billson (which as of now I have not seen).

Disappointingly De Palma nor Davidovich show up in the features, but despite those absences we get a plentiful collection of features on the film’s production along with a rather fascinating alternate cut to the film. This should keep fans happy and busy.

9/10

CLOSING

Again, I wish a new scan could have been done, but as it is we still get a decent looking image, improving over the previous Universal DVD edition. With that and the director’s cut also available as an option (along with a number of fun and informative features) this release is an easy recommendation for fans of the film.




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