The third and final film in Arrow’s American Horror Project box set, Robert Allen Schnitzer’s The Premonition receives a new 1080p/24hz high-definition presentation on a dual-layer Blu-ray disc (the set also includes a standard-definition version on DVD). The film is presented in it the aspect ratio of 1.85:1.
Like the other titles Arrow’s digital presentation is top-notch: it accurately renders film grain, delivers the sharp details and textures where the source allows, and looks filmic. There weren’t any severe digital issues like noise or blocking present. The film leans a bit on the yellow side of things but colours look to be nicely saturated otherwise. Black levels are decent but crushing is present in a number of darker sequences.
In terms of print condition it’s the best looking one in the set. Damage is still present, noticeable in dirt, debris, marks, and so forth, with “cigarette burns” (reel change markers) still showing up in the top right corner at times. Obviously a thorough amount of restoration work hasn’t gone into this, if any, but despite that it still looks remarkably good, and the digital presentation itself doesn’t deliver any unsightly gaffes. 7/10
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.
This release goes through the same motions as the other titles in the set with a commentary, interviews, and so on, but then also adds some other material related to the film’s director. Still of all three titles in the set, this was, for me, the most painful one to get through.
Following a 3-minute introduction featuring Stephen Thrower, the first supplement is an audio commentary by director Robert Allen Schnitzer, which I assume was made for another DVD release of the film, and features a barely audible moderator in the background, who can faintly be heard asking questions. At any rate, it’s not a particularly good track. Schnitzer does share a few decent anecdotes about the film, and working with Richard Lynch (who is, unexpectedly, fairly eccentric, further proven in an interview also included in this release), and taking an existing script and working in the metaphysics angle to it. But most of the track is Schnitzer simply reiterating the plot point for point.
A bit better, though not by a lot, is a 21-minute making-of called Pictures from a Premonition, featuring Schnitzer, composer Henry Mollicone, and director of photography Victor Milt. Milt’s contribution is probably the most fascinating element, where he talks about how he got into the profession and the film’s handheld camera work. Schnitzer babbles on about vision quests, metaphysics, the paranormal and whatever and what not and yada yada. He does cover some of the more interesting facts from the commentary, like his desire to keep the gore out, which went against the producers’ desires. Mollicone shows up for a few minutes about writing the film’s score. Other than Milt it wasn’t a terribly engaging feature.
Arrow also includes an older interview with Robert Allen Schnitzer, which may have been included for posterity. A lot of the material is covered in the other features but he expands on the script and the promotion of the film. Still, by watching this 6-minute interview and the 21-minute making-of, you probably cover all of the interesting material in the commentary.
The best feature, though still somewhat grating, is probably the 16-minute interview with actor Richard Lynch. I get the feeling Lynch lives in his own little world but it seems to be a fascinating world. He talks mostly about acting, his craft, and “living” that life, and goes over how he learned to act for the camera before talking about how he prepared for this role. Again, he has an ego full on display here but it’s easily the most fascinating feature on here.
Arrow then includes three shorts films by Schnitzer: Terminal Point, Visual Equinox, and A Rumbling in the Land. Of the three Rumbling—an 11-minute documentary of sorts about the Students for Democratic Society occupying Stony Brook University—is probably the better one. It interestingly edits together audio statements from both sides over footage and photos. The other two, more outright experimental, were more painful experiences for me. The 40-minute Terminal Point seems to be about a young man heading out to the country to find himself after leaving a relationship, only to have what I guess is a complete psychotic break. The 30-minute Visual Equinox, which was made by Schnitzer when he was 17, is apparently about the “workings of the unconscious mind” against “commentary of the popular culture” and late-60s New York. Sure, I’ll buy that, as it focuses on a bunch of young people dancing or moving around the city set to the most obnoxious bits of sound design I’ve ever come across in any film for 30-freaking-minutes. More interesting in terms of watching Schnitzer develop editing techniques the films did little else for me.
A bit better than the last collection of short films is over 3-minutes’ worth of peace spots created by Schnitzer, criticizing the Vietnam War with a special target on Nixon’s “honorable peace” statement. There is then a theatrical trailers and 3 TV spots, the first one running longer than the actual theatrical trailer.
All said and done I wasn’t particularly enthralled with these supplements. Despite maybe Lynch and Milt, I found just about everything unengaging and uninteresting. 5/10