One of the best things about the horror genre is its sense of community; whether its on the Internet or at conventions, horror tends to bring people together, even if it’s to watch a person get slaughtered in increasingly horrific ways. The other good thing about horror is that it’s one of the most subjective forms of cinema, with incredibly varied styles – meaning anyone can like a film, even if it’s not “good” by conventional standards.
To foster this sense of community, my good friend Michael Tatlock – from From the Mind of Tatlock and From the Basement of Tatlock – and I have come together to form a Horror Roundtable, where we both cover a recently released film in shorter review form, alternating the posts on both of our sites. Here, we offer up our own opinions, allowing the reader two different views on one film. In future, we hope to incorporate more of the best writers from the horror blogosphere in these roundtables – if you’d like to join, please leave a comment here, or email me at email@example.com. Thanks, and enjoy.
Scream Factory’s release of the 1988 horror film Lady in White drops on September 27. Here’s a roundup of what both sites had to say.
I have been on a bit of a Stephen King kick this summer, having read 12 of his books. There is a reoccurring theme that happens in a lot of his novels and that has to do with the main character being an author returning to this hometown to either face a fear or put the past behind him. Now, I do not know if writer/director Frank Laloggia is a fan of King, but the movie in question today, Lady in White, sure seems like a King classic in disguise.
Lady in White was one of the many classic Halloween films that I reviewed last year and everything I wrote about the film back then still stands today:
“It’s a film that has several underlying messages, dealing with racism, child murder, the struggles of being a parent and of course, a ghost, who is lost without her mother. Lady in White is like a mix of Stephen King’s Stand by Me and Peter Straub’s Ghost Story… If you’re in the mood for a ghost story with some heart and a tale that is, for the most part, family safe, give Lady in White a watch, you won’t regret it.”
1988 was the year Lady in White came out in theatres, but it wasn’t until VHS that I saw the film, however, after watching the flick, it ended up on my annual watch rotation. Even today, after having seen the movie quite a bit, I still find myself smiling when I watch it. For a film that clocks in at over two hours, but still make the time fly by, is a rare thing, but Lady in White succeeds.
The newly released Blu-ray from Scream Factory includes not one, but three cuts of the film. I ended up checking out the Extended Director’s Cut (126 minutes), which adds only a tiny bit to the story, but nothing major. I personally prefer the Director’s Cut (117 minutes), included on the first disc in this two-disc release. Along with the Director’s Cut, you have all the special features that were on the DVD release. Sadly, there are no new features provided.
As for the audio/visual side of things, Lady in White can be a bit rough around the edges. There are times where grain becomes abundant and colours end up being a bit oversaturated. Although, the bloomy look and oversaturated colours are most likely done on purpose by the director. The audio, on the other hand, is wonderful. The 5.1 track comes across loud and clear. The track uses your surround system nicely, with a surprising use of the subwoofer during certain scenes.
I am happy to finally have a definitive release of Lady in White, as it is a film that I will pop in often to take a trip back to my childhood. Scream Factory doesn’t provide any new special features, but the convenience of having all the different cuts and past features on one release is more than enough to justify the price being asked.
I must confess I’ve never seen Lady in White before, so this was my first time with the film. But I was immediately sucked into Frank LaLoggia’s depiction of small town life in 1962, and it doesn’t hurt that he immediately knocks the viewer upside the head with tons of Halloween imagery, from decorations to costumes to jack-0-lanterns and even roadways covered in beautiful falling leaves. Lady in White is like the A Christmas Story of Halloween, and I loved every minute of those first few holiday scenes.
What I found more intriguing, though, is LaLoggia’s commentary on societal issues of the time, especially racism. Lady in White is about ghosts, but it finds more mileage in the living who must deal with the human problems that haunt them; like most worthwhile movies featuring the supernatural, the film uses them not as scares per se but as a symbolism for the evil, and love, in humanity. LaLoggia is surprisingly adept at crafting a film with a tone of childlike innocence until that facade is shattered by encroaching adulthood, threatening to rip main character Frank (Lukas Haas) from his comfortable, if difficult, life. The film sets up an idealistic town and then unveils the darkness behind it: the lingering fear of the other, the question of God’s existence, the secrets that those closest to us keep.
It’s heavy stuff, and many times I found similarities to Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird. Lady in White has some issues, including its special effects work and a messy finale that relies on the Lady in White’s assistance in a way that doesn’t make a lot of sense given what LaLoggia has shown the audience ghosts can do, but overall, the heart and soul of Lady in White pervade.
Scream Factory’s Blu-Ray release sports the same special features that a previous MGM release used, including SD featurettes, but the real draw is the three different cuts included on this two-disc release. I watched the extended director’s cut, which, at just over two hours, is surprisingly concise. However, I imagine that the director’s cut is just a little bit better, cutting the film down about 8 minutes for a more manageable edition of the film. There’s also the regular theatrical cut, which is even shorter.
Fans of Lady in White will want to pick up this Blu-Ray even if they own another edition thanks to these three versions of the film included in one package. And with the other special features brought over, there’s no reason to miss out on this wonderful film.
Let us know your own thoughts on Lady in White in the comments!
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