Stephen King is undoubtedly the world's most famous living horror writer. When word came down the pipeline that he'd be writing and overseeing a remake of Lars Von Trier's Danish cult horror mini series, Riget (a. k. a. The Kingdom), I know I'm not the only one who had high hopes for the television mini series. While the end result was flawed it was still more hit than miss and now, following up the release of their very well put together boxed set of the complete series, Columbia/Tri-Star in their infinite wisdom is releasing Kingdom Hospital – Postmortem which presents only the last five episodes of the series.
Here's how they all play out…
Episode 9 – Butterfingers: An old baseball player attempts suicide but is unsuccessful in ending it all and finds himself in the hospital. His admittance causes a shift in the paranormal layer of the building and the ghosts' activity seems to begin to snowball.
Episode 10 – The Passion Of Reverend Jimmy: A minister at a local mission outlet dies and this causes yet another reaction in the hospital that seems to somehow be related to Mary's death. Continuing Stegman's story, he and the hospital's handyman have a talk that doesn't go so well for the doctor.
Episode 11 – Seizure Day: When one patient and then a second patient both suffer random seizures, they witness horrifying visions of the dead rising within the halls of the building. Meanwhile, Stegman realizes that his nightmares may not be bad dreams after all but may actually be coming true in the real world as well as the nocturnal one!
Episode 12 – Shoulda Stood In Bed: This time out, Rickman has a seizure and his vision shows him what is going to happen to the hospital. His vision allows him to finally put a few missing pieces into place and he in turn helps Druse contact Mary to help set things right for the poor ghostly girl. When Stegman's criminal past is finally made public, he goes on a berserker rage throughout the hospital seeking vengeance on those who exposed him.
Episode 13 – Finale: The last double length episode finds Hook and Druse teaming up with the Antubis to set things right. Rickman is called in on yet another one of Druse's séances so that he can go back into the past with Hook. They find the secrets of the hospitals past and its relationship to the horrible fire that happened there and are able to free Mary's spirit so that she can move on to the afterlife. Everything seems to be okay except for the still rampaging Dr. Stegman who has a very different plan for everyone in the hospital.
This leads me to my one and only question about this release and its sister releases, such as Kingdom Hospital – The Beginning… why (and forgive me if I'm repeating what I said in that review, but Columbia/Tri-Star seem to be repeating themselves as well…)??? What's the reasoning behind these releases when the complete series is still in print as a fairly affordably priced boxed set with plenty of extra features to add to the fun? None of those features are found on this disc, just the first two episodes and that's it. There's no reason for anyone to be interested in this when superior and complete release is so easy to find. It might be different if the MSRP were low enough for this to serve as a demonstration, to find out if you'd be into the rest of the series or not but at a $19.95 suggested retail price, it's likely too expensive to appeal to those who were only curious about the series and not willing to shell out the $40 on the complete set that they may or may not enjoy or get their money's worth out of.
The 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen image is clean and colorful but does show some slight compression artifacts in some of the darker scenes as well as some mild edge enhancement that could break up the picture a little bit on larger sets, though it is mild even in the worst of the instances I noticed. Flesh tones appear life like and natural and the picture is free of any print damage. The cool color scheme used in the film is reproduced on this transfer quite faithfully and never appears to be too warm or over saturated.
The English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track comes with optional subtitles in French as well as an English closed captioning option. This sound mix makes nice use of the rear speakers to build atmosphere with smaller, more discrete sound effects than those used in the front channels, making for a nice mix that suits the tone of this mini series very appropriately. Bass response from the subwoofer is lively without being overdone and channel separation is clean and distinct. Dialogue is always easy to follow and there are no traces of hiss or distortion.
This release is completely barebones and void of anything except for a menu screen and chapter selection options.
Kingdom Hospital – Post Mortem is, just like Kingdom Hospital – The Beginning, a completely useless release and I can't imagine anyone wanting to shell out twenty bucks a piece for these two releases that make up roughly half the series when they can get the entire collection for about the same amount of money. It's not cheap enough in the MSRP department to serve as a taste test for the boxed set of the complete series, and it doesn't offer anything extra at all aside from the stated episodes. If you were into the show, get the complete set instead and skip this one – there's no point to it. I just don't get it and the marketing behind this one just plain makes my head hurt.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.