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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Stitches (Blu-ray)
Stitches (Blu-ray)
Dark Sky Films // R // April 2, 2013 // Region A
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted April 4, 2013 | E-mail the Author
So, at one point in this Irish slasher/comedy, a wisecrackin' zombie clown yanks out a chunk of some poor bastard's intestines and twists it into a balloon doggy. As this disemboweled sixteen year old tries to stumble away, cradling his guts in his arms all the while, Stitches the Clown pulls out one of those little balloon pump thingies, shoves it in the back of his head, and pumps and pumps and pumps...

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...and pumps and pumps and pumps...

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...and pumps and pumps and pumps until...

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I guess what I'm getting at here is that Stitches is the best movie ever. ...or, well, it's at the very least in the running as my favorite slasher of the past decade. Stitches is writer/director Conor McMahon's bloodsoaked Valentine to '80s body count flicks, only more infectiously fun and more dementedly imaginative than pretty much anything hailing from the slasher genre's Golden Age. While he's at it, McMahon stamps out the usual hiccups from those old dead teenager movies, to the point where Stitches is pretty much perfect.

I'm getting a little ahead of myself here, though. Lemme pedal back to the plot summary part of this review. Stitches' schtick has seen better days, and here he is again, half-assing his way through the usual balloon animals and juggling routines for a gaggle of bratty, unappreciative kids. A prank goes haywire, there's an unfortunately placed butcher knife, and...well:

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Show's over for Stitches (Ross Noble), I guess. Rest in peace, sweet prince. ...and for a while, he does. It's just that Stitches didn't get a chance to see that last party all the way through, and when a now-teenaged Tommy (Tommy Knight) winds up inadvertently throwing another one, the zombie clown claws his way back from Hell to finish the gig. No one's gonna be laughing for the encore, though.

Stitches is everything I could ever want out of a slasher flick. Longtime performer and first-time movie star Ross Noble is a brilliant choice to play the undead clown, with the presence, the physicality, the charisma, and maniacal sense of humor demanded by a horror-icon-in-the-making like Stitches. The kills are
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spectacularly gruesome while also playing like a Looney Tunes short come to life. If you're sick of seeing yet another nutjob mindlessly wave around a butcher knife, Stitches will break you out of that rut. I don't want to give away any more of the gags than I have to, but there are geysers of the red stuff, the butchering is really clever and inspired, and the approach to each kill is tightly woven into the plot. Hell, Stitches generally worms two or three completely different attacks into every murder, making the already-hefty body count feel even higher. It's, like, a better value!f

The worst thing about most slasher flicks is all the filler in between...the stuff you twiddle your thumbs to while you wait around for the next kill. Stitches isn't really like that, though. I mean, part of the reason the downtime in slashers is generally excruciating is that the characters are so one-note and clumsily acted. Stitches has assembled a pretty terrific cast all around, without a weak link in the bunch. The writing and performances are sharp enough that this small army of teenagers seem very much like actual people. Exaggerated, sure, and you've got a bunch of your usual archetypes, but they're much better realized than usual. The friendships, crushes, and rivalries all feel surprisingly genuine, and all of that serves two purposes. One, if you give a shit about these characters, all the not-killing stuff is a lot more interesting. Two, if you give a shit about these characters, the stakes of having a vengeful, undead, unstoppable zombie clown around actually matter.

The list just goes on and on. I'm so sick of modern day slasher flicks that are joyless and sadistic, plus the frantic quick-cutting and desaturated palette leave 'em all looking pretty much the same. Stitches, meanwhile, is bright and colorful, complementing the gleefully demented tone of the movie. Relying on practical effects whenever possible,
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director/editor McMahon wants you to revel in all the splatter, so it's cut at just the right rhythm too. It's fast, it's fun, it's slick, it doesn't feel like a slasher I've watched a couple hundred times already, and, well, it's Highly Recommended.


Video
Stitches puts the "gore" in "gorgeous". The digital photography this time around is inhumanly crisp and detailed, bolstered further by a cheery, vibrant palette and rock solid blacks. There's nothing at all for me to cross my arms and scowl about. No excessive filtering, no missteps in the encode, no nothin'. Well worth the extra couple bucks to check it out in high-def.

Single-layer disc. 1.78:1. AVC.


Audio
Its 16-bit DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack ain't bad either. Every last element in the mix is rendered cleanly, clearly, and distinctly, and Stitches' dialogue never struggles for placement. I'm really impressed with the overall fidelity, and I can definitely say that I've never heard Cutting Crew sound this great before. The low-end's substantial, and the surrounds get a moderate amount of use. The emphasis is definitely placed up front, but there are some solid atmospheric effects, and some of the splatter -- especially that exploding head! -- take advantage of the rears. No gripes or complaints this time around.

Stitches also piles on a 24-bit PCM stereo track while it's at it. Subtitles are served up in English (SDH) and Spanish.


Extras
  • Audio Commentary: Big thumbs-up to the folks at Dark Sky for putting Stitches' commentary on the Setup menu and listing it alongside the rest of the
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    Extras. More Blu-ray releases oughtta structure things like that. Anyway...! Writer/director/editor Conor McMahon and star Ross Noble sit down for this chatty, energetic, and impressively comprehensive track, tackling tattoos as a barometer of fandom, how tough it is to get cute, barely legal girls to get nekkid for you on camera, why you really shouldn't rent your house out to a bunch of horror filmmakers, and cliffs occasionally sinking into the sea. Had a blast. Wish I took better notes so I could do a more competent job with this chunk of the review.

  • Making of (20 min.; HD): Stitches' behind-the-scenes featurette chats up McMahon some more as well as pretty much all of his cast, breezing through the long list of characters and delving into the barrel drums of splatter. Worth a look.

  • Bloopers (4 min.; HD): Next up is Stitches' blooper reel, which piles on a bunch of outtakes, clowning around (get it? "clowning"? because there's a zombie clown? Mommy?), and the occasional boom mic booping into the frame.

  • Trailer (2 min.; HD): A high-def trailer rounds out the extras.

The Final Word
Think Can't Hardly Wait, only instead of Peter Facinelli, you're lookin' at a vengeful zombie clown, and you're somewhere in the ballpark. Highly Recommended.
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