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Seventh Sign, The
From prolific television director Carl Schultz, 1988's The Seventh Sign is a moderately enjoyable slice of late eighties apocalyptic hokum probably remembered more for the casting of a young Demi Moore than anything else. Still, the movie has its moments and a couple of fun performances to its credit.
When the story opens, members of The Vatican are investigating what they believe to be signs that the end times are near: sea life is dying in the South Pacific, a town in the Middle East freezes, strange things like that, things that shouldn't be happening. Father Lucci (Peter Friedman), however, is firm in his belief that all of this seemingly supernatural activity can be explained away scientifically.
Cut to the sunny state of California where a lovely young woman named Abby Quinn (Moore) is, along with her lawyer husband Russell (Michael Biehn), expecting her first child. Oddly enough, her due date is February 29th, which means that obviously this is a leap year. Russell is currently involved in a case where he's serving as the defense attorney for Jimmy Szaragosa (John Taylor), a teenager accused of murdering his own mother and father. His motive? God told him to do it. Pretty hard to argue with that. Around this same time, a man named David Bannon (Jürgen Prochnow) arrives on the scene and winds up renting Abby's garage. Shortly after his arrival, she's plagued by strange dreams and starts to put together some of the signs of the Apocalypse that those Vatican guys were dealing with earlier in the movie, concluding that Bannon may not be exactly who everyone thinks he is and that he plays a very big role in all of this indeed…
The Seventh Sign is not a great movie, nor is it an awful movie. No, The Seventh Sign is merely an okay movie. The story ebbs and flows and the picture has some pacing problems. The concept gets stretched pretty far and some of the fine details in how the film deals with the apocalypse and the Judeo-Christian religious furor surrounding it will leave Bible scholars scratching their heads (the mezuzah is upside down!). The ending is kind of goofy and not all of the effects work particularly well.
But this makes for watchable entertainment. If you don't need to overthink things and can look past the fact that some of the detail work is kind of sloppy, enough so that you can suspend your disbelief, you can have a decent enough time with this. Moore is likeable here, she's cute and charming and amiable and we can't help but want the best for her, no matter her unusual her situation becomes. If she and Biehn don't exactly set the screen on fire together, there's just enough chemistry between the two of them that we can buy it… sort of. They're not so well matched, but it doesn't ruin things so much to as pull you out of the film. Supporting work from John Taylor and especially Jürgen Prochnow is pretty good, however. Prochnow steals quite a few scenes, the guy has an interesting screen presence and it is put to good use in this particular film.
Production values aren't bad. The score from Jack Nitzsche isn't half bad at all and Juan Ruiz Anchía's cinematography goes a long way towards classing this one up. Schultz's direction isn't amazing, there are pacing problems here and there, but the last half moves nicely and he does manage to get some good work out of his primary cast members. The Seventh Sign is no lost classic, but if you've got a soft spot for religiously themed horror pictures like some of us do, you might find it worth your while.The Blu-ray:
The Seventh Sign arrives on a 50GB disc from Shout! Factory framed at 2.35.1 and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition widescreen. The transfer is strong, if a step or two from reference quality. Black levels are solid but occasionally shadow detail gets a bit lost. There's fine depth here, however, and color reproduction typically looks very good even if a few shots look just a little faded compared to others. Detail is generally pretty good, though there is some occasional softness here that may have been inherent in the source material. There are no noticeable issues with compression artifacts or edge enhancement and the image is free of obvious noise reduction. There isn't much in the way of print damage either, overall the transfer is nice and clean.Sound:
The English language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track on the disc is problem free and in fact, it sounds quite good. There's a strong low end here while dialogue stays very clear throughout. There are no issues with any hiss or distortion and there's nice range and depth to the score and the effects work featured in the movie. Optional subtitles are available in English only.Extras:
The extras are mainly made up of interviews, the first of which is an eleven-minute piece with actor Michael Biehn where he talks about how he wound up with the role he had in the film, his thoughts on the script, the tricky part of having to cry on screen and his thoughts on the film overall. After that, we spend twenty-minutes with director Carl Schultz who starts off by talking about how he got his start as a filmmaker before then going into details about how he got the directing job on the feature, the casting process, changes that the story (and even the title) went through and more. Up next, screenwriters Clifford and Ellen Green spend a half an hour in front of the camera to share their thoughts on the film, and it isn't always pretty. They do talk about how and why they wrote the project but also go into detail about their issues with the finished product. In a twenty-minute interview with actor Peter Friedman we learn about some of his surprising early roles, how he got into acting, his thoughts on doing live theater versus film work and then his thoughts on making this picture along with some insight into what it was like working with the cast and crew that were involved in the production. The last interview is an eleven-minute segment with actor John Taylor he talks about how he got the part, his thoughts on the role and changes that occurred during the production that affected his part.
Outside of that, the disc also includes a pair of TV spots, menus and chapter selection.Final Thoughts:
The Seventh Sign is fairly mediocre for most of its running time but some decent performances and a quirky concept make it watchable enough even if it is no masterpiece. Shout! Factory's Blu-ray looks and sounds quite good and it does contain some interesting interviews that provide some welcome background information on the production's history. If you're a fan of the film, this is a decent upgrade over what has been available before but if you haven't seen the picture before, you might want to rent it first.
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.