Lady in White

Discussion in 'High Def' started by Dave, Oct 23, 2016.

  1. Dave

    Dave Pimp

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 1999
    Messages:
    7,171
    Likes Received:
    353
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG] Reviewer: Dave
    Review Date: October 23, 2016

    Released by: Scream Factory
    Release date: 9/27/2016
    MSRP: $29.99 (Buy now at Amazon and help support the site)
    Region A
    Progressive Scan
    Codec: AVC, 1080p
    Widescreen 1.85:1
    1988

    If you have read any of my past reviews, you likely know about my love for the laserdisc format. I’m grateful to the format for many reasons. Most importantly, there was a strong horror presence on the format thanks to Elite Entertainment and The Roan Group, with some occasional releases tossed in from Criterion, Grindhouse Releasing, EC Entertainment (many releases, actually), and I’m sure some others that I’m forgetting about. Thanks to some of the aforementioned companies, laserdisc introduced me to many of the genre greats. While I’m still no expert in all things horror, back in the mid to late 90s I knew far less than I do in 2016. My way of finding new horror flicks to watch back then? Scouring the early roads of the World Wide Web and looking for any horror movies that were available on laserdisc. That’s how I first discovered Lady in White, released in 1997 by Elite Entertainment. Elite took filmmaker Frank LaLoggia’s baby and put out a beautiful special edition laserdisc. On a side note, I suppose I should mention that Elite also put out DVD shortly after the laserdisc release. Now, nearly 20 years later, Scream Factory is releasing Lady in White on a special edition bluray. It may not be labeled with their ‘Collector’s Edition’ title, but there is lots that is special about this release – most notably a never-before-released third cut, labeled ‘Extended Director’s Cut’. Lets jump in and have a look at the Lady in White.

    The Story

    The film opens with an adult man (cameo’d by Lady’s very own writer and director, Frank LaLoggia) traveling back to his home town. He stops at a grave site for a mother and daughter, both of whom died in 1951. From there the film transports us back in time to the 50s.

    inline Image A young Italian boy, Frankie (Lukas Haas), is excited for Halloween. He rides around town, Willowpoint Falls, in his Dracula costume with leaves falling and autumn in the air. His family is a large Italian one – his big brother Geno (Jason Presson), their father Al (Alex Rocco), and their feisty grandparents. Like many kids in elementary school, Frankie is picked on by both his big brother and some of his fellow classmates. One day after school, two of his classmates lock him in the cloakroom. Frankie is stuck there when night falls. He begins to settle in, nestling up on a high shelf adjacent to the sole window, when the ghost of a young girl appears. Frankie and the young ghost make eye contact. She then reenacts her own murder and is carried away by an unseen assailant. Moments later an actual man enters the cloakroom and upon discovering Frankie, attacks and nearly kills him.

    inline Image Frankie comes to with his father giving him mouth to mouth resuscitation. He’s a town hero of sorts and ends up on the front page of the newspaper. The paper tells the story that has plagued the town for the past decade – 11 children have been mysteriously killed with no suspect. Frankie’s brush with death isn’t over quiet yet, and ghosts are just the beginning of his wondrous journey as he begins to piece together the mystery of the lady in white and her connection to the child murders.

    inline Image I recall the first time I watched Lady in White. It was back in 1997, shortly after Elite Entertainment released the special edition laserdisc. I watched it right around Halloween, which is the time of year the film starts in. I fell in love with the movie immediately. The atmosphere, the story, and the characters are both magical and beautiful. They remind me of why I love both film and the written word. When someone can create fictional characters that you care about, that you become scared for when they are in harm’s way, that you HATE when they make the wrong choice (or sometimes the right choice!), or any of the other countless emotions that we drum up in those whacky human minds of ours – that’s when you know you are experiencing a work of art. Lady in White does all of that and more.

    inline Image There’s a slow buildup to the scares in Lady In White. Fans of Cabbinal Holocaust aren’t going to find much here that interests them. This is a slow, ghost mystery. A tale with strong characters and family values – set in the 50s when perhaps family values were strongest. Yet even now, having watched the film several times over the years, I continue to get goose bumps when some of the ghosts appear for the first time. It’s genuinely creepy and that’s in large part due to the atmosphere that filmmaker Frank LaLoggia created. LaLoggia wore several hats when making Lady In White, including that of composer. The score is an important part of the film, creating tension at the right moments and a haunting and tragic tone.

    I’ve read complaints that the effects were hokey and certainly some of them are, particularly some lengthier scenes featuring special effects, such as Frankie ‘flying’ over the town at the beginning. The ending segment also has some lackluster effects. Most of the effects I had no issues with and I actually love how the ghosts look. They hold up well even today, nearly 30 years later.

    inline Image Lady has some serious acting strength, with the likes of Alex Rocco of The Godfather fame and child actor Lukas Haas, who continues to act to this day, nails the innocence and curiosity of Frankie. The two actors that play the grandparents – Angelo Bertolini and Renata Vanni – were wonderful and charming in their roles.

    inline Image While I’m quick to point out the many strengths of Lady in White, I’m not blind to its flaws. I love the film and while I generally enjoy settling in soaking up the slow pacing in this beautiful tale, I find that I can only revisit once every several years due to the pacing. It’s similar in a sense to Carnival of Souls – a beautiful and haunting film but one with such a slow pace that I can only revisit it every few years. And that’s okay. Not all films have to be The Matrix or The Evil Dead. We don’t need constant action and scares at every turn. And we don’t necessarily have to be able to rewatch a horror movie every year for it to be a classic. I find myself enjoying Lady In White now more than ever. I've been cursing myself for having gone so long without a viewing. At least I get to write a fresh review as a result.

    What a shame that Frank LaLoggia poured his heart and soul into Lady and White and essentially left Hollywood shortly after its release. He shares many of the struggles he faced creating the film in the commentary track. He seems to be at peace with the decision. I'm left wondering what could have been had he stuck with it and made more movies. As it is, I can only thank him for sharing this one with the world.

    Make no mistake, Lady in White isn’t for everyone. One man’s treasure is another man’s trash. Many will find the story too slow, the brief bits of racism distracting to the main story, the effects lackluster, not enough payoff or scares, and the character of Frankie too annoying, often making silly decisions. It reminds me of something my brother said to me recently. He has been trying to get me to watch the TV show The Black List for years. I have yet to do so. Finally he relented and left me with these words: It’s your loss. Those are the same words I say to my wife when she refuses to watch a black and white film because it’s “too old”, or quickly leaves the room when I have Blade Runner on and she sees a young Harrison Ford up on the screen. To her, an old movie equals lackluster or dated special effects. It’s yours loss, I tell her. If you watched Lady In White and it’s not for you, well, I can accept and respect that. But if you haven’t watched it yet, do so today. Immediately! You may just fall in love. Otherwise, as they say: It’s your loss.

    Image Quality

    inline Image Lady In White is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Those who owned the past laserdisc or DVD releases may actually be a bit disappointed with this one. There’s improvement for sure; it’s just not the night and day difference you would hope for, especially considering the last DVD release was back in 2010. You’ll get the expected bump in image quality from the increased resolution and bitrate that bluray provides, especially if you have a larger screen. The image on past releases has always been on the softer side and that continues even with this blu, though when comparing it directly to the DVD, the blu may be a touch sharper. Like past releases, colors are subdued and there’s a steady amount of minor print blemishes – mostly specks of dirt – that appear throughout. Grain is present at times, particularly in the nighttime scenes. Yes, yes, I know grain isn’t a bad thing.

    I’m left wondering if the minimal gains in image quality show the quality of past transfers or that Scream simply didn’t put much effort into this one. I kind of think it’s a combination of the two, or possibly it’s simply the same master that was used for the DVD. The film was low budget and simply put, this might be as good as it’s going to get. Or it’s the best it’s going to get considering no company is likely going to invest the money needed to improve upon the master used. Director Frank LaLoggia was involved with nearly all the releases and my thinking is that he signed off on the transfers. I’m rating the transfer with a B. It’s acceptable and a modest improvement over past releases.

    Sound

    Both a DTS-HD 5.1 and 2.0 stereo track are included on the disc. I listened to the 5.1 track for this review and was pleased overall. There’s not a lot of channel separation, though I generally don’t expect much from a relatively quiet movie like this. There are times when the score itself can make use of channel separation and this track does just that. Dialogue remained clear and no distortion was heard. I’m rating it with a B+.

    Supplemental Material

    All of the supplements are on disc 1, which is the director’s cut first released on laserdisc and DVD back in the late 90s. Disc 2 contains the theatrical cut and extended director’s cut only.

    The original laserdisc commentary is included here. I’ve listed to this before and I only revisited bits and pieces of it this time around. The film is clearly near and dear to LaLoggia’s heart and a deeply personal one at that, loosely reflecting some experiences and characters from his own childhood. He speaks of the many struggles in creating the film and how he insisted on keeping creative control. Countless anecdotes are shared. Fans will definitely enjoy this track.

    There is an introduction by Frank LaLoggia. It was for the 20th anniversary DVD but is included here nonetheless.

    Next up is a 16 minute behind-the-scenes segment that LaLoggia had someone shooting during the filming. It’s VHS footage and a bit rough looking as a result. Nothing overly exciting but fans will enjoy the short peak behind the camera. It includes an introduction by LaLoggia and optional commentary as well.

    There is 36 minutes worth of deleted scenes. Like the behind-the-scenes segment, these scenes include introduction and optional commentary by LaLoggia.

    An extended behind-the-scenes segment is included that runs 1 hour and 15 minutes. It’s a long segment and probably only something true die-hard fans are going to sit through in its entirety. I sampled bits and pieces of it and enjoyed it.

    A 7 minute promotional short film is included, likely used to try drum up investments. It’s enjoyable, especially seeing different actors play some of the key parts. This appears slightly higher quality than VHS.

    Theatrical and alternate trailers, TV spots, radio spots, a photo montage, and an extended photo gallery are included.

    There are three cuts available on the bluray: theatrical (113 min), director’s cut (117 mins) first released on the 1997 laserdisc, and this new 2016 extended director’s cut (126 mins). I had originally planned to comment on the different cuts in the story review, but I must admit I haven’t ever watched the theatrical cut. I’m content with the 117 minute director’s cut. I watched the extended director’s cut for this review and while some of the additional scenes stick out due to being pulled from a different source, I’m not sure I found them all. I used to always welcome longer cuts but over the years you learn that longer does not always mean better. Donnie Darko is a perfect example of the theatrical cut being superior to the director’s cut. Thankfully fans get to choose their preferred cut with this release. My preferred cut for the time being will remain the 117 minute director’s cut. Someday I will have to watch the theatrical cut; perhaps it does tighten up the pacing.

    Final Thoughts

    Scream Factory did an adequate job with Frank LaLoggia’s masterpiece. It's hard to sit here and write that as I stare at the 2-disc bluray sitting beside me, chock full of extras and containing three cuts of the film, one of which was not available prior to this bluray. Yet with the exception of the third cut - the extended director's cut - all of the extras are recycled from past releases. A new cut is impressive for sure; I just can't help feel this was a quick release for them with little to no time or money invested in it. The image quality is acceptable and a slight improvement over past releases. That's where Scream could have gone above and beyond - improve the transfer. I know Scream/Shout is a business and there's only so much to be invested on a less popular title like Lady in White. I do get that and as a fan of the film, I recognize this may be the best we ever get. On a positive note, I happily acknowledge that this is the best home video release of Lady in White to date and for that, fans will want to pick this up.

    Rating

    [​IMG] Movie - A-

    Image Quality - B

    Sound - B+

    Supplements - A


    Technical Info.
    • Color
    • 2 Discs
    • DTS HD 5.1, 2.0
    Supplements
    • Three cuts - theatrical, director's, extended director's
    • Director commentary
    • Director introduction
    • 16 minute behind-the-scenes w/optional commentary
    • 36 minutes of deleted scenes w/optional commentary
    • 7 minute promotional short film
    • Theatrical trailers
    • TV spots
    • Radio spots
    • Photo montage
    • Photo gallery
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2016
  2. DVD-fanatic-9

    DVD-fanatic-9 And the Next Morning, When the Campers Woke Up...

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2007
    Messages:
    5,080
    Likes Received:
    411
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Location:
    Horror
    I was really impressed by MGM's old 2005 DVD's picture quality.
     
  3. Harry Warden

    Harry Warden Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2008
    Messages:
    3,848
    Likes Received:
    1,103
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Hermitage, Pennsylvania
    Do you recommend? I still haven't seen this film. Would you blind buy it?
     
  4. wago70

    wago70 Surviving on nostalgia

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2001
    Messages:
    3,547
    Likes Received:
    80
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    San Francisco - down by them two ol' sheds
    Nice! I love the review intro - takes me back! This is a terrific film. Personally, I never minded the pace. The issue of race actually got a few people in my circle to actually watch the movie.
    I love the humor in the film, too, such as the girl who has a crush on Frankie and the scenes of the teacher having fun with the class.
    I'm thankful they didn't re-color the blue hue to the current-teal.
     
  5. DVD-fanatic-9

    DVD-fanatic-9 And the Next Morning, When the Campers Woke Up...

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2007
    Messages:
    5,080
    Likes Received:
    411
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Location:
    Horror
    Tonally, you do have to realize it's not a horror film in terms of shocks/scares, it's one of those extremely rare "quiet" type things. Probably like Audrey Rose, which I only remember from watching with my mother and if I had to describe my memories of it (AR), I'd say it's a little like Sybil until the scenes of the daughter freaking out, when it could be any amazing 70's horror movie.

    It's on YouTube (in crappy quality), but try a couple minutes here from the moment I linked it here. It's a very nostalgia-based movie. One of those "you're nostalgic of the 80's being nostalgic for the 50's/60's" movies.

    I haven't sat and watched it in its entirety since the late 90's but it's a very vivid movie. I doubt anyone, even watching it now for the first time, will forget it anytime soon. It's definitely topnotch in terms of acting, writing, etc. And the feeling you get from it is... it's very, very moody.

    I'd recommend it based on my memories of it. Which even YouTube's version seems to live up to.
     
    Harry Warden likes this.
  6. Dave

    Dave Pimp

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 1999
    Messages:
    7,171
    Likes Received:
    353
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Frank LaLoggia sent me a nice email about the review. He also invited me to his facebook page where he posts tons of bits about Lady in White - photos, etc. Very cool. Such a nice guy.
     
    chancetx, rkellner, Rocker10 and 2 others like this.
  7. wago70

    wago70 Surviving on nostalgia

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2001
    Messages:
    3,547
    Likes Received:
    80
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    San Francisco - down by them two ol' sheds
    That is amazing! Glad to hear Mr. LaLoggia saw the review.
     
  8. Myron Breck

    Myron Breck BOO!!! Gotcha!

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2004
    Messages:
    4,637
    Likes Received:
    246
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Atlanta
    I blind bought the DVD back in the day and was quite happy to part with it, but I think I'm in the minority here. I think it would work well for kids though, if you have them.
     
  9. rkellner

    rkellner Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2015
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    102
    Trophy Points:
    28
    I'm going to have to check this out. I passed over it many times in favor of things that looked more extreme, but my sensibilities have tamed a bit and I think I would appreciate a slow paced ghost story more now.
     
  10. Workshed

    Workshed a.k.a. Villyan Shit

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2004
    Messages:
    9,460
    Likes Received:
    1,085
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    London
    I'm right there with ya. Did not enjoy this film--but I liked the review.
     
    Zombie Dude likes this.
  11. Dave

    Dave Pimp

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 1999
    Messages:
    7,171
    Likes Received:
    353
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    I get that it is not for everyone. Hopefully the review gets this classic some new fans. All this talk about it makes me want to watch it again already.
     
  12. Zombie Dude

    Zombie Dude Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2008
    Messages:
    5,419
    Likes Received:
    869
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Australia
    I hated this film when I saw it a few years back. I just sat there wondering who the target audience was as it feels like a tame children's spook movie, yet other parts are lengthy dialogue driven scenes that cater to the adults. Personally I was bored out of my mind with it while I kept wondering if something interesting would happen or if it would just end.

    Obviously each to their own, and I'm happy to hear this new release is stacked for the fans.
     
  13. DVD-fanatic-9

    DVD-fanatic-9 And the Next Morning, When the Campers Woke Up...

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2007
    Messages:
    5,080
    Likes Received:
    411
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Location:
    Horror
    Genuinely surprised to see so many people didn't like the film. I would have thought this was critic-proof.

    Although, reading Zombie Dude's reply forces me again to scratch my head and wonder what the fuck is wrong with some people. He talks about this movie the way I would have talked about The Exorcist at age 15. "Not enough gore. 2 hours of talking and maybe 1 death scene. BORING!"
     
  14. Angelman

    Angelman OCD Blu Ray Collector

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2004
    Messages:
    3,336
    Likes Received:
    894
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Been years since I've seen this one. Not sure if it will work for me as an adult but loved it when I was younger.
     
  15. Zombie Dude

    Zombie Dude Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2008
    Messages:
    5,419
    Likes Received:
    869
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Australia
    You must have been a weird 15 year old if you didn't enjoy the Exorcist at the age. Also, never said again about gore but whatever.
     
    Natas likes this.
  16. DVD-fanatic-9

    DVD-fanatic-9 And the Next Morning, When the Campers Woke Up...

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2007
    Messages:
    5,080
    Likes Received:
    411
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Location:
    Horror
    I don't know how old I was when I bothered trying to watch that film for the first time. I was probably more around 13. And... what? Are you telling me I should have been scared or something? The Exorcist is a great film, technically speaking, but if you peel it down to its bare meaning: it's really stupid. Not only is it a film about women being terrorized for not having a man in the house, so it's kinda sexist, but it's also about having your belief in God literally beaten back into you. Because, naturally, how could you ever question it in the first place... The Exorcist is visually beautiful, but thematically it's shockingly conservative. And in utterly no way is it scary. "Oh! No! I'm soooo afraid I or my kid will be possessed by Satan / a demon!" Go see a shrink.

    I know you didn't say anything about gore, numb nuts. I was spoofing myself as a stupid teenager. Whenever it was that I put The Exorcist VHS in my player, I just kept hitting the fast forward button because I was stupid and thought it was boring. Though, seriously? It's totally cute that you and Natas think 15 year olds know the most about horror. That's... too precious.
     
  17. Zombie Dude

    Zombie Dude Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2008
    Messages:
    5,419
    Likes Received:
    869
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Australia
    Well, I've joined the club that has him on ignore.
     
  18. DVD-fanatic-9

    DVD-fanatic-9 And the Next Morning, When the Campers Woke Up...

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2007
    Messages:
    5,080
    Likes Received:
    411
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Location:
    Horror
    I'll lose so much sleep over it. No, really.
     
  19. Matt89

    Matt89 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2004
    Messages:
    5,558
    Likes Received:
    822
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Toronto
    Trying to decide whether or not to pick this up. I've never seen it and been meaning to for years. I like slow burning horror so I think I may enjoy it.

    Great review, btw.

    ~Matt
     
  20. Zombie Dude

    Zombie Dude Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2008
    Messages:
    5,419
    Likes Received:
    869
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Australia
    Watch it online first. It shouldn't be hard to find :)
     

Share This Page