Review Date: January 30, 2001
Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date: 4/23/2000
Region 0, NTSC
Widescreen 2.35:1 | 16x9: Yes
John Pressman (Michael Lerner
) is overweight, diabetic and slowly losing his vision, and to make matters worse, he works in an optometrist's office, where he is constantly reminded of sight and eyes. One day, a rich socialite comes in to get a pair of contact lenses, and John inserts them into her eyes for her. The lenses are so uncomfortable that she screams to him to take them out, and when he gets upset and doesn't, she complains to his supervisor.
It seems, though, that John happens to share an almost-telepathic bond with his domineering mother Alice (Zelda Rubinstein
), whom he still lives with. When John gets home that night, she already knows what happened to him at work, and is not happy about it. She proceeds to hypnotize her son and send him to the home of the woman who bitched at him. Using the excuse that he put the wrong pair of contact lenses in, and that he has replacements, her husband lets him into the house where he promptly murders both of them and cuts out their eyes.
At this point, we learn that the story of John and his mother is actually part of a movie called The Mommy playing at a Los Angeles theater. In the audience are Pattie (Talia Paul
) and Linda (Clara Pastor
), two teenage girls. The gruesomeness of the plot is starting to bother Pattie, and she wants to leave, but Linda refuses. Pattie starts to feel physically ill and uncomfortable, and begins to develop paranoid thoughts about a man sitting near her (Ángel Jovč
), who seems to be enjoying the movie a little bit too much.
Meanwhile, back in the movie, John's mother has hypnotized him again and sent him out on another killing spree. He goes to late-night screening at a movie theater and begins killing people, sneaking up on them one by one and removing their eyes.
Unfortunately, it turns out that Pattie was right in wanting to leave - the audience member that was creeping her out is actually a maniac, who has become obsessed by the movie. Brandishing a gun, he opens fire in the lobby, killing several people, before barricading the exits to the theater and taking the place hostage, killing anybody who gets in his way. Will anybody be left alive before the psychopath is stopped?
is certainly an unusual movie, and for the most part, noted Spanish director J.J. Bigas Lunas does a good job of pulling off the story's unconventional narrative. Although other "movie-within-a-movie" tricks have been tried, this one stands out from the rest. The story flows more or less smoothly, and although you may need to pay close attention to catch a few of the switches from the reel to real world, you won't be left scratching your head trying to figure out of what's going on. However, Anguish
does run into problems towards the end, when the two stories are cut back and forth so often that it becomes difficult to become absorbed in the events happening in either one.
Both Michael Lerner and Zelda Rubinstein are way over the top as John and his mother Alice, but for once, having the actors overplay their roles turned out to be a good thing. With The Mommy
, the film-within-the-film that the two actors play characters in, Lunas sometimes seems as if he's making a big joke out of every bad "mama's boy" horror film ever made, so having both of them play their parts with the same kind of dreadful overacting that those films featured, actually helps. And despite it all, both of them still have some very creepy moments.
All things considered, Anguish
is a very good film. There's enough gore and nastiness to keep diehard fans entertained, and the narrative is original and inventive. Every horror fan should at the very least give it a watch and see how they like it.
is presented letterboxed in it's original 2.35:1 ratio, and is enhanced for 16x9 TVs. The image quality of this disc is excellent - the picture is very sharp, the colors look natural, the black level is dead-on and there was virtually no print damage. The only problems I encountered was light grain and some occasional color bleed, but other than that, it's an excellent transfer.
Two audio options are available - a Dolby 5.1 Surround track and the film's original Dolby 2.0 Stereo track. Both tracks sound great, with no distortion or background noise whatsoever, but the 5.1 mix is especially dynamic, and adds a lot of life to the movie. No subtitles are included.
The only extra is a Spanish-language theatrical trailer with optional English subtitles.
A good movie, and a very good disc. If you've never seen Anguish
before, you'll definitely want to check the movie out, and perhaps even add it your collection.
Movie – B+
Image Quality – A-
Sound – A
Supplements – C
- Running Time - 1 hour 28 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter Stops
- Dolby Digital 5.1 English
- Dolby Digital 2.0 English