Until Synapse Films Can Save the Day... The Kindred

The Kindred is a title Synapse Films announced... I don't know, a decade ago? It's a crazy horror flick that fans have been asking for since DVDs began, and in 2008, Synapse did an interview with SGM, saying they'd just completed a new HD transfer, "the film looks amazing. I had the old video transfer on hand for inspiration to give me an idea of what NOT to make it look like (haha)… the film looks unbelievable now. It's much nastier than I remember, really. We haven't got any firm extras nailed down yet." A bunch of promising extras were planned, but then... it got stuck in legal limbo involving its producers. Over the years, Synapse has hinted that it was still coming, they just had to clear some paperwork hurdles; and here we are in 2015, fingers still crossed. But until that day comes (did I mention the fingers still crossed?), it's not entirely, completely, totally unavailable. There's this budget release from Australia on JL, which came out in 2006.
I still remember The Kindred from the days late night cable TV sleepovers, particularly the scene of the killer watermelon in the backseat. And no, this film isn't a Killer Tomatoes like film... it has more of a Stuart Gordon Lovecraftian tone. A scientist comes out of a coma and asks her son to go to her old house to destroy all of her notes and experiments she left behind. It doesn't wind up being that easy, of course, and he gets caught up in a world of evil scientists and fish monsters. It's all pretty well done, full of neat, squishy special effects, and co-stars Academy Aware winners Rod Steiger and Kim Hunter as well as 80s dream girl Amanda Pays. I mean, I guess this movie has some flaws: it's talky with wooden dialogue scenes, and has a comic relief character in a Hawaiian shirt who hangs around for the entire film - but who cares!?
Unfortunately, JL's transfer appears to be the one Synapse kept around to know what not to do... if not worse! Not only is it full-screen (I'm guessing open matte based on the max headroom above), soft and faded to the point of looking black and white (or brown and gray), but it also has a poor NTSC to PAL transfer, giving it ghosted frames. The only bullet it managed to dodge is interlacing. I honestly suspect the original Vestron Video tape release would look better than this.
This is actually a shot of our leading man; draw a circle around where you think his head might be.
Image put out a laserdisc of this back in the day, but it's 1.33:1, pan & scan; so I doubt any marginal improvement in quality would be worth the hassle of tracking it down. Though I admit, I'm a little tempted...

Of course, this DVD has no extras, not even a trailer. It is region free, though. Plus it's at least a quasi-legit, non-bootleg release that goes for cheap, so anybody anywhere can at least watch it. And if you like 80s horror, you should, because it's a cool movie. So I'm forced to recommend it. But boy will I be glad if Synapse's release ever gets to see the light of day.

1 comment:

  1. Laserdisc version looks better than this. This looks like it was ripped from the VHS version and put on dvd.