Dominique Blu-ray Review
Written by Robert Gold
Blu-ray released by Vinegar Syndrome
Directed by Michael Anderson
Written by Edward Abraham and Valerie Abraham
1979, 95 minutes, Rated PG
Released on March 26th, 2019
Cliff Robertson as David Ballard
Jean Simmons as Dominique Ballard
Jenny Agutter as Ann Ballard
Simon Ward as Tony Calvert
Ron Moody as Dr. Rogers
Judy Geeson as Marjorie Craven
Michael Jayston as Arnold Craven
Dominique is a wealthy woman who is having some difficulty with her short-term memory. Last night she fired the chauffeur and at tonight’s dinner party she took a guest’s brooch and claimed it as her own. These little discrepancies are a bit embarrassing and have her mildly agitated. Her husband David is supportive but not overly concerned, assuming the lapses are a temporary problem. Talk at the dinner party turns to the supernatural and the topic of the existence of ghosts, with the guests remaining divided on beliefs. David’s sister Ann is too much of a realist for such things, but his business partner’s wife is not so certain. Dominique tries her best to play the role of perfect host, but to be honest, she hasn’t been right since she fell down the stairs last year.
Dominique is having trouble sleeping and she has begun hearing voices in the night calling her name. She is rattled and starting to struggle to hold it together. She begins to suspect that her husband is gaslighting her and turns to Tony, the house’s new chauffeur, for help, but he remains loyal to his boss and refuses to get involved. Before long, Dominique grows more unhinged and she ends up hanging herself in the conservatory. The family is crushed by their loss, but is that the touch of a smile on David’s face while in his private study? Soon it is his turn to question his sanity as strange things start to occur. He begins having visions of Dominique and hearing her voice around the house. Her piano plays by itself in the night and he is growing more and more convinced that she is either not really dead or has returned from the grave to haunt him. He does some investigating but signs are pointing toward the supernatural.
Dominique (aka Dominique is Dead) is a classic “old dark house” story weaving elements of a traditional mystery with a haunting ghost story. Directed by Michael Anderson (Doc Savage), the film takes its time delivering clues that will keep viewers guessing until the conclusion. The house is full of long shadows and unsettling noises in the night, lending a creepy atmosphere to the proceedings. The screenplay written by Edward and Valerie Abraham (The Monster Club) builds a compelling case for the supernatural as the plot unfolds in a generally pleasing manner, although the twist ending is a real cheat that should have been reconsidered. Being a story of instant karma is enough without resorting to Scooby Doo tactics.
Cliff Robertson (Obsession) stars as David Ballard, a man haunted by the ghost of his late wife. Is he guilty of driving her to suicide or was she deeply depressed? If his house is indeed haunted, the spirit is determined to get her revenge, justified or not. Jean Simmons (Spartacus) is Dominique, dedicated wife and possible vengeful apparition refusing to stay at rest. She is a sympathetic woman going through a lot of personal challenges leading up to her suicide. Simmons is a commanding presence and dominates her scenes. Supporting cast members Jenny Agutter (An American Werewolf in London) and Simon Ward (Frankenstein Must be Destroyed) provide a more rational approach to the proceedings and try to keep David sane.
Frequent James Bond cinematographer Ted Moore (Goldfinger) gives the picture a bold look with his rich color patterns and striking camera angles. For Dominique’s theme, composer David Whitaker (Scream and Scream Again) delivers a haunting melody that plays to great effect throughout the picture. Dominique is loaded with clichés and is overly-familiar, but is well-executed and is more satisfying than not. The pace is a bit slow but deliberately so. Longtime genre fans may be able to figure out what’s going on, but the movie does contain its share of surprises. Now celebrating its fortieth anniversary, the picture makes the jump to Blu-ray, introducing it to a whole new generation of viewers. If you like your horror creaky and psychological in nature you may want to pick this one up.
Video and Audio:
Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the picture has received an all-new 2K restoration of the original camera negative and really shines. Colors are bold and black levels bottomless in this stunning new transfer.
A DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo mix preserves the original audio recording and it holds up nicely. Haunting voices and creaking sounds play nicely across the room, making fine use of the front speakers. Dialogue levels are well-balanced with music cues and remain clean and free from hiss or other distortion.
Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.
In a contemporary audio interview (15 minutes) actor Michael Jayston shares his memories from the set. He admits his part is small but has nice things to say about the cast and director. He discusses his career in film and offers thoughts on his work on Doctor Who and in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. His anecdotes are fun and his presence here is welcome. The interview plays under stills from the feature.
In an all-new audio interview with assistant director Brian Cook (24 minutes), we learn how he got his start working on films like The Wicker Man. He shares his memories of working on Dominique and tells a bizarre story about Cliff Robertson’s security concerns while filming. Cook has nothing but fond memories of working with the director and is quick with a kind word. This is an interesting interview well worth checking out. This segment also plays to images from the film.
The theatrical trailer has been included.
This page includes affiliate links where Horror DNA may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.