The Craft Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review
Written by Robert Gold
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Directed by Andrew Fleming
Written by Peter Filardi and Andrew Fleming
1996, 101 minutes, Rated R
Released on March 12th, 2019
Robin Tunney as Sarah Bailey
Fairuza Balk as Nancy Downs
Neve Campbell as Bonnie
Rachel True as Rochelle
Skeet Ulrich as Chris Hooker
Christine Taylor as Laura Lizzie
Breckin Meyer as Mitt
Sarah Bailey is the new girl at St. Benedict’s parochial school in sunny Los Angeles. Her first few days are rough as she tries to fit in. She meets a handsome football player named Chris who she goes out with on one innocent date and he follows up by spreading rumors about her, damaging her reputation. Sarah falls in with the high school’s outsiders, Nancy, Bonnie and Rochelle, dubbed the “Bitches of Eastwick”. The ladies are rumored to be witches based on their appearance, but what nobody knows is that the rumors are in fact true. The three misfits have been waiting for a fourth to join their coven to allow proper magic to be performed. Sarah proves to be a naturally strong witch and soon the quartet is trying out their newfound powers. Things start off easy with an attempt at levitation and changing physical appearances. Moving forward they try for something bigger; Sarah conjures a love spell on Chris; Bonnie wishes to be beautiful; Rochelle wants to punish the popular girl who is giving her a hard time and Nancy just wants power.
Their spells work better than expected and soon the ladies are coming into their own. They don’t grow any more popular at school, but that is not necessarily what they are after. They are enjoying the power of witchcraft and are eager to try stronger magic. Nancy is developing a bit of a mean streak and the others are beginning to worry, but would never cross her. Sarah sees the consequences of her love spell as too much to handle as poor Chris becomes hopelessly obsessed with her. She wants to undo the enchantment and urges her friends to practice forgiveness and restraint. Things escalate and are soon out of control, but not everyone in the coven seems eager to slow down.
With his 1996 horror film The Craft, co-writer/ director Andrew Fleming (Bad Dreams) delivers a quality genre picture that features a strong female cast that reflects the era of the girl power movement. These women are smart, pretty and capable of solving their own problems. This is an outsiders’ revenge fantasy about the put-upon finding empowerment and standing up for themselves. Working from a script co-written by Peter Filardi (Flatliners), witchcraft is introduced as an innocent, positive form of self-expression. Wicca is a celebration of nature and doesn’t hold the self-restricting limitations of Christianity. There is neither good magic nor bad, but rather the effect of the spell stems from the intent of the user. It is only when the ladies become drunk on power that karma enters the picture, returning threefold what they dealt out.
The four leading ladies play well off each other and share a bond of friendship that keeps viewers interested throughout. You want to see them get payback against those who have wronged them and it is fun to watch their spells play out. The darker side of magic is introduced gradually as we see the consequences of their actions. This is not a world for adults and Sarah’s family remains peripheral at best, offering little support or guidance during her ordeal. Instead, she must stand up for herself and face her demons alone.
Robin Tunney (Supernova) stars as Sarah, the moral center to the piece who initially just wants to have fun before regretting her actions and trying to make amends. Fairuza Balk (The Island of Doctor Moreau) co-stars as Nancy, the power hungry leader of the group. She sees witchcraft as a means to a better life for herself and her mother. Balk really delivers as the driven antagonist looking to settle a few scores. The self-conscious Bonnie, played by Neve Campbell (Scream), simply wants to overcome her physical disfigurement and be seen as beautiful. It is impressive watching the shy introvert grow into a self-confident young woman. Rachel True (Embrace of the Vampire) completes the coven as Rochelle, the target of racist taunts by the popular girls in school. She appears instantly likeable and shares great onscreen chemistry with her fellow witches.
The Craft is a fun popcorn movie with simple themes, relatable characters and a catchy soundtrack. It is a nice throwback to earlier teen witch movies with a contemporary spin that makes it hip. The picture still holds up and is an enjoyable diversion that keeps things light. The story is familiar, but the tale is well-paced and full of strong performances from an attractive young cast. In 2019, the four leading ladies have reunited and are touring the convention circuit greeting fans and keeping the spirit of the film alive. If you somehow missed this one or simply haven’t seen it in a while, it may be time to catch up and add this title to your collection.
Video and Audio:
This is the same transfer used for Sony’s 2009 release and it’s a good one. Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the image features vibrant colors and rich black levels. There is plenty of small-object detail in hair and fibers and flesh tones appear natural throughout.
A lively DTS-HD MA 5.1 track makes full use of all speakers as music and sound effects play across all channels. Dialogue levels are clean and free from distortion and optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.
This new Collector’s Edition ports over all of the supplements from the previous Blu-ray and offers some new material, including four new interviews. Sadly, the cast is absent, but what we do get is still pretty good.
Director Andrew Fleming conjures up an audio commentary that shares plenty of information about the production. He talks about developing the script, casting, shooting locations and central themes of the story. His discussion is thoughtful if a tad dry, but still worth a listen.
Fleming sits down for the 2018 interview Directing The Craft (15 minutes) where he reiterates many of the points expressed in his commentary. He discusses the project’s origins and how he became involved and shares additional anecdotes from the shoot. He is appreciative of the lasting impression the picture has had on audiences and has nothing but fond memories of the process.
Producing The Craft (13 minutes) catches up with producer Douglas Wick (Gladiator), who reflects on the project and shares his own stories from the creation of the film. Wick has worked on some pretty big films and it is nice to see him still willing to give this movie some love.
Co-writer Peter Filardi is on hand for Writing The Craft (11 minutes) in which he shares how he wrote the original story and later worked with Fleming to complete the shooting script. He offers some interesting insights into the process that reveal details about the themes of the picture.
Make-up effects supervisor Tony Gardner is interviewed in Effecting The Craft (11 minutes), relaying his efforts on the project. He shares stories about the range of effects, including the large sharks that wash ashore in one scene. He also shows off photos of old-age make-up on a character ultimately cut from the finished film.
Carried over from the 2000 DVD release is the well-made retrospective piece Conjuring The Craft (25 minutes) that offers contemporary interviews with Fleming, Filardi and Wick as well as cast members Robin Tunney and Rachel True. The featurette covers a lot of ground and is informative and entertaining.
The vintage featurette The Making of The Craft (6 minutes) is a standard EPK offering interviews with the cast and crew and a generous number of clips from the film.
A collection of three deleted scenes (7 minutes) are included and contain optional commentary from Fleming. The material features character beats cut for pacing reasons, but not the old witch mentioned by Gardner.
The theatrical trailer has been included.
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