Running Time: 121 minutes
MPAA Rating: R
Format: Standard 4:3
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, French
Region: 1
MSRP: $24.98

Own It!
The Dark Half (1993)

Horror auteur George Romero turned his attention to a book by Stephen King for this, his most mainstream film. Author Thad Beaumont writes well-reviewed but unsuccessful books about yuppies. He also writes popular (if violent) crime novels under the pseudonym George Stark. When a muckraker threatens to reveal Stark's real identity to the world, Beaumont goes public and stages a mock funeral for his alter ego. But soon people who were involved in Stark's "death" begin dying in gruesome ways, and the killer is leaving Beaumont's fingerprints behind.

Romero does an excellent job establishing atmosphere and building suspense until the villain is revealed, even though it's doubtful how many people who went to see the movie hadn't already read the novel, or at least knew the gist. The only weak link here is Timothy Hutton in the dual roles of Beaumont and Stark. He does fine as Beaumont, but Stark is never quite as scary as he's supposed to be.

MGM's DVD of The Dark Half features the full screen version of film, a fact that may irritate some home theater collectors. In fact, Romero shot this movie (and as far as I know, all of his films) in full screen with the intention that the 1.33:1 image would be matted to 1.85:1 in theaters. The full screen image presented here looks correctly framed at all times. Anyone needing proof of that need only check the opening credits, which are aligned to the left and right sides of the screen, and raised above where the 1.85:1 matte would fall.

The image is occasionally grainy on some of the interior scenes, but this may be an intentional effect on the part of Romero to make those scenes seem homey. The rest of the movie is very clear and detailed, and the DVD does a great job of expressing the film's warm color palette. The print MGM used is not quite pristine. There are occasional speckles, and at one point a hair is visible.

The only extras included are the trailer (presented fullscreen) and french subtitles.

Scott Hamilton, 3/15/00