Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 12th, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: Canada, 1974
Director: Claude Fournier
Writer: George Malko
Cast: Donald Sutherland, Gordon Tootoosis, Chief Dan George, Kevin McCarthy, Jean Duceppe, Francine Racette
DVD released: June 28th, 2011
Approximate running time: 92 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Scorpion Releasing
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $14.95
The plot for this film is based on a the true story of a Saskatchewan Indian named Almighty Voice, who was arrested and slated to be hanged for slaughtering a government cow. He would escape before being hanged and while on the run he would kill a Mounties, who was trying to bring him back in. Over the course of seven months he would continue too evade being captured by law enforcement. Ultimately, Almighty Voice’s luck when he and two other companions His brother in law and cousin )would be cornered and slaughter by heavy artillery.
Narrative wise this film pretty much stays in line with the above synopsis of the way things reportedly went down. There is a deliberateness to the story at hand and things tend to move at a leisurely pace. And while this lethargic approach to storytelling will be hard for many viewers to digest. At least it gives the film’s beautifully photographed scenery an ample amount of time to be appreciated.
Without a doubt this film’s most impressive asset is its cast which features Donald Sutherland (Klute, Don’t Look Now) in the role Sgt. Dan Candy, a mounting who becomes obsessed with catching the Indian who kills his partner and Kevin McCarthy (Invasion of the Body Snatchers) in the role of Sgt. Malcolm Grant, who is killed by Almighty Voice. Unfortunately performance there is nothing about either of these two actors that leaves a lasting impression, especially Donald Sutherland’s performance which is painfully wooden.
Though there are not really any fleshed out female characters in this film. One performance of note is Francine Racette in the role of Sgt. Malcolm Grant’s wife. Besides being Donald Sutherland’s wife since 1972, she has appeared in a few notable films, Four Flies on Grey Velvet and Mr. Klein.
In closing I have to bring up this film’s absurd title Alien Thunder, which does not give the slightest clue as to what this film is actually about. Even the film’s U.S. re-title Dan Candy’s Law would have been a more appropriate title to go with. Or at least they go with this film’s French Canadian title Le tonnerre rouge, which roughly translates to Red Thunder.
Scorpion Releasing presents Alien Thunder in an anamorphic widescreen that retains the film’s original 2.35:1 ‘scope’ aspect ratio. Colors are inconsistently as they fluctuate throughout and black levels are at best average. Though details generally look crisp, there are several instances where things look too soft. There are no problems with compression and edge enhancement, while present it is never too intrusive.
This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. There is constant background noise, that varies in degree throughout. Though the background does present some minor problems, dialog comes through clearly enough that is it easy enough to follow.
Extras for this release are limited to trailers for Power Play, The Last Grenade and The Internecine Project. Overall Alien Thunder gets a serviceable audio / video presentation from Scorpion Releasing.