Written by: Michael Den Boer on October 2nd, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: Australia, 1980
Director: Simon Wincer
Writer: Everett De Roche
Cast: Robert Powell, David Hemmings, Carmen Duncan, Broderick Crawford, Gus Mercurio, Alan Cassell
DVD released: October 28th, 2008
Approximate running time: 95 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English, Dolby Digital Mono Spanish, Dolby Digital Mono French
DVD Release: Synapse Films
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Synopsis: A mysterious man with magical healing powers appears out of nowhere. He cures Senator Rast’s son Alex’s cancer. All of his advisers and the doctors who treated his son tell him this mysterious man named Gregory Wolfe is nothing more than a conman. To prove his powers are indeed real. Gregory puts his life in the hands of Senator Rast who is given to roads to travels.
Dark Forces was directed by Simon Wincer whose diverse filmography includes Snapshot, Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man and The Phantom. The screenplay for Dark Forces was written by whose other notable screenwriting credits include Patrick, Long Weekend and Road Games. Dark Forces score was written by Brian May whose other notable scores include Patrick, Mad Max and Thirst.
At the core of Dark forces is a tale about a Rasputin like character named Gregory whose origins and source of his magical powers are never fully revealed. One could also assume that Gregory is a devil like character in the way that he pushes everyone he comes in contact with over the edge. At first his special gift is embraced by those who come in contact with him. The tide turns as he gains more power over those close to him. His spiritual hold over his devotes does not sit well the non believer’s to take action and eliminate him before his hold is to strong. The magic that Gregory uses can also be seen as the type of spin that goes on in the political area. A scene near the end of the film alludes to this. When Gregory tries to show Senator Rast the truth he refuses to acknowledge. The film’s open ended finale is an appropriate coda for the film.
The film’s standout performance comes from Robert Powell who portrays Gregory Wolfe. Powell gives a magical performance that will have you under his spell. One of the strengths of his performance is that he never reveals is his character is benevolent or if he has more sinister ulterior motives for healing Alex. Other notable performances include David Hemmings in the role of Senator Nick Rast and Carmen Duncan playing his affection starved wife. Many times performances from child actors often miss the mark. Mark Spain is cast in the role of Rast’s son Alex. His performance is very effective and it wonderfully compliments Robert Powell’s performance. Ultimately Dark Forces does a superb job juggling what is real and what is an illusion.
Synapse Films presents Dark Forces in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Colors look vibrant and details look sharp throughout. Overall outside of some very minor print damage this transfer is another strong presentation from Synapse Film’s.
This release comes with three language options English, Spanish and French. All three audio choices are presented in a Dolby Digital mono. All three audio mixes are free of any audio defects and the sound clear and evenly balanced.
Extras include cast & crew filmographies, a photo gallery and trailers for Dark Forces, Syngenor, Strange Behavior, Patrick and Thirst. Other extras include an isolated audio track for the film’s score. The main extra included with this release includes an audio commentary with director Simon Wincer and producer Antony I. Ginnane. Both participants give a detailed account about their experiences working on this film. All the content that was included on the now OOP Elite DVD release has been carried over for this release. Overall Dark Forces gets a first rate DVD release from Synapse Film’s.