Written by: George Pacheco on May 5th, 2013
Theatrical Release Dates: Australia, 1988 (The Dreaming), Australia, 1987 (Initiation)
Directors: Mario Andreacchi (The Dreaming), Michael Pearce (Initiation)
Writers: Rob George, Mario Andreacchio (The Dreaming), James Barton (Initiation)
Cast: Arthur Dingham, Penny Cooke, Bruno Lawrence, Rodney Harvey
DVD released: April 30th, 2013
Approximate running time: 87 minutes (The Dreaming), 92 minutes (Initiation)
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (Both Films)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English (Both Films)
DVD Release: Scorpion Releasing
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $17.95
Scorpion Releasing continues on their recent Ozploitation kick here with a new double feature disc containing two late 80s Aussie films, The Dreaming and Initiation.
Unfortunately, both films suffer from a profound amount of tedium and disconnection, starting off with The Dreaming, a thriller which focuses upon a mysterious aborigine girl and the operating doctor who suffers from severe hallucinations and visions after her death.
The film is visually stylish, owing perhaps a bit of its heritage to the Italian thrillers of the late seventies and eighties, although not nearly with enough visceral scares or intense action to lay complete claim. Yet, there is a little something to the cinematography and direction of Mario Andreacchio which endears The Dreaming to its audience…at least at first. The storyline unfortunately becomes lost amongst a bevy of bizarre dream sequences which, although appealing to a degree, quick lose steam by the film’s halfway point.
It’s here where the mystery of The Dreaming ceases to become compelling, and simply enters a phase where it becomes a chore to sit through, primarily due to the lack of depth within the characters. Penny Cook’s character of the doctor is sympathetic enough, yet those who surround her provide little to no assistance when it comes to setting up tension or drama. Instead, Andreacchio’s film limps on to an unexciting conclusion as Cook unravels an unsettling connection between aboriginal history and vicious whalers.
Initiation, directed by Michael Pearce, sadly doesn’t fare much better, detailing the journey of a young Brooklyn man (Rodney Harvey) who ventures to live with his estranged father in Australia after the death of his mother. Despite starting out as a “fish out of water” tale as Harvey’s character endures ridicule and abuse at the hands of the locals, the story reaches its apex once Danny ventures out upon an ill-fated plane trip with his father, who has fallen on hard financial times and resorted to trafficking marijuana.
After a jungle crash-landing—and his father’s incapacitation via snake bite—Danny enters a forced journey of self-discovery, whereupon Initiation enters a sort of post-Deliverance atmosphere of danger and survival. It’s here where the film provides its most believable action scenes—aided by an enjoyable electronic score from composer Stephen Matters—albeit a little too little/too late to save an otherwise uneventful and lackadaisical film.
Scorpion Releasing presents both The Dreaming and Initiation in an anamorphic widescreen presentation from new 16×9, 1.78:1 masters. The colors are a bit muted overall, but don’t showcase any extreme cases of degradation. There is, however, a small bit of print damage for The Dreaming which doesn’t particularly impact the viewing experience. The Dolby Digital Mono sound for both films is fine overall, although there is one brief audio drop in The Dreaming which doesn’t occur again during the film.
The Dreaming features an interview with producer Anthony Ginnane, while Initiation offers no special features, other than a Scorpion trailer reel. Overall, The Dreaming and Initiation receive a basic, bare bones presentation from Scorpion Releasing.