Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 28th, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: UK / Canada, 1997
Director: Rene Daalder
Writer: Rene Daalder
Cast: Patrick McGoohan, Amanda Plummer, Michael Maloney, Joanne Vannicola, Gregory Hlady, Emmanuelle Vaugier, Joseph Wynne, Ralph Allison, Sam Stone
BluRay released: February 25th, 2014
Approximate running time: 102 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTs-HD 5.1 Surround English
BluRay Release: Cult Epics
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.98
Synopsis: When his clinic is closed Dr. Samuel Fry takes a former patient who has nowhere else to go to a clinic run by Dr. Harvey Langston, an eccentric psychiatrist whose methods are considered controversial by his peers. Dr. Langston he come up with a surgery which all the patients can share their every thought and emotion with each other. With no other options and nowhere else to turn to Dr. Fry allows Dr. Langston to perform his ‘group mind’ surgery on the patient he brought in. Shortly thereafter Dr. Fry soon discovers that unknown to him that he has also been given said surgery. Not willing to give up just yet Dr. Fry concocts an escape plan for himself and his patient, who he since become infatuated with.
The more one watches of a filmmaker’s filmography the easier it is to form ideas about their body of work and the themes that obsess over. Then there are filmmakers like Rene Daalder whose filmography is literally all over the place and not as easy to formulate one blanket statement about the films they have made. To date I have seen four films directed by Rene Daalder, Here Is Always Somewhere Else, Population: 1, Massacre at Central High and Hysteria. And if I didn’t know going in who directed these four films, I would be genuinely surprised that the same filmmaker made all four of these films.
Narrative wise things are pretty straight as the plot is set in an asylum where all the inmates actually enjoy being there and they are all encouraged to do whatever they want, thus creating absolute chaos. Things are slightly shaken up after the arrival of two new ‘patients’ a Dr Fry and his patient a young woman named Veronica Bloom. This madhouse is run not by Dr. Langston, but a wheelchair bound woman named Myrna Malloy. She often manipulates through everyone’s connected minds the group into to doing the things she wants. And though there seems to be some structure to the events which unfold, there is actually any anything goes vibe that takes over after the opening set up on through the finale.
From a production stand point Rene Daalder does spectacular job reigning in the chaos that unfolds onscreen. And without a doubt one of this film more durable asset’s is how he fully utilizes secondary characters. Pacing never proves to be an issue since there’s unpredictability about what is coming next that will have you on the edge of your set. This most memorable moment is a sex scene where all the patients are connected via ‘group mind’. This is easily one of the more erotic moments that I have seen in a film in a very long time. If there is anything that is lacking, then that would be this film’s ending which feels rushed.
Performance wise all of the cast are very good in their respective roles, especially Patrick McGoohan (‘The Prisoner’) in the role of Dr. Langston and Amanda Plummer (Pulp Fiction) in the role of the wheelchair bound Myrna Malloy. Both of these performers totally let go and fully embrace the insanity required to be utterly convincing in the performances. Another performance of note is Emmanuelle Vaugier in the role of Veronica Bloom. She is mesmerizing in the role of a seductress.
If taken on face value a film about a bizarre cast of characters that all live in an asylum. That is not enough to set it apart from countless other similar themed films. Overall it is this films provocative premise of joining patients’ minds so they can feel each other’s pain and experience each other’s desires that ultimately drive this film and make it so compelling to watch.
Hysteria comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Details generally look sharp; there are no issues with DNR or compression. It should be noted that there are some mild instances of print damage and a few moments where the image looks a tad too soft. Overall considering this is a film that has rarely been seen since its initial theatrical release it is not surprising that there are some limitations to source materials. With that being said, it is hard to imagine this film looking any better than it does on this transfer, at least in the fore sable future.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix in English. Dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. Range wise things can be limited; the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented.
Extras for this release include a trailer for the film (2 minutes 50 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) and a ‘Making of’ featurette (28 minutes 46 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) that includes comments from writer / director Rene Daalder and actress Amanda Plummer. Both participants have plenty to say about the film, the cast and their thoughts on the final product. Overall Hysteria gets a strong release from Cult Epics, recommended.
Note: This film is also being released by Cult Epics on DVD.