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Scalpel – Arrow Video USA (BluRay) 
Written by: on March 28th, 2018


Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1977
Director: John Grissmer
Writers: John Grissmer, Joseph Weintraub
Cast: Robert Lansing, Judith Chapman, Arlen Dean Snyder, David Scarroll, Sandy Martin

BluRay Release Date: February 19th, 2018 (UK), February 27th, 2018 (USA)
Approximate running time: 95 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK), R (USA)
Sound: LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Encoding: Region A,B
Retail Price: $39.95 (USA) / £14.99 (UK)


Synopsis: A plastic surgeon obsessed with reuniting with his missing daughter, reconstructs a young woman’s disfigured face to look exactly like his daughters’ face.

Scalpel was co-written and directed by John Grissmer (Blood Rage). Key collaborators on Scalpel include, cinematographer Edward Lachman (Desperately Seeking Susan, Less Than Zero) and composer Bob Cobert (Dark Shadows, Burnt Offerings).

Though, there are several elements in this film, that one would associate with the horror genre. To simply go into this film expecting a horror film, would be doing this film a great disservice.

Content wise, this film is best described as a psychological thriller. With a southern Gothic vibe. The premise is well executed and the narrative is perfectly constructed. There are no issues in regards to pacing and key moments are given an ample amount of time to resonate.

Performance wise, the cast are all very good in their respective roles. With this film’s standout performance being Robert Lansing (4D Man) in the role of a plastic surgeon named Phillip Reynolds. He delivers an utterly convincing performance that perfectly captures his characters state of mind. Another performance of note is Judith Chapman (The Young and the Restless) in the dual role of Phillip Reynolds missing daughter Heather and Jane, the woman who face he has reconstructed to look like his daughters face.

Without a doubt, this film’s greatest strengths are its atmospheric visuals. Standout moments include, a flashback scene that reveals Heather’s disappearance, the scene where Heather and her doppelganger come face to face for the first time and the film’s finale provides a very satisfying conclusion to the events that have just unfolded.

The BluRay:

Scalpel comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The transfer for this release was sourced from a brand new 2K restoration from original film elements. This release offers two different colors options to watch this film. The first option is a transfer that was supervised by cinematographer Edward Lachman and the second option is a transfer that was supervised by Arrow Video. Needless to say, there are striking differences between these two transfers. Quality wise, both of these transfers are in excellent shape. Details look crisp, black levels remain strong throughout, grain looks natural and there are no issues with compression.

This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in English and included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. The audio sounds, clean, clear and balanced throughout.

Extras for this release include, an image gallery, an introduction with screenwriter / director John Grissmer, a trailer for the film (2 minutes 42 seconds), an interview with John Grissmer tilted The Cutting Edge (13 minutes 52 seconds), an interview with actress Judith Chapman titled Dead Ringer (17 minutes 20 seconds), an interview with cinematographer Edward Lachman titled Southern Gothic (15 minutes 25 seconds) and an audio commentary with film historian Richard Harland Smith.

Topics discussed in the interview with John Grissmer include, his origins as a filmmaker, The Bride, the origins of Scalpel, how the film was shot in Georgia, the cast, onset memories, his thoughts about key moments, composer Bob Cobert/ the score, Edward Lachman / the visuals and Blood Rage.

Topics discussed in the interview with Judith Chapman include, her origins as an actress, Scalpel, John Grissmer, on set memories, Robert Lansing, Edward Lachman, audience reaction and her thoughts about the film.

Topics discussed in the interview with Edward Lachman include, art school / his origins as a filmmaker, how Scalpel was his first 35mm film as a cinematographer, the visuals / the look of the film, the cast, John Grissmer and how he assisted Arrow Video for this releases transfer.

Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, how the original title of the film was False Face, background information about the cast / John Grissmer / locations and his thoughts about the film.

Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art and a thirty two page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled 20th Century Alchemy: John Grissmer’s Morbid Melodramas written by Bill Ackerman, an essay titled Scalpel: A Slice of Death written by David Konow and information about the transfer. Overall Scalpel gets a solid release from Arrow Video, highly recommended.

Note: The screenshots in this review are from the transfer that was supervised by cinematographer Edward Lachman.

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