Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 1st, 2017
BluRay released: May 16th, 2017
Approximate running times: 95 Minutes
Aspect Ratios: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Twilight Time
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.95
Synopsis: A trigger-happy detective is forced to relocate from New York to Los Angeles and shortly after his arrival a he becomes intertwined in a Mafia war, when a suspect he is transporting is murdered by hit-men hired by his former employer.
The Stone Killer would mark the third collaboration between director Michael Winner and Charles Bronson. Their other collaborations include, The Mechanic, Chato’s Land, Death Wish, Death Wish II and Death Wish 3. The screenplay for The Stone Killer was adapted from author John Gardener’s novel titled A Complete State of Death. Key collaborators on The Stone Killer include, cinematographer Richard Moore (Myra Breckinridge, WUSA) and composer Roy Budd (Get Carter, The Wild Geese).
With the decline of the Western film genre by the end of 1960’s. This void would lead to the rise of gritty crime films in the 1970’s.
Content wise, 1970’s crime films would take the key elements that had made Western films such a durable genre and transpose these elements to a modern setting. And when discussing 1970’s crime cinema, another key factor to these films success was how they were a reflection of the society for which they were reflecting upon.
The premise for The Stone Killer would follow the blueprint laid out by films like, Dirty Harry and it can also be seen as a pursuer to the similar themed Death Wish. The narrative is well constructed and pacing is never an issue as moments of carnage are given an ample amount of time to resonate.
The characters are well defined and the entire cast are very good in their respective roles. With no performance standing taller than Charles Bronson’s (Once Upon a Time in The West, Hard Times) in the role of a trigger happy detective named Lt. Lou Torrey. Other standout performances include, Paul Koslo (Vanishing Point, The Omega Man) in the role of a hit-man named Alfred Langley and Martin Balsam (Psycho) in the role of Al Vescari, a mafia Don who has been waiting forty-two years to exact his revenge. Other notable cast members include, John Ritter and Norman Fell, who would later co-star on the T.V. series Three Company.
From a production standpoint, there is not area where this film does not deliver and then some. The visuals do a superb job reinforcing the gritty mood of the story at hand. Standout moments include, the film’s opening scene where Lt. Lou Torrey shots a suspect of a fire escape. Other standout moments include, a scene where the police raid a remote location being used as a training facility by the hit-men and the film’s bloody finale which serves up a very satisfying conclusion.
The Stone Killer comes on a 50 GB dual layer (25.9 GB) BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Colors are nicely saturated, flesh tones look accurate, black levels are strong throughout, details look crisp and there are no issues with compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. The audio is in great shape, dialog is always clear and everything sounds balanced. The score sounds robust and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented.
Extras for this release include, an option to view the Twilight Time catalog, an eight-page booklet with an essay about the film written by Julie Kirgo, an option to listen to an Isolated music track, a trailer for the film (2 minutes 35 seconds) and an audio commentary with Charles Bronson Biographer Paul Talbot.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, author John Gardener’s novel A Complete State of Death that the film was adapted from, screenwriter Gerald Wilson, background information about Charles Bronson and the cast, composer Roy Budd / the score for the film, how the film was shot in forty-six days over eight weeks, locations, the differences between the novel and the film and comments that were made by Charles Bronson and director Michael Winner.
Overall The Stone Killer gets an excellent release from Twilight Time.
Note: This Blu-Ray release is a limited-edition release of 3,000 copies.