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Blake Edwards isnít exactly a director that one normally associates with dark noir-ish thrillers- after all; the man was responsible for all those PINK PANTHER movies. Although comedy is where Edwards made his biggest impression as a director, he did successfully dabble in other genres throughout his career. In 1962, Edwards score two of his biggest non-comedy successes with the human drama of THE DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES and with the disturbing shocks of EXPERIMENT IN TERROR ($20).

With EXPERIMENT IN TERROR, Edwards manages to create some of the most psychologically frightening sequences of his career- especially during the filmís first scene, where an unseen assailant mentally and physically assaults Lee Remickís character. During the early sixties, this sequence must have been particularly unnerving to audiences, and I have to admit this scene remain very effective today. However, the film doesnít fare as well once it becomes a police procedural- these sequences now seem inept, especially to anyone that has become a devotee of TVís CSI, a show that emphasizes every aspect of forensic science.

The plot of EXPERIMENT IN TERROR centers on Kelly Sherwood (Lee Remick), a beautiful young woman, who is assaulted in her dark garage one evening by an unknown assailant with asthmatic breathing. This unknown man threatens Kellyís life, and that of her teenage sister Toby (Stefanie Powers), unless Kelly steals $100,000.00 from the bank in which she works as a teller. Although warned against calling the authorities, Kelly does contact FBI agent John Ripley (Glenn Ford). To protect Kelly and her sister, Ripley places them under covert surveillance by a team of FBI agents, while they try to uncover the identity of the unknown culprit. The cast of EXPERIMENT IN TERROR also features Roy Poole, Ned Glass, Anita Loo, Patricia Huston, Clifton James and Ross Martin.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has made EXPERIMENT IN TERROR available on DVD in a 1.85:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. In general, this is a very, very good transfer taken from black and white film elements that only display some minor signs of age and wear. The image is pretty crisp and produces very good levels of detail. Blacks are always very inky, while the whites are rendered cleanly and with complete stability. Contrast is occasionally a bit harsh, but this enhances the noir-ish quality of the filmís cinematography. Shadow detail is good, but some of the darker sequences are intentionally indistinct. Additionally, the image displays a noticeable grain structure throughout much of the movie, but it is never excessive or particularly bothersome. Digital compression artifacts are well always concealed.

EXPERIMENT IN TERROR features a solid Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack that has aged well. All signs of background hiss and surface noise appear to have been scrubbed away with a digital clean up, which enhances the overall quality of the track. Fidelity is on par for a film produced in the early 1960s, but still manages to sound clean and smooth, where the filmís music is concerned. Like so many other Blake Edwards movies, EXPERIMENT IN TERROR features a terrific score by Henry Mancini, which is rendered quite pleasantly, even when given more than a bit of amplification. Dialogue is crisp and always completely understandable. No other language tracks are included on the DVD, but English, French and Japanese subtitles are provided. The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a theatrical trailer for EXPERIMENT IN TERROR and bonus trailers for THE BIG HEAT and THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI.

EXPERIMENT IN TERROR is a stylish and entertaining noir thriller from director Blake Edwards that has been given a very good presentation on DVD by the folks at Columbia TriStar. If you are a genre fan, or a fan of the filmís stars or director, you should definitely check out EXPERIMENT IN TERROR on DVD.



Experiment in Terror (1962)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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