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COMMUNION ($30) is an interesting, although off beat science fiction film. Based upon the novel about alien abduction by Whitley Strieber, the events depicted in the film may or may not have actually happened to the writer and his family. Do I think alien abductions are real? I donít know, but I like to keep an open mind, giving Whitley Strieber and director Philippe Mora the benefit of the doubt. The plot of COMMUNION goes as follows: One night at Whitley Strieberís isolated weekend home in the woods, a bright light engulfs the house, which prevents a couple of overnight guests from sleeping. Unable to explain the odd occurrence, the Stiebers returns to the city at the behest of their guests. During a Christmas retreat to their home in the woods, the Striebers again experience the strange lights. This time however, the strange occurrence has an adverse effect on the writerís psyche. Seeking psychiatric help, Whitley consents to hypnosis, which unlocks definite memories of alien abduction. As he tries to come to grips with the bizarre memories of what happened to him, Whitley finds himself pushed towards the edge of sanity.

Does COMMUNION change my opinions about alien abduction? No, not really. Director Philippe Mora avoids the trap of making the film appear to have any definitive answers. All of the scenes involving the aliens are very surreal, giving one the impression that they are witnessing subjective images taken from the unconscious mind of author Whitley Strieber. There is nothing concrete presented in the film, except for the unexplained incident with the bright lights, which leaves the audience to draw their own conclusions. Christopher Walken is ideally cast as the filmís version of Whitley Strieber. Walken is a perfect embodiment of all the characterís eccentricities and is especially good during the hallucinatory hypnosis sequences. Lindsay Crouse is a bit remote as the writerís wife Anne, but itís always a challenge keeping up with Walken. Frances Sternhagen never disappoints and here she delivers another impressive performance as psychiatrist Janet Duffy. The cast of COMMUNION also includes Andreas Katsulas, Terri Hanauer and Joel Carlson.

Elite Entertainment has done a very nice job with their DVD edition of COMMUNION. COMMUNION is presented in its proper 2.35:1 aspect ratio and the DVD has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 monitors. The transfer is clean, sharp and offers up a very good level of detail. Colors have natural saturation and flesh tones appear quite pleasing. There are no signs of chromatic distortion anywhere during the presentation. Blacks are accurately rendered and the picture provides a healthy level of shadow detail. The smoothly authored DVD doesnít display any signs of digital compression artifacts.

COMMUNION sports a new Dolby Digital 5.1 channel mix for this release. Sound quality is pleasant, without any overbearing sound effects that call attention to themselves. Dialogue is cleanly reproduced and maintains full intelligibility. The surround channels provide ambience and mild sound effects, as well as musical fill. Speaking of music, the main theme by Eric Clapton and other music by Allan Zavod was nicely recorded and is well integrated into the new mix.

The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection feature, as well as good array of extras. Director Philippe Mora and William J. Birnes (Publisher of UFO Magazine) provide a running audio commentary for the film. Their talk offers a lot of detail on the production, as well as providing insight into the alien abductee experience. There is a series of outtakes included on the DVD, which allows one to see how the director got the very best from his cast. COMMUNION also includes behind-the-scenes/promotional footage for the film, plus still photos and storyboards. The most bizarre supplement is an excerpt from "According To Occamís Razor" which shows videotape footage of a surgical procedure to remove what is purported to be an "alien implant."

Whether you think Whitley Strieberís book is the real deal or just a great marketing ploy, COMMUNION the movie remains an interesting excursion into the unknown. Walkenís performance makes the film a must see for his fans and Eliteís excellent DVD worth a look for everyone else.


Communion (1989)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 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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