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After the critical drubbing it took, I had to see why TEACHING MRS. TINGLE ($30) was treated so badly by the critics. Kevin Williamson, the man responsible for SCREAM and DAWSON'S CREEK made his directorial debut TEACHING MRS. TINGLE, a film that seems to be a victim of bad marketing. TEACHING MRS. TINGLE is a black comedy and not the horror/suspense film that Hollywood tried to sell its target audience. Perhaps the studio felt that the teen market wasn't ready for black comedy... Anyway, once I caught onto Kevin Williamson's genuine intent, I found myself liking TEACHING MRS. TINGLE. Helen Mirren stars as Mrs. Tingle- the teacher from hell. Mrs. Tingle seems to take joy from other's misery, and she has no problem spreading misery amongst the faculty and student body alike.

TEACHING MRS. TINGLE also stars Katie Holmes as Leigh Ann Watson, one of the girls vying for the position of high school valedictorian. Through circumstances beyond her control, Leigh Ann is accused of cheating by Mrs. Tingle, which places in jeopardy her chances of winning the valedictorian scholarship. Leigh Ann goes to Mrs. Tingle's home hoping to reason with her, however the teacher wants nothing more than to ruin the girl's future. Even when the real cheater steps forward, Mrs. Tingle refuses to be swayed. Somehow, the situation spins horribly out of control, forcing Leigh Ann and her friends to make Mrs. Tingle a prisoner in her own home, while they figure out a way to teach the teacher from hell a lesson she will never forget. The joy of TEACHING MRS. TINGLE is in watching Mrs. Tingle and her students play a psychological game of cat and mouse. Even though she's tied to a bed, does Mrs. Tingle really have the upper hand? The cast of TEACHING MRS. TINGLE also features Marisa Coughlan, Barry Watson, Liz Stauber, Jeffrey Tambor, Michael McKean, Lesley Ann Warren, Vivica A. Fox and Molly Ringwald.

Hallelujah, Buena Vista has finally seen the anamorphic light! The Dimension Home Video DVD release of TEACHING MRS. TINGLE is enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. TEACHING MRS. TINGLE is presented in its original 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio and the transfer looks quite good. Of course, there are times that the image appears a bit soft, but for the most part, the picture provides a very good level of detail. Color saturation isnít as intense as it is on most new movies. However, at no time do the filmís hues appear muted. Flesh tones look very natural and there are no problems with chroma noise. Blacks are faithfully recreated and the picture delivers good shadow detail. Digital compression artifacts donít really make their presence known on this DVD.

TEACHING MRS. TINGLE offers both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 channel soundtracks. Since I am presently without a DTS decoder, my comments will be limited to Dolby Digital. The Dolby Digital mix is competent, but not something one would consider reference material (so the advantages of DTS would be lost on this particular title). There isnít an overabundance of directional sound effect in this particular mix. However, there are some distinct channel separations in the forward soundstage. The surrounds primarily provide ambience and musical fill. Dialogue reproduction is always sharp and precise. Music is well integrated into the mix, with both rock songs and the musical score by John Frizzell reproducing with terrific fidelity. English subtitles are encoded onto the DVD.

The basic interactive menus have an attractive design, as well as providing access the standard scene selection and set up features. A theatrical trailer is the only supplement on the DVD and is accessible through the menu system.

Now that Buena Vista is allowing Miramax/Dimension to offer 16:9 enhanced DVDs, letís hope they will let them to reissue some unenhanced titles. The directorís cut of SCREAM and HALLOWEEN: H20 would be a good place to start.




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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