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Of Unknown Origin

Blu Ray

  • Score
    from 1 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • Of Unknown Origin: a suspenseful, realistic meltdown against a rat.

    Of Unknown Origin Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
  • The AVC encoded image (1.85:1), from a new 2K scan of the interpositive, offers detailed visuals with clear rodent features, defined human displays, and vibrant colors against an authentic NYC backdrop, balancing softness with clarity despite cinematographic constraints.

  • Audio
  • The 2.0 DTS-HD MA sound mix of 'Of Unknown Origin' effectively captures the rat's menace and Bart's distress, with clear sound effects and dialogue, adequate scoring, and minimal hiss, enhancing the horror ambiance.

  • Extra
  • Special commentary and insightful interviews reveal the behind-the-scenes of 'Of Unknown Origin,' spotlighting the challenges and creative triumphs in casting, production, and the film's mixed reception, alongside humorous anecdotes and technical tidbits.

  • Movie
  • 1983's Of Unknown Origin portrays a tense, escalating battle of wits between a man and a disruptive rat in his home, blending psychological breakdown with dark thrills, underpinned by a strong lead performance by Peter Weller.

    Video: 70

    The AVC encoded image of "Of Unknown Origin" Blu-ray, presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and sourced from a new 2K scan of the interpositive, elevates the viewing experience significantly. The meticulous attention to detail is commendable, particularly in the rendering of the film’s more unsettling visuals, such as the unnervingly close views of the rodent antagonist, whose greasy fur and discolored dentition are displayed with an almost distressing clarity. This level of detail extends beyond the creature features, with everyday elements of the protagonist's household—ranging from ornate decoration to the textures of clothing and even nuanced facial expressions—presented with a sharpness that breathes life into each frame. The occasional softness observed does little to detract from the overall clarity, successfully navigating the film’s original cinematographic limitations.

    Color reproduction on this Blu-ray is robust and faithful, retaining the film's intended palette while enhancing it with vivid primaries and capturing the stark, cold urban environment of New York City with striking accuracy. The distinctive hues of Tweed's outfits provide a notable contrast, injecting a visual vibrancy that complements the film's darker themes. Additionally, the depiction of blood manages to be both stark and aesthetically poignant, never losing its impact amidst the varied palette. Skintones come across as natural and consistently maintained throughout, contributing to an immersive viewing experience.

    Delineation is managed well, effectively handling scenes shrouded in limited lighting without losing detail to shadow, ensuring that darker moments remain visually coherent. This release is remarkably clean as well, free from any significant signs of damage or wear that could detract from the viewing experience. Such meticulous restoration and encoding work make this Blu-ray a commendable effort, offering both fans and newcomers alike a splendid way to experience "Of Unknown Origin" with a visual quality that respects its source material while bringing its chilling narrative to life with renewed vigor.

    Audio: 65

    The 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio mix of "Of Unknown Origin" serves its purpose effectively, concentrating on the audio elements that underscore the relentless pursuit between Bart and his rodent adversary. The sound mix meticulously captures every sound detail, from the unsettling noises of scratching and gnawing that amplify the tension, to the nuances of household chaos as Bart engages in his battle with the pest. These sound effects are given proper prominence in the mix, enhancing the film's atmosphere of dread and suspense. Additionally, the dialogue is rendered with clarity, from the intense vocal expressions during moments of panic to the more subdued tones of a weary Bart, ensuring every word is understood.

    Instrumentation in the score is satisfactory, playing a supportive role that underlines rather than overshadows the on-screen action. While it might not stand out as exceptional, it integrates well with the overall sound design, contributing to the building tension without dominating the soundscape. Throughout, a mild hiss is perceptible in the background, a minor drawback in an otherwise finely tuned audio experience.

    Overall, this audio presentation does an admirable job of drawing the listener into the psychological battle waged within Bart's home. The defined sound effects and clean dialogue capture the essence of his struggle, complementing the visual terror with an auditory experience that is both engaging and unsettling. While the score may not be notably outstanding, its execution is competent, ensuring that it contributes positively to the film’s eerie ambiance. The minor issue of background hiss does little to detract from a sound mix that excels at making the viewer feel every moment of Bart’s ordeal.

    Extra: 70

    The extra section of the "Of Unknown Origin" Blu-ray presents an insightful exploration behind the scenes, featuring commentary from actor Peter Weller and director George P. Cosmatos that provides a deep dive into the filmmaking process. Interviews with key contributors like screenwriter Brian Taggart and producer Pierre David give a comprehensive look into the creative challenges and triumphs encountered during production. Taggart's account reveals the thoughtful adaptation process from novel to screen, shedding light on casting decisions and thematic intentions, whereas David's anecdotes offer a glimpse into the logistical aspects of production, including an amusing tidbit involving Warner Brothers and Shannon Tweed. The inclusion of a less focused interview with Louis Del Grande adds a lighter, more whimsical element to the extras, juxtaposed with his nostalgic frustration over his "Scanners" role. The theatrical trailers round out the package, offering a peek at the promotional efforts for this cult classic.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Commentary: Features actor Peter Weller and director George P. Cosmatos.
    • Interview with Brian Taggart: A deep dive into Taggart's transition from playwright to screenwriter and his experiences on this project.
    • Interview with Pierre David: Focuses on the production's origins, casting anecdotes, and visual effects challenges.
    • Interview with Louis Del Grande: A lighter, more eclectic conversation, with little focus on "Of Unknown Origin."
    • Theatrical Trailer #1: A brief promotional snippet for the film.
    • Theatrical Trailer #2: Another short promotional piece for the film.

    Movie: 65

    Of Unknown Origin," directed by George P. Cosmatos and released in 1983, manages to encapsulate a compelling narrative within its simple premise: a man's escalating battle against a rogue rat in his domicile. This film, which marks Peter Weller's first lead role, thrives on its straightforwardness as it revolves nearly entirely around the conflict between man and rodent. The movie distinguishes itself by clinging to this minimalistic approach, avoiding the trapping of convoluted subplots to instead delve into a psychological warfare that veers from slightly disturbing to outright grotesque. Through Cosmatos' focused direction and Brian Taggart's adaptation of Chauncey G. Parker III's novel, the movie crafts a scenario that is both relatable and haunting, with Weller's performance guiding the audience through a visceral experience of suspense and repulsion.

    Central to the story is Bart (Weller), a rising corporate star, who finds himself battling not just for his home's integrity but for his sanity, as efforts to outmaneuver the invasive rat fall short. The narrative skilfully incorporates elements of Bart's personal and professional life, setting up a backdrop that adds depth to his desperation and determination. Supporting characters like Clete (Louis Del Grande), the handyman, contribute to the movie's thematic richness, emphasizing the struggle between man's intellect and nature's indomitable will. The film does an excellent job highlighting Bart's attachment to his home—a product of his own labor—and the invasion by the rat serves not just as a literal nuisance but a figurative challenge to his very essence and self-reliance.

    Cinematically, "Of Unknown Origin" engages with themes of obsession and struggle, drawing parallels with classics such as "Moby Dick" and "The Old Man and the Sea" to amplify Bart's internal and external conflicts. Despite some narrative detours that may seem superfluous—like the fleeting romantic tension between Bart and his secretary—the film returns persistently to its core conflict, painting a vivid picture of a man descending into madness in the face of an unyielding adversary. Through its blend of psychological drama and horror elements, "Of Unknown Origin" stands out as an enthralling examination of the human spirit tested by a seemingly insurmountable challenge, delivered with a level of craftsmanship that keeps viewers on the edge until the very end.

    Total: 70

    Of Unknown Origin" arrives on Blu-ray breathing new life into a somewhat obscure but compelling artifact of early 80s suspense. The film distinguishes itself not through the use of extravagant creatures or over-the-top effects, but with its sheer straightforwardness and a palpable sense of escalating tension. The battle of wits and wills between Peter Weller's Bart and his adversary, a notably large rat, is both grounded and engrossing. The movie benefits tremendously from Weller's performance, whose gradual descent into obsession is portrayed with a gripping realism. Director George P. Cosmatos masterfully crafts sequences filled with suspense and subtle horror, making this confrontation seem both extraordinary and believably personal.

    Technical presentation on this Blu-ray is commendable, giving due justice to the film's tight, atmospheric storytelling. Video quality shines, capturing the intricate details of Bart's increasingly disheveled world and the dimly lit, suspense-filled confrontations with his nemesis. The audio track is well balanced, accentuating the eerie silences and sudden, jarring sounds that punctuate Bart's descent into madness. The disc doesn't skimp on special features either, offering insights into the film's making that will surely appease aficionados and newcomers intrigued by its premise and execution.

    In conclusion, this Blu-ray release of "Of Unknown Origin" is a highly recommended acquisition for fans of psychological thrillers and creature features alike. Its strength lies in its simplicity — a man versus an unusually daunting rat — elevated by Peter Weller's compelling performance and Cosmatos' adept direction. While the film may tread on the edge of the absurd, its unwavering commitment to the story and character dynamics renders it a fascinating watch. With excellent technical quality and enriching supplemental content, this release offers a fresh opportunity to experience one of the more unique confrontations cinema has offered from the early 80s era.