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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Cape Fear (1991)
(2021 Reissue)


Starring: Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange, Juliette Lewis, Joe Don Baker, Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck
Distributor: Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £19.99


Certificate: 18
Release Date: 13 September 2021

Fabulous Films Ltd/Fremantle Media Enterprises releases a 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray of the classic psychological thriller Cape Fear, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange and Juliette Lewis. Vicious psychopath Max Cady is released after a 14 year prison sentence for rape and battery, and begins an intensive terror campaign against his defence attorney Sam Bowden and his loved but unstable family. Cady appears to keep safely within the parameters of the law, and so Sam feels forced to take the law into his own hands. Events spiral beyond all sanity, resulting in a nightmare showdown in a houseboat on Cape Fear...

There are some interesting facts surrounding this film. It’s a remake of the 1962 cinematic thriller directed by J. Lee Thompson and starring Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum – which is itself based on the 1957 novel The Executioners by John D. MacDonald. Both Peck and Mitchum have cameo roles in this version. Scorsese agreed a film swap with Stephen Spielberg, who was originally in line to make the film. Spielberg wanted Scorsese’s Schindler’s List, and Scorsese himself was happy with getting Cape Fear, as he wanted to avoid any controversy after Goodfellas and The Last Temptation of Christ. Ultimately, it was a good arrangement. Scorsese’s direction is creepy and chilling, ramping up the aspects of threat and menace, and utilising some unusual camera angles. Some scenes have a sense of unreality, reflecting the reaction of the victims who just cannot believe this is happening to them.

I have to admit I’m not a fan of Robert De Niro’s acting, but in this one his portrayal is suitably psychotic, being outwardly friendly or passive aggressive, and not just threatening or violent but manipulative – taking his time to achieve his goal. Both he and Juliette Lewis (the daughter) were nominated for awards. De Niro’s commitment to the role cannot be denied after he not only allowed his body to be heavily tattooed with vegetable oils which take a few months to fade, but paid a doctor $5,000 to grind down his teeth in order to appear more menacing. After shooting the film he then paid $20,000 to have his teeth restored. Personally, I feel that Jessica Lange’s performance let’s the side down a little, without being too noticeable. It’s a film that is quite powerful and effective; the kind that you’re glad you watched but wouldn’t be on your regular repeat list.

What makes this more of an attractive purchase is the reversible sleeve artwork by Graham Humphreys, the double-sided fold-out sleeve art poster, and the extras which consist of The Making of Cape Fear, Deleted Scenes, Behind-the-Scenes on the Fourth of July Parade, On the Set of the Houseboat, Photograph Montages, Matte Paintings, Opening Credits and the Theatrical Trailer.


Ty Power

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