Tom Berenger (The Dogs of War, The Big Chill, Platoon, Major League) and Daphne Zuniga (The Sure Thing, Modern Girls, The Fly II, TV’s Melrose Place) set the screen ablaze in this controversial tale of a love affair between a priest and a sexy woman. A relentlessly entertaining tale of lust, betrayal and revenge with a shocking final twist, Last Rites administers equal measures of white-knuckle suspense… and white-hot romance. A Mafia hit… a vulnerable witness… a man of the cloth with a secret past. When Father Michael Pace (Berenger) finds himself drawn to the mistress (Zuniga) of a brutally murdered mobster, he risks his life, his standing and even his faith to protect her in this riveting thriller that will keep you guessing until the final frame. Beautifully shot on location in New York by legendary cinematographer David Watkins (Catch-22, Out of Africa, Chariots of Fire, Moonstruck) and featuring a strong supporting cast that includes Chick Vennera (The Milagro Beanfield War, Yanks), Anne Twomey (Deadly Friend, The Image Maker), Dane Clark (Moonrise, Skidoo), Paul Dooley (Breaking Away, Sixteen Candles), Tony Lip (GoodFellas) and Adrian Paul (Duncan MacLeod of TV’s Highlander).
For thoughts on Last Rites (1988), please check out our discussion on The Video Attic:
Last Rites (1988) comes to Blu-Ray with a digital AVC encoded 1080p transfer derived from an older high definition master that is passable but could be much improved. This transfer retains some amount of natural film grain despite some evidence of filtering. The disc provides a decent level of detail in brighter environments, but the film has a soft appearance which keeps many items from appearing distinct and crisp. The interior shots look pretty well rendered and give some character to the production design. Clarity and detail is spotty with flat skin tones that could stand to be a bit more natural.
Colors appear well saturated with some of the vibrant hues in the locations and outfits leaping off the screen. Instances of print damage are sporadic at worst, and this problem does not rank as the most noticeable on the set. Some facial features are noticeable in closeup shots such as the makeup and pores. Black levels are passable in their depth with only some of the shadowy scenes lacking some precise detail and looking a touch milky. This new presentation from Scorpion Releasing could use a refresh, but for an older master it gets the job done.
The Blu-Ray disc comes with a lossless DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio track that provides a nice listening experience. The score provides a distinct atmosphere for this story that maintains excellent fidelity. There are no moments where it overshadows competing sounds, instead allowing elements to work together in harmony. Dialogue is well defined and does not get lost among the competing sounds. Environmental elements such as rain and automobile sounds are rendered cleanly alongside everything else. You do not feel the drawback of age-related anomalies such as distortion, drop-outs or the like. The audio portion of the disc holds up much better than the video. Scorpion Releasing has given this film a very strong audio presentation. This release includes English SDH subtitles.
- Interview with Writer/Director Donald P. Bellisario: A ten-minute interview with Bellisario in which he discusses developing the script, his uncertainty over where the story would end up while writing, close friends who served in a religious capacity, the differences between shooting a feature and episodic television, the themes of the narrative, the casting of the film, the locations utilized and more.
- Trailers: The minute-and-a-half trailer for Last Rites is provided here. There are also trailers provided for Cold Heaven, Beyond Therapy, The Killer Elite and Rollerball.
Last Rites (1988) attempts to set up an engaging modern noir that weaves in splashes of the erotic thriller genre. This attempt feels like it could yield some steamy or cheesy fun, but the film never falls firmly on either side. The actors have fine chemistry with one another, but the actual struggle faced by our priest protagonist never truly feels like earned. The resistance to “temptation” goes out the window faster than a speeding bullet, and once we get to the “sexy” scenes the eroticism is undercut by some over-the-top tongue usage. The way the narrative resolves feels very reductive for women, but it is in line with the noir genre. There are individual moments that are entertaining, but overall this movie is too clunky and unoriginal to feel like a vital addition to the genre. Scorpion Releasing and Ronin Flix have released a new Blu-Ray with a slightly lacking A/V presentation and not too much in terms of special features.
Last Rites (1988) is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Scorpion Releasing and Ronin Flix have supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.