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Title: Lady in White

Movie: :4stars:
Video: :3.5stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :4stars:

HTS Overall Score:77

Frank LaLoggia’s “Lady in White” is one of those lost 80s horror films that bring back a load of childhood memories. It was never exceptionally scary, but I don’t think it was meant to be (although as a 6 year old child watching this on TV I was terrified). The more I think and analyze the film it really isn’t even HORROR in the most obvious definitions of the term. I’d say it’s more like a ghost mystery. The young child who plays the main role acts the role of a sleuth and the ghosts and dead children act more as the fuel and clues used to solve a murder mystery that has eluded the police for over 10 years. Some elements of the film seem almost “kiddie” in nature, but under the surface there is a maturity and cleverness that slips through despite the children and the lilting songs of Bing Crosby.

The tale is told through a flashback from an adult horror writer who is going back to his home town of Willowpoint Falls. Back then there had a string of murders that lasted for over 10 years, and while they had died down recently, they were about to spring back up again. Things are about as gay and happy as they can be in 1962 America, but it’s Halloween and young Frankie (played by Lukas Haas) is trapped inside of a school closet when he is visited by the ghost of a young girl who was murdered those 10 years ago. Soon after he views the incidents of her murder (minus who killed her) the boy is assaulted by the man coming back to retrieve an item that had been lost during the murder years back. A poor black janitor (played by Henry Harris) is accused of the crime of assaulting young Frankie and charged with the murders that have plagued the town.

The thing is, Frankie knows that it isn’t the janitor. Digging down into the grate where the lost item was being looked for, he finds a ring that leads the boy down a path that will unveil the killer, but not before he may end up regretting finding out WHO it actually is. The path to finding the truth is hard for a young boy, but the ghost of the murdered girl is not the only ghost he can see. Up on the cliffs where the young girl’s body was found he comes across her old house. A house now haunted by a beautiful lady in white. A lady who has more than a few stakes in this game as well and brings her own clues to the table too. With the help of his brother Geno (Jason Presson), Frankie is bound and determined to root out his attacker and find out just who murdered the ghost that is plaguing his life.

I firmly stand behind my decision to NOT label “Lady in White” as horror. It really is a supernatural murder mystery, and when viewed in that vein is highly satisfying. Strangely enough the film is rated R, but for the life of me I can’t figure out why. I’ve seen MUCH worse in a PG-13 movie, and the thematic elements are nowhere near R territory. Even the swearing is kept to a minimum. It’s a strange rating to be sure, but don’t let it keep you away from watching it if you’re turned off by the letter rating. “Lady in White” has a very strange feeling and tone to it, that can’t be replicated in many other supernatural outings. It reminds me of a darker and more mature version of “The Goonies” and “The Hardy Boys” blended together with actual ghosts. Especially when you consider the upbeat 50’s/60s music that plays along with the film, giving it a slightly lilting and artificially happy feel, despite the obviously morbid storyline.

There are a few flaws along the way, but I find that the director’s cut fixes most of those editing flaws with a slight tweaking of certain scenes, and a few additional bits of information added. Personally I’m not a fan of the extended director’s cut, as it adds in some superfluous scenes that actually detract more than they help the story along. While being nowhere near CREEPY, it is fascinating to watch (as many a good mystery is) and by the time you find out who the real killer is I was once again on the edge of my seat. Frank LaLoggia likes to keep the clues hidden until the last possible moment, so that the audience has less of a chance of figuring it out prematurely. A tactic that I highly applaud, as too many movies are ruined by heavy foreshadowing and clues way before they should.


Rated R by the MPAA

Video :3.5stars:
“Lady in White” was another one of the films that Scream Factory was having trouble getting ahold of proper elements. Especially with a version that included the theatrical, directors cut AND extended director’s cut. While it is NOWHERE near as obvious and sketchy as “Hellhole”, “Lady in White” shows a few minor aging flaws that keep it from being really good. Colors are usually warm and slightly ruddy in the daylight sequences, but adopts a bluer tinge for the night time, and a slightly dingier look too. Contrast is solid, but black levels are kind of muddy and crush a bit here and there. There are some speckles and lines that are present, but they come and go without showing up too often. Fine detailing is solid enough, and while the old fashioned cut and paste optics and special effects do look a bit pedestrian, this is easily the best I have ever seen the film look.

Audio :4stars:
Like they always do, Scream has provided both an English DTS-HD MA lossless track to enjoy as well as a 2.0 track in the same lossless format. Naturally the audio seems more immersive and powerful in the fully fleshed out 5.1 track, but the 2.0 is no slouch either. Dialog is strong and clear, anchored up front in the center channel, and the front sound stage is awash with the rustling of leaves outside the old lady’s house and the lightly lilting of Bing Crosby’s crooning. Surrounds are used rather nicely, allowing for the music to flow organically through the film and the ambient noises of the boys escapades come through crisply and cleanly. Now here’s where it gets interesting. The track was ALMOST amazing, but there is a distinct balance issue between the dialog and the effects/music/LFE. Dialog is recorded a decent amount lower than all of those, so the music and the thundering bass (which is quite impressive I might add) almost overpower the dialog unless it’s turned down, and then the voices are so low that you have to turn it up. It’s the only frustrating experience I had with the disc and even that is not a big deal.

Extras: :4stars:

Disc 1
• Director's Cut of the film (117 minutes)
• Extended Behind the Scenes Footage – production and post production
• Introduction by Frank LaLoggia
• Audio Commentary with Frank LaLoggia
• Behind the Scenes Footage with introduction by Frank LaLoggia
• Deleted Scenes with introduction by Frank LaLoggia
• Promotional Short Film
• Theatrical & Alternate Trailer
• TV & Radio Spots
• Behind the Scenes Photo Montage
• Extended Photo Gallery
Disc 2
• Extended Director's Cut (126 minutes) with never-before-seen footage
• Original Theatrical Cut (113 minutes)

Overall: :4stars:

I hadn’t seen “Lady in White for at least a decade, maybe more, but I was more than pleased with Scream’s handling of the disc. Even though it’s not labeled as one of their select line, or listed as a special edition, the package is easily up there in terms of the amount of goodies they packed inside. 3 different versions of the film AND a whole host of other extras and commentaries. I will say that the regular director’s cut is the smoothest of all three, with the extended director’s cut having some superfluous additions and the theatrical having some key points tweaked and adjusted. However, it doesn’t matter WHICH version you want to watch, as the inclusion of all three is a great choice for fans of the film. Audio and video look and sound better than expected from the rumors of source element hell, but those extras are to die for. Definitely recommended for fans of ghost mysteries.

Additional Information:

Starring: Lukas Haas, Len Cariou, Alex Rocco
Directed by: Frank LaLoggia
Written by: Frank LaLoggia
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Studio: Scream Factory
Rated: R
Runtime: 117 Minutes (Director's Cut) / 126 Minutes (Extended Director's Cut) / 113 Minutes (Theatrical Cut)
Blu-ray Release Date: Sept 27th, 2016

Buy Lady in White Blu-ray on Amazon

Recommendation: Recommended

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