The Power (1984)
Director(s): Jeffrey Obrow & Stephen Carpenter
Starring: Susan Stokey, Warren Lincoln, Lisa Erickson & J. Dinan Myrtetus
Released by: Scorpion Releasing
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
Independent distributor, Scorpion Releasing, is ready to send you for a roller coaster ride filled with possession and horrors thanks to The Power! This unique blending of genres showcases what happens when an ancient talisman ends up in the wrong hands and all hell breaks loose. From the directing duo who brought you The Dorm That Dripped Blood and The Kindred, The Power has been resurrected in a brand new HD master prepared to make you think twice before communicating with the spirit world. After a lengthy delay, let’s investigate just how powerful this flick is...
The Power centers on an Aztec idol that is stolen before ending up in the curious hands of three high school students determined to make contact with the spirit world. Unfortunately, the idols powers are proven very real when another young man steals it for his own purposes and is consumed by its horrific energy. Can The Power be contained or are the teens doomed to feel the idols wraith?
The alluring rainbow filled poster art for The Power is hypnotic, to say the least. A cautionary and doom-like tagline ices the cake for what is hoped to be an enjoyable viewing experience. As the film begins, a college professor is lecturing a class before a snarky student makes offhanded comments. The professor makes eye contact with an ancient idol sitting in his briefcase before setting his stern gaze on the student causing a bloody nose for the smart aleck. As the lecture concludes, the professor is greeted by a colleague who is firmly aware that the relic is consuming his friend. Before long, the professor is left alone with his prized possession until its power is revealed causing the educator to be elevated and impaled on a flagpole. Suffice to say, a terrific opening. Without missing a beat, we are whisked away to a desert land where the recently deceased professor’s friend is on the hunt for the relic. The energy of this ancient talisman continues to grow as the man learns it is now possessed by an elderly gentleman and young boy unwilling to part with it. The man does the noble thing and shoots them dead before making his claim on it. This is where The Power begins to test its audiences‘ patience. The film seems to start over yet again, opening with three high school students planning to conduct a seance later that evening. Nearly 20 minutes into the film, The Power fails to deliver a stable set of characters for the viewer to latch onto. Finally, the high schoolers meet at the local cemetery with personal items in tow they feel will protect them should anything go wrong. Of course, one student has the talisman that seems to be hot on everyone’s Christmas list. How did his parents come into possession of it before passing it on as a gift? An explanation is apparently not necessary. The seance commences with the teens awakening a power that is far beyond their expectations resulting in the death of a cemetery worker. Just when you thought you had a set of characters you could zone in on, alas more are on the way! The teens seek the guidance of a local tabloid writer who they believe can help them in their unique situation. Of course, the writer doesn’t put much faith in their story but her ex-boyfriend isn’t so sure. He decides to do some investigating on his own before getting consumed by the relic and stealing it for his own purposes.
The Power certainly has its share of issues finding its footing but it eventually gets there an hour into the film. As the idol appears in the writer and her former beau’s life, odd occurrences start. In an effective nightmare sequence, multiple hands emerge from the woman’s mattress and attempt to stab her before she awakes. The longer her ex keeps the idol in his possession, the worse his obsession becomes. He begins to morph into a demon-like creature and is determined to kill his former lover and the teens. The final act is a fun recovery for an otherwise sloppy first half. The man’s horrific transformation is a highlight with wonderful make-up effects taking center stage and a demise for the creature that is just as satisfying. The film concludes jumping ahead three years finding the female teenager in college. She is greeted by an earlier character that simply appears as a bookend for the film. He wishes to ask her about her experiences with the relic that have been recorded in a novel written by the tabloid writer that also survived. The film ends not making a tremendous amount of sense but leaves the viewer with an enjoyable jump scare before the end credits. The Power had a very bumpy start getting the viewer invested in a core group of characters. But, the film found its way by finally zeroing in on the three high schoolers and the tabloid writer. The film would have benefitted immensely had the makers spent less time setting up the relic’s drawn out history and more on those who would possess it for the duration of the film. Luckily, The Power has some great make-up effects and nifty nightmarish imagery that makes the viewing experience worth it. The Power may not be the greatest film, but it certainly has some choices moments, warts and all.
The Power is presented in a brand new HD anamorphic widescreen master (1.78:1). After being delayed due to a better print being located, The Power makes a decent splash on this release. The film certainly has its fair share of speckles and pops in the transfer, but detail looks nice with colors represented nicely. Black levels, while quite murky at times, are still presented as good as can be. Utilizing this better print, one can only imagine how much worse the film could have looked. Thankfully, Scorpion Releasing did the right thing and presents this film in arguably the best shape it will see.
The Power comes equipped with a Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono mix that has its fair share of hiccups as well. Instances of hiss and static are present throughout the mix but surprisingly never intrude on dialogue. Pops are heard, mostly during reel changes, but again nothing that deters the viewer from catching any moments of dialogue. A serviceable treatment that could easily have been far worse.
- Katarina’s Nightmare Theater: Katarina Leigh Waters hosts this optional featurette providing an intro and outro to the film scattered with informative facts and humorous hijinks.
- Original Trailer
- Scorpion Releasing Trailers: Includes Grizzly, Day of the Animals, Dogs, Lurkers and Sorceress.
The Power tripped over its feet for spending far too much time establishing the relic’s past with former owners and less on those that would steer the majority of the film. Thankfully, the film does well bouncing back with likable characters and effective make-up designs that save the film from being a total disappointment. Scorpion Releasing has again saved another cult favorite from obscurity and preserving it with the best care it is likely to receive. Special features are minimal but those jonesing for an early 80s effort in evil clay relics, The Power might be worth putting in your hands.