"It is destiny and destruction. It is ancient fear and a perilous promise. It is THE POWER", another 1980s slice of low budget terror on DVD as part of Scorpion Releasing's "Katarina's Nightmare Theater" line.
On the night of the full moon, teenagers Julie (Lisa Erickson), Matt (Ben Gilbert), and Tommy (Chad Christian) decide to hold a séance in the local graveyard. They have each brought talismans to protect them from harm. Unfortunately, Tommy's good luck charm is a clay carving his parents brought back from Mexico which is actually an idol of Aztec demon Destacatyl. After Tommy is telekinetically terrorized in his bedroom by the idol and Julie reads an article in the local tabloid about the death of the graveyard's night watchman, the trio brings their story to the article's author Sandy (Susan Stokey, THE TOMB). Although Sandy writes frequently about the paranormal, she is not a believer and does not want to help the kids. Sandy's visiting ex-boyfriend Jerry (Warren Lincoln, TORMENT), on the other hand, is intrigued and takes the idol promising to investigate it. Despite the nightmares and unexplainable happenings, Susan is merely annoyed with Jerry who is becoming obsessed with the idol. And despite all of Jerry's occult research, it is Julie that happens upon the origins of Destacatyl; but it may be entirely too late for them to warn him of the idol's powers and what it demands of its user in return.
Co-directors Jeffrey Obrow and Stephen Carpenter's (who also photographed) follow-up to THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD, THE POWER is the slicker but not necessarily better (especially given that DORM wasn't all that good to begin with). The pacing is simultaneously choppy and leaden, the acting poor (Jerry is annoying to start with and becomes more obnoxious than scary under the influence of the idol), the kids are dull seeming-leads that wind up as supporting characters, and the teaser and lengthy Mexico-set prologue (as well as the epilogue) seem tacked on more to get the film to feature length than to fill in the blanks. The prosthetic make-up effects of Matthew Mungle (TV's CSI) are at first a series of so-so sculpted facial applications, before going all out quite impressively for the budget in the film's climax (as well as the predictable shock ending). More so than THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD, the scoring here by Christopher Young demonstrates the richness – a harp-dominated piece seems to derive heavily from Saint-Saens' "Carnival of the Animals" – he would later bring to his slightly higher-budgeted New World Pictures efforts like HELLRAISER and FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC as well as his later higher-profile studio work.
A Film Ventures release, THE POWER hit VHS via Vestron Video before getting lost in the rental market shuffle. Scorpion Releasing's progressive, anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) transfer is darkish but the colors are dead on (particularly the blood and red gel lighting) suggesting that Obrow and Carpenter did not up the lighting budget when they decided to shoot with 35mm. The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track is clean, highlighting Young's score and the grating dialogue more so than any of the sound effects. Sadly, this was not one of the Film Ventures properties for which Scorpion was able to access the music stems for an isolated score (although it was released on LP in 1984).
There are no extras besides the film's trailer (1:40) and the introduction and postscript by hostess Katarina Leigh Waters who in this case has very little to say about the film (in fact, if I remember correctly, the introductory "all aboard" gag comes from Scorpion's DEATH SHIP release). She mentions that Obrow and Carpenter also directed THE KINDRED but makes no mention of THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD. She does, on the other hand, suggest that the Francis scenes in the film may have been tacked onto the film. The disc also includes trailers for GRIZZLY, DAY OF THE ANIMALS, DOGS, LURKERS, and SORCERESS. (Eric Cotenas)
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