VHS: Kindred, The (1987)

February 2, 2014 | By

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Film: Very Good / VHS Transfer: Good/ DVD Extras:  n/a

Label: Vestron Video / System:  NTSC / Released: September 18, 1991

Genre: Horror

Synopsis: After the death of his mother, a scientist discovers mom crafted a new kind of brother from human and sea DNA at the old family home.

Special Features:  n/a

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Review:

After making a modest impact with their low budget shockers The Dorm That Dripped Blood / Pranks (1982) and The Power (1984), co-directors / co-editors / co-writers Jeffrey managed to secure a decent budget and overall decent cast of working actors for this unusually effective horror in which a son discovers his mother was up to some serious genetic splicing at the family home for decades.

Taking girlfriend Sharon (Talia Balsam) and a group of co-workers up to the remote house, John (a rather stiff David Allen Brooks) eventually encounters the creature crafted by mom (Kim Hunter), named Anthony, and technically (on a genetic level), his brother.

Wormed into the group effort is Melissa (pretty but wooden Amanda Pays), supposedly an admirer and boastful ‘scholar’ of mom’s work, but really a mole sent by John’s supervisor at the lab, Dr. Lloyd (Rod Steiger), to get info and ultimately bring back the creature alive.

Obrow and Carpenter sort of work in bits of Alien (which itself was ostensibly a haunted mouse film, and little Anthony is kind of a sea-man version of the chest-buster with tentacles, but unlike their prior films, the atmosphere in The Kindred is really well-developed, and the creature(s) that inhabit the house are pretty effective, with excellent puppeteering and plenty of slimy goo.

The finale is fairly elaborate, draped in explosive goo and a creature transformation, but it’s an appropriate end-result of the structured plot in which John & Co. unearth increasingly disturbing details of mom’s private research. (The only silly conceit is John deciding early on there’s no reason to visit the basement, which gives Melissa free reign to not only find key information, but confront some of the lesser ‘siblings’ who failed to mature.)

Steiger has a fairly small role – he’s pops up twice around the middle between his bookend scenes – and shares a great moment with contemporary actress Hunter – but his final screen moments manage to be more ignominious than the wretched toupee he wears on his pate. He’s still fun to watch, but like John avoiding the basement, the reasoning the directors and three other writers use to keep the evil doctor close to hybrid brother Anthony in the finale is nonsensical.

The VHS editions of The Kindred were seemingly struck from an open matte print, making Carpenter’s compositions rather flat and dull, and allowing for a mic to briefly pop into frame-right during a hospital tracking shot. The audio’s also flat, making the later Pay TV airings the superior source until a proper DVD or Blu-ray edition finally materializes. (Synapse, who released Dorm in 2013, were initially poised to release Kindred, but complex issues mandated an unresolved delay.)

At least David Newman’s excellent score survives (in stereo) on LP and CD. Newman’s sue of a lullaby is very affecting, and his blend of orchestral and electronic elements is flawless.

After parting ways after this production, Carpenter went on to direct Soul Survivors (2001) and write & direct episodes of Grimm (2011-2014), whereas Obrow directed an adaptation of Dean R. Koontz’ Servants of the Twilight (1991), Legend of the Mummy (1998), and the teleplay They Are Among Us (2004).

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© 2014 Mark R. Hasan

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External References:

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