Answered Prayers: A Prayer for the Dying (1987)

May 24, 2016 | By

Nope, not Blade Runner. Prayer Runner.

A Prayer for the Dying (1987) is a very flawed film – not traumatically, but enough to make it rather clumsy in parts – and yet for many it retains this peculiar aura that’s elevated a former theatrical dud into a minor cult film.

It features Mickey Rourke stretching his linguistic skills with dialogue delivered in a Belfast accent, director Mike Hodges (Get Carter) once again handling a story featuring ruthless characters deeply enmeshed in clashing crime worlds, and one of Bill Conti’s most lush and exquisite main themes supporting the grim tale of a runaway IRA hitman (more or less) laying low with a priest while three rival parties hunt him down.

It’s also a movie that’s been surrounded by misinformation – being pro-IRA, shredded by producers into a wonky mess – and yet it’s been available off & on on home video for several decades. The old Image NTSC laserdisc featured great sound but a grainy panned & scanned transfer, and the later widescreen MGM DVD lacked extras to contextualize the film within the careers of its director and star.

Had Prayer been released by other labels on Blu-ray, it may well have been a straight bare bones edition, but Twilight Time’s goosed their edition with an isolated score track featuring Conti’s music in uncompressed stereo DTS, plus new interviews with director Hodges and cinematographer Michael Garfath.

Besides Rourke in (arguably) his 1980s career and physical prime – his excellent performance in Barfly would follow that same year – Prayer also features Liam Neeson in a small role, and Alan Bates as a local mobster and full-time mortician / funeral director CEO.

Coming next: the epic dramas AdmiralMichiel de Ruyter (2015), Exodus (1960), and Risen (2016), plus Arrow Video’s Gangster VIP set.




Mark R. Hasan, Editor

Tags: , , , , ,


Comments are closed.