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Winter Kills - Winter Kills(Blu Ray) [Powerhouse - 2020]

Based on the bestselling novel by Richard Condon, Winter Kills is the 1979 movie directed by William Richert. The film follows the story of the Kegan family in the years after the assassination of US President Timothy Kegan in 1960. Nineteen years later, Timothy’s half-brother Nick Kegan (Jeff Bridges) is introduced to a dying man who claims to have been the second gunman who shot Timothy. If this tale sounds a little familiar, the story draws inspiration from the true-life mystery surrounding the assassination of President John F Kennedy. On the word of the assassin Nick heads to Philadelphia to retrieve the gun he used from its hiding place, however after doing so Nick’s companions are murdered and the car containing the weapon and their corpses is stolen. This is merely the beginning for Nick as he follows clue after clue, leading him further down the rabbit hole.

Winter Kills is a complex (some might say convoluted), political satire that relies heavily on the talents of its all-star cast. Jeff Bridges is superb in his role as Nick, while John Huston provides some great comic relief as his Father, the patriarch of the Kegan family. They are ably assisted by a cast of icons including the ever brilliant and deranged Anthony Perkins, Eli Wallach, Toshiro Mifune, Tomas Milian and the great Joe Spinell, whilst there is even a cameo appearance from Hollywood royalty in Elizabeth Taylor. This new disc from Powerhouse films is drawn from a new 4k print and features both the film’s original 87-minute theatrical cut from 1979 and its 1983 reissue that runs 4 minutes longer. It is a real pleasure to see this film looking so good on Blu-ray for the first time. The picture is clean and crisp, and the colours are natural with no bleed.

This was a first time viewing for me and whilst some of the visual effects are incredibly dated, the explosion in the coffee shop was particularly poor, I enjoyed all the plot twists and the performances of the cast. The disc, a limited edition of 3,000 copies, is loaded with great bonus material, there is an audio commentary from director Richert, and a fascinating documentary about the film called Who Killed Winter Kills? It is also really nice to see director Richert and Bridges back together again chatting candidly about the film’s production. There are various other shorts including an interview with Richert who reveals some great stories about his cast, specifically Elizabeth Taylor, and there is a great 30-minute documentary about the political side of Winter Kills, as well as the usual trailers and image gallery.

Overall, this is a great package for a film that whilst flawed is still a very enjoyable viewing experience. As already mentioned, the incredible performances of such a strong cast make it worth 90 minutes of anyone’s time, and the plot twists keep you guessing right to the end. Jeff Bridges, in particular, is superb as the protagonist and Elizabeth Taylor, whilst only in the film briefly, adds something special to the proceedings. You could do a lot worse than check out this underrated film.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Darren Charles
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