Digi-Schlock: STIGMATA (Scream Factory Blu-Ray)

Stigmata‘s mixture of horror and criticism of religion didn’t seem like the most commercial combination on its surface but it became a surprise box office hit at the end of the ’90s. It received a nice DVD after its theatrical release by MGM but has lain dormant in the home video world since then. Thankfully for its fans, Scream Factory’s relationship with MGM led to it picking up this title for a blu-ray reissue. The results offer a straightforward but worthwhile upgrade for its audience.

Stigmat-bluThe transfer used here doesn’t look like it got much restoration, as evidenced by some telltale bits of debris, but it offers an upgrade in color and detail nonetheless. It really benefits from the lossless sound capabilities of the blu-ray format both 5.1 and 2.0 stereo mixes are provided. The 5.1 version was used for this review and it exploits the surround-setup nicely, with lots of little multi-directional effects and a pleasingly complex reproduction of the film’s sound mix.

The film’s fans will be happy to know the extras from the old MGM DVD have been carried over. First up is a commentary track with director Rupert Wainwright. He is thoughtful and thorough in a low-key way, putting a heavy focus on the particulars of visual storytelling. Those interested in commentaries with a how-to aspect will appreciate the detail he goes into on his directorial technique.

Stigmata-03Next is a reel of deleted scenes that runs about 13 minutes. You get alternate versions of a few scenes, like a more explicit version of the opening titles montage and a somber but beautiful variation on the film’s ending. There are also a few new bits, like a pre-credits intro that devotes more time to the priest whose actions kickstart the plot. There is also a trailer that offers an effective distillation of the plot with plenty of visual flash.Stigmata-04

Elsewhere there are two featurettes. “Divine Rites” is a two-part featurette done in an EPK style. The first part gives a thumbnail history of stigmata as a phenomenon. The second part deals with the film itself, offering a series of soundbites from Wainright, producer Frank Mancuso Jr., stars Patricia Arquette and Gabriel Byrne, etc. Much of it is standard promotional fare but there are some interesting, thoughtful commentary from Wainwright and Mancuso, some insight into the film’s visual techniques and even a few comments from soundtrack composer Billy Corgan.

The other featurette is actually an episode of the History Channel series Incredible But True. It’s a 44-minute exploration of stigmata’s history with commentary from several experts to explain all the pertinent details, including portraits of several real-life stigmatics and how the Catholic Church deals with this phenomenon. A few reenactments get a little silly with the rock video visuals and editing but this mostly an intelligent and thought-provoking piece. The final inclusion is the music video for the film’s theme song, “Identify” by Natalie Imbruglia. It’s a standard rock video with film clips but the song itself is quite lovely.

All in all, this is a decent catalog upgrade that fans of Stigmata and other horror buffs should consider checking out.

To read Schlockmania’s film review for Stigmata, click here.

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