The Ninth Configuration – New Release DVD Review

From William Peter Blatty, renowned author of The Exorcist, comes one the most unique and extraordinary films on screen, The Ninth Configuration, a taut theological thriller from 1980, which makes its UK Blu-ray debut courtesy of Second Sight.

Deep in a forest of pine trees near the coast of Washington State stands a secluded gothic castle, commandeered by the Pentagon for use as a military asylum. Determined to establish the true nature and origin of the men’s mental illness, the Pentagon enlists the services of Colonel Kane (Stacy Keach – American History X), a brilliant, yet strangely unorthodox psychiatrist.

With a reserved calm he indulges the inmates’ delusions, allowing them free rein to express their fantasies. But some are wary of the newcomer and his methods. There may be more to Kane than meets the eye and the insanity escalates towards an explosive revelation.

Here’s our review:

The Film

A true cult classic which evades easy categorisation or even simple description, The Ninth Configuration mashes philosophy, religion, farce, comedy, horror and more together in order to create a uniquely fascinating film. This is a film in which men rehearse their Shakespeare for a performance aimed at dogs, in which soda machines are in need of exorcism and which can take you from a philosophical discussion on the nature of good and evil straight into bawdy farce and then to creeping horror.

The Ninth Configuration is an immensely rewarding watch, but you do have to go in open minded. Prepare for the unexpected if you will.

Audio and Visuals

The print here is in decent condition and looks clean and focused. There’s nothing wrong with it but equally there’s nothing too special either. The score for this film though is so haunting and unsettling that it needs to be treated with respect and thankfully it has been. The audio comes through beautifully, enriching the film in the way that only a truly great score can.

Presentation

The film’s familiar artwork covers the box and compliments it well. Once we load the disc we are greeted with a rather attractively designed menu system which is as easy to navigate as it is good to look at. A solid effort here, although nothing which makes it particularly stand out from the crowd.

Extras

This release comes with a large selection of bonus features which are as informative as they are varied. The disc includes an audio commentary by writer/director William Peter Blatty and Mark Kermode, interviews with core members of the cast and crew, an archived introduction to the film by Kermode and the obligatory deleted scenes and outtakes. Everything on the disc here serves to increase your understanding and appreciation of this cult classic and there are enough features to make you feel that you’re really getting you money’s worth here.

Overall

A compelling and challenging film which haunts you, makes you laugh and challenges you to think all at once. This release comes with enough valuable extras to keep you quiet for a little while after the film itself has ended, and seek only to give you a wider appreciation and knowledge of the film and its themes. A strong release which will satisfy existing fans and is well suited to introducing a newcomer to Blatty’s work.


The Ninth Configuration is available today (25th April) on Blu-Ray and DVD, will you be checking it out? Let us know in the comment box below!

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One comment

  1. I can’t say I’ve ever heard of this but reading this excellent review has me definitely interested.

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