When Jenny cheated on her husband, he didn't just leave...he split. From master of terror Brian De Palma comes this stylish psychological thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final frame.
Carter Nix (Lithgow) is a respected psychologist, loving husband and devoted father who decides to take a year off to help raise his daughter. Carter's wife Jenny is pleased to have her attentive husband home – at first. When Carter shows obsessive behavior toward their daughter, Jenny becomes concerned, and to complicate matters, Jenny's old flame re-enters her life. But nothing can prepare her for the emergence of Carter's multiple personalities, and a fiendish plot to recreate the infamous experiments of his deranged father.
In the middle of editing his mind-bending thriller 'Raising Cain' (1992), Brian De Palma faced the prospect of losing his audience to an unconventional narrative fraught with nonlinear fragments and detours. De Palma eventually caved into his studio's wishes for a more traditional thriller with the story events presented in chronological order. 'Raising Cain' received a very mixed critical reception during its theatrical run and was only considered a minor work in De Palma's oeuvre. This two-disc Collector's Edition by Shout! Factory has given us Universal's original theatrical version (Disc One) and the long-awaited 'Director's Cut' (Disc Two), a fan edit culled together by De Palma enthusiast Peet Gelderblom.
Though both cuts contain different transitions between scenes, the footage is essentially the same in each. While the cinema version Univeral put out in 1992 was pretty good, the new cut Gelderblom put together based on De Palma's second draft screenplay transforms it into a masterful romantic thriller. Comparing these two editions truly demonstrates the power of editing. Since much of the film's fun depends on its many surprises and character entrances, I will refrain from disclosing any major spoilers.
Carter Nix (John Lithgow) and Jenny Nix (Lolita Davidovich) are an upper middle-class couple who seem to live a happy life with their daughter Amy in the Palo Alto area. Jenny is a successful oncologist while Carter is even more renowned as a respected child psychologist. But things at home are not always as comfortable as Jenny would like, especially when Carter watches Amy compulsively on the bedroom television courtesy of the surveilance camera he set up in his daughter's room. Carter has a troubled past that dates back to his father (also a doctor). Carter's psyche is where the film derives its schizophrenic personality and the audience is never sure Carter is who he professes to be. I will not reveal Carter's condition but the film often reminds me of George Romero's eponymous adaptation of Stephen King's 'The Dark Half,' released in theaters the following year.
The theatrical edition and new cut are different movies with alternate foci. The former concentrates principally on Nix and his family background in the first act. The latter fixates its opening scenes on Jenny and a past fling who returns to her life. The Director's Cut shifts its narrative axis in all sorts of directions but it is not ill-conceived or implausible. De Palma has different tricks up his sleave and his dream-within-a-dream vignette, for instance, is astonishing and breathtaking. He makes viewers work harder but they will be well-rewarded if they stick with him.
Score for the Original Theatrical Version: 3.5
Score for the Director's Cut: 4.5
Both cuts of 'Raising Cain' are presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on BD-50 discs. One will notice the markedly improved color and contrast compared to standard definition video. There are not any stability issues, although pockets of dirt creep into the picture. Shout doesn't engage in any blatant use of DNR. There are sprinkles of white, black, and blue speckles but these pop up momentarily only on occasion. Overall, a solid transfer.
Shout! gives us the option of DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and an uncompressed 2.0 track. I primarly focused on the 5.1 mix and dialog came across as clear and intellible. Pino Donnagio's score was a highlight and benefitted from the surround channels. 'Raising Cain' doesn't contain any loud explosions so front and rear channels remained very consistent and equally balanced throughout. Shout! has provided optional English SDH.
NEW Not One to Hold a Grudge: An Interview with John Lithgow (30:00, HD) - A wonderful interview in which the actor delivers many recollections about his three films with De Palma. Despite having not seen 'Raising Cain' since 1992, Lithgow's memory of the shoot is very vivid and detailed.
NEW The Man in My Life: An Interview with Steven Bauer (24:00, HD) - Bauer is consistently intelligent, charismatic, and gregarious in this sit-down chat about performing for De Palma in 'Scarface' (1983) and 'Raising Cain.'
NEW Have You Talked to the Others: An Interview with Editor Paul Hirsch (10:49, HD) - Hirsch talks about leaving Fox to work for De Palma on 'Raising Cain.' He also explains his methods of cutting to generate suspense.
NEW Three Faces of Cain: An Interview with Gregg Henry (15:47, HD) - The prolific actor who portrays Lt. Terri in 'Raising Cain' discusses his several collaborations with De Palma.
NEW The Cat's in the Bag: An Interview with Tom Bower (8:00, HD) - Bower offers his impressions of De Palma and gives specific examples of the director's style in 'Raising Cain.'
NEW A Little Too Late for That: An Interview with Mel Harris (8:43, HD) - The actress who plays Sarah explains how she got the part in 'Raising Cain' and the role her character plays opposite Davidovich's Jenny.
Original Theatrical Trailer (2:05 SD) - a full frame trailer recycled from Universal's DVD.
Still Gallery (2:09) - a collection of US and interational posters of 'Raising Cain' as well as production stills from the film's original press kit.
NEW Changing Cain: Brian De Palma's Cult Classic Restored Featurette (2:26, HD) - a very nice intro into the De Palma-approved 'Director's Cut' by longtime fan Peet Gelderblom.
NEW Raising Cain Re-Cut – A Video Essay By Peet Gelderblom (13:02 SD) - Previously available on the Internet, Gelderblom guides the viewer along as to how he reassembled 'Raising Cain' to the way De Palma originally intended it to be seen.
Shout! has delivered a dream package for fans of 'Raising Cain.' The Universal DVD was a bare bones but this two-disc edition supplies many new interviews with cast members that border on Criterion's level of superlative quality. This is a MUST-OWN for De Palma aficionados.