(US - 1975)
Directed by J. Lee Thompson. Written by Max Ehrlich. Cast: Michael Sarrazin, Jennifer O'Neill, Margot Kidder, Cornelia Sharpe, Paul Hecht, Tony Stephano, Normann Burton, Anne Ives, Debralee Scott, Steve Franken, Fred Stuthman, Addison Powell. (R, 105 mins)
Gifted with a vividly distinctive title that's ultimately more memorable than the film itself, THE REINCARNATION OF PETER PROUD has become one of those horror movies from a bygone era whose scarce availability has led to somewhat of an inflated reputation that it's some mythical, lost masterpiece. Rarely seen since its 1980s VHS release and its long-ago days in regular rotation on late-night TV in what had to be a drastically-cut version, PETER PROUD was never released on DVD but is now reincarnated on Blu-ray courtesy of Kino Lorber (because physical media is dead). It's likely that some may find it a little too dry and too skimpy with the shocks, considering its contemporaries were the likes of THE EXORCIST and THE OMEN. In its own way, THE REINCARNATION OF PETER PROUD, from the masters of erotica-infused horror at Bing Crosby Productions, carved its own niche for hard-R notoriety with its then-copious amounts of nudity and occasionally explicit sex, particularly an extended Margot Kidder bathtub masturbation scene that's usually the first and only thing anyone who's seen the film can recall whenever it's mentioned. "The Bathtub Scene" is also the subject of two different extras on the Blu-ray, which may further contribute to the legend that it's the 1970s horror geek equivalent of the LAST TANGO IN PARIS butter scene. But while Kidder leaves little to the imagination, it's still not the quite the teenage spank bank fodder that time and three decades of limited accessibility have made it out to be.
host SNL in 1978), is fine as the troubled Proud, though his performance requires more reacting than acting and a lot of driving, as the first hour offers so much of Peter behind the wheel that it threatens to become a supernatural road movie. THE REINCARNATION OF PETER PROUD is a middling effort from journeyman director J. Lee Thompson, whose career ran that gamut from revered classics like 1961's THE GUNS OF NAVARONE and 1962's CAPE FEAR to later Cannon essentials like 1983's 10 TO MIDNIGHT and 1989's KINJITE: FORBIDDEN SUBJECTS. There isn't much in the way of suspense or scares as the story plays out, requiring Thompson offer a little more skin than usual for this sort of thing, but there is one of Jerry Goldsmith's most unusual scores, one that eventually turns distinctively Goldsmithian near the end but for the most part, is a lot of eeric electronically-based sounds and effects. The most effective scene isn't Kidder's much-ballyhooed adult bathtime, but an emotional and heartbreaking one where Ann introduces Peter to her dementia-addled grandmother (Anne Ives), whose mind immediately returns from wherever it was as she sees her long-dead son Jeff in Peter and asks where he's been all this time. Most horror fans satisfying their curiosity about PETER PROUD won't be asking that when this reaches its conclusion, but for cult movie connoisseurs and fans of the recently deceased Kidder and the somewhat forgotten Sarrazin (who died in 2011), it's at least worth a look.