Ritual (2001)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: Jennifer Grey, Craig Sheffer, Tim Curry
Extras: None

Jennifer Grey stars as Dr. Alice Dodgson, a physician who upon disobeying another doctor's direct orders, causes the death of a patient. As a result, Dr. Dodgson has her license to practice medicine suspended for two years.

Searching for a way to still be involved in medicine, she answers a Hospice care ad placed by a wealthy plantation owner (Craig Sheffer) living in Jamaica; seeking someone to care for his brother who believes himself to be under a witchdoctors' spell. After only a short while in Jamaica, Alice soon finds herself involved in voodoo curses, superstitions, corrupt police and island intrigue as she searches for a cure for her patient.

What turned out to be the final installment of the "Tales from the Crypt" movie trilogy – the first two being "Demon Knight" and "Bordello of Blood," "Ritual" has never seen a theatrical release like its predecessors. Filmed on location in Jamaica and the West Indies, "Ritual" is very loosely based on the 1943 Val Lewton classic, "I Walked With a Zombie." Though this version features decent performances by Jennifer Grey and Craig Sheffer. Sadly, Tim Curry is reduced to a mere cameo.

This updating, while containing more violence, some gore and sexuality, forgot that what made the original so good was the atmosphere and impending sense of dread produced by subtleness instead of over the top effects and gore.

Despite these complaints, "Ritual" did manage to hold my interest and does maintain the overall "Tales from the Crypt" atmosphere and creepy twist ending the series was known for. dimension has also added a introductiion by the Cryptkeeper on this DVD release, which was missing from its original broadcast and reason for huge criticism by the fans. Not sure how valuable the intro is because I didn't find it particularly funny, but at least it creates a sense of consistency for the series.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment debuts "Ritual" on DVD in its original 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio in a transfer that is enhanced for 16×9 TV sets. The image was speckled with minor dust and dirt particles throughout the feature and some minor compression and edge enhancement issues popped up now and then. Colors were bold while flesh tones appeared natural. Contrast and black levels seemed well balanced. Despite some issues with the transfer, the overall image was better than what one would find on a normal broadcast and didn't take away from watching the film.

Audio is presented as a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital surround track on the release. The sound field, though not overly aggressive, managed to capture sequences of beating drums and chanting quite nicely. Dialogue from the center channel was clear and free from distortion. There are no special features to be found on the disc. Not even a trailer for the movie or the other two Crypt films. How lame is that?

If you're a fan of movies involving voodoo such as the original Val Lewton film, or "Serpent And The Rainbow" – or even if you're just a completist and already own the first two "Tales from the Crypt" movies, "Ritual" may be worth a look.