Black Rainbow (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review

Arrow Video has brought the 90's cable staple Black Rainbow to blu-ray. Is it worth the price? Check out our review.
Studio: Arrow Video
Release Date: March 9th, 1990 (theatrical) / July 7th, 2020 (blu-ray)
Run Time: 103 mins
Region Code: FREE
Picture: 1080p (1.85:1 aspect ratio)
Sound: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English DTS-HD Master 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH
Slipcover: No
Digital Copy: No  
Starring: Rosanna Arquette, Jason Robards, Tom Hulce, and Mark Joy
Written by Mike Hodges
Directed by Mike Hodges
Rating: R (language, some bloody violence, and brief nudity)


A young female medium on tour sees a hitman killing a whistleblower in her vision. The killer finds out about this and plans to kill her as well. The skeptical police, her manager father and a curious journalist try to protect her.

A man arrives at a small town general store looking for a woman. He is told where to find her and he travels there. After confirming that the woman he sees at the house is the woman he is looking for, he heads up to the house. He confronts the woman about her past and the film starts proper.

This pointless opening, one that steals away any suspense or tension the film tries to build, is one of many missteps this bottom of the barrel film makes. The film follows Martha (Rosanna Arquette) who travels from town to town wowing people with her ability to talk to the dead. While this is done is a pretty realistic way (from the audience’s POV at least), these scenes are all that interesting. We have seen scenes like this before, even in 1989. We had already seen Peter Popoff get caught lying about this very ability just a few years before BLACK RAINBOW was released and we have seen many more try to pry the gullible public from their precious money. 

During her first “show”, Martha predicts that a man, whose wife is talking to Martha about what she thought was her father, will be shot dead. This prediction comes true. Martha makes many more predictions, in her travels, that come true. These predictions don’t really have any purpose in the film outside of “shocking” the audience. The first prediction is the only one that means anything because the guy who was killed was a whistleblower for a company headed by a villain who isn’t a threat and doesn’t do anything outside of creepily eating an egg.

The film wants to be a horror film, supernatural thriller, and conventional thriller all at the same time, but it fails in every aspect of any of these genres. There is no horror in this film whatsoever outside of the fact that it is wanting to be called a horror film. The supernatural aspect of the film is all through Martha and we never see the “other side” so the supernatural aspect goes out the window. The film does become a thriller, kind of, a the end of the film, but doesn’t mean anything when you just spent the last hour and change boring me to death.

The only thing about this film I liked was Rosanna Arquette. She has always been a favorite of mine, ever since I first saw her in the Jean Claude Van Damme action film NOWHERE TO RUN. She has a lot of personality and can hold her own against any actor. Here she plays the church scenes very dry and morose (which was against her wishes, but came around when she saw how they played) and shows life when she isn’t trying to put on an act. I loved her in this film and wished that the film had delivered on the performance that she was giving it.

BLACK RAINBOW is a terrible film. It bored me to the point where I wanted to turn it off and call it a day. The only reason I didn’t is because of Rosanna Arquette who gives the film a performance that it doesn’t deserve. The film is dreadfully dull, plain in every way, and poorly written. I remember seeing the poster for this film in the video stores and wondering what kind of film the poster was advertising. If you had told me that the film was a complete waste of time, I don’t know if I would have believed you. The film was a mainstay in the video stores and I can not fathom why. Terrible film.


Presented in the film's original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, BLACK RAINBOW looks good. Colors, when they show up outside of earth tones, look nice and definition is also really good. A thin layer of grain lets us know that there was little to none in the way of DNR.

The film sounds good too. We get two DTS-HD MA tracks so there is some variety.


Audio Commentary by Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan

Audio Commentary by Mike Hodges

Magic in a Bottle: The Making of Black Rainbow (19m 19s, SD, 1.78:1)

Archival Interviews - These archival interviews made by producer Goldcrest at the time of production focus on the involvement of each actor in the film.

Jason Robards (2m 23s, SD, 1.33:1)

Rosanna Arquette (2m 17s, SD, 1.33:1)

Tom Hulce (2m 22s, SD, 1.33:1)

Archival Featurettes - These archival featurettes utilize the actor interview footage to focus on the specific themes of the film and “Behind the Rainbow” looks at the production as a whole while incorporating more complete interviews and footage.

8 Minutes (8m 22s, SD, 1.33:1)

Disasters (2m 12s, SD, 1.33:1)

Seeing the Future (2m 19s, SD, 1.33:1)

Behind the Rainbow (20m 32s, SD, 1.33:1)

Trailer (1m 41s, HD, 1.85:1)


BLACK RAINBOW is an awful film with a wonderful performance from Rosanna Arquette at the center. The film isn't worth it for the performance, but if someone were to make a video of some of her best moments from this film, then I would say watch that instead. Arrow Video, as usual, went above and beyond with this release. The film looks great and the special features are worth diving into, if you happen to like the film.


Post a Comment