Color, 1983, 105 mins. 37 secs. / 101 mins. 25 secs.
Directed by Nico Mastorakis
Starring Joseph Bottoms, Kirstie Alley, James Daughton, Lana Clarkson, Keir Dullea, Charles Nicklin, Marina Sirtis
Scorpion Releasing (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9), Image Entertainment (DVD) (US R0 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)
Essentially Greece's answer to Ulli Lommel by way of Andy Sidaris, Nico Mastorakis has made an industry out of putting together bizarres casts in a string of video-friendly thrillers, action films, and comedies, with the genres often crossing over within the same movie. Technically he started directing in the early '70s on a string of local TV productions, but his first notable feature was the atypical (and completely absurd) extreme horror film, Island of Death. It took eight years for audiences to see another film by him, but in 1984 he came out with guns blazing with two films (both featuring Keir Dullea, weirdly enough), the sci-fi drama The Time Traveler (originally titled The Next One) and his most high-profile release in America, Blind Date. That latter film would enjoy a longer shelf life than the average thriller primarily thanks to its high celebrity skin factor with topless scenes provided by a young Kirstie Alley (pre-Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan), Marina Sirtis (pre-Star Trek: The Next Generation), and drive-in vet Lana Clarkson, who was murdered by Phil Spector in 2003. The film itself boasts one of the more absurd premises of the era, drawing inspiration from the previous decade's giallo craze but giving it a fresh gloss of crackpot sci-fi, centerfold-friendly nudity, and a trendy electronic pop soundtrack by Stanley Myers and South African singer John Kongos.
A taxi driver with a surgical fetish is killing off the women of Athens, regardless of whether they're respectably middle class or a random street hooker. Meanwhile multilingual ad man Jonathon Ratcliff (Bottoms) kicks off a romance at work with coworker Claire (Alley), who winds up in bed with him just in time for his friends to burst into his house for the creepiest surprise party ever. However, Jonathon is also hung up on Rachel (Clarkson), a blonde bombshell and former flame (maybe, it isn't exactly clear) whom he saved from a gang attack at some point in the past. Now he keeps stalking her at night, only to be spotted while she's having a parked session with Dave (Daughton) that results in a foot chase with Jonathon running smack into a tree. Suddenly our peeping tom is afflicted with a case of hysterical blindness that can only be alleviated by fluffy-haired Dr. Steiger (Dullea), who whips up some microchip brain alterations that allow Jonathon to see the computerized outlines of his surroundings by, uh, wearing his Walkman. As it turns out, Jonathon has also crossed paths with the serial killer whose list of victims starts to hit dangerously close to home. Oh, and don't forget: "Jonathon Ratcliff will return in Run, Stumble and Fall."
Blind Date was given a modest theatrical release by New Line in 1984, but it didn't really take off until it hits cable TV the following year and also enjoyed a healthy VHS life from Lightning Video. Much of its success had to do with riding the early wave of erotic thrillers that would soon become a tidal wave in the '90s, with the celebrity nudity certainly helping its reputation as well. In 2002, Mastorakis released the film on DVD under his Omega Entertainment imprint through Image Entertainment along with nearly his entire catalog. The anamorphic 1.78:1 DVD of Mastorakis' extended director's cut (105 minutes versus the previous 101) features some pretty hideous filtering and weird compression, a (very fake-sounding) 5.1 English track, and optional subtitles in Greek, German, French, or Russian. Extras include a newly-created trailer, a couple of exceptionally tacky music videos (John Kongos' title song and Myers' main theme), talent filmographies, bonus Mastorakis trailers (In the Cold of the Night, Bloodstone, and Sky High), and "The Films of Nico Mastorakis Part One" (55m57s), a career-spanning overview structured around an interview with the director interspersed with lots of film clips. It also offers advice about "oregano smoking for proffesional [sic] actors only" and features an outrageously extended look at Alley's love scene "from the ungraded dailies," purely for historical reasons of course.
In 2019, Scorpion Releasing brought the film to Blu-ray with a "brand new 2018 4K scan of the original camera negative of the director's cut supervised by Nico Mastorakis." (And it's billed as "the ultimate hi-tech thriller," which... is debatable.) Not surprisingly, the image quality is a massive upgrade in every respect over the old DVD with daylight scenes in particular looking far more detailed and healthy. The framing is also improved with the wider 1.85:1 aspect ratio showing more on the sides and moving up a little bit vertically. That said, Mastorakis' penchant for fiddling with filters and other video chicanery is still in evidence here; the worst-looking segment of prior releases (an early bit with Bottoms walking around Athens wearing a stunning "I Love My Dentist" shirt) looked like it was on the verge of collapsing before, and it's pretty rough here for some reason. (Compare the second frame grabs below.) That means the inconsistency you see here is likely how the master was delivered, so take it for what it is. The 5.1 remix is presented here along with a more satisfying 2.0 stereo version, both DTS-HD MA. The shorter theatrical cut is also included (1.78:1 widescreen) in standard def from a very dated, shaky source and doesn't make for terribly enjoyable viewing. The "Films of Nico Mastorakis Part One" video is carried over here along with the two music videos, and you also get a different (and very spoiler-y) trailer as well as the older DVD and VHS versions and a bonus one for Nightmare at Noon. New here is a lengthy still gallery (5m34s) complete with the entire, NSFW cast photo spread published in Playboy.
SCORPION RELEASING (Blu-ray)
IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT (DVD)
Reviewed on January 12, 2019