Fear is the Key (Collector’s Edition) (Blu-ray Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Fear is the Key is the 1972 action/thriller based on a novel by Alistair MacLean. Barry Newman plays deep sea salvage expert John Talbot who witnesses the death of his wife and child. After finding no recourse with the police, Talbot devises his own plan to catch the people responsible. He goes undercover in the criminal underworld and kidnaps Sarah Ruthven (Suzy Kendall), the heiress to a petroleum fortune. Telling more of the plot would give away too much of the film’s plot which hinges on surprise and twists. The Alistair MacLean novels and this film were meant to compete with the likes of 007, but given the formulaic nature of the film right down to the strange choices — there is a moment where Talbot, captured by the antagonists, sneaks away to go do a deep sea dive, then for some reason returns and it really makes no sense, even when you find out what is really going on. Ben Kingsley also appears in the film in his first role a full decade before starring in Gandhi.

  • Barry Newman in Fear Is the Key (1972)
  • Barry Newman in Fear Is the Key (1972)
  • Barry Newman in Fear Is the Key (1972)
  • Fear is the Key (Collector's Edition) (Imprint)
  • Fear is the Key (Collector's Edition) (Imprint)

The Video

In this worldwide Blu-ray debut Fear is the Key arrives in a 2.35:1 AVC 1080p encodement from StudioCanal. The original 35mm source looks very detailed with lots of crisp grain. There are natural colors and flesh tones and excellent dynamics. The black levels are inky in the various night and underwater sequences with grain almost tipping over into noise, but since there is no splotchiness or macroblocking, everything remains organic.

The Audio

Fear is the Key arrives with its original mono audio mix in LPCM 2.0 on this Blu-ray from Imprint. It has a clean and beefy sound that presents the score, dialogue, and sound effects with a reasonable amount of clarity and dynamics.

The Supplements

This worldwide Blu-ray debut release of Fear is the Key contains the following, mostly new bonus features. The audio commentary with Kim Newman and Sean Hogan is a must-listen inclusion:

  • Audio Commentary by film historian Kim Newman and author Sean Hogan (NEW)
  • ‘Producing The Action’ – interview with associate producer Gavrik Losey (NEW) (1080p; 00:31:10)
  • ‘Bayou to Bray’ – interviews with Cast & Crew (NEW) (1080p; 00:41:15)
  • Theatrical Trailer (720p)
  • Limited Edition slipcase on the first 1500 copies with unique artwork

The Final Assessment

Fear is the Key is one of those films that can be a fun popcorn flick on a slow weekend but is weak overall. That said, this Blu-ray release from Imprint looks exceptional for a HD release of a film of this vintage. Given this is the worldwide Blu-ray debut of this film, this is an excellent opportunity to discover what is no doubt a lesser-known film for most people.


Fear is the Key (Collector’s Edition) is out on Blu-ray in Australia 28 December 2022 from Imprint. Available for purchase on the Via Vision/Imprint website or Amazon UK.


  • Studios & Distributors: KLK | Anglo-EMI | Imprint
  • Director: Michael Tuchner
  • Written By: Alistair MacLean (novel) | Robert Carrington (screenplay)
  • Run Time: 105 Mins.
  • Street Date: 28 December 2022
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: English LPCM 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English HOH
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Estimated reading time: 4 minutes Fear is the Key is the 1972 action/thriller based on a novel by Alistair MacLean. Barry Newman plays deep sea salvage expert John Talbot who witnesses the death of his wife and child. After finding no recourse with the...Fear is the Key (Collector's Edition) (Blu-ray Review)