Darkman 4K UHD/Blu-ray Review (Scream Factory)

Sam Raimi's dark superhero

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Before Pedro Pascal kept his face covered in The Mandalorian, before the new wave of superhero films pulling in all manner of celebrity, there was Sam Raimi’s Darkman from 1990. Liam Neeson stars as the titular superhero (only so named at the very end), and for much of the film he either has his handsome face covered with Invisible Man-esque wrappings, burned and gouged prosthetics, or the “masks” of other people’s faces. And much like the later popular comic Spawn from Todd Macfarlane, Raimi’s superhero is out for revenge.

The film follows Neeson’s character Peyton Westlake, a scientist who has been working on perfecting his skin cell research that can create a lifelike facial replica, but only for 99 minutes before dissolving into muck – or if the wearer stays in the dark, since the cells react to light. His girlfriend Julie (Frances McDormand) has come into the possession of a damning memo involving the city’s biggest businessman Strack (Colin Friels) and she’s quickly targeted by hitman Robert Durant (Larry Drake) and his team of weirdo psychos, who summarily wipe out Westlake’s lab and leave him for dead after completely dissolving his hands and blowing up his building. But Westlake is rehabilitated in a pain clinic that specializes in reducing the brain’s pain receptors, leaving him physically unfeeling but pent up with rage. And of course, wanting revenge against those who stole his life away.

Raimi’s plot, co-written by a number of others including Chuck Pfarrer and his brother Ivan Raimi, is an amalgamation of different elements rolled into one. It does significantly resemble a superhero origin story, and Danny Elfman’s score also helps shape that thematic resonance considering the similarities to Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman. But Darkman is also working off a number of other horror tropes, including the aforementioned scientific achievements of the classic Invisible Man and the misunderstood Phantom of the Opera. The film deals with the freakishness of Darkman, a moniker that often sends him flying into a rage and ultimately drives the film’s concluding fight between Darkman and Strack high up on an unfinished skyscraper.

While there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking here, the Gothic elements infused into this superhero caper work very well, with Raimi providing his usual directorial and cinematographic flourishes; multiple close-up zooms, overlays, and wonky theatrics abound in Darkman, and for the most part they work well. Occasionally Raimi isn’t able to rein in his more cartoonish elements – particularly during its more outrageous action setpieces like the impressive helicopter battle – but these are actually more few and far between when compared to something like Army of Darkness.

All of these elements add up to a rather delightful tale of vengeance and heroics, complete with a number of effective pieces of prosthetics. Raimi’s superhero doesn’t utilize strength or money to his advantage, but stealth as he adopts the faces of the goons he’s taking down. It’s a great twist on the formula, and fans of Raimi’s work will definitely find his unique signature throughout – including a quick Bruce Campbell cameo. It’s excellent that even after 34 years, Darkman hasn’t been left in the dark.


Scream Factory has released a new 4K UHD/Blu-ray Collector’s Edition of Darkman porting over much of the content from their previous 2014 Blu-ray. One important detail that is new for this release, however, is the new 4K transfer from the original camera negative approved by Sam Raimi and Bill Pope. The previous Blu-ray, as well as subsequent releases from Universal, featured an older HD transfer. Here, it’s easily apparent that the UHD is a huge step up from those prior offerings, featuring a very strong scan that showcases excellent detail. Grain scale is pretty mild, but textures are well-maintained, especially when it comes to the all-important skin textures throughout the movie. Prosthetics look quite good although occasionally the increased definition reveals some plasticky elements in the effects. The UHD sports Dolby Vision/HDR 10 and this is used to full effect; the film’s occasional use of red and blue tones are eye-popping, while the black levels are very strong. This is a huge upgrade from how Darkman has been experienced on home video in the past. You can also see our comparisons for yourself.

Audio is presented with both a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0 option. Both sound quite good, with the 5.1 making use of Elfman’s musical score through the satellite speakers and occasional background sound mix. Dialogue is crisp and clear on both tracks. Subtitles are also included.

For extras, Scream Factory has brought over their already extensive list from the previous Collector’s Edition release, as well as adding two new additional features for this UHD. The first is a new audio commentary with director and self-proclaimed Darkman superfan Josh Ruben, joined with Justin Beahm and Jeff Roland. Rather than a traditional audio commentary, this one’s almost more like an audio interview with Ruben about his love of Raimi and Darkman and how he used its influence within his own filmmaking. This release also contains the more traditional commentary from director of photography Bill Pope.

The second new item included on this release is a compilation of deleted scenes. This is actually pretty extensive, running nearly 40 minutes long and comprised of a variety of cut elements that either didn’t add much to the overall plot or were just too long for the film’s running time. The quality is quite good as well.

The rest of the extras collect interviews with Liam Neeson, Larry Drake, among others aas well as archival EPK-style interviews with cast and crew including Sam Raimi. See below for the full breakdown of these previously-available extras.

Extra Features

DISC 1 (4K UHD):

  • NEW 4K Restoration From The Original Camera Negative In Dolby Vision (HDR-10 Compatible) Approved By Director Sam Raimi And Director Of Photography Bill Pope
  • Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, 2.0
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Filmmaker And Darkman Superfan Josh Ruben
  • Audio Commentary With Bill Pope


  • NEW 4K Transfer From The Original Camera Negative Approved By Sam Raimi And Bill Pope
  • Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, 2.0
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Josh Ruben
  • Audio Commentary With Bill Pope
  • NEW Deleted Scenes (1080p; 37:00)
  • “Dissecting Darkman” – An Interview With Actor Liam Neeson (1080p; 7:29)
  • Interview With Actor Frances McDormand (1080p; 10:50)
  • “The Name Is Durant” – An Interview With Actor Larry Drake (1080p; 15:59)
  • “The Face Of Revenge” – Interview With Makeup Designer Tony Gardner (1080p; 13:21)
  • “Henchman Tales” – Interviews with Actors Danny Hicks and Dan Bell (1080p; 12:57)
  • “Dark Design” – An Interview With Production Designer Randy Ser And Art Director Philip Dagort (1080p; 16:46)
  • Vintage “Making-Of” Featurette – Featuring Interviews With Sam Raimi, Liam Neeson, Frances McDormand, And More… (1080i; 6:26)
  • Vintage Interviews With Sam Raimi, Liam Neeson And Frances McDormand (1080p; 8:59)
  • Vintage interview galleries
    • Colin Fries (480i; 12:14)
    • Frances McDormand (480i; 20:42)
    • Liam Neeson (480i; 28:02)
    • Sam Raimi (48oi; 23:09)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 1:46)
  • TV Spots (1080p; 4:24)
  • Still Galleries
    • Behind the scenes/makeup effects (chapter breaks; 4:47)
    • Posters & artwork (chapter breaks; 2:07)
    • Production stills (chapter breaks; 8:42)
    • Storyboards (chapter breaks; 8:22)


This new UHD Collector’s Edition of Darkman upgrades the old Blu-ray in all the right places, with an excellent new 4K transfer and a couple of new extras that help add additional incentive to the already long list of interviews that were previously available. Recommended for fans of Raimi, Darkman freaks, or even those looking to check it out for the first time.

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