Olive Pit #1
 

By Bobby Morgan, Scott MacDonald, and David Steigman

Psych-Out

Director- Richard Rush

Cast- Jack Nicholson, Susan Strasberg

Country of Origin- U.S.

Discs-1

Reviewer- Bobby Morgan

 

     Sold to the moviegoing public as an acid-washed slice of exploitation entertainment, the 1968 Dick Clark/American-International Pictures production Psych-Out delivers on those promises but is also rather somber in tone and has interesting characters who enjoy living the lifestyle of a carefree hippie while simultaneously getting the troubling sense that the end of an era is near. The movie was released as the Summer of Love was still in full swing but there are times when it seems to anticipate the soul-crushing conclusion of the 1960's with the election of Richard Nixon, the continued escalation of the Vietnam War, the shootings at Kent State, the Manson Family murders, and the violence at Altamont. Reminds me of that quote about what eventually happens to all good things.

 

At every hour of the day San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district is teeming with hippies sharing love, hallucinogenic drugs, and more in a communal experience that is hard to miss and guaranteed to tick off the rigidly moralistic squares. Into this intoxicating world comes Jenny (Susan Strasberg), a wide-eyed naif who has run away from home to find her missing brother Steve. She quickly befriends Stoney (Jack Nicholson), the leader of the local acid rock band Mumblin' Jim, and his friends and bandmates Ben (Adam Roarke) and Elwood (Max Julien). After hearing of her dilemma they elect to help Jenny find Steve, but the search takes a backseat to multiple sequences of enjoying the finest high-quality pot and acid, tripping plenty of balls, and having sex with anything and anyone that dares move. The amateur investigation brings Stoney and Jenny into contact with a wannabe guru who lives in a rooftop box (Dean Stockwell) and the guys in Mumblin' Jim are granted a shot at rock stardom courtesy of a talent scout for "the Ballroom". There's also a gang of violent hippie haters lead by the future directors of Kingdom of the Spiders and Rainy Day Friends, a badly rearranged rip-off of "Purple Haze", and the end Bruce Dern literally drops in to act as the rug that ties this disheveled room together.

 

For the first time ever Psych-Out has been restored to its original running time of 101 minutes, making this the preferred cut of director Richard Rush. I for one am happy that Rush's complete vision is finally seeing the light of day after the film has been available in a butchered 82-minute cut in theaters and on home video for nearly five decades, but restoring almost twenty minutes does nothing for the film. The plot structure is thin and episodic and Rush, with screenwriters E. Hunter Willett and Betty Ulius, practically destroy any attempt at building up momentum in the narrative with a ceaseless procession of montages that do nothing but pad out a running time that needed anything but. The temptation to linger on shots of body-painted women gyrating to subpar acid rock while everyone around them trips and ruts with equal aplomb is one that Rush can't help but to succumb. At least celebrated cinematographer László Kovács (Easy Rider, Ghostbusters) makes them look lovely by turning them into opulent mini-ballets of swirling, psychedelic colors and kaleidoscopic imagery. Rush later worked with Kovács on Getting Straight and Freebie and the Bean. Their partnership was justified by the work they turn in here as they capture Haight-Ashbury at the pinnacle of its grimy, lived-in splendor. Visually they help Psych-Out to reflect the changing mood of the era through its brighter earlier scenes full of promise and community all the way through to a bleak third act where the death of a dream for a better world and the birth of the decadence and greed that would consume the nation for years to come felt all but inevitable.

 

The main storyline of Jenny searching for her missing brother would be expected to take center stage, but as mentioned before Rush rarely seems interested in developing it any further than a simple one-line synopsis. The rest of time we watch as Jenny becomes immersed in the world Stoney and his friends occupy on a daily basis, and it's a testament to the actors' performances that the character never morph into grating hippie stereotypes. Nicholson demonstrates here that he has always been one of our greatest screen presences because you can't help but pay attention to him whenever he has the camera's focus. Stoney is also the most interesting character in the film and it suffers as a result when he's not on screen. He enjoys living the hippie life but he also has ambitions to be a popular musician and trying to reconcile those desires with his growing attraction to Susan and the promise he made to help her find her brother creates the only dramatic conflict that feels palpable.

 

Strasberg gets little to do but look amazed by everything she sees but she does it well and makes for a sweet central character, and both Roarke (Dirty Mary Crazy Larry) and Julien (The Mack) invest their thinly-written supporting roles with personality and charm. Stockwell (Blue Velvet) is pretty good as the wise-beyond-his-years Dave, the downtown Dalai Lama of the counterculture. I won't spoil who Bruce Dern shows up as in the finale (though you could probably guess) but he makes a decent impression with his limited screen time. Future TV and film giant Garry Marshall cameos as a straight-laced narc, indie filmmaker Henry Jaglom (Tracks) gets to have a visually-inspired bad trip full of zombies and graphic skin wounds, and Gary Kent (who also did the effects) and John "Bud" Cardos give our heroes a frequent lousy time as part of a gang of hippie-hating thugs of which Eric Cartman would give his left undescended testicle to join.

 

Ronald Stein (Spider Baby) orchestrates a fine score that incorporates good tunes from the Strawberry Alarm Clock (their hit "Incense and Peppermints" makes an early appearance a year before Beyond the Valley of the Dolls) and the Seeds. Renn Reynolds (Fritz the Cat) does a fine job on the editing, cleverly assembling several montages that begin to feel repetitive due to their obvious overuse but are created with artistic merit and originality. Robert Vincent O'Neill, the future writer of Vice Squad and writer/director of Angel and its sequel Avenging Angel, served as the property master on this production.

 

Olive Films presents Psych-Out in a fine but hardly demanding AVC-encoded 1080p high-definition transfer that is framed in its original 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio. The picture quality is consistently solid with warm colors and a fine grain level that never becomes intrusive though it tends to increase in certain scenes. The sole audio option is an English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track that keeps the dialogue and music balanced and easy to hear despite the latter occasionally drowning out the former. No subtitles have been provided. In 2003 Rush's film was first released on DVD by MGM in a double feature that also included Roger Corman's The Trip. For extras it was given a new featurette and the original trailer. Olive Films didn't see fit to secure either. Major bummer, man. Still though, if you're in the mood for a decently directed and acted drama about a dying way of life that rarely judges its subjects then Psych-Out might just be the movie for you. Frankly I prefer Richard Rush's later films Freebie and the Bean and The Stunt Man.

The Film (3/5)

A/V (3/5)

Extras (0/5)

Beach Blanket Bingo

Director- William Asher

Cast- Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello

Country of Origin- U.S.

Discs-1

Reviewer- Bobby Morgan

 

Did you know that 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the release of Beach Blanket Bingo? Me neither!

 

Do you give a shit? ME NEITHER!

 

At the age of 11 I watched a week-long marathon of those wretched beach party movies (one of which was actually named Beach Party - how clever) where one was broadcast every morning on the old TBS Superstation out of Atlanta. It was the summer, I was out of school with nothing better to do at the time, and my late grandmother Betty had cable. As I watched each one, from Bikini Beach to How to Stuff a Wild Bikini, I found myself thoroughly entertained but also could not for the life of me distinguish one from the other. American-International Pictures released a bunch of those movies during the 1960's and they were all pretty much the same. Of course the same thing could be said about the James Bond and Friday the 13th franchises, but unlike the beach party flicks I actually love those series.

 

Beach Blanket Bingo, released in 1965, wasn't the movie that launched the ignoble film careers of teen idols Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, but it's probably the best known and the most influential - at least in terms of its title. I understand all too well the appeal of these movies and their squeaky clean stars; they served the same function as the musicals and gangster pictures that lured audiences back to the theaters during the Great Depression, bringing lavish entertainment to the masses during a time of tremendous strife for the nation. But while many of those studio releases from the 1930's and 40's are considered today to be high art and terrific examples of cinema's potential, the AIP beach flicks have about as much presence and influence with contemporary film watchers as the teen-targeted exploitation produced each decade. They're all disposable dreck that entertains only if you're willing to not just switch off your brain, but have it completely removed from your skull.

 

The set-up is usually the same: Avalon and Funicello are a clean-cut romantic couple who can found every day of the week hanging out with their friends on the beach, singing and gyrating to some annoyingly catchy tunes while wearing the skimpiest beachwear on the racks at their neighborhood thrift shop. No one knows what these people do for a living, but somehow they're able to afford surfboards, sleek cars, and expansive beach houses that everyone shares without the threat of a drug-induced orgy breaking out. Fred and Ginger danced to the heavens in glorious black & white while millions of Americans were struggling for work and getting their daily sustenance on bread lines and in soup kitchens. Frankie and Annette loved, laughed, and surfed while civil rights workers were being murdered, popular presidents were assassinated, and the war in Vietnam was being carefully escalated with each new occupant of the Oval Office. Those movies were the equivalent of a set of keys being dangled to get the attention of a newborn child. A distraction, and a shitty one at that.

 

The plot - if you can call it that - of Beach Blanket Bingo is the same as the plot of every AIP beach movie and is only set in motion when the outside world briefly intrudes on Frankie and Annette's non-stop surf-n-sand hootenanny. This time it's in the form of curvaceous pop star Sugar Kane (Linda Evans) literally dropping in on the gang thanks to a skydiving publicity stunt designed to promote her newest album by her agent Bullets (Paul Lynde). This leads to a skydiving school run by Big Drop (Don Rickles) and his instructors Steve (John Ashley) and Bonnie (Deborah Walley). Frankie and Annette both want to give it a chance but Frankie doesn't think a girl is cut out for this kind of thing, being the 60's and all, and should go back to the kitchen and learn how to cook him a decent hot dog. Hah, gotta love that antiquated sexism.

 

If you aren't hooked yet by that brilliant A-plot then co-writer/director William Asher (Bewitched) has some tasty subplots for you to enjoy. The gang's resident mongoloid Bonehead, played as always by Jody McCrea (Major Dundee), falls in love with the beautiful Lorelei (Marta Kristen) after she saves him from drowning, but he finds his feelings for her sort of put to the test when she reveals that she's a mermaid. Meanwhile, Eric Von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck), the leader of the lamest biker gang in film history, develops his own starry eyed affection for the lovely Sugar Kane, but he'll have to fight loathsome pool hall sleaze South Dakota Slim (Timothy Carey) for her fair hand. The various plot threads collide in ways both predictable and outlandish, but neither entertaining, and there are brawls complete with goofy sound effects, sped-up chase sequences, and far more musical performances from Frankie Avalon and Linda Evans than humanity should be forced to endure. Buster Keaton's in this movie too, and it's one of the saddest sights a lover of film could witness.

 

Beach Blanket Bingo, as its own title implies, is not a film to be taken seriously. There a lot of movies just like that I happen to love. It's a G-rated burlesque that aims to appeal to the burgeoning youth market while alleviating the sweat-inducing concerns of the rigidly moral, right-wing, white male ruling class. The sexiest element of these movies are the bikinis and the actual wearing of them is kept to a minimum. Kissing is rare, no one smokes or drinks, minorities are excluded for joining the festivities, and when night falls the men and women get into their smartest suits and dresses a night on the town. The kids may have eaten this crap up with a feces-caked smile, but the dominant conservative crowd had nothing to worry about.

 

I want to hate everything about this movie, but then I'd have to hate Timothy Carey's performance and that's the only saving grace of this pathetic waste of celluloid. I laughed my ass off every time he spoke because of that slack-jawed drawl that was one of his acting trademarks, even when he just called Von Zipper "bubby". The guy's a legend and it's impossible to take your eyes off him. Asher stretches his threadbare plot far past its breaking point by padding the movie out to a 97-minute length that seems short but starts feels like an extended stretch in purgatory once Avalon takes the stage. He may suck but at least Funicello is a doll and lovely to gaze upon despite her own acting being barely passable. The same can be said for most of the young cast though they all try their darndest to not look like a bunch of arrogant little punks next to better-established talents like Rickles, Keaton, and Paul Lynde. The gorgeous Kristen found a better use of her time as Judy Robinson on the original Lost in Space, and John Ashley (who appeared in most of the AIP beach movies) later made his greatest contribution to world cinema by helping to open up the Philippines for film production. If it wasn't for his efforts it's doubtless we would have ever been able to enjoy the likes of those New World Pictures women in prison movies and Apocalypse Now.

 

Olive must have employed a dated source for their 1080p high-definition upgrade of Beach Blanket Bingo. It offers a picture that is mostly clean but also grainier than necessary and often burdened with noticeable instances of print damage, such as dirt and the occasional unbalanced color and shuddering frame. To be honest, it looks about the same as a worn DVD print, and that hardly justifies the HD conversion. Fortunately the transfer is framed in the original 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio and the image appears stabilized for the most part. The lossless English DTS-HD Master 2.0 mono is better because the movie was originally recorded and released in mono and this audio track keeps those infectious tunes vibrant without overpowering your speaks and allows for the inoffensive chatter that passes for dialogue to be heard just fine. There are no subtitles. The only extra features is the original theatrical trailer (3 minutes), which is presented in standard definition.

 

The Film (1/5)

A/V (3/5)

Extras (0/5)

Kiss Me, Stupid

Director- Billy Wilder

Cast- Dean Martin, Kim Novak

Country of Origin- U.S.

Discs-1

Reviewer- Bobby Morgan

 

You might get a headache reading a basic plot synopsis for Billy Wilder's unconventional screwball comedy Kiss Me, Stupid, but I will definitely give myself one just writing it out. Here goes nothing.

 

Orville J. Spooner (Ray Walston) works as a piano teacher in the small town of Climax, Nevada. Along with his best friend Barney Millsap (Cliff Osmond) he writes songs in his spare time. He also has a gorgeous and loving wife named Zelda (Felicia Farr) who he is constantly suspecting of cheating on him despite her assertions that he is the only man for her. Orville and Barney have written 62 songs in the belief that all they have to do is sell just one to a major record label or famed recording artist and it will be their ticket to celebrity and fortune. They get their chance one day when the legendary crooner Dino (Dean Martin) happens into their town after being detoured on his way to Los Angeles to star in a television special. Barney, who runs the local service station, sabotages Dino's car so he'll be forced to stay in Climax overnight, giving Orville and him the opportunity to win the singer over with one of their catchy tunes. Orville agrees to put Dino up in his house for the evening, but when Dino reveals his insatiable appetite for sex Orville becomes concerned that he'll seduce Zelda. Barney convinced him to stage a fight with Zelda so that she'll go to stay with her mother for the night, then he'll bring in roadhouse waitress Polly (Kim Novak) to pose as his wife so that Dino can put the moves on her instead. The plan goes almost too well because Orville's happy marriage becomes jeopardized and the lovelorn Polly isn't so sure she wants to jump into bed with Dino after all.

 

Although it put a mighty strain on my mind to recount the plot, Kiss Me, Stupid never feels like an excessively plotted film. Billy Wilder may have had a difficult time in the final decades of his directing career attempting to recapture the glory of his rightly lionized masterpieces Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard, but even the films that his most ardent supporters consider his lesser works were smarter, funnier, and more challenging to both the brain and the heart than the majority of mindless comedies the Hollywood establishment pumped out to the willing masses. Wilder and his longtime collaborator I.A.L. Diamond (who co-wrote practically every Wilder film - good, bad, or somewhere in-between - from Some Like It Hot to the director's final feature, Buddy Buddy) based their screenplay on Anna Bonacci's play "L'Ora della Fantasia" and used the story of a group of small town nobodies and their fateful brush with a national superstar to explore our obsessions with fame, sex, and idealizing certain people to the point of feeling inferior to them and ultimately being consumed by toxic suspicion. Kiss Me, Stupid runs 125 minutes and Wilder makes every minute count, allowing the story enough time to develop and take its character into complex, moralistic terrain that most films of its genre would be too frightened or unimaginative to travel.

 

Wilder roped in Dean Martin to play possibly the most memorable iteration of his cinematic persona, which was basically himself. In Kiss Me, Stupid, Martin may not be playing Martin but the character is him in all but the name, and even the name "Dino" was his nickname in real life. Even those who have barely heard of the guy know that. During the opening sequence where Martin plays his last Vegas engagement before departing on his road trip that sets the plot in motion, he performs on stage with a drink in his hand and name-checks the other members of the Rat Pack, and he does it all with effortless cool. You could say that about his entire performance in this film. That's pure Dino, and though I personally believe he was at his best as Dude in Howard Hawks's classic western Rio Bravo, the commitment he displays in what is essentially a feature-length satire of the public image he has cultivated is also deserving of accolades. At his sleaziest Martin is still every bit the charismatic rogue with a song in his heart and a spring in his step we all know and love him for being.

 

Martin may get top billing in Kiss Me, Stupid, but in the film's first hour his presence is a mere cameo. That gives Wilder and Diamond plenty of time to introduce our real main characters and carefully set up the plot so that nothing feels forced or rushed. Any member of my generation who only knows Ray Walston from Fast Times at Ridgemont High or countless syndicated reruns of My Favorite Martian would not be surprised to see him play the uptight and paranoid with relative precision and ease. Since the character of Orville (originally set to be played by Peter Sellers before thirteen heart attacks took him out of commission) is established in his introductory scene as an easily stressed fusspot unable to trust his own loving spouse, Walston's constant mood shifts feel organic rather than coming across as second-rate comedy theatrics for the pleasure of the camera operated by Joseph LaShelle (How the West Was Won). It's very much to the actor's credit that he makes Orville a likable enough guy even when he appears to be one misunderstood note to the milkman away from imprisoning Zelda in the basement forever. He also has great chemistry with Cliff Osmond, a valuable supporting player in several Wilder films, as his ambitious, scheming pal Barney.

 

Felicia Farr is a gem as Zelda, making her potentially thankless character into a real human being who only wants for the man she loves to love her as much, if not more. But it's Kim Novak, with her deliciously smoky voice and artistic feminine figure, who is the real star of this show. She doesn't play her scenes for laughs nor does she oversell her considerable sex appeal. Novak gives the character of Polly a haunting vulnerability when she talks about having loved and lost and wanting to live the miserable town of Climax behind for a better life. At first Polly seems uncomfortable with having to play Orville's wife and possible sexual prize for Dino, but as their evening goes on she eases into the role and actually seems happier playing the role of the doting bride rather than the willing concubine. There are times when Novak's performance reminded me of Marilyn Monroe in John Huston's classic The Misfits; in fact, Monroe was originally supposed to play the role of Polly before she tragically passed away at a young age. But Novak makes the part her own and it's a priceless feat of acting that is downright magical to watch. Mel Blanc, now and forever the greatest cartoon voice actor of all time, puts in a brief appearance as the resident dentist of Climax, as do John Fiedler (12 Angry Men) as a minister crusading to shut down Polly's place of employment, and Howard McNear (Floyd the Barber on "The Andy Griffith Show") as Zelda's ineffectual father. Wilder and Diamond's script provides their cast with plenty of snappy one-liners, and the music score composed by André Previn (Rollerball) incorporates several original songs by the great George and Ira Gershwin with fantastic delight.

 

Presented by Olive Films in an AVC encoded 1080p high-definition transfer and framed in its proper 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio, Kiss Me, Stupid looks amazing on Blu-ray. The grain level is consistent from start to finish, black and gray levels are rich and maintained well, and print damage is minor to the point of being non-existent. Our only audio option is an excellent lossless English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track that sports crystal clear dialogue, vibrant music and songs, and a pleasing lack of distortion and damage. No subtitles have been included. The only extra feature is the original theatrical trailer (2 minutes) which leans heavily on director Wilder's past accomplishments at the beginning. - Bobby Morgan

 

 

The Film (4/5)

A/V (4/5)

Extras (1/5)

How To Murder Your Wife

Director- Richard Quine

Cast- Jack Lemmon, Virna Lisi

Country of Origin- U.S.

Discs-1

Reviewer- David Steigman

 

Olive Films has become the latest studio to sub-license catalog titles from MGM. They have licensed a good assortment of titles, including this great comedy, How to Murder Your Wife

Jack Lemmon, playing Stanley Ford, is a happily single, successful cartoonist with a secret agent comic strip, who gets married while heavily intoxicated at a bachelor party. The woman that he unknowingly marries, Virna Lisi (Mrs. Ford), makes her grand entrance coming out of a cake at the bachelor party.  At first, she only speaks Italian, making the situation even more insane, because neither Ford nor his friends are able to communicate with her. Eventually she learns English all the while she proceeds to drive him completely insane including her entering a club for men only, which in turn gets him removed unceremoniously from it.  There are plenty of slapstick comedy moments, and various hysterical moments as expected in this film. As beautiful and devoted as Mrs. Ford is, Mr. Ford is completely miserable in married life, and wants a divorce ever so badly. Because Mrs. Ford will never agree to a divorce, he then decides to come up with a (comedic) scheme to murder his wife using his comic strip life as a tool for his plan. The murder scheme as well as some courtroom comedy keep this film moving at a very good pace.

 

   Olive films’ video presentation of How To Murder Your Wife is absolutely gorgeous 1:67:1 1080p AVC encoded  transfer. The colors are vivid, detailed, sharp, probably the best that this film has ever looked. Overall I was very impressed with the video quality of the film.  The audio is also really good, a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono mix. I didn’t notice any audio defects during the 118 minute films.

As with most of Olive films’ releases there are hardly any extras. The lone supplement on this disc is a 1080p trailer which is nearly four minutes long

Fans of this style of comedy from this era will be familiar with the formula. While lacking extras, you do get a funny, feel good film with a beautiful picture and sound. Those that are fans of and familiar with other Jack Lemmon classic comedy films such as The Apartment and Some like It Hot, as well as comedies from the 1960s, this is very much recommended.

 

The Film (3.5/5)

A/V (4.5/5)

Extras (1/5)

 

 

Bio-Dome

Director- Jason Bloom

Cast- Pauly Shore, Stephen Baldwin

Country of Origin- U.S.

Discs-1

Reviewer- Scott MacDonald

 

 

   OK, so since I highly doubt any other films from Pauly Shore's pre-Bio-Dome filmography will cross my desk at EuroCultAV.com I'll use this review to confess. As a child before I came to my critical senses I was a huge fan of Pauly Shore films. So much so that my friend Eric and I frequently had Beatles vs. Rolling Stones style debates comparing his work with that of a mid-90's post-Ace Ventura Jim Carrey.  Yeah, it was that bad.

Now with that sad bit of pre-teenage reflection out of the way....

   The premise of Bio-Dome is this Pauly Shore and Stephen Baldwin
“star” as best friends Bud and Doyle a pair of dopey slackers, that make your typical movie slackers seem motivated and intelligent. As the film begins Bud cracks Doyle's skull with the volume of an encyclopedia to get out of volunteering at an Earth Day event with their girlfriends Monique and Jen. The girls in response trick Bud and Doyle to leave their couch, and go out into the middle of nowhere, on their way back needing to use the bathroom they break into a self-contained science experiment called Bio-Dome thinking it's a mall, and are unable to leave for a year. Hijinx ensue.

   OK, so Bio-Dome is essentially what happens when you have 6 years of 90's politics and pop-culture chewed up, swallowed, and vomited onto celluloid (The film was made in 1996). The film's humor is quite forced, and consists of a lot of sight gags, bad attempts at physical humor, and pseudo-slacker humor. It also takes Pauly Shore's weasel personality, and drives the final stake in it’s heart. Shore performs the character naturally as he did in the 4-5 movies previously, but in this one they added a Butt-head to his Beavis, and two times the Weasel is not doubling the pleasure in this case.  The film's only saving grace is the performance by William Atherton as lead Bio-Dome scientist Noah Faulkner, who does what he can with the wretched material provided to him.

 

   The Blu-ray from Olive Films offers a solid 1080p AVC encoded transfer in the film's 1:85:1 spect ratio. Their is decent detail, colors are solid, blacks are decent overall, and there is a natural grain presence.  Obviously, the film is not exactly a visual stunner, and the transfer reflects that.  The audio track in English works with the dialogue, score, soundtrack, all are mixed well and are completely audible throughout.  There are no extras or optional subtitles.

 

The Film (1.5/5)

A/V (3/5)

Extras (0/5)

The Wild Angels

Director- Roger Corman

Cast- Peter Fonda, Bruce Dern

Country of Origin- U.S.

Discs-1

Reviewer- Scott MacDonald

 

 

   Roger Corman as a producer and director has had a hand in making some of the most memorable American cult films of the last 50 years. Corman, during his heyday seemed to have his fingers on the pulse of cinematic trends.  He made films in all sorts of genres occasionally preceding pop culture, and occasionally following.  In the late 60's he would make 2 films that displayed counter culture traits The Trip and the film released by Olive Films this month The Wild Angels.  The two films would influence Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper to make their similarly themed Easy Rider, which can be seen as the beginning of New Hollywood, and when cinema truly changed in the late 20th Century.

 

   The film is loose in plot, but follows Heavenly Blues (Peter Fonda) the leader of the local branch of the Hell's Angels. The film follows Heavenly Blues, and his biker cohorts as they ride rampant around Southern California having parties and committing crimes. In the process demanding their freedom, destroying their lives, and the lives of others. The film was written originally by Charles B. Griffith who wrote many of Corman's early 60's classics, but was re-written almost from scratch by a young Peter Bogdanovich. Corman like many of his productions shot the film quick and cheap, and it does show quite a bit, but he also worked in conjunction with cinematographer Richard Moore, so while some shots are out of focus, and look like they were shot on the run, others show Corman's fantastic eye, which does not get the credit it deserves.

 

   I've seen the Wild Angels prior to this viewing, and I enjoyed it more on this viewing that on prior viewing, and I attribute that to the Blu-ray itself.  This format with the image quality it brings has made film's I have disliked greatly in the past, and made me fall in love, or at least appreciate them. It's even taken films I straight up loved, and helped me find new layers. Corman, especially in this era managed to bring together great talent both behind and in front of the camera. Aside from the aforementioned Bogdanovich, we also have in the cast Peter Fonda, Bruce Dern, Diane Ladd, Nancy Sinatra, and others. This cast help to elevate material that would have other wise felt silly, and brought it to another level.

 

   The transfer from Olive/MGM offers the film in it's original 2:35:1 ratio.  It's not perfect, but it represents the film as it was shot, so you have a very grainy, occasionally out of focus film that has a occasional moments of clarity and beautiful cinematography.  The colors which are natural due to the nature of the film are represented well, detail is quite nice. The audio is presented in a DTS-HD mono track in English and is quite audible throughout.  I did not detect any issues on the track. There are no extras included.

 

 

The Film (3/5)

A/V (4/5)

Extras (0/5)