Schlock - Schlock(Blu Ray) [Arrow Video - 2018]Schlock is the debut film from two cinematic legends- director John Landis, who of course went onto direct the likes of American Werewolf in London, and The Blues Brother. And special effects master Rick Baker, who has over seventy-five make-up/ effects credits to his name- going from Star Wars, The Howling, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the Men In Black films. Here on Arrow Video is Blu Ray release of the film- offering up a new 4K scan, and some rather neat extras.
Released in 1973 Schlock is a wonderful kooky, at times overtly quirky, though always the highly charming monster movie. The film effortless blends together 60’s/ 70’s satire, creature feature parody, & low-budget invention, with a real passion for the classic monster movies. The film tells of an American small town that is been terrorized by what the papers & authorities are calling "The Banana Killer"- who is massacring a large body of the town's population, leaving nothing but banana skins in its wake. A group of teen’s discovery a hole/ cave, which turns out to be the lair of Schlock- a missing link between ape & man, that is carrying out the murders.
The films hour & twenty-minute runtime literally rushers by in a highly entertaining manner- moving from media parody- the local TV station is running a count the body parts competition. Onto hilarious silent slapstick involving Schlock himself (played by Landis in an ape suit), though to authority mockery- with the bumbling Professor Shlibovitz, and Detective Sgt. Wino with his stupid & accident bound deputies. Onto the amusingly touching- when Schlock gets befriended by a blind teen, who initially thinks he’s a dog.
Aside from one professional female actress Harriet Medin, all the cast is made up of amateurs- and really everyone does a great job of camping-up/ parodying clichéd monster movie/ sci-fi b movie characters. And at times the whole thing very much brings to mind the more satirical Woody Allen films of the 1970’s. I’d never seen Schlock before seeing this Blu Ray, and went in it not really expecting too much, but came away been very impressed by its blends of different kinds of humor, quirky low budget invention, and general love of genre films. So it certainly is one of the more impressive directorial debuts I can think of.
The new scan looks good- really bringing the 70’s pallet to life a bit more, and enhancing the brighter & scatterbrain moments. On the extras front, we get a good selection- of the new stuff- there’s a twenty-minute featurette from the always worthy UK horror/ genre film citric Kim Newman- who discusses the film's production, his personal history with the film, and a generally worthy & informative critic of the film. Next, there’s a forty minute interview with John Landis from last year- this covers everything from his early influences, the films origins, its production, and its impact- this is most worthy, as Landis, as always, comes across passionate, funny & charming. From the old Anchor Bay DVD of the film we get a commentary track from Landis & Barker- this is good natured & chatty track, with the pair discussing the issues with creating & hold-up the ape suit in the hot summer, onto whos who in the mostly unknown cast, and the film's production in general. There an archrival interview with the films cinematographer Bob Collins, and lastly a selection of promotional trailers taking in various trailers for the film & TV spots- so all told, a good & worthy selection of extras.
In summing up I was both pleasantly surprised & impressed with Schlock, as it really is an original & amusing creature feature that needs more attention-which hopefully this great new Arrow Video presentation will do.Roger Batty