Primal Scream - Primal Scream( Blu Ray) [Code Red/Dark Forces - 2020]Primal Scream is a decidedly haphazard & at times conventionally bad cinematic stew of noir tipped sci-fi, horror melt action, and fairly standard cop thriller. Sure this wont be for everyone, but if you enjoy late 80’s Hamish acting, active genre-blending, and some passable enough effects you’ll surely get some kick out of this. Here from the folks at Code Red/Dark Forces is recent region free release of the film bringing together a new print of the picture, commentary tracks, and few other extras.
Primal Scream( aka Hellfire) appeared in 1987, and was the one & only directed/co-writer credit of Brooklyn, NYC based William J. Murray- who is most known for his cinematography. And it’s fair to say the film structurally is more than a little muddled & confusing, with the decidedly hammy-to- downright bad acting not helping the situation much. The films often been called a cheap Blade Runner rip-off, and yes you can certainly see that comparison due to noir voice-over & scruffy gumshoe PI at the center of the story- but then, of course, you have the body melt elements, and the 80’s by-numbers-cop thriller elements, down to brash & constantly cross black American police chief.
At the center of the film is floppy-haired, chain-smoking, and smart-talking PI Corby McHale- played by largely bit part actor Kenneth McGregor. He’s investigating a mining company that's harvesting an element that ignites ‘n’ melts the human body. Into this, we get shifty boards, cheapy looking space-craft crashers, soapy encounters with very hammy acting, gunplay & car chases. On the whole, aside from some most impressive glowing & melting effects, is very low budget & more than a little contrived in its liberal stealing/ copying of other more famous films. But if you enjoy bad movies- then you'll like the unpredictability/ shifting tone, glowing ‘n’ melting effects, and unintentional humorous moments.
Moving onto this new Blu Ray presentation of the film- and the print itself looks passable enough, clearly, there has been no great remastering going on here- but you can see what’s going on for much of the film's runtime, though unfortunately the slightly polished print does make some of the effects/ sets look even cheaper. We get a commentary track from director William Murray & two other crew members- this is a chatty, light and enjoyable track full of factoids about the film, production stories, and much more. They talk about how the film came about, that it originally started filming back in 1981/82, & it’s key influence Blade Runner. Moving onto pointing out crew members in small parts, & discussing how they built one of the spaceship interiors in one of the crew's mothers garage- so this well worth a play. Next is We Made a Movie, Lived to Tell- 2018 near fifty-minute doc about the film- with extensive interviews with the films director, crew, and many of the actors- again very well done & worth a play. Lastly, we have a 1981 promo reel for the film under the Hellfire title- this runs around six minutes, and packs in a lot of scenes(some not in the finished film)- again another interesting extra.
In conclusion, if you enjoy low-budget 80’s fare that blends Sci-fi, horror & cop tropes together I reckon you’ll enjoy Primal Scream- and the great extras really push the interest & charm level up too.Roger Batty