Blu-Ray Review- Student Bodies
Distributor: Olive Films
Street Date: August 25th 2015
Technical Specifications: 1080P Video, Color, 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio, 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio
Runtime: 86 Minutes
Michael Ritchie’s Student Bodies may indeed be the very first spoof film parodying the Horror genre. Released in 1981, the filmmakers take stabs at countless slasher movies from the period including Halloween, Friday the 13th, When a Stranger Calls, Carrie, and many more. Similar in style to the Zucker Brothers’ Airplane or Naked Gun series, the gags come in quick succession, with more hits than misses, and if you’re a fan of either the comedy or horror genre, you’re bound to catch yourself smirking at the sheer ridiculousness of it all.
In the film, a killer known simply as “the breather” stalks the women of Lamab High School in increasingly hilarious fashion. Sporting green dish gloves and black galoshes and using everything from paper clips to eggplants and chalkboard erasers to kill his victims, the breather terrorizes the teenagers and faculty of the school until Toby Badger (Kristen Riter) decides she’s had enough. Part of the gag here is that nearly everyone in the film (teacher, custodian, and student alike) wears green dish gloves at one point or another, making the list of suspects never ending. There’s also a running on-screen body count, a self-aware killer who’s aware of his downfalls (squeaky galoshes, prone to masturbation), a mid-film MPAA notice, and a custodian with urinary tract problems.
Student Bodies is frequently hilarious, often downright stupid, and sometimes cringe-inducing cheesy. Though still not quite as memorable as other spoof films (see Airplane!, Top Secret, Spaceballs) in the genre, Student Bodies easily enjoyable and offers up more than a few laughs.
I was shocked that Student Bodies could ever look this good! Olive Films presents the film in beautiful high definition with natural film grain, an authentic color scheme, and plenty of detail and clarity. There are fairly frequent instances of minor debris or light scratches to the print, but none too distracting for the viewer. The level of detail in facial features, clothing, and objects is pretty spectacular for the time period and budget. Student Bodies looks great in HD!
The 2.0 DTS-HD audio track gets the job done, excelling in the areas of dialogue and score. It’s a front heavy presentation that sounds fairly tinny at times, but I highly doubt anyone was expecting a Dolby Atmos equivalent here. Everything comes through clean and clear, even if it’s not exactly the most audio experience.
Olive Films has not included any special features on this Blu-Ray release.
As you can see from the “Unboxing” pictures below, this Blu-Ray edition from Olive Films features the utterly fantastic original theatrical poster for the cover art. Everything from the voluptuous blonde with the cheerleader megaphone shoved down her throat to the vintage school desks and the chalkboard title are just absolutely perfect. On the reverse of the packaging you’ll find a plot synopsis, technical specifications, and select production stills from the film. On the interior of the case you’ll find some hilarious disc art with some snapped lead pencils and the “sex kills” button, as well as the usual Olive Films insert card. I really dig the packaging design on this release!
Michael Ritchie’s Student Bodies is a spoof similar in style to Airplane! or the Naked Gun series, but is likely the first of its kind to poke fun at the slasher genre. The gags come in quick succession, with more hits than misses, and if you’re a fan of either the comedy or horror genre, you’re bound to catch yourself smirking at the sheer ridiculousness of it all. The Blu-Ray features a shockingly good video presentation and a respectable audio mix, but lacks in the area of special features. The packaging on this release is superb, with the memorable original theatrical poster in addition to some funny disc art to seal the deal. Student Bodies is frequently hilarious, often downright stupid, and sometimes cringe-inducing cheesy, and this Blu-Ray release from Olive Films comes recommended for a good share of laughs.
Blu-Ray Review- Joy Ride 3: Road Kill
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Street Date: June 17th 2014
Technical Specifications: 1080P, Color, 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio, 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
Runtime: 96 Minutes
I actually enjoyed the first Joy Ride film when it was released. Sure, it was a knockoff of Duel, but the script from J.J. Abrams was fresh and fun, the performances were earnest for the genre, and the thrills were genuine. The direct-to-video sequel served as nothing more than shot-on-the-cheap cash-in entertainment, and unfortunately, Joy Ride 3: Road Kill is more of the same.
In the opening moments of the film, a crack-addicted couple devises a plan to rob a random trucker of their imagined “stash” by having the female invite them over via CB radio. When the trucker shows up, of course, it’s none other than Rusty Nail. In one of the few thrilling sequences in the film, Rusty chains the couple to the hood of his semi, informing them that all they have to do is survive one mile of his driving, and not only will he let them go, but he’ll reward them with some of his “stash.” It’s a shame that this intense scene ends so unbelievably that viewers will be left shaking their head.
The story picks up with a group of young street-racers and their girlfriends embarking on a cross-country road trip to the Road Rally 1000. On their way they encounter Rusty Nail and his sinister semi, challenging him to some high-speed hijinks, not knowing whom they’re dealing with. As is typical with the genre, our maniac trucker hunts the crew down, providing for plenty of gore and mayhem. The main bulk of the plot centers on the lead getting his kidnapped girlfriend back from the clutches of Rusty Nail.
I will fully admit that die-hard fans of the series will enjoy this film’s genuine practical gore effects, cheesy one-liners from Rusty Nail, and well choreographed “kill” scenes. Between a semi-fan dicing up a face, chains squeezing someone to death, and multiple vehicular related accidents, there is plenty to cringe at. But this just isn’t my type of Horror film at the end of the day. The script is severely lacking, and even though the genre doesn’t command a David Mamet type treatment for the film, the dialogue could have used some polishing. Ken Kirzinger does a fine job playing the villain here, and we get to see more of the character than we did in previous outings. Though Joy Ride 3 will likely please the fan-base, for me, it seemed repetitive and unoriginal in its execution.
Though I wasn’t very enthusiastic about the film itself, there is no denying that 20th Century Fox has provided a stellar transfer of Joy Ride 3. Black levels are deep and inky, the golden-hued color scheme remains intact and consistent, and fine object detail is near perfect, providing for a great visual experience in High Definition.
The engineers at 20th Century Fox have provided a fantastic 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio track for Joy Ride 3. The car chases, stunts, engine growls, blood splatter, and dialogue all come through with pristine clarity on this HD track. If you’re a fan of the series, you won’t be disappointed here, as this disc will give your channels a workout.
20th Century Fox has given fans of the Joy Ride series some fun bonus features for this Blu-Ray release! Here’s a breakdown of what’s included:
- Riding Shotgun with Declan: Director’s Die-aries– Running over nine minutes, this featurette comes in four parts, each documenting a day in the production of Joy Ride 3. The crew clearly had a lot of fun making the film, and we get to see storyboards, makeup effects, and action sequences being setup for the film.
- Jewel’s Message- Running just over a minute, this is Jewel’s videotaped message from the film. I’m baffled as to why it is presented as a special feature here.
- Road Rage: The Blood, Sweat and Gears of Joy Ride 3– This one runs nearly twelve minutes and details the making of the film. The Director states that he wanted to make a hybrid between the previous Joyride films and The Fast and the Furious series. I enjoyed seeing Ken Kirzinger discuss his role as Rusty Nail this time around, as well as how many fans sought him out on the set as fans of his Jason Voorhees portrayal in that franchise. There are some fun makeup effects sequences, and it’s fun to see some practical effects utilized during the production of this film.
- Deleted Scenes- Almost six minutes of deleted scenes, all presented in High Definition with final score and background music. There’s a scene at a gas station, characters changing a tire, and two police officers discussing the events. All of these scenes were indeed, better left on the cutting room floor.
- Pre-Vis Sequences- Declan O’Brien discusses a pre-visualization sequence featuring a car chase from the film, having been inspired by Robert Rodriguez’ “Film School” series. Declan purchased various toy trucks and cars to pre-visualize one of the car chases, filmed it, and we get to see it placed side-by-side with the final scenes from the film.
- Finding Large Marge- This is a nearly four minute featurette on how Director Declan O’Brien found Heather Hueging, the actress who played the throwback character of Large Marge from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.
- Commentary by Declan O’Brien- Director O’Brien clearly enjoys the genre, and this commentary is a relatively easy listen. He details the making of certain scenes, editing choices for the final film, and how he paid homage to various films and horror concepts.
- Sneak Peek- This section of the special features provides previews for the following titles from 20th Century Fox: Devil’s Due, Out of the Furnace, In the Name of the King 3: The Last Mission, 3 Days to Kill, Bad Ass 2: Bad Asses, The Bridge: Season 1, and Wilfred Season 3.
As you can see from the “Unboxing” pictures below, this Blu-Ray release from 20th Century Fox features Rusty Nail’s murderous semi-truck, with a smoky skull enhanced over the grill. The reverse of the packaging features a plot synopsis for the film, along with a listing of the special features, and technical specifications. On the inside of the case you’ll find the Blu-Ray and DVD discs featuring artwork similar to the cover design, a digital HD copy code, and an advertisement flyer for more Horror titles from 20th Century Fox. This particular edition is a Limited set with the “Killer Packaging” cardboard insert with alternate artwork for the film. The insert is glued onto the outside plastic wrap, so be careful when you’re opening the set if you don’t want to damage it.
Though I enjoyed the first Joy Ride film for mindless Horror entertainment, the subsequent direct-to-video sequels have been the epitome of shot-on-the-cheap cash-in cinema. Joy Ride 3: Road Kill features more of the same, though it does showcase some unique “kills” and practical gore effects. The good news is that 20th Century Fox has done a wonderful job transferring the film to Blu-Ray, with picture quality that retains the gritty golden-hued intentions of the filmmakers. The audio track is equally as impressive here, especially with the dynamic range on display during the car chase sequences. Special Features are loaded, but are mostly short, unnecessary featurettes that act as filler for the disc. This is rental material for me, only recommended for die-hard fans of the series.