New on Blu: DINOSHARK, EL TOPO, THE HOLY MOUNTAIN, and more
If you can mix it with a shark, Roger Corman will fund it. Here, in DINOSHARK, it’s a prehistoric beast with the maw of a T-Rex and the body of a shark. I’m sad to report that Dinoshark is not the star of his own movie, but Eric Balfour is. To use fishing terminology, this is a bait-and-switch, because, when I want to see some awesome prehistoric shark action, what I don’t want to see is Eric Balfour as a shadow of a shadow of a shadow of Roy Schieder’s character from JAWS.
What I do want to see is lots of carnage and bloodshed and crazy Dinoshark antics. It’s what you’d expect from a movie with the title DINOSHARK. It’s not what you get here. You get the Roger Corman Syfy movie formula, in which exotic locales are shot as plainly as possible (Puerto Vallerta may as well be Daytona), and most of the film’s running time is spent watching bored actors deliver lengthy conversations about where the Dinoshark might have come from and what actions they might take so that Dinoshark doesn’t kill again. Once, every fifteen minutes or so, Dinoshark’s head pops up out of the water, chomping up and down like a CGI Hungry, Hungry Hippo, and kills someone in such a poorly computer-animated way that ILM openly weeps.
Worse yet, DINOSHARK looks bad on Blu-ray, full of digital noise and bad effects work. Corman fans might get excited over the legendary producer’s commentary track (with co-producer Julie Corman and director Kevin O’Neill), but even that track is as weak as DINOSHARK, offering making-of tidbits so banal, you get the impression they have no idea that a movie called DINOSHARK should be FUN.
What is it about THE RESIDENT that marks it as a Hammer Film besides the opening logo? It may as well have opened with the McDonald’s logo -- it’s by-the-numbers junk product with a familiar assembly line taste. Knowing that it’s a movie in which Hillary Swank rents an apartment from a charming landlord with a secret dark side (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), and you can close your eyes and probably imagine how it all plays out with dead-on accuracy. You don’t even have to go that far -- take one look at the cover and the movie practically fills in the blanks itself.
So, if the central conceit of the film is evident on the cover, what remains in the story? Nothing, really. It’s a long hour before Swank begins to put the pieces together (based on nothing more than superhumanly strong womens’ intuition), and then it’s only a matter of time before the inevitable crawlspace showdown between victim and stalker. It’s old-fashioned, but not in a Hammer way; it’s like a 90’s thriller transported from the past and plopped directly onto home video. The only real surprise is how chaste THE RESIDENT is for a film about voyeurism. Morgan watches Swank bathe, but he may as well be munching microwave popcorn. If ever a film could have used some extra sleaze, this is it.
Since this was intended for theatrical release, the Blu holds its own in the A/V department. Guillermo Navarro’s cinematography is slick and comes across strong in the format, as does the audio. The disc arrives with no special features, which is a shame because I really would like to know the reasons that the new Hammer chose this middle-of-the-road affair as a worthy sophomore release on the heels of LET ME IN.
FEAR AND LOTHING IN LAS VEGAS (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
BLOW OUT (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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