Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th
(1984/Orion/MGM/Umbrella Import Blu-ray)/Crack-Up
(1936)/I Was An
Cinema Archives DVDs)
B/C+/C+ Sound: B/C+/C Extras: B-/D/D Films: B-/C/C
The Fox DVDs are online exclusives available from Amazon.com from the
sidebar of our website, while The
Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai
Region Free (despite being marked Region B, though most extras are in
the PAL format, so make sure your Blu-ray player can handle both
unless you just want the movie and audio commentary) import is now
only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment can be
ordered from the link below.
thrillers are in the old-fashioned mode, two because they are from
decades ago and another because of how it has aged and because it
intends to be a partial throwback to the 1930s, et al...
a cinematic move of nostalgia, movies occasionally at the time wanted
to do an old fashioned hero throwback film and when Raiders
Of The Lost Ark
(1981) was a worldwide blockbuster, the desire to do such films only
escalated, even when so many suddenly were just bad imitators of the
Spielberg/Lucas hit. The big difference between W. D. Richter's The
Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th
(1984) and the other films is that it actually took place in the
present (with a time & dimensional travel theme a year before
To The Future)
combining it with the Indiana Jones adventurer idea (though this film
is heavily inspired by Doc Savage and the Ron Ely film from 1975
(reviewed elsewhere on this site)), science fiction, the nerd/geek
cycle that had kicked in at the time (peaking with Real
also the next year) and also managed to be a superhero genre film
when the genre was only occasionally taken on. The fact that the
title character (a pre-Robocop
Peter Weller) was also Japanese allowed Martial Arts to also be part
of the mix.
might have been confusing to many viewers at the time, down to the
technology which now seems simple decades into the Internet era, this
was just too much for audiences and despite the best efforts of Orion
Pictures to promote it (as they would also on Remo
it did not do as well as it needed to and the intended franchise
series never materialized leaving this a cult item that is now very
ripe for rediscovery. The post-modern technical storyline seems
right on time, the look of the film is unique (with visual effects on
par with the original Ghostbusters,
including in their character) and it has a cast that is now
extraordinary for any
film. That includes John Lithgow, Ellen Barkin, Jeff Goldblum,
Christopher Lloyd, Ronald Lacey, Lewis Smith, Rosalind Cash, Robert
Ito, Clancy Brown, Lewis Smith, Carl Lumbly, Vincent Schiavelli, Dan
Hedeya, Matt Clark, Yakov Smirnoff and Billy Vera.
is a very capable writer and this is one of only two films he ever
directed, but its fan following has only grown over the years. Now
owned by MGM, with all the obvious titles they are remaking
(including disasters like recycling Carrie,
they ought to continue Banzai's adventures by making the second film
and mixing up the cast with original and new actors. With a Doc
Savage remake on the horizon, why not? This holds up well enough and
when it does not, it serves as a time capsule to several eras.
include an amusing feature length audio commentary track by Richter
and writer Earl Mac Rauch playing it as if Banzai actually existed, a
alternate opening scene where Jamie Lee Curtis plays Banzai's mother
(!), Deleted Scenes, New Jet Car Trailer and Original Teaser
Trailer. Nice to see this one
finally make it to Blu-ray!
St. Clair's Crack-Up
(1936) lives up to its title by being a sometimes unintentionally
hilarious thriller where a buffoon (Peter Lorre) turns out to be a
leading enemy agent out to cleverly tries to get the naïve boyfriend
of a secretary in the war office to steal a secret airplane design so
a foreign power can get it and exploit it. Brian Donlevy, Helen Wood
and Ralph Morgan are among the supporting cast and they all give it
their all in the quick 70 minutes this runs. Most amusing are the
visual effects, obvious models that were hilarious by the 1960s.
This is worth giving a look to, especially if you enjoy thrillers or
old mystery movies. Nice this made it to DVD.
are sadly no extras.
we have Gregory Ratoff's I
Was An Adventuress (1940)
with Vera Zorina as a countess who distracts wealthy people and those
selling valuables to them so she and her friends (Peter Lorre again,
plus Erich Von Stroheim!) but she never expects to fall in love and
that is what happens when she meets a good
man (Richard Greene) in
this sometimes comical (intentionally) thriller that has a touch of
romance, a great cast, Fox creating a film they think will really
entertain and one that may play it safe too much for its own good.
still enjoyed what works here and that includes the cast, clothes,
production design and some chemistry, but it also has aged in mixed
ways, plays it too safe, is too predictable and does not make the
most of its 81 minutes, yet here again we have everyone trying and I
was glad to see it after all these years. Again, everyone should see
this one at least once and that especially goes for fans.
are sadly no extras.
1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Banzai
can show the age of the materials used and some grain, but the color
and detail are not bad throughout and far outdoes the older DVD which
looked good for the time. When it was issued, it had a solid
campaign behind it and was even one of the choice titles issued to
launch an interactive format for DVD called NUON. DVD players were
even made for it, but it did not pick up and even with video games
available for it, it fell flat quickly. Director
of Photography Fred J. Koenekamp (Sol
The Valley Of The Dolls,
TV's original The
Man From U.N.C.L.E.
and yes, Doc
uses the very widescreen frame to its fullest extent knowing this was
getting a 70mm blow-up and save the grain, you can imagine this is
the shot bug with its real anamorphic Panavision lenses on 35mm film.
Most of their intents hold up and even shine here.
1.33 X 1 black and white images on both Fox DVDs look pretty good for
their age and may have some softness and occasional print issues, but
are very watchable and its nice good prints of both films survived.
for sound, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Banzai
may have some slight harshness, but is a fine upgrade just the same
from the original Dolby 4.1 magnetic stereo 70mm blow-up prints
sound. Michael Boddicker's score comes through very well and sounds
a bit better than the dialogue and some sound effects recording.
Whether this is the 5.1 soundmaster from the old DVD is hard to tell,
but it is fun and fans in particular will be happy, while those new
to the film will have a few surprises here.
lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on both Fox DVDs show their age, but
Adventuress is a bit weaker in clarity throughout than
expected, so be careful of volume switching and playback levels.
order either of the
Umbrella import Blu-ray or DVD releases above, go to this link for
them and other surprises at: