Stone – 2-Disc Special Edition (Umbrella Entertainment DVD/Region Zero/0/PAL
C+ Sound: C Extras: C+ Film: B-
PLEASE NOTE: This DVD can only be operated on
machines capable of playing back DVDs that can handle Region Zero/0/PAL format
software, and can be ordered from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment at the
website address provided at the end of the review.
Biker movies are seen as an American B-movie genre,
despite some biker films from England, thanks to classics like The Wild One, Easy Rider and the Roger Corman led cycle of Rock-‘N-Roll biker
B-movies. By the early 1970s, these
kinds of films expanded into other territory before dying out by the end of the
decade. If you were not getting a
combination of bikers and another genre like Supernatural Horror in the
underrated Werewolves On Wheels or
police drama in Electra Glide In Blue
(both reviewed elsewhere on this site) you had others trying to do new things
within the genre. Shane Harbutt’s Stone (1974) is such a film, with more
character development than most of them.
The twist is this one came out of Australia and is several
years ahead of Mad Max in its
attitude. A huge indie hit in its time,
not unlike Billy Jack was back in the U.S., the film
set box office records around the country.
On the case, Quentin Tarantino says it is his favorite biker film. As soon as you start watching it, you see
why. It has more character development
than its U.S. and U.K. counterparts for the most part, yet never shies away from
the freedom, free form, sex, nudity, drugs, violence or even existential angst
these films are capable of.
Then this one has a thriller element as members of the
main lead biker gang, The GraveDiggers, are being killed off one at a
time. The title refers to the wildest
biker in the gang and the film goes on from there.
I like the energy, pacing, use of locations and the fact
that the film never tries to imitate its U.S. and U.K. counterparts. It also takes advantage of the fact that
Australia is an underused country cinematically (still to this date) and goes
for broke in telling its story. It is
shocking this has not been issued in the U.S., but fortunately, this fine
import version is a region free DVD set.
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image shows its age, but was shot in 35mm by
Harbutt and company, looking good in many spots for its age. Color is interesting too, with some spots of
depth that work. The Dolby Digital 2.0
Mono is simply not as lucky as the audio from the time was not always recorded
well and who knows on what it was taped on.
That can be trying, though the studio-recorded music by Billy Green sounds better. Extras on DVD 1 includes a trailer for this,
while DVD 2 adds several still section, Umbrella DVD trailers, make up test
reel, making of featurette and tribute called Stone Forever.
above, you can order this import exclusively from Umbrella at:
- Nicholas Sheffo