Schlock DVD Review: 'Appropriately Named'

The commentary by John Landis and Rick Baker makes for a much more entertaining experience than the movie itself.
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Released by Turbine Media Group, Schlock is now available as an exclusive limited 2000-copy Blu-ray/DVD combo mediabook edition that contains the main feature in full HD sourced from an all-new, detailed 4K frame-by-frame restoration on Region Code-Free Blu-ray for worldwide playback, and an NTSC SD 4:3 full-frame open-matte DVD version. The DVD was made available for this review.

After an apology from writer/director/star John Landis for those about to view his debut feature, Schlock opens with 239 dead bodies strewn across a park. Turns out the killer is a prehistoric ape man in this spoof of '50s monster movies that Landis says was partially inspired by Trog, Joan Crawford's last movie. There are also references to classic films like King Kong, Frankenstein (in a funny gag that references the monster meeting a young girl), and 2001 (a sequence similar to the “discovery of a bone as a tool” scene that goes on too long and offers little laughs).

Schlock not only comes across as a debut, but is more like something from a kid still in film school. The script is bad with characters behaving in nonsensical ways. Depending on the joke, some people are utterly terrified upon seeing Schlock, some are indifferent, and some don't even notice there's an ape man walking around. Another example is when Mindy (Eliza Garrett), a blind girl, meets Schlock. She thinks he's a dog and plays fetch with him, even after he repeatedly puts the stick into her hand with his hand. There are scenes that go on too long and many times the comedy falls flat. Also, edits don't always match, such as day-for-night scenes that cut to scenes clearly shot at night.

The DVD offers English and German Dolby Digital 2.0 and an audio commentary by John Landis and Rick Baker, who were 21 and 20 at the time they made this movie. They have no qualms about knocking the movie or the conversation going off tangent, making for a much more entertaining experience than the movie itself.

Under “Special Schlocks,” there are:

Birth of a Schlock - An Interview with John Landis (41 min) that features him talking about Schlock and other films he directed such as Kentucky Fried Movie, Animal House, and An American Werewolf in London. For fans of Landis, it's very interesting stuff. “Schlock - Trailers from Hell” is a commentary by Landis on a trailer that the distributor had made to cash in Landis' success as the director of Animal House, renaming the movie Banana Monster. There are five trailers, including two from Germany, and radio spots.

Fans of Schlock should be happy with this new set. While I found the movie a bore, I can recommend the extras for those who enjoy Landis and behind-the-scenes stories of independent moviemaking.

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