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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Schlock
Schlock
Starz / Anchor Bay // PG // October 2, 2001
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Phillip Duncan | posted August 30, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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P R I N T
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I'll go ahead and say it right up front, Schlock is a horrible movie, a horribly fun movie that is. I had never seen this film before and ordered it on the pretext of it being John Landis and Rick Baker's first film. Their previous track record, both together and separate, has not been bad. You can't argue with the success and fun of American Werewolf in London, Animal House, Spies Like Us, the Nutty Professor and more. That's all I went in knowing and I have to say I came away pleased.

Don't get me wrong, this movie is not for everyone. It would easily be at home on any episode of Mystery Science Theater, but it is hard to deny the talent that was already present at this early stage in the career of these to filmmakers. One quote about the film on the box is: "A monster comedy about an ape-man who goes bananas until he falls in love with a beautiful blind girl who thinks he's a dog." This is about five minutes of the film, that's how fast paced and moving this thing is.

Showing a strong knowledge of film history and pop culture, Landis (who played the monster Schlock) pokes fun at numerous sources way before it became trendy to do so. The acting is so impossibly bad that it is always funny and one opening scene with four teenagers discovering Schlock in his lair is funnier than any Scary Movie or other horror parody could hope to be. Therein lies the charm that makes this freshman film so entertaining. Everyone involved had talent, but they knew how to laugh at themselves as well.

Landis uses many interesting camera setups and angels throughout the film to maintain interest. The active use of first person shots and shadows keep you interested in even the slowest moments. Another factor not found in many parody films is the timing. Anyone can make the Coyote fall off of a cliff while chasing the Road Runner, but the masters knew how long to let him fall before the small puff of dust kicked up, letting you know he had just hit the ground. That talent is on easy view in Schlock. Even the worst of jokes is made funny by the impeccable timing that Landis has. They are played out long enough that regardless of how short or extended the take, your only reaction is to laugh. Landis also does an amazing job as the prehistoric creature Schlock. Buried underneath Baker's makeup, his performance has emotion and mischievousness that endears you to the character. Baker should also receive credit for the makeup job that was done on a limited budget and early in his career. At this point in time it is easy to see that he would proceed to make some of the most realistic ape make-up effects in cinema.

The DVD
The Video: Presented in the original aspect ratio of 1:85.1, this low budget film looks surprisingly good. The color is well saturated, but a little faded. Few print flaws are noticeable and nothing truly distracts from the viewing of the film. It's an anamorphic presentation as well, so 16:9 television owners are in for a treat as well.

The Audio: It is here that I truly only have one complaint. The audio is a two channel stereo mix, which is passable only because that was likely the original source. I wish some kind of restoration had done to level out the volume. Vocals at times are hard to here when compared to sound effect levels. That is a complaint, but only a minor one. The movie is fully enjoyable despite the fact.

The Extras: There are scant few extras on this release. Again, this is expected with such an old, unknown film. Luckily for all viewers, Anchor Bay managed to coerce Baker and Landis to provide a commentary to their first film together. Their friendship clearly shows through in this fun commentary that touches upon all aspects of the movie. Landis surprisingly remembers who most cast members were and what has concurrently happened to them. He and Baker especially like Baker's father's performance as the Banana Man that dies early in the film. They reveal that the budget was only $60,000 and that Baker spent approximately $500 on the suit. They definitely know how to stretch their money. There are brief biographies on Baker and Landis that are viewable on screen and they aren't plagued by an often overlook problem. The text is large and easily readable and there are quite a few tidbits of interesting information spread throughout. Lastly, the original trailer is included and watching it will definitely let you in to the tone of the film.

Overall: This is definitely worth picking up and watching with a room full of friends, pizza and drinks. It's a hilariously funny, well done low budget (that's an oxymoron, I know) film. These two talented filmmakers put their heart and passion into this to make it entertaining and they succeeded. You may not call it good, but it's definitely entertaining Schlock.
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