Shack Out on 101
Olive Films // Unrated // $29.95 // September 24, 2013
Review by Adam Tyner | posted October 6, 2013
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Graphical Version
Ladies and gentlemen, Shack Out on 101 has it all. Drama! Romance! Murder! Intrigue! The owner of some hopelessly out of the way diner doing shirtless weightlifting on his counter! A Best Looking Legs beauty contest between two chest-thumping men! A seafaring hunt for El Poncho inside the diner, complete with a pair of snorkels and Chekhov's Harpoon! Lee Marvin doing...well, this!

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...but hey, what else is there to do in this shack out on 101? Business has been depressingly slow these days, so why not lovingly poke each other's calves? It's a sleepy, uneventful joint with a skeleton staff and a tiny handful of regulars, with the monotony only breaking up when George (Keenan Wynn) and his line cook Slob (Lee Marvin) start squabbling again or when they both stop dead in their tracks to ogle Kotty (Terry Moore), their entirely too foxy waitress. Shack Out on 101 lazes around a while as a low-key comedy until...oh, wait, the diner winds up being the epicenter of a Soviet plot to steal some of our nation's most closely-guarded nuclear secrets.

Shack Out on 101 is an odd one, and I really do mean that as a compliment. It's daring enough to be set just about entirely in one location, with a couple of blink-and-you-miss-it exteriors just outside the titular shack. The movie piles on some especially jarring shifts in tone, bounding between a bug-eyed goofball sense of humor, two scoops of melodramatic romance with this love trianglequadrilateral, and deadly serious Cold War-era spy intrigue. Paul Dunlap's score
I'm not the type to say "va va voom", but I think I have to make an exception here.

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often leans towards the steamy and sleazy side of things. Snappy dialogue is sprinkled around a film whose messy plot reads like it had been scribbled on a couple of cocktail napkins the weekend before. I'm not going to pretend that Shack Out on 101 is some unjustly overlooked gem or anything, but this is a movie so entrancingly strange that I couldn't take my eyes off it. I think I'm in love. Recommended.

Geez. Shack Out on 101 looks kinda gorgeous on Blu-ray. Clarity and fine detail are almost always striking, and the one extremely soft night exterior shot almost certainly dates back to the original photography. Contrast remains rock solid throughout. Its tight sheen of grain has been preserved on Blu-ray, lending Shack Out on 101 a pure and wonderfully filmic appearance. Speckling and light wear are present but too mild to truly distract. I don't have any concerns with the AVC encode, especially in motion and at a normal viewing distance. If I clenched my fists and tried really, really hard, I don't think I could be any happier.

Shack Out on 101 arrives on a single layer Blu-ray disc at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1.

Shack Out on 101 boasts a very robust monaural soundtrack, presented here in 16-bit DTS-HD Master Audio. Dialogue is consistently clean and clear throughout, and the light crackle in the background never threatens to intrude. No complaints.

The lossless soundtrack is it as far as
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audio options go: no subs, no dubs, no captions, no remixes.


The Final Word
Shack Out on 101 is yet another reason why Olive Films is at the top of my Christmas card list, rescuing from obscurity another in a long line of films that had never found their way to Laserdisc, DVD, or Blu-ray till now. This is a deliriously fun and unrepentantly weird movie, and I can't imagine Shack Out on 101 ever looking or sounding meaningfully better than this. The sticker price and potentially limited replay value could be a dealbreaker for some of you out there, I'm sure, but I don't want to live in a world where Shack Out on 101 is met with anything less than a thumbs-up and knowing wink. Recommended.

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