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(aka "Crash" or "Sorcery" or "Stuntrock")

 

directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith
Australia 1978

 

Real life Australian stuntman Grant Page (now a stunt coordinator) travels to Los Angeles to work on a TV action series. He also consults on the pyrotechnic effects of 70's band Sorcery's stage shows which depict fiery battles between a Merlin-esque wizard and the devil (Page being the fictional cousin of "Prince of Darkness" Curtis Hyde). His gains a love interest in journalist Margaret (Margaret Gerard) who is concerned about his dangerous line of work while slinky Dutch Monique Van Der Ven (playing herself as the star of the TV series DANGERGIRL that Page is doing stunts for) is concerned over her own lack of involvement in the show's action. That's really all there is to it. Although Sorcery is the focus of the advertising, their performances and Page's work on them are used to showcase Page's stuntwork (a lot of it stock footage shot by Trenchard-Smith with whom he had collaborated in 4 other features prior to STUNT ROCK). An Australian/American/Dutch production (explaining the presence of a game Van Der Ven), this mix of mockumentary and filmic drama come across well as a sort of near-plotless episodic exploration of the entertainment world anchored by a charismatic lead who is nevertheless more a stuntman than an actor (film concedes this by having another character introduce him as "Cousin. Stuntman. Horrible actor but a hell of a nice guy.") The sexual tension of the triangular Page/Gerard/Van Der Ven friendship is mild but it keeps them together throughout the film's episodes and they make a pleasant group of protagonists (the director explains the lack of romantic development between Page Gerard owing to Page being a good friend of Trenchard-Smith and Gerard being his new bride.). The film probably would not have worked as just a stunt film or just a behind the scenes concert film (as it is, the film features a 60 second highlights montage of the film GONE IN SIXTY SECONDS). The film offers us older viewers a time capsule view of Los Angeles in the seventies which might look quite exotic to younger viewers. The film also feature an early appearances by the late Phil Hartman in a small role.

Eric Cotenas

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Theatrical Release: 1978

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DVD Review: Code Red (2 Disc Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Code Red

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:31:21
Video

2.37:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.19 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo)
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Code Red

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.37:1

Edition Details:
• DISC ONE: Introduction by director Brian Trenchard-Smith and Sorcery guitarist Smokey Huffs (4:3; 1:52)
• Audio commentary with director Brian Trenchard-Smith, stars Grant Page and Margaret Gerard
• Bonus commentary with director Brian Trenchard-Smith, producer Marty Fink, and star Ricahrd Blackbur
• Director Brian Trenchard-Smith Interview (4:3; 32:33)
• Sorcery guitarist Smokey Huffs Interview (4:3; 26:47)
• Actor Richard Blackburn Interview (4:3; 5:41)
• Line Producer Marty Fink Interview (4:3; 3:21)
• Audio interview with Sorcery drummer Perry Morris (22:20)
• Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 2:25)
• DISC TWO: THE STUNTMEN documentary directed by Brian Trenchard Smith (4:3; 48:40)
• Evening at the Alamo Drafthouse Q&A with Brian Trenchard-Smith (16:9; 24:45)
• Original Cannes Promo Reel (4:3; 18:43)
• Trailers for THE STATUE (16:9; 2:27), THE INTERNECINE PROJECT (16:9; 1:42), BRUTE CORPS (16:9; 0:33)
• TRAPPED (16:9; 1:36), DEVIL'S EXPRESS (4:3; 0:31), CHOKE CANYON (16:9; 1:42), THE VISITOR
• (4:3; 3:15) and FAMILY HONOR (16:9; 0:31)

DVD Release Date: August 25, 2009
Amaray

Chapters 12

 

Comments

The anamorphic image looks variable but acceptable given the materials (the transfer was supervised, color-corrected, and color-enhanced by director Trenchard-Smith). Most of the Grant Page stunt footage was shot by Trenchard-Smith in 16mm. This footage is integrated with the 35mm footage (including some additional 35mm coverage shot to match the stock footage and flesh it out - including some footage shot in Culver City that is well-integrated with the Australian 16mm and 35mm location footage) by cropping some 16mm shots to 2.35:1 and presenting some of it side by side using split-screen (thus there are constant cuts between sharper 35mm and softer, grainier, blown-up 16mm). The amount of grain depends on the film gauge used between and within various scenes but the film had a rushed 15 day shooting schedule including a lot of grabbed, non-permitted shooting (several days were justifiably spent shooting the concert scenes). Detail is sometimes lost in the saturated lighting on the concert scenes but this could be due to the original shooting or Trenchard-Smith's decision to enhance the color for the new transfer. The transfer is progressive but singular interlaced frames (not separate fields) appear occasionally and there is combing in sudden bursts of brightness like some of the flames during the stage performances. This could be representing an 'alchemist' transfer method - once used on early Criterion DVDs. Audio occasionally distorts on the high end during Sorcery's musical numbers but the degree to which you will notice this depends on your sound system. Although originally mixed in 4-track, the stereo mix is very restrained (compared to the menu music and presumably the soundtrack LP). Dialogue is always clear but some scenes that were grabbed without sound on location in Los Angeles had to be dubbed in by telephone by Page in post-production and the mixers were not able to entirely clean that up.

While the production footage shot by Robert Primes under the pseudonym "Bob Carras" and the 16mm stunt stock footage was shot by Trenchard-Smith, seasoned cinematographer Russell Boyd (PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK) shot some of the additional 35mm scope Australian footage (notably the opening). While the body of the film was edited by Earl Watson, the concert scenes were edited by Robert Leighton (THIS IS SPINAL TAP) under the pseudonym Robert T. Money. The commentary is informative, entertaining, and humorous (Page and Trenchard-Smith rib Gerard about her participation in the film since she is now a university professor). Trenchard-Smith also appears on a second commentary track with producer Marty Fink and co-star Richard Blackburn (writer/director/co-star of LEMORA - A CHILD'S TALE OF THE SUPERNATURAL). Not as entertaining as the first track but still quite informative and occasionally humorous. Along with the theatrical trailer, Disc 1 also features separate interviews with Trenchard-Smith, Blackburn, Fink, Sorcery guitarist Smokey Huffs, and an audio interview (actually a telephone interview) with Sorcery drummer Perry Morris. Disc 2 features the 45 minute vintage Trenchard-Smith documentary THE STUNTMEN along with a Cannes Promo Reel for the film and a recent Q&A with the director. A selection of upcoming Code Red trailers rounds out the package.

The recent Australian special edition uses the same transfer (prepared by Code Red) and shares THE STUNTMAN documentary, the Cannes Promo reel, the interview with Morris, and Trenchard-Smith/Gerard/Page commentary. The R4 disc does not feature the four video interviews, the Q&A, and the Trenchard-Smith/Fink/Blackburn commentary so newbies should go for the Code Red and people who imported the R4 might just want to double dip.

 - Eric Cotenas

 



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

 

Distribution

Code Red

Region 0 - NTSC

 

 




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