King Cobra Blu-ray Review

James Franco and Christian Slater headline the true story of porn star Brent Corrigan

King Cobra is a dark drama about gay porn star Brent Corrigan and the shocking murder that shook the industry. This tabloid-shocker dramatization is inspired by true events and based on Peter Conway’s Cobra Killer. Director Justin Kelly’s uneven film offers a cast of one-time stars Christian Slater, James Franco, Alicia Silverstone, and Molly Ringwald surrounding young actor Garrett Clayton as the porn star.

King Cobra is the story of Sean Lockhart (Garrett Clayton), a young man that would go on to become a porn superstar working for Cobra Video back in 2006. Performing under the name of Brent Corrigan, his porn career would take off on the internet. Brent would ultimately become the center of a nasty conflict between Cobra Video’s owner Stephen (Christian Slater) and a rival porn site run by the sleazy Joe (James Franco) and his lover Harlow (Keegan Allen).

After realizing that Stephen has been taking financial advantage of his star-power while paying him peanuts, Brent thinks he’s free to walk away and work for Joe’s rival porn site. Trapped in the sleazy underbelly of the gay porn industry, Brent finds murder and deception as he gets in way over his head.

The real problem with King Cobra is that no character is completely sympathetic in its tale. Stephen is a gay porn mogul secretly living in suburbia, taking advantage of young men desperate for money and attention. Joe is a rival pornographer and pimps out Harlow to keep their lavish lifestyle afloat. Harlow has numerous emotional issues, manipulated by Joe at every turn in what is depicted as an abusive relationship. It’s either deliciously dark or merely disturbing, depending on your tastes.

Garrett Clayton provides enough charisma in the central role to make a believable star

Sean Lockhart should be the victim here but he’s all too often shown as complicit in these dark happenings. I think the moral we are supposed to accept is that his youth and poor judgment absolves him of any wrongdoing in these affairs.

King Cobra continues James Franco’s fascination with gay themes and characters, seen in several prior roles. Producing King Cobra himself, Franco said after playing a gay character in Wild Horses that he’s “gay in [his] art and straight in [his] life.” Was the world clamoring for this dramatization of porn star Brent Corrigan? It certainly wasn’t the most commercial film Franco could have made so his enthusiasm seems to be genuine.

Director Justin Kelly steadily guides his veteran cast in King Cobra without any flashy tricks. Garrett Clayton provides enough charisma in the central role to make a believable star. King Cobra won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but the tabloid drama explores an infamous incident in the gay porn world.

Video

Shout Factory presents King Cobra in clean, professionally competent video quality at fairly sharp 1080P resolution. Filmed with the Arri Alexa digital camera, a few moments include footage doctored to remind viewers of older camcorder video. A couple of darker interiors exhibit muddy shadow delineation. Otherwise this is crisp picture quality in largely pristine condition.

The 92-minute main feature is encoded in AVC averaging over 30 Mbps. It is a transparent transfer derived from the 2K digital intermediate without erroneous processing.

The fine object detail isn’t spectacular except in close-ups. Its video maintains a consistent contrast with decent black levels except in a handful of shots. The main feature is shown in its 1.85 theatrical aspect ratio.

Audio

King Cobra’s primary 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack offers fine immersion and intelligible dialogue for what is a laid-back audio experience. Tim Kvasnosky’s electronic score provides a steady backing with its pulsing rhythm. The dialogue-driven drama isn’t incredibly flashy in its surround design but features decent separation and crystal-clear clarity.

A secondary 2.0 DTS-HD MA soundtrack is also included for stereo users. Optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles display in a white font.

Extras

Shout Factory’s special features for King Cobra include a decent director’s commentary and a few outtakes of marginal interest. This combo pack includes a DVD copy and a reversible sleeve with an alternate cover.

Director’s Commentary – Justin Kelly goes over the movie’s production in some depth in this solo effort. He breaks down the differences between the book and his script, among other creative choices.

Outtakes (07:42 in HD) – Some deleted and extended scenes that didn’t make the final cut.

Theatrical Trailer (02:13 in HD)

Previews (04:17 in HD) – Trailers for Tale of Tales and The Autopsy of Jane Doe play before the main menu in order.

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