Schlock Blu-ray Review

Have a Happy

Pouring from Schlock is the type of crud expected of a first time filmmaker, in this case then 21 year-old John Landis. Landis’ Schlock is random, slow, and barely coherent. Human performances range from inept to more inept.

And yet, Schlock managed to survive, much like the two million year old Schloctropus that murders some 700 people throughout this movie. Mostly, he kills for the LOLs, if such a phrase fits a movie from 1973. It probably doesn’t.

Landis dons a monster suit, a self-aware missing link caricature. Landis is key here. At barely college age, his aptitude for comedic timing flows from inside the goofy suit (as designed by Rick Baker). He rolls his eyes, finds himself irritated with modern living, and aside from the murders, makes a beast that’s little more than a reanimated nuisance. Occasionally, he’s smarter than those he’s terrorizing.

The production is instilled with a dorky whimsy, plodding along and rolling over to the next scene with little to no connective tissue. Landis wants people to laugh. He’ll get there no matter the cost to basic cinematic integrity. That’s part of the joke too, or maybe that’s making excuses.

Landis wants people to laugh. He’ll get there no matter the cost to basic cinematic integrity

Schlock deals in scenes of comedic macabre. It works. The first shot is of a man with his back snapped, spinning on top of a playground attraction. The shot pans over to a hundred of so dead kids, contorted or lazily sprawled out on swings or teeter totters. In a marvelous twist, paramedics begin scooping them up in wheelbarrows. Any stray, severed limbs end up garbage bags. Monster movies never show the clean-up efforts. It’s clear why.

Then comes the media, exploiting the tragedy and scaring residents into action against this unseen killer. Sharp media criticism, and decades before the 24-hour news cycle made an easy target; Landis was on top of trends.

Schlock needs content to fill its slender frame, and at least it’s well stocked with material to send-up. No question Schlock is at its best when lampooning the ‘50s monster cycle, turning local cops into dolts, citizens into idiots, and the monster into a laugh attraction. This stuff can write itself, but it still takes skill. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes tried five years later. It failed.

Give credit to Schlock for rare truth in advertising – it’s there in the title. Years before Airplane turned stupid comedy on its head, there was Schlock, which found no joke too low to reach for. That’s an admirable quality. Quaint, even. Eschewing good sense and taste, Schlock goes for it all and by the sheer will of Landis’ own monster fandom, comes out with more belly laughs than anyone will admit to having.

Video

Arrow Video issues this one on Blu-ray with more respect than the source material has for itself. In 45 years, it’s as if nothing happened to Schlock. Instead, it started to look better with time. The level of color intensity is quite marvelous. High saturation runs through the entire film, with stand out primaries.

Contrast is gorgeous too, and on both sides. Deep black levels accentuate the darkness of a cave. Outside, sunlight pours into the cinematography, creating the necessary dimension. Nothing here appears faded.

A heavy grain structure poses no problems for Arrow’s compression work. Instead, detail breathes. Close-ups resolve tremendous detail, including that on Rick Baker’s ape suit. Fidelity runs high at all times, including when the monster runs into a movie theater. All of the candy stock is visible by name and branding, and with some distance between the counter and camera.

Short of some low budget perils (with some notable drops in sharpness at the source) Schlock is perfected on this Blu-ray.

Audio

Rough, scratchy, worn, and coarse define the PCM audio mix. Still, this bears improvement over the dingier audio of Anchor Bay’s now ancient DVD release. What’s missing in terms of dynamics (everything, but still) holds up when considering all of the dialog is intelligible. Even the music ripped from 2001 sounds fine.

Extras

Arrow brings over the John Landis/Rick Baker commentary from the original 2001 DVD release. Arrow does the legwork and provides new stuff too. A conversation with critic Kim Newman is jovial, and runs 17-minutes. A great Q&A with Landis runs 41-minutes, and it’s worth sitting through. An older feature called I Shot Schlock chats with cinematographer Bob Collins. The latter runs seven minutes.

Some trailers and radio spots finish things up.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

An 80-minute long dad joke, Schlock is head-slapping nonsense, but John Landis’ natural sense of timing pushes it toward a cult classic.

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