Label: Scream Factory
Region Code: A
Duration: 87 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: George P. Cosmatos
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Brigitte Nielsen, Reni Santoni, Andrew Robinson, Brian Thompson, John Herzfeld, Lee Garlington
In my youth growing up in a rural Upstate New York I would catch a lot of films screening at the local psychiatric center in nearby Willard, NY. My father worked there and informed me that the place would screen 35mm movies for the patients once a month, and if we showed up where they screened them the state employees would let us inside to watch the movies for free. About once a month on a Saturday my dad would drop us off nearby and we'd go in and sit in an darkened auditorium along with psychiatric patients. Inside there was a full size movie screen, the seating were fold-out metal chairs positioned in the front of the screen. We could opt to sit right there along with the patients or off on the perimeter of the auditorium where there were some stationary bikes and some Nautilus style weight benches. I would usually opt for the workout benches when possible, but sometimes there were older kids already camped out there I didn't want to hang out with and I would end up sitting nearby or alongside the mental patients. Every once in a while you would catch a glimpse or hear something you shouldn't see, like a man with tourettes involuntarily shouting profanity or a couple laying on the floor touching each other, all of which at twelve or so I found a little off-putting to say the least. Anyway, it couldn't have been too traumatic for me, the closest real cinema was thirty miles away and my parents rarely would take us, so I caught a lot of films there and kept coming back.
It was there I saw loads of 80's comedies like Fletch, Dragnet and The 'Burbs, films that were less than a year old, plus some occasional vintage sci-fi like Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. One of the strangest experiences was watching One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest there, the irony of which was not lost on me, even at the tender age. I do not recall seeing many horror films there, but a few action films for sure, and Cobra is one I do seem to recall watching. The atmosphere of danger in the film really rubbed off on me during my viewing back then, there's a axe-wielding cult in the film, and it wasn't too long of a stretch for me to imagine the patients surrounding me were the same violent crazies seen in the film. Now I know that's insensitive and not a very nice thing to imagine, but I was young and sometimes when you're that age you don't see things correctly, let alone politically correct, but I do love thinking back to all the movies I saw at the psychiatric center, bemused by the strange looks I incur when during a movie conversation I'll occasionally say "oh yeah, I saw that one at the asylum", and I love bringing up that story every time one of those films gets a new Blu-ray release.
Directed by George P. Cosmatos (Of Unknown Origin) Cobra (1986) is a star vehicle for 80's man of action Sylvester Stallone, appearing as LAPD's Lieutenant Marion Cobretti, a member of an elite squad of crime-stoppers known as the "zombie squad". He goes by the handle "Cobra", and his favorite weapons are a laser-sighted sub-machine gun and a Colt .45 with a Cobra emblazoned on the pearl hand grip. Even more bad ass is his custom ride, a sweetly modded '50 Mercury Monterrey.
The film opens with a nut job (Marco Rodriguez, The Crow) taking hostages at the local supermarket, shooting up the produce section before blowing a guy away in cold blood. Cobra is called in when negotiations fail, sneaking his way into the market he chugs a can of Coors beer, and spouts off a few tasteful 80s one-liners like "you're the disease, and I'm the cure", before ventilating the guy with a knife and blowing him away. This sets up Cobretti as a bit of a loose canon, not liked by his peers, and hounded by the media for his brutal take downs of criminals.
Turns out that the supermarket killer was part of a larger group, a cult set on ridding the world of what it considers vermin, the group is known as The New World Order, and is lead by a guy who calls himself The Night Stalker (Brian Thompson, The X-Files), who has set his sights on a model named Ingrid Knudsen (Brigitte Nielsen, Red Sonja) who was a witness to one of their crimes. Cobretti and his sweets-munching partner Sergeant Tony Gonzales (Reni Santoni, Dirty Harry) are assigned to protect her, and then the violent shit really hits the fan.
This is a big, bad-ass slice of 80's action that is dripping with excess force, and some tasty slasher-ish tendencies with the cult members regularly stalking and knifing their victims. Stallone is in fine form, his one-liners are some of his best, his character doesn't have a lot of depth, but he has lots of weird quirk. A health conscious eater who cuts his pizza into bite sized pieces with a pair of scissors. It may not be The French Connection but it is a wonderful piece of hyper-violent 80's cinema stylishly shot by director George P. Cosmatos and cinematographer Ric Waite (The Long Riders).
The cult is a strange element in the film, there are scenes throughout of them meeting up in a warehouse, clanging axes together and chanting, ominous stuff that doesn't really jive with the rest of the film, but it looks cool for sure. Brian Thompson as the Terminator-esque baddie is imposing and scary, there's not a lot depth to it, but on a surface level he does what he needs to do, and he has a bad-ass looking knife with a spiked handle that is pretty damn cool.
Audio/Video: Cobra arrives on Collector's Edition Blu-ray from Scream Factory with a new 2K scan from an archival inter-positive performed by Warner Bros.. Having not seen the previous Blu-ray I cannot compare but the film look fantastic, grain is well-managed, the source is clean and free of dirt and blemishes, colors are nicely saturated and the blacks are deep and inky, a great looking presentation with an impressive amount of clarity, depth and fine detail..
Audio comes by way of English DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo and 5.1 with optional English subtitles. I preferred the stereo track but the surround does spread around that score nicely, and that awful 80's soundtrack with cuts from John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band and the Miami Sound Machine, terrible music selections on this film, love the film, hate the music.
Scream Factory come through with some great new extras here, sadly no interview with Stallone, but we do get over 80-minutes of new interviews, beginning with Brian Thompson who gives a rather fun and candid interview, describing how his tiny role in Terminator opened up some doors for him, working on this film with one of his action heroes, including a bad experience filming a fire stunt, and being punched by Stallone, and noting that star seemed to be doing a lot of directing, while saying Cosmatos was a bit of a tyrant on set. Be speaks about being confused about his characters motivations, what sort of movie they were making, and getting little to no input from Stallone or Cosmatos when he asked about character development.
Marco Rodriguez gets a 24-min interview discussing his career, how due to a miscommunication he thought he had landed the main baddie role in the film, his experience making the film and it's initial success at the box office. He also speaks about being recognized from his small but memorable part on the film, and ends with him leafing through his original script, reading his own character notes written on it.
Andrew Robinson gives a 14-min talk about the film, admitting he didn't care for the script much - which was written by star Stallone, commenting that he thought Stallone was accessible and friendly, the duality of his nature, some difficulty between Cosmatos and Stallone, and what he feels are the shortcomings of the movie, summing it up as just not his sort of movie, he really gives a fun and candid perspective of the film, telling stories he says he dines out on all day.
Actress Lee Garlington gives a 9-min interview, beginning by describing the audition, playing Scrabble with Brian Thompson in between set-ups, Stallone's security detail, lots of yelling on set, and knocking Stallone down during one of their scenes together.
Actor Art La Fleur who plays hot-tempered Captain Sears shows up or an 8-min interview, he speaks about getting the call for the while he was shooting Zone Troopers (1985) in Italy, meeting Cosmatos, working with him and director Cosmatos, and getting the feeling that both the star and the director were co-directing the film, and working with Andy Robinson, Ren Santoni and Brian Thompson.
The disc is finished-up with a teaser trailer, theatrical trailer and a vintage 8-min EPK style featurette with interviews with Stallone, Nielsen, director George P. Cosmatos, with clips from the film and behind-the-scene video of the making of the film. There's also a vintage commentary with the late director
The single-disc release comes housed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with the same standard one-sheet artwork that;'s been associated with this film for years, it's rare that we get a Collector's Edition without new artwork or at least a reversible option, but I do think that this image of Stallone on a red background is damn iconic, it would be hard to improve upon in my opinion so I am okay with that.
I am very pleased with the new interviews, but it's too bad we do not the deleted scenes for the film, when the film first went before the MPAA it was rated X for violence, so about 30-40 minutes of violent footage and character building stuff was trimmed from it. A lot of these cuts are detailed by the director in the vintage commentary included on this release. To my knowledge these have never been released on an official home video release. When this release was first announced many including myself were hoping these would finally land on a disc, but nope, didn't happen.
- NEW 2K Scan Of The Original Film Elements
- NEW Stalking And Slashing – An Interview With Actor Brian Thompson (26 min) HD
- NEW Meet The Disease – An Interview With Actor Marco Rodriguez (24 min) HD
- NEW Feel The Heat – An Interview With Actor Andrew Robinson (14 min) HD
- NEW Double Crossed – An Interview With Actress Lee Garlington (9 min) HD
- NEW A Work Of Art – An Interview With Actor Art LaFleur (8 min) HD
- Audio Commentary With Director George P. Cosmatos
- Vintage Featurette (8 min)
- Teaser Trailer (1 min)
- Theatrical Trailer (2 min)
- Still Galleries: Stills (54 Images)
- Still Gallery: Movie Posters, And Lobby Cards (63 Images)
Cobra (1986) is a total bad-ass 80's action film with some fun cult and slasher tendencies. Stallone cuts quite a figure in his mirrored glasses chewing on a matchstick, armed to the hilt with an arsenal of gunnery and enough quotable one-liners to please any lover of over-the-top action cinema. The new transfer on the Collector's Edition Blu-ray from Scream Factory looks amazing and the extras are excellent, if you're a fan of the film I think you will be impressed.