Tuesday, September 18, 2018

WILD AT HEART (1990) (Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review)


Label: Shout Select
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 124 Minutes
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HD MA Stereo, 5.1 DTS-HD MA Surround with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.40:1) 
Director: David Lynch
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Laura Dern, Willem Dafoe, Crispin Glover, Diane Ladd, Isabella Rossellini, Harry Dean Stanton

David Lynch's Southern Gothic road trip into Hell 'Wild At Heart' (1990) stars Nicolas Cage (Valley Girl) and Laura Dern (Blue Velvet) as incendiary young lovers Lulu and Sailor who are separated when he is imprisoned for manslaughter after a failed attempt on his life, an event ignited by Lulu's demented mom Marietta (Dern's real-mom Diane Ladd, Chinatown) who despises Sailor for reasons not yet known. He serves his time and few years later is released, with Lulu waiting outside to pick him up, right away the two embark on a Southern road trip that takes them through a nightmare south land where they catch a thrash metal show, run across a ominous car accident and wind-up Big Tuna, TX at a dead-end motel running on fumes, a seedy flea-pit populated by low-rent big-titty porn productions and hired assassins. The film has a heightened sense of reality that and is intercut with some strange Wizard of Oz-ish visuals including a visit from the Good Witch who compels Sailor to "don't turn away from love" when the chips are down. 

This is the film that introduced me to the real David Lynch, I had seen Dune and The Elephant Man but did not connect the dots that the same man made them, but this nightmare road trip made a mark, it scarred me a little, I'd never seen anything quite like it. At the time the closest thing I could compare it to from my own cinema experience was Tobe Hooper's black comedy TCM2, a comparison I think is still valid, both have this strange Southern nightmare aesthetic punctuated by moments of extreme violence and over-the-top performances. I love Nicolas Cage playing a Southern Gothic version of Elvis, his character decked out in a snakeskin leather jacket , which he more than once declares is "a symbol of my individuality, and my belief in personal freedom", with an Elvis drawl and a somewhat dorky bravado that drips right off the screen. His and Lulu's love is red-hot, they're inseparable, it's an them versus everyone else sort of love story with a decidedly Lynch-ian skew.

As they travel deeper into the dark heart of the American south Lulu's mother sends two men in search of her daughter; her on again/off again suitor/private eye Johnnie Farragut (Harry Dean Stanton, Repo Man) and her former lover/gangster Marcello Santos (J. E. Freeman, Miller's Crossing) who is more sinister, and who wants to do poor Farragut in. Were also introduced to a cast of strange characters that could only exist in a David Lynch film (with respect to novelist Barry Gifford), we have Mr. Reindeer (W. Morgan Sheppard, Needful Things) as the head of an assassin's guild who we see squatting on a toilet sipping espresso while a nude woman dances for his pleasure, or the bleach blond nightmares that are killers Perdita Durango (Isabella Rossellini, Blue Velvet) and her frightening sister Juana (Grace Zabriskie, Twin Peaks), also be on the lookout for Twin Peaks alum Sherilyn Fenn, Sheryl Lee and Jack Nance (Eraserhead). However, all other dark characters pale in comparison to the film's ultimate evil, Willem Dafoe as the greasy killer Bobby Peru, maybe one of the creepiest characters to ever leave a stain on the big screen, this is the film I saw him in first, completely ruining my image of him as anything but a low-life with those god awful rotten, worn-down teeth of his and devilish smirk that makes my skin crawl, gros. When he pulls a stocking over his head right before a doomed robbery attempt it's an image that will forever haunt by nightmares.

Audio/Video: Wild At Heart (1990) arrives on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory imprint Shout Select in 1080p HD 2.35:1 widescreen, I was comparing this to the now OOP 2014 Blu-ray from Twilight Time and they look identical right down to the grain structure with no notable difference in color timing or sharpness. The grain is nicely managed and colors look solid, skin tones are a bit warm but natural looking, and blacks are decent but grainy in spots. This is at least a five year old HD master, it would have been nice to have a new scan of the negative, but knowing Scream Factory there should be a Steelbook with a new scan in a year or two (wink-wink). 

The audio on the disc comes by way of 2.0 and 5.1 DTS-HD MA mixes, the surround track is decent, not a show-stopper, but there's some use of the surrounds that make it a viable option, I just prefer the more straight ahead stereo track, optional English subtitles are provided. 

Onto the extras is where we get new stuff that make this edition worth upgrading for, but first let's lay out the vintage 
e carry-over extras, we get MGM produced extras made for the special edition DVD, a 30-min making of doc with director David Lynch and stars Laura Dern, Nic Cage and Willem Dafoe, plus others, and about 21-min of extended interviews with the same bunch. Along the same lines we get a 7-min appreciation of the director by the cast of the film and David Lynch talking about the post-production of the film including color-timing, including minting a brand new scan from the OCN for the special edition DVD. Shout also include the 7-min vintage EPK, TV spots, trailer, and an image gallery for the film.

Onto the new goodies we get a brand new interview with Novelist Barry Gifford that runs about a half-hour, discussing the liberties Lynch took with the novel in adapting it for the screen, he seems to enjoy what Lynch did with the story and were it went, pointing out key differences and giving some back story to the origins of the novel he wrote. Not exactly new but new to Blu-ray are 76-min of extended and deleted scenes that were previously included on the pricey David Lynch: The Lime Green Set - it's great to have them here on an affordable stand alone release. We also get the unaltered Bobby Peru death scene minus the flash-bang and smoke that the director used to obscure the gore to secure the film's Rating.

Something you can find on the Twilight Time release not found here is an isolated music and effects audio track and the the 8-page booklet with notes on the film from TT staff writer Julio Kirgo, but in all other respects this Shout Select release renders that OOP TT release irrelevant in my opinion. The single-disc release comes housed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with a reversible sleeve of artwork with a new illustration from artists Antonio Stella on one side and what looks to be a variation on one of the original movie posters, very similar to the TT release but cropped with a different logo.   

Special Features: 
- NEW Interview With Novelist Barry Gifford (30 min) 
- Extended And Deleted Scenes (76 min)
- Unaltered Bobby Peru Death Scene (1 min) 
- Love, Death, Elvis And Oz: The Making Of Wild At Heart (30 min) 
- Dell's Lunch Counter: Extended Interviews (21 min) 
- Specific Spontaneity: Focus On David Lynch (7 min) 
- Lynch On The DVD Process (3 min) 
- Original 1990 Making Of EPK (7 min) 
- Original Theatrical Trailer (2 min) 
- TV Spots (1 min) 
- Image Gallery (2 min) 

Lynch's Wilds At Heart (1990) is still one of my favorites from his venerable catalog, a Southern Gothic nightmare with two young lovers at the center of it all, surrounded by devils and killers with dark hearts. The new Blu-ray from Shout Select doesn't really improve on the A/V we saw with the Twilight Time release, but they do come through with some nifty new extras, those deleted scenes are worth the purchase price all by themselves.