Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Better Off Dead - I Love the 80's Edition|
Actors: John Cusack, David Ogden Stiers, Kim Darby, Demian Slade, Scooter Stevens
Director: Savage Steve Holland
Similarly Requested DVDs
Better Than Nothing - finally on DVD 7/2002
Holofernes | United States | 07/18/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"It's finally here, and although it doesn't cost $2.00, it's better than nothing (if you caught that reference, you're a fan and will buy it now). I won't go into plot and such - you already know about the movie's merits (or can find them online easily). This review will concern the region 1 (USA) DVD release that came out 7/16/02 at long last! retail around $20-25 USD.One note: I had trouble finding this on release day - the local "big box" boys all told me they had "a copy on order or something"... I guess they didn't anticipate a big demand for this wildy funny 1985 cult comedy. DVD Special Features: Widescreen enhanced for 16:9, English Subtitle Option, Dolby Digital & "English Stereo" (whatever that means). No foreign language tracks, outtakes or even a trailer. No stills of the cast or bios.... nada. Zip. Zero.Initial Impressions: This DVD is truly a bare-bones production from start to finish. I actually thought the audio track was absent at first, due to the lack of any sound at all until the movie proper starts. And of course you can't skip over the annoying studio splash or the stern warning not to copy it. At least there's no ads or previews in front like some.
Menu Options: The menu page is a static photo with three options - Play, Setup and Scene Selection. Setup lets you pick from "Subtitle: English or None". That's it. No other setup options... it looks like you could change Audio Indicator to other foreign languages, but that option does not highlight. Maybe they forgot to add foreign language tracks or the coder forgot to link up to the function. Video: I played this on two different TV/DVD setups - one highend and one old/low end. The Widescreen refused to work on my lowend set, but worked fine on the new DVD player. However, both sets showed the film to be overly bright and rather soft, especially in outdoor scenes. Even inside, there were no good strong blacks to be seen. The print itself seemed rather clean, with no spots or distortions immediately visible. Overall, it looked like a moderate home-transfer job of a videotape via a DVD burner... barely better than my vhs. Such a shame.Audio: Nothing special, just good old Dolby. Not that surround would do much with this movie, but still.. blah.Extras: none. I suspect if they could have had "less than none" they would have. Truly a poor showing for this classic comedy.Summary: Although "gotta have it" fans like myself are happy to have a DVD at last, this shoddy transfer and lack of features makes me a bit ticked at whomever decided to jam it to us fans and charge "normal" dvd prices. It would have been much more accurately priced as a budget dvd in the 12.99 range after all this time... surely the production costs have been paid for many times over.Other: The VHS (20th Cent.Fox) edition indicates 98 minutes, the DVD says 97 minutes... reason not apparent. Also, the keepcase coverart is truly dreadful- whomever created this case cover needs some more photoshop lessons pronto!5 stars for the original movie, 3 stars for this lackluster DVD edition."
Come back, Savage Steve!
Jeffrey Ellis | Richardson, Texas United States | 12/24/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As the years go by, I find myself growing more and more convinced that the '80s were the last true golden age for that often-maligned genre, the teen sex comedy. Whereas now Hollywood shells out a small fortune to finance a Britney Spears soundtrack for films starring young men who make Frankie Avalon look complex (and featuring actresses who seem to have copied Annette Funnicello's bust but none of her own admitedly simple charm), the '80s were usually made with low budgets, up-and-coming young actors who at least seemed to be having fun, scripts that were too joyfully crude to ever be considered truly offensive, and directors who seem to have vanished at the decade's in. My own personal favorite amongst these directors was "Savage" Steve Holland (Is that a perfect '80s name or what?) who defined the entire decade with just two films -- One Crazy Summer and especially Better Off Dead. Both of these films display Holland's crazed, gloriously strange wit, his penchant for casting Curtis Armstrong as a high school students (despite the fact that Armstrong appeared to be in his 30s at the time), his fondness for the random nonsensical cartoon, and especially his early foresight to make John Cusack his favored star.In Better Off Dead, Cusack plays a likeable but nerdy high school schlub. Of course, all teen films claim to be about likeable schlubs but Cusack was one of the few actors who was actually believable as being both likeable and socially unpopular. He's dumped by his girlfriend, decides to beat her new boyfriend in a ski competition, attempts suicide a few times -- in a bit that everyone seems to hold as their personal favorite -- has to deal with a homicidal paper boy who wants his two dollars. Its a crazed plot and Holland doesn't waste much time trying to make it all coherent. Instead, he uses the plot as an excuse to pile on more and more strange sight gags and bizarre characters. In short, rather than pretending his story is some sort of grand artistic statement (like the current crop of youth films), Holland creates his own demented world -- a world where high school students are sent into almost religious ecstacy when their math teacer assigns them 200 pages of homework (their sincerely joyful reaction is my own personal favorite of the film's many out-there moments) and even a cartoon comes to life and asks permission to date Cusack's ex. Its a world where one of my favorite, unjustly unknown actresses of that era -- the sweetly pretty Diana Franklin -- shows up as a French exchange student who offers Cusack a chance at true romance if only he can survive a "fencing" match with an even more nerdy suitor. Its a world where a Japanese exchange student does a perfect imitation of Howard Cosell. In short, its a world that could only have been created in the freedom-loving days of the 1980s and John Cusack becomes the perfect everyman to lead us through that world. There are so many hilarious lines in Better off Dead and it seems everyone has their own personal favorite ("Its a shame people be throwing out a perfectly good white boy like that" comes up a lot though Armstrong shouting "Can you imagine the street value of this" as he snorts up a line of white snow is my own choice). What is truly amazing is that for a film that was dismissed when it originally opened, Better off Dead seems to have become the personal "cult" film of just about everyone who went to high school during the 1980s.Cusack is one of the best actors working today but, for many of his long-time fans, his recent work has been a bit disappointing. Since renouncing the whole teen film thing, some of Cusack's performances have -- on occasion -- seemed to be a case of an actor taking himself too seriously. Even if the films did little for his career, Cusack seemed to, at least, be having fun in films like Better off Dead -- a quality that sometimes appears to missing from his "mature" work. Of course, everyone in Better Off Dead seems to be having fun. Its a fun, genuinely goon natured film and this is why -- despite being dismissed by snobs over the years -- it retains such a strong following. Whenever I see a commercial for yet another film featuring Freddie Prinze, Jr. doing his "soulful" thing while the Backstreet Boys parade in the background, I think of Better Off Dead and its missing director. Come back, Savage Steve and -- whatever you have to do -- bring John Cusack with you. We all deserve to have a little fun again."
Two dollars... Two dollars...
absent_minded_prof | Massachusetts | 06/20/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an uproariously funny flick, allegedly written by a guy experiencing a very black mood who wanted to get it all out of his system. When he showed the product to his friends, they couldn't stop laughing, so he went with the flow and just made it funnier and funnier.John Cusack, as we all know, rocks. He rocks on in this movie, like in all his other ones I've ever seen. For me, I think the thing that worked best about this movie is the sheer concatenation of random, bizarre subplots. The homicidal newspaper boy who wants his 2 dollars; the Japanese brothers who learned to speak English by watching Howard Cosell; Lane's mutant pal, played by the actor who played "Booger" in "Revenge of the Nerds"; Lane's effortlessly brilliant little brother, who gets everything he wants while Lane's life goes to hell; Lane's monumentally un-hip father, who wants to be cool; and the disgusting fat kid who has the hots for his french exchange student; sue me, but it all works.It is also a movie that doesn't really take itself too seriously. The basic story of identifying true love is a good one, but basically, it's all just constantly hilarious. Oh, the trials and tribulations of suburbia. Definitely a must-see."
My favorite movie - disappointed with DVD though
John Bekas Jr. | Chicago, IL | 07/22/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"First off, you have to see this movie. Although it would get awards for being extremely cheezy... it's quite humorous. If you want a movie review, read the excellent posts by Jeffrey Ellis or Joshua Lai. Second, my low rating is based on the actual DVD. I waited, and waited, and waited for this movie to come out on DVD. Considering DVDs have been around more than 5 years already, I'm truly amazed that companies still put out VHS quality works in DVD format. I could have sworn I was watching a videotape (on my HD monitor with progressive scan player). Unless you are a Better Off Dead nut like myself, wait until the studio releases a Collector's edition or Special editor before spending your money on this DVD."