Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: William Smith, Claudia Jennings, John Saxon, Nicholas Campbell, Don Francks
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama
Studio: Wea-des Moines Video Release Date: 04/27/2004
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"I have great affection for this movie." - David Cronenberg
Chao Chih-Hao | Miami, FL USA | 06/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The 2-Disc Limited Edition was purchased impulsively on its street date release, after I saw it staring at me on a shelf at a local retailer. Having greatly enjoyed Rabid, The Brood, Videodrome, and Crash, I had long been curious to see Stereo and Crimes of the Future. Yet having picked it up for Cronenberg's two early features, I was watching Fast Company for the sixth time on Saturday night of that same week.Phil Adamson (John Saxon): You know you're out of your goddamn mind, Johnson. You're out of your mind, and you're over-the-hill. First you turn my trailer into a goddamn whorehouse, now it's an insane asylum!John Saxon's villainy as the FastCo oil company rep is hilarious. Aside from the wonderfully written dialogue, his facial expressions and gestures are fantastic. Lonnie "Lucky Man" Johnson's (William Smith) team consists of a Western genre family-like trio, with character names such as Billy the Kid, P.J. and Elder; all wonderful performances. Gary "The Blacksmith" Black (Cedric Smith) is Lonnie's top competitor. He is neither a one-dimensional friend nor foe. His personal team members, known as Stoner and Meatball, are a funny pair. Stoner is likable and not-such-a-bad guy, while Meatball is a classic A-hole. Candy (Judy Foster) is Miss FastCo, a not-so-dumb blonde with feelings for Billy, and who makes an admirable stand when her self-respect is threatened by her employer's demands. William Smith and Claudia Jennings are the long-distance relationship lovers that I, on a personal level, have grown strongly attached to. Both, individually and together, add to the film something magical and nostalgic for me that I find very rare in most movies that I've seen. The scenes involved with them makes me feel like a small boy spending time with a favorite aunt and uncle. Mind you, I come from a Hispanic middle class background.
The cinematographer is largely to thank for capturing the humor of the film, as well as the documentary-like and exciting treatment of the dragsters; not to mention a multitude of highly admirable shots. Also worth mentioning is the work of Art Director Carol Spier, as well as the choices of music that significantly add to this wonderful little film. I have to say that Fast Company has been one of the most delightful surprises that I have encountered on DVD so far this year, along with The Passion of Joan of Arc, Flesh + Blood, Humanité, and Diary of a Country Priest.
Now, about Stereo and Crimes of the Future - after my purchase, I got home as fast as I could, and saw them first. Alas, they did not fully appeal to me, though Cronenberg's aesthetic approach to the storytelling on both, and his very nice camera work, did. I am very glad to have finally seen them, and I do intend to redo so again in the immediate future.
Blue Underground along with the personal supervision of Cinematographer Mark Irwin present an amazing print for a late-Seventies B-movie. The colors and sharpness are outstanding; and the sound is extremely satisfying. David Cronenberg's commentary is both interesting and very pleasing. His own enthusiasm on the film, and at the discovery of the restoration of a thought-to-be lost seen is wonderful. Comments like: "...it's very much me. And I don't think anybody else could have made this movie the way ... that I did." He stumbles at this last comment, probably concerned with sounding egotistical. However, with his style being so distinct along with his input into the script, he has justification to make that statement. Cronenberg also remarks on the commentary: "Worth every penny of it, wasn't it?" I quite agree. And am very pleased to hear a director satisfied with his own work, for a change. This film should appeal to fans of Seventies exploitation and car racing, while bitter and stubborn Cronenberg no-nonsense horror fans might need some lubing, or repeated viewings, to appreciate it for what it is and not for what they want it or expect it to be.Billy "The Kid" Brooker (Nicholas Campbell): You know something, gang? There's a lot of junk you can put down your pipes, you know what I mean. Now I'm talking about the good stuff. You gotta take care of your baby's engine. So I suggest you go like the pros, and go with FastCo. If you want that power, that performance, and that protection. Yeah. FastCo. This is what all the pro racers use. FastCo Motor Treatment. (Chuckles). All right."
An Experiment in Telepathy
leofaraon | Brazil | 04/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Stereo and Crimes of the Future are among the best underground films produced in North America in the late 60's/early 70's, a time when Kenneth Anger and Martin Scorsese were also making their first films. Thanks to Blue Underground for releasing those two important productions (along with the great Fast Company in a fantastic transfer) in such a classy edition. May the experiment in telepathy begin..."
Ashley Allinson | Alliance Atlantis | 02/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Fast Company (1979) is truly great B-cinema despite the tendencies of scholastic indifference. Whether its lack of reception has been due to lack of availability, its straight-to-Beta stigma or, most probable, an audience's disregard for anything differing from the Cronenbergian macabre is open for debate. What is certain is that this effort, his first with a budget exceeding the million-dollar mark, was a precursor to the personal trajectory of The Brood (1979).
Divorce proceedings underway, David changed focus to his consuming passion of the automobile. The final product was a decent drag strip movie, "a good B-Movie" he admits. The good versus evil tension included in most racing films is combined with some point of view shots from the car racers proper, in itself, well worth the price of the rental. Spending most of the film arguing with John Saxon, his greasy sponsor from Fast Company Motor Oil, William Smith plays Lonnie 'Lucky Man' Johnson, whose iconic status as drag strip guru is tested race after race. His real stroke of luck however comes through his onscreen squeeze, November Playmate 1969 Claudia Jennings. This marked consecutive attempts at casting notables from the adult industry.
Attempting to recreate the similar appeal and subsequent audience draw that worked for him in Rabid, Ms Jennings' luck ran out in an ironic off-screen car-accident, taking her young life shortly after the film was completed.
Important release of three early films for the Cronenberg fa
Muzzlehatch | the walls of Gormenghast | 09/25/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After seeing EASTERN PROMISES I tried to make good on my promise to myself to go through the rest of Cronenberg's filmography that I hadn't yet seen, and this Blue Underground offering with three of his earlier films was a great way to knock most of them off. I started with FAST COMPANY, a 1979 film about drag-strip racers in the Northern plains states. It's likable enough, with veteran tough guy character actor William Smith giving a solid performance as star "Lucky Man" Johnson who has at the beginning of the film had just about enough of his snake-oil salesman of a corporate sponsor (who else but John Saxon) and is itching to get out of the biz altogether or take charge of his own career. Likable -- but utterly predictable as well, with Johnson eventually burning his bridges and forming his own little retinue of racers and girlfriends of racers to take on his replacement, who of course respects Johnson and doesn't like the dirty pool that Saxon and his henchmen are playing to try to discredit him. Not a whole lot else to be said about it; if you're into drag racing, this might be a lot more fun; for me it was pretty mediocre. Seems like an odd choice for Cronenberg, but he was apparently a pretty serious car buff at the time.
STEREO (1969) I had seen once before, many years ago. Along with CRIMES OF THE FUTURE it was filmed on a University of Toronto site in Scarborough, Ontario. My earlier viewing of the film had been on a poor-quality bootleg and I am pleased to report that not only does the film hold up to a 2nd viewing, the transfer is quite fine. The voice-over narration to the silent-shot black-and-white footage certainly lends some verisimilitude to the pseudo-documentary conceit of an experimental psych lab devoted to telepathy. Various colleagues of the para-psychologist Luther Stringfellow discuss his experiments and theories and how they bear out in a test group of young subjects apparently capable of various ESP abilities; we watch characters wander around alone or interact with each other individually or in small groups, and their strangeness (in particular one young vampirically-dressed man of rather odd visage) alternates between a sort of normal weirdness and something....else. Are they in fact gifted? Is the narration actually in sync with what we are seeing? Watch it and find out; uncommonly fascinating, if somewhat obtuse. Worthy of comparison with Greenaway's early pseudo-documentary shorts.
CRIMES OF THE FUTURE (1970) starts out stronger, more dynamic than its predecessor, STEREO and indeed throughout the film there is more of an emphasis on "action" though it is a weird, distanced, poorly choreographed sort of action that could almost be at home in "Dr. Who"; but on the whole the film is very similar to STEREO both thematically and cinematically, apart from the major obvious difference of color film. Like the previous film it was shot silent and makes use of voice-overs, and like STEREO it is an SF film about a fictional scientific institute, in this case dedicated to finding the cause of a worldwide plague that has killed off the majority of women. Also starring as he did in the previous film is Ronald Mlodzik, who seems to perfectly convey a 60s Mod vision of an otherworldly character, in this case (apparently) a journalist -- or perhaps a physician/scientist, Adrian Tripod, doing a story -- or studying patients at an institute -- somewhere -- afflicted with this strange disease/plague/virus but not yet dead. Like the earlier film it has an unseen (apparently dead in this case) mastermind scientist character, called Antoine Rouge, who may in fact be responsible for the plague and who may also be reborn in another body. This was an extraordinarily dense and difficult work which I can only scratch the surface of on one viewing; I don't know how much I liked it, but I was awfully impressed at the intellect behind it; like Cronenberg's first feature, it bears comparison with the early works of Peter Greenaway.
All in all then, this is a must-buy for any fans of Cronenberg, or I would think, experimental cinema and the more cerebral/literary end of science fiction on film."