By Mountain Monkey
Fans of David Cronenberg will be pleased with the recent slew of classics being released on Blu-ray. Unfortunately, the discs come from various distributors in different locales, so a region-free player would be very useful:
The Brood (1979) — Umbrella Entertainment (Region B)
If you haven’t seen The Brood, this is a corker of a horror-thriller with brilliant performances from Oliver Reed and Samantha Eggar. Not as well known as Cronenberg’s other movies, The Brood lays the foundations for Cronenberg’s strange and disturbing vision that permeates into later movies such as Videodrome (1983) and Crash (1996). We’ve yet to see what the ‘totally uncut’ release of The Brood adds to the 2005 DVD release (from Anchor Bay UK), but a remastered Blu-ray version will be a welcome addition to any Cronenberg collection.
Scanners (1981) — Second Sight (Region B)
Cronenberg fan favorite, Scanners, gets the handsome treatment from Second Sight, which releases the movie in a ‘Limited Edition Steelbook’ Blu-ray edition. The first of three movies, Scanners begins the tale of social misfits who use their telepathic and telekentic powers to battle among themselves and with sneaky humans who want to use ‘scanners’ for their own ends. Strange grimaces, boiling skin and exploding heads seem to feature in all three parts of Scanners, but the first (and only part of the trilogy Cronenberg was involved in) is the best. Second Sight plans to release Part II and III on Blu-ray sometime in the future.
Naked Lunch (1991) — Criterion Collection (Region A)
Criterion upgrades its DVD release of Naked Lunch with this Blu-ray, which includes interesting features such as ‘Naked Making Lunch’, a 1992 documentary about how this ‘unfilmable’ book adaptation was made. William Burrough’s seminal book needs no introduction, and Cronenberg’s film holds up well on its own. Not so much an adaptation of the book (which according to Cronenberg would have cost a fortune to film word-for-word and would have been banned in every country), Naked Lunch is more of a cut-up, mixing elements of the book and Burrough’s own life into a heady and hallucinogenic piece of celluloid that slowly draws you into the ‘Interzone’. Mechanical-anatomical motifs abound — where else would you find a talking-rectum-cockroach-typewriter than in a Cronenberg movie? The Criterion Blu-ray is the best release of Naked Lunch available at the moment. Highly recommended.