Blu-ray Today: Kevin Smith, Troma and Riki-Oh
Tusk – If only Kevin Smith had taken his premise a little bit more seriously, Tusk could have been the movie that would redefine him as more than just the fat guy who makes comic-book and penis jokes; a piece of body horror – about transformation into a walrus – that also feels like revenge-porn against all smug podcasters. Unfortunately, while it shows moments of brilliance, Tusk never coheres because its own filmmaker fails to fully invest in his own premise, killing any horror atmosphere he might have generated with an absurd, unfunny, over-the-top performance by Johnny Depp as a Quebecois detective named after hockey player Guy LaPointe. You can practically envision the cartoon devil and angel on Smith’s shoulders as he directed, giving their otherworldly two cents at every turn, and totally see the devil winning as the end credits roll audio of Smith’s original podcast-spitballing, in which he laughs at how stupid his own idea is, and by extension how stupid an audience would be to emotionally invest in it.
The Blu-ray includes multiple featurettes, some deleted scenes, commentary by Smith and the full original podcast where he came up with the idea. Whatever else you can say about the man, he never shortchanges his fans.
Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky – An unjustly convicted martial artist thrown into prison proceeds to beat the holy shit out of everyone around him in insanely violent ways that make Mortal Kombat fatalities look like something out of Downton Abbey. Based on a Japanese manga, it’s known more for its massive levels of low-budget gore than anything else…but that’s enough, right? Trust me – you need to see this one if you haven’t. Subtitled and dubbed versions are included.
Tromeo & Juliet – Speaking of low-budget gore, Troma’s take on Shakespeare as narrated by Motorhead’s Lemmy is easily Lloyd Kaufman’s best movie ever, in part because of the smartly satirical screenplay by a then-unknown James Gunn, not to mention a strong lead performance by Will Keenan as “Tromeo Q,” the lovelorn hero in this insanely weird (yet familiar) tale of feuding families, penis monsters, body-piercing and diarrhea. Gunn, who has never forgotten his roots, reappears for commentaries and extras, and one can only assume Disney somehow kept the disc from trumpeting “Written by the director of Guardians of the Galaxy” loudly and proudly on the front cover.
Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV – Unfortunately, Kaufman learned the wrong lessons from the success and positive critical reception Tromeo & Juliet brought him, apparently thinking that it was the shit jokes they liked. So this movie comes with a diaper-load of defecation shots and the fakest looking Toxie yet, in an ever-more convoluted story of alternate personalities that does, to its credit, feature at least one memorably hilarious Citizen Kane riff. Co-screenwriter/actor Trent Haaga, bless him, is no James Gunn, but he does his best.
Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie – The only Toxic Avenger movie I haven’t seen pits the radioactive hero against Satan. I have used the full title to great effect in games of charades, though.
Red vs. Blue Season 12 – Damn, that’s a whole lot of seasons for what essentially amounts to a comedy redub of a game of Halo. Funny stuff, though – albeit available for free online still, so why pay for it?
The Equalizer – I never saw the original Edward Woodward TV show, nor did I watch this Denzel Washington movie adaptation; my memory is that the show was aimed at old people, though it’s long enough ago that “old” to me probably meant anyone over 30 at that time.
That’s all I got this week. What would you add?