• Luther The Geek



    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: January 19th, 2016.
    Director: Carlton J. Albright
    Cast: Edward Terry, Joan Roth, Stacy Haiduk, Jerry Clarke
    Year: 1990
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    The Movie:

    Written and directed by Carlton J. Albright, 1990’s Luther The Geek opens with a scene where a crowd gathers around a circus wagon wherein lies… a geek. A man so tortured by his dependency on alcoholism that he will literally bite the head off of a chicken in exchange for a swallow of rot gut hooch. As the geek does his thing, a young boy named Luther witnesses it and in the ensuing frenzy falls, knocking his teeth on the wagon wheel.

    Years later, that boy has grown into a man named Luther (Edward Terry) and when we meet him he’s being let out of the mental asylum he’s spent the last of his years residing in. His past history of murder has been forgiven and he’s now a free man, sporting some fancy custom metal teeth! Of course, Luther’s not well, not at all, and it isn’t long before he’s terrorizing the locals and biting people on the neck. Eventually he hides out at a farmhouse where a mother (Joan Roth) is attacked and tied up just before her daughter (Stacey Haiduk) and boyfriend (Thomas Mills) arrive for a friendly family get together. Sure, the requisite friendly cop (Jerry Clarke) is around, but will he figure out what’s going on before it’s too late?

    Considerably more polished than its low budget origins might lead you to expect, Luther The Geek is top notch entertainment! There are elements of dark humor scattered throughout the movie, much of which revolves around the fact that our titular character doesn’t speak but instead clucks like a chicken, but the story plays things pretty straight for the most part. The ending is nuts, as it should be, but it works in the context of the story that Albright and company are telling, while a few gruesome gore effects help to keep things appropriately icky.

    The film also makes very good use of some interesting sets and locations. The opening scene, where Luther’s experiences as a child clearly shape his future, look authentic enough in how they’re dressed - the circus wagon is dirty, grubby and oppressive looking while the costumes on the locals gathered to gawk effectively portray small town, urban types well enough. The house where most of the action takes place is fine, it’s a fairly typical farmhouse, but as things shift and the story evolves out of that location, Albright and his cinematographer (David Knox) manage to get some interesting imagery down on film. The outlying areas become eerie and ominous and make for the perfect spot for Luther’s tale to be told.

    As to the performances, Stacey Haiduk does the scared young woman thing well enough (she also gets down to her birthday suit for a completely gratuitous but no less welcome shower scene) even if she’s not going to go down in history for this one. The same can be said for Mills and Clarke, they’re both more than fine in their roles just not really stretching as thespians in any way. Joan Roth is quite solid as the mother, she’s sympathetic enough and really comes into her own in the last half of the film. It will come as a surprise to no one, however, to note that Edward Terry steals the show as Luther. He struts about, with some bizarre chicken-like movements, clucking and cawing at anyone he comes into contact with and really going for it in the scenes where he attacks those unlikely enough to cross his path. It’s very much a physical performance but it works really well. Add to that some tight pacing and slick editing and it’s easy to see why Luther The Geek has remained an oddball cult favorite over the years, and now it’s been given the treatment that it really does deserve. Which brings us to…

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    With all due respect, the old DVD release from Troma looked like crap. Thankfully, Vinegar Syndrome have gone back to the original 35mm negative and restored the film for Blu-ray in 2k. The results are pretty damn amazing. What was once a dark, ugly, messy looking picture really shines in the 1080p AVC high definition encode, framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. Detail is really strong and color reproduction is excellent. Black levels are good and there’s very little print damage, just the odd white speck here and there. Texture and depth are impressive and grain is natural and film-like without ever overpowering things. Skin tones also look good – really, this is Luther like you’ve never seen it before, and the transfer is free of any compression artifacts, edge enhancement or noise reduction.

    Audio chores are handled by an English language DTS-HD Mono track and it too sees a noticeable upgrade in quality compared to the previous DVD release. Levels are properly balanced, there’s no major hiss or distortion and the dialogue is clean and clear. The score has some nice punch do it and the screams, and yes, the clucking noises, resonate pretty effectively. No alternate language options are provided but there are English subtitles included here.

    Extras on the disc kick off with a new audio commentary courtesy of director Carlton Albright moderated by Vinegar Syndrome’s Joe Rubin. This track is pretty thorough, with Albright’s keen memory ensuring that no stone is left unturned. He talks about how he came to work on this project, where some of the ideas came from, the locations used in the picture, the cast and crew assembled for the shoot, the picture’s spotty distribution, the gore effects in the picture and a lot more. Albright comes across as very keen to run through the history of the film and he does just that. This is a genuinely engaging look back at a genuine cult oddity.

    On top of that, we also get a new video interview with actor Jerome Clarke that runs roughly ten minutes. Here he talks about how he was cast in the film, his work as an actor and as a painter (he shows off some of his work here during the piece) and what it was like working with the cast and crew on set. Albright also gets a new interview here, running roughly six minutes. Most of what is gone over here is covered in the commentary as well but he’s an interesting and amusing subject so this is worth checking out as well.

    On top of that, all the bonus features from the previous Troma release that pertain to the feature (sorry, no Radiation March or ‘Greetings from Tromavilla’ intro from Lloyd!) have also been carried over here. These include a five minute interview with the director, a two minute interview with his son (who played Luther in the opening circus scene) and then four brief, scene specific interviews with Albright where he covers the gory attack on the old woman, the scene where Luther fights the cops, the nudity in the shower scene and the film’s ending. We also get a trailer for The Children, which Albright directed, wrote and produced a decade prior back in 1980.

    Outside of that, look for the film’s original theatrical trailer, an optional (and brief) intro to the feature, from Albright (who does not mix words about the film’s original distributor!) static menus and chapter selection.

    As this is a combo pack release, we also get a DVD disc included inside the clear Blu-ray case containing an SD version of the restored transfer and identical supplements to those found on the Blu-ray disc. We also get some nice reversible cover art.

    The Final Word:

    While Luther The Geek may seem like an unlikely candidate for a special edition Blu-ray release, it’s no less a worth candidate. The movie holds up really well, a bizarre piece of low budget horror done with some effective black humor and with more than a few twisted ideas. The Blu-ray release leaves the previous DVD in the dust in terms of the presentation, duplicates the previous extras from that disc and throws in a bunch of new ones as well.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!






























    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      I was on the fence but that shower scene pic has sold me. Nice review.
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      It been awhile since I read this review so I was going in to LUTHER THE GEEK cold. When I heard the Troma Team jingle I involuntarily made the "who farted" face (like I do every time I see the Troma Team cityscape). Instantly regretted my purchase and choice of film viewing for the evening. As the film progressed I started getting a weird feeling. Something along the lines of "Wait a minute, this film doesn't suck yet". When Luther tore into the old lady's neck, the gore effects were impressive. As Luther stalked around the farmhouse for his prey I was surprised how effective those sequences were. By the time Stacy Haiduk unveiled one the greatest sets of breasts I've ever seen, I had forgotten I was watching a film that had anything to do with Troma. LUTHER THE GEEK is very entertaining from beginning to end. The finale was a real shocker. I kept expecting it to be silly, but it was unsettling and strange. VS's disc looks amazing.
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      Yeah, this is a seriously awesome movie. I'm glad VS treated it right.