• Hype! (Collector's Edition)

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: September 26th, 2017.
    Director: Doug Pray
    Cast: Carrie Akre, Mark Arm, Jon Auer, Nils Bernstein, Matt Cameron, Eddie Veder, Chris Cornell, Dale Crover, Tad Doyle, Jack Endino
    Year: 1996
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    The Movie:

    The nineties ‘grunge’ explosion is documented in Doug Pray’s 1996 feature length documentary Hype!. The movie, which is set in and around the Seattle music scene (it travels a bit south to Portland but only briefly – look for a picture of Poison Idea’s Jerry A. and a great clip of Dead Moon doing their thing live), it charts what started as a bunch of smaller, punk inspired garage bands, the rise of some of those bands early in the scene, the origins of Sub Pop Records and then they massive explosion that happened when bands like Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and of course Nirvana started selling millions of records.

    Of course, there’s more to the Seattle scene than just those big three – there’s The Melvins, Gas Huffer, The Fastbacks, the mighty Mudhuney, Tad, Green River, Supersuckers, 7 Year Bitch, Crackerbash, Zipgun, Screaming Trees, Seaweed, Hammerbox, The Young Fresh Fellows, The Posies, The Thrown Ups and loads more. Pretty much everyone gets coverage of some sort here, whether it’s some live footage or interview clips. As well as the bands, that documentary also covers the importance of record labels like Sub Pop and Estrus, and their founders are interviewed here as well. We also get input from promoters, photographers and record producers, even a few band mangers (including Something Weird Video’s Mike Vraney).

    As all of this plays out, we’re treated to some excellent live footage. The Dead Moon clip is a highlight for sure (though that could be bias showing on this writer’s part) but so too is the Mudhoney footage, clips of The Melvins laying down some serious sludge, and clips showing what some of the lesser known acts like The Thrown Ups can do on stage. The interviews are illuminating and cross a pretty broad spectrum. Those who are involved in some of the bigger bands see things a little differently than some of those that were still toiling away. It’s interesting to get feedback from Eddie Veder and Kim Thayil, though maybe not so surprisingly no one from Alice In Chains or Nirvana is interviewed. Archival clips cover them, but given that this was shot after Kurt Cobain committed suicide that band’s absence from the feature is understandable.

    There’s a lot of emphasis here on how big the scene got and how quickly it happened, with various video clips and stills showing off how the broader pop culture scene latched onto all of this. This contrasts with reactions from those in the bands and those who were around before it became the mainstream phenomena that it wound up as. It’s interesting stuff. While it can’t possibly serve as comprehensive (a lot of these bands could fill a feature length documentary on their own) it does serve as both a really good primer on why all of this mattered as well as a look back on a really fun time.


    The AVC encoded 1080p high definition 1.85.1 widescreen transfer is newly transferred in HD from the 35mm interpositive and it looks great. Some of the archival clips and concert footage obviously and understandably lacks the fine detail evident in the rest of the movie but by and large everything looks really good here. There’s decent depth and texture throughout and color reproduction is just fine, as are black levels. There are no noticeable issues with compression, noise reduction or edge enhancement – compared to the old non-anamorphic DVD that came out years back, this is a pretty serious upgrade in the video quality department.

    English language tracks are provided in DTS-HD 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo with optional subtitles offered up in English only. Both tracks sound pretty strong. The 2.0 track is there for the purists while the 5.1 mix opens things up nicely. There are a few spots on the 5.1 mix where the levels on the music spike a bit and a few spots where the dialogue is slightly low but this is nitpicking, overall it sounds quite good. Neither track has any obvious hiss or distortion to note (for the record we watched it with the 5.1 mix enabled but sampled the 2.0 mix throughout playback, just for comparison’s sake) and the dialogue is clean, clear and perfectly audible. When the music kick in is where the track really lights up, however, as it

    New to this Blu-ray release is an audio commentary featuring director Doug Pray. Carried over from the old DVD is an archival audio commentary featuring Pray and producer Steve Helvey. Understandably this covers some of the same ground as the first track but as it’s got Helvey on board a well, it also covers some different aspects of the production. Between the two track, you’ll learn about how and why the documentary came to exits in the first place, getting the bands involved in the film to collaborate, the trials and tribulations of shooting live concerts and more. The new track is interesting in its own right because it allows Pray to look back on things more than a decade later. Obviously a lot has changed in that time and we’ve lost some of the people that were integral to this scene. This is reflected in the new talk which is understandably a bit more of a retrospective discussion than the original commentary.

    Also new to this release is a featurette entitled “Hype! 20 Years After” that is made up of new interviews with members Of Mudhoney, Soundgarden and The Fastbacks as well as record producers Jack Endino and Steve Fisk, manager Susan Silver and photographer Charles Peterson. This is an interesting look back at the making of the film, with some fun stories about the shoot, thoughts on the movie itself and quite a bit more.

    There’s some more archival stuff here, again carried over from the DVD, like Peter Bagge’s animated short Hate based on the Fantagraphics comic book series of the same name. Bagge, whose work is featured throughout the feature, talks for four minutes about his work in the underground comics scene of the nineties. Optional commentary from Pray is included here where he talks about the animated short starring Hate’s Buddy Bradley that was created to be used in the feature but then dropped. That cartoon is also included here, and it’s pretty funny stuff (making you wish that someone would do an animated version of the series – it’s not too late!).

    Also well worth checking out are four additional performances (available with optional commentary from Pray) – Mudhoney covering Hate The Police by The Dicks, The Supersuckers doing Cottail Rider, Pond playing Rock Collection and The Gits playing Here’s To Your Fuck. Great stuff. Also carried over from that DVD? Twenty minutes or so worth of additional interviews featuring Megan Jasper, Art Chantry, Tad, Leighton Beezer, Peter Bagge and a few others. Again, there’s optional commentary from Pray here.

    Aside from that, the disc includes the film’s original theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray release of Hype! is a good one, presenting the seminal documentary on the Seattle ‘grunge’ explosion in excellent shape, with solid audio and with an excellent selection of extra features. The movie itself holds up well, an interesting snapshot of a genuinely exciting time to be a music fan. Recommended!

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

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      I remember playing in a band in the 90's, having one of those DOD Grunge pedals could earn you a beating from other musicians. I think they came out with a "Punkifier" pedal later on, same deal. Instant smack.