• Schlock

    Released by: Turbine Media
    Released on: April 27th, 2018.
    Director: John Landis
    Cast: John Landis, Eric Allison, Saul Kahan, Susan Weiser, Emile Hamaty
    Year: 1973
    Purchase From Diabolik DVD

    The Movie:

    John Landis’ 1973 feature-length directorial debut film was…. Schlock! It’s a goofy, low budget throwback to the monster movies that so clearly had an effect on Landis as a kid and it serves as both a peek at things to come in his career and a love letter of sorts to his influences. The end result? A whole lot of fun.

    When the movie begins, local newscaster Joe Putzman (Eric Allison) telling the viewers at home about ‘the banana killer’ that has been active in the small town where all of this takes place. The news camera surveys the latest carnage – a bunch of bodies strewn about with banana peels all over the place. Shortly after that he interviews noted scientist Professor Shlibovitz (Emile Hamaty as E.G. Harty) who puts for the theory that the banana monster is in fact a Schlock, a prehistoric apeman who has been preserved for years and is now running amuck.

    As luck would have it, Shlibovitz is right, much to the dismay of Detective Sgt. Wino (Saul Kahan), the top cop on the case trying to keep the town safe. As he and the rest of the boys in blue do what they can to catch the creature, the Schlock (played by Landis himself in a monkey suit designed by none other than Rick Baker) falls for a beautiful blind girl who mistakes him for a dog named Willie! When she finds out the truth about the beast, he goes on a rampage, stops in to catch a screening of The Blob, and then goes back on a rampage again. Can anything stop Schlock?!?!??

    Schlock is never less than completely ridiculous and never less than completely entertaining. Played very much with a wink and a nod to the camera pretty much at all times, the movie is a complete blast thanks primarily to the monster himself. This guy does it all – he gives TV interviews, he plays piano, he tosses cops over buildings, he stomps on his opponents and he even cops a feel! Landis is clearly having a blast under the faux-fur and rubber mask, performing the role with a lot of energy and enthusiasm and making the movie all the better for it. At the same time, it also works really well as a tribute to the creature features that clearly inspired it in the first place. Obviously, we get nods to King Kong and The Blob but there are also references to Frankenstein in here and 2001: A Space Odyssey as well. The sight gags are fairly constant, though the first half of the movie is more heavily populated with humor than the last, and the picture moves at a good pace.

    Clearly the film was made for little money. Even in 1971 (which is when it was shot), $60,000 wasn’t a lot of money for a feature film. But the energy and the creativity on display make this work, and credit where it’s due, that monkey suit is really nicely done (it’s no surprise that Baker went on to become one of the best in the effects business). This isn’t Landis’ best movie, nor his funniest, but for a first effort it’s pretty damned entertaining. It’s eighty-minutes of top-notch nonsense!


    Schlock looks fantastic on Blu-ray from Turbine Media on a 50GB region free disc framed at 1.78.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. Detail is excellent and the source material used for the transfer in great shape. There’s very little print damage here to discuss while the image retains a naturally grainy look to it. Color reproduction is excellent and black levels are nice and deep. There’s nice depth and texture throughout and the image is free of any digital manipulation like noise reduction, edge enhancement or artificial sharpening. The feature is given a strong bit rate to keep compression artifacts out of the equation and all in all, the picture quality here is quite strong. This is a substantial upgrade over the previous Anchor Bay DVD release (which looked quite good in its own right for the time).

    English and German language tracks are provided in DTS-HD 2.0 Mono with optional subtitles also provided in both languages. The English track sounds crisp and clean. It’s properly balanced and the dialogue is easy to follow. There aren’t any problems with any hiss or distortion and while there might be one or two spots where some sibilance can be heard, it’s the exception rather than the rule – for the most part this sounds just fine.

    Extras start off with an audio commentary featuring John Landis and Rick Baker, in English with German subtitles, taken from the old DVD release. They talk quite candidly about making the film together back in 1973, about what it was like working on a miniscule budget, how and why various participants were cast in the film, and of course, the importance of the gorilla suit to the picture. It’s a fun track that’s delivered with a good sense of humor, quite easy to listen to and also genuinely interesting.

    Up next is a forty-one-minute featurette entitled Birth Of A Schlock that is essentially a comprehensive interview with Landis. He covers some of the same ground here as he does on the commentary track but it’s still worthwhile to check this out as he also covers some additional ground. The piece is well-shot and edited and a nice companion to the commentary.

    Rounding out the extras is a 1972 trailer for the feature, a 1979 trailer for the feature, a Banana Monster reissue trailer, two German theatrical trailers, a Trailers From Hell entry for Schlock, a few radio spots, an amusing video intro from Landis, animated menus and chapter selection.

    It’s also worth taking a minute to discuss the packaging, which is a sturdy mediabook that not only holds the disc but that has a nice full color booklet sewn into it that contains a bunch of archival photos as well as writing from Rolf Geisen and Ingo Strecker that cover a lot of ground - the influence of King Kong, a history of ape films, Rick Baker’s work on the picture, the monkey suit and the importance of distributor Jack H. Harris. All of the essays are presented in both English and German, which is a nice touch.

    As this is a combo pack release, there’s also a DVD version of the movie containing the same extras as are found on the Blu-ray held inside the media book packaging. The DVD, however, presents the film framed at 1.33.1 fullframe, so it’s interesting to have it for that reason (it would appear to be open matte).

    The DVD also includes a ‘video commentary’ from Torsten Sträter, Hennes Bender and Gerry Streberg that plays with the movie in the corner of the screen when enabled. This is also available as a conventional audio commentary as well. Neither of these are subtitled in English, unfortunately.

    The Final Word:

    Schlock is a kick and this Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack from Turbine Media is a great way to appreciate it all over again. The presentation is gorgeous and the disc itself is stacked with extras. The movie itself remains a genuinely fun tribute to the B-movies that came before it – recommended!

    Note that this release is limited to 2,000 pieces.

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

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. John Bernhard's Avatar
      John Bernhard -
      My ex used to babysit for JL's family many moons ago.
      I always regret not trying to accidentally pick her up @ work and meet the guy.

      Caps look really nice.