• Lust In The Dust (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: May 24th, 2019.
    Director: Paul Bartel
    Cast: Tab Hunter, Divine, Lainie Kazan, Geoffrey Lewis, Henry Silva, Cesar Romero
    Year: 1984
    Purchase From Vinegar Syndrome

    Lust In The Dust – Movie Review:

    To some of us, Paul Bartel will always be remembered for his iconic turn as Mr. McGree in Rock N Roll High School but he’s got a few red directorial credits as well – Death Race 2000, Eating Raoul and 1984’s bizarre western comedy Lust In The Dust!

    “He Rode The West... The Girls Rode The Rest! Together They Ravaged The Land!”

    In this picture, John Waters’ must Divine plays a dancehall girl named Rosie Velez. When she winds up lost and alone in the desert, she gets assaulted by Hard Case Williams (Geoffrey Lewis) and his gang of nogoodniks. From there, fortune smiles upon her and she’s rescued by a strong, silent type cowboy named Abel Wood (Tab Hunter).

    Eventually, Abel and Rose wind up in the small town of Chili Verde and hang out at a saloon owned by busty boss lady Marguerita Ventura (Lainie Kazan) where a bouncer named Bernardo (Henry Silva) keeps an eye on things. When Marguerita isn’t running her bar or slinging whores, she’s making time with Bernando while a gaggle of prostitutes and the local priest, Father Garcia (Cesar Romero), round out the cast. When word gets out that there’s gold in the area, everyone wants a piece of it, including not only Abel, but Hard Case and his gang too. And as luck would have it, the map has been tattooed, in two sections, on the posteriors of Rosie and Marguerita, leading everyone in town wanting to get a look!

    Lust In The Dust is a strange and uneven movie. It starts off as a pretty funny exercise in camp with plenty of zingers and throwaway gags but around the half way point settles into a strange and more serious tone where the story matters more than the comedy. It’s here that the movie might lose some people, because the story itself, written by Philip John Taylor, is a bit of a mess.

    Still, there are definitely cultish aspects of the film sure to appeal to those with a taste for the strange. If the film isn’t always firing on all of its comedic cylinders at the same time, it’s interesting for being one of the few times Divine starred in a film that wasn’t directed by John Waters (reportedly he was asked to direct but declined as he didn’t write the script). Divine’s presence in the film is welcome and it’s interesting that the performance he gives here is a rather understated one. He does a bit of scenery chewing not as much as you might expect. It’s interesting to watch him perform in an atypical part. Tab Hunter, on the other hand, is basically channeling Clint Eastwood. He doesn’t do a bad job of it but it doesn’t give him the chance to do much acting. Still, the interesting chemistry that the two showed in Polyester is still here and still effective if understated compared to that picture.

    The rest of the cast are interesting. Lainie Kazan is genuinely funny here, stealing a few of the scenes she shares with her better-known co-stars. Henry Silva’s presence is welcome in any film and he’s a good choice to play the bouncer, even if he’s a bit underused. Geoffrey Lewis is pretty funny as the heavy, while seeing Cesar Romero show up in a movie like this is just plain odd.

    Lust In The Dust – Blu-ray Review:

    Vinegar Syndrome brings Lust In The Dust to Blu-ray on a 50GB disc framed in your choice of 1.85.1 or 2.35.1 widescreen in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer taken from a 4k restoration of the film’s original 35mm negative. There doesn’t seem to be much, if any, difference in the quality of the two transfers. Clarity is good, colors look excellent (especially the blues of the big, open desert sky) and black levels are fine. The picture is clean and clear and nicely detailed, free of any noticeable print damage. The picture is also filmic throughout, free of edge enhancement or noise reduction problems and devoid of compression artifacts. In short, it looks excellent.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track is clean and properly balanced and comes with optional English subtitles. No problems to note with any of the audio. Dialogue stays clean, clear and nicely balanced throughout and there are no problems with any hiss or distortion.

    Extras start out with Return To Chile Verde, a making of piece with Tab Hunter and Allan Glaser that runs just over twenty-minutes. We start off with Hunter talking about how he has recently seen the film, offering his thoughts on it, and how Glasser was Polyester and the impression that Divine made. From here, we learn how Hunter and Divine got along and what their relationship was like, how an idea Hunter had called The Reverend And Rosie evolved into Lust In The Dust with Divine replacing Shirley MacLaine, how Glasser had to work to get the money for the feature much to Divine’s dismay, how and why Waters opted out of the production, how they landed Paul Bartel after he’d finished making Eating Raoul, how Divine was happy to be involved in the film and working with ‘real movie stars,’ some of the outfits used in the film and how they were cumbersome when Divine wore them (and how he had to wear 3 wigs sewn together!) , shooting in New Mexico and more.

    The Importance Of Being Paul is an archival piece that takes a look back at the life and times of Paul Bartel over the course of sixteen-minutes. There’s a lot of great archival clips and photographs here from throughout Bartel’s career as we learn from the likes of Mary Woronov, Roger Corman, Tina Hirsch, Richard Blackburn, John Landis, David Decoteau, Tub Hunter, Allan Glaser, Gina Gallegos, James C. Katz, Bruce Wagner, Doug Lindeman and Bryan Singer about what Bartel was like as a person, the significance of his work and more. Directed by David Gregory, there’s a lot of great stories in here, many of which are complemented by some awesome behind the scenes stills and promotional materials.

    More Lust, Less Dust is an archival making of featurette that clocks in at fifteen-minutes. Here we get interviews with Allan Glaser, Tab Hunter, Lainie Kazan and James Katz in which we learn how the project came to be, the casting of Hunter and Divine, the John Waters connection, how Edith Massey was originally intended to be in the film (we even get some clips of her audition footage), thoughts on working with Bartel and Divine and more. There’s some cool behind the scenes footage in here as well as plenty of promo pictures and behind the scenes photos. Neat stuff. There are some great archival clips with Divine in here too.

    Also included on the disc is a still gallery, menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release we also get a DVD version of the movie taken from the same restoration and featuring the same extras.

    Additionally, this limited edition release which is currently only available from Vinegar Syndrome directly, includes some rad reversible cover art and a collectible slipcover.

    Lust In The Dust – The Final Word:

    Lust In The Dust is disjointed and it doesn’t always work but it is a genuinely interesting film and one that fans of Divine will certainly want to seek out. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray debut for the film looks and sounds great and it features a nice selection of extra features as well. All in all, a fine release for an interesting, if imperfect (and utterly bizarre) spaghetti western parody.

    Click on the images below for full sized Lust In The Dust Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      "Henry Silva’s presence is welcome in any film and he’s a good choice to play the bouncer, even if he’s a bit underused."

      Well dammit. That was the one thing I didn't want to read. I am warming up to the idea of buying this one. Thanks for the review.