• Hot Dog... The Movie! (Synapse Films) Blu-ray Review



    Released by: Synapse Films
    Released on: February 25th, 2020.
    Director: Peter Markle
    Cast: David Naughton, James Saito, Patrick Houser, Tracy Smith, Shannon Tweed, John Patrick Reger
    Year: 1984
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    Hot Dog... The Movie! – Movie Review:

    Harkin Banks (Patrick Houser) is a former farm boy who now makes his living as a ‘hot-dogger’ in competitive downhill skiing competitions. When we catch up with him, he’s on his way to Squaw Valley, California to compete in an upcoming tournament. On his way to the resort, he picks up a foxy runaway named Sunny (Tracy Smith) and she winds up hanging around and lounging about his hotel room once they arrive.

    Before long, Harkin and Sunny have made friends with Dan (David Naughton) and his crew, the so-called Rat Pack, but so too has Harkin made an enemy in the form of Rudi Garmisch (John Patrick Reger), or Garnshit if you’re not on his side. He’s an Austrian skier with an ego the size of a mountain. He and his team, the Rudettes, intend to win the competition by whatever means necessary. Tension ramps up when Rudy’s alluring ex-girlfriend, Sylvia Fonda (Shannon Tweed), decides she wants Harkin for herself. It all leads up to the inevitable conclusion featuring the deadly ‘Chinese Downhill’ competition (“the rules of the International, Chinese downhill: there are none.”) – but of course, there’s all manner of hijinks to get through first! Oh, and Harkin’s signature jump is called the ‘Kick-Ass Blaster.’

    “Hey, Rudy, you can kiss my ass. Not on zis side and not on zat side, but right in zee meedle!”

    Never once concerned with political correctness, Hot Dog… The Movie! is a picture full of racial stereotypes (at one point a Japanese man named Kendo Yamamoto tells a woman “Hello. Your tits are as beautiful as Mt. Fuji, would you mind if I rubbed my face in them?”), gratuitous nudity, questionable sexual situations and ridiculous sight gags. It’s also very funny if you’re in the right frame of mind for it. The movie isn’t deep at all and the plot mostly exists to provide the forward momentum necessary to bring the audience from one sight gag or sex scene to the next, the story here really is pretty thin, but it does what it needs to do to entertain.

    The performances reflect this. No one here offers any sort of transformative performance but they all inhabit their characters well enough in that, yeah, they’re funny and/or look good naked. Houser (who also shows up in Weekend Pass) is a likeable enough hero and David Naughton (probably best known for An American Werewolf In London) is a lot of fun as his comrade in arms on the slopes. John Patrick Reger seems to be having a blast playing the villain and he’s pretty damn good at it so long as you don’t need to take any of this seriously (and you really don’t). As to the ladies? They’re not given quite as much to do as the guys but Tracy Smith, who made Bachelor Party the same year, is fun to look at and Shannon Tweed, two years off of her stint as 1982’s Playmate of the Year, vamps it up in a pretty impressive manner!

    Note that the version of the film presented on this Blu-ray release is writer/co-producer Mike Marvin's original ninety-six-minute cut of the movie and that it contains a fair bit more nudity than the theatrical cut of the film but also an additional scene towards the end of the film that fills in some blanks left open in the theatrical version.

    Hot Dog... The Movie! – Blu-ray Review:

    Hot Dog... The Movie! hits Blu-ray with an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.78.1 widescreen taken from a new 4k restoration sourced from the producer’s uncut 35mm negative and it’s hard to imagine it looking much better than it does here. The movie is presented on a 50GB disc with the feature taking up just over 30GBs of space. Detail is very, very strong and the colors are really impressive. The whites of the snow hills really pop as do a lot of the garish eighties fashions featured in the picture, which often make use of really bright, bold color combinations. Skin tones are nice and lifelike and the image is filmic throughout, showing no issues with noise reduction or edge enhancement. The transfer moves at a nice, strong bit rate and as such, there are no issues with any noticeable compression artifacts. All in all, a very strong effort from Synapse on the picture quality front.

    Audio options are offered in both 2.0 Mono and 5.1 Surround Sound 24-bit DTS-HD tracks in the film’s native English. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. The 5.1 mix opens things up quite a bit, especially the score, and it sounds quite good. Dialogue stays up front but some effects are spread out to the rear channels. Both tracks are properly balanced, clean and free of any noticeable hiss or distortion. Again, nice job.

    Extras start off with an audio commentary with co-producer/writer Mike Marvin who is impressively upfront about what it was like to work on this picture. Lots of great stories here about how he came on board this project, working with Markle, his thoughts on the script and how the movie turned out and where some of the inspiration for a few key scenes came from. Marvin’s got a really good sense of humor and does a good job with this track, it’s quite a bit of fun.

    Also, absolutely worth checking out is Hot Dog: The Documentary, an all-new fifty-minute featurette made up of new interviews with Marvin, director Peter Markle and cast members David Naughton, Tracy Smith, John Patrick Reger and Frank Koppala. This covers some of the same ground as the commentary but there’s more than enough original material in here to make it absolutely worthwhile for fans of the film. Lots of details here about the debauchery on set, the locations, having to shoot the ski scenes, how various participants in the production did and didn’t always see eye to eye on this, and lots more. Very interesting and entertaining stuff.

    Finishing off the extras on the disc is an original theatrical trailer, a TV spot, a quartet of radio spots, and music video for the crazy catchy ‘Top Of The Hill’ theme song. Menus and chapter selection are also provided and inside the keepcase alongside the disc is an insert booklet containing a selection of liner notes from Mike McPadden, the author of Teen Movie Hell. This is a pretty substantial piece, offering a sincere appreciation of the film’s attributes and it makes for a fun read.

    Hot Dog... The Movie! – The Final Word:

    Hot Dog... The Movie! is silly, funny, sexy and occasionally kind of sleazy too! All the hallmarks of the classic eighties sex comedy are here and then some, it’s a pretty entertaining watch and very much a product of its time! Synapse has done right by the film and its fans, presenting the longer cut in gorgeous shape and with some really sold extra features too. Recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Hot Dog... The Movie! Blu-ray screen caps!