Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Kino Lorber Studio Classics - F/X on Blu-ray ""

Friday, June 19, 2015

Kino Lorber Studio Classics - F/X on Blu-ray

F/X (1986; Robert Mandel)
I'm not one hundred percent sure how F/X found its way into my family's home on VHS, but I know we rented it at one point and it became a big hit. My parents renting the movie most likely had something to do with Bryan Brown and his previous work on THE THORNBIRDS which was a mini-series that my folks liked quite a bit. But F/X was nothing like THE THORNBIRDS. It was in fact like no movie we had seen really. The whole spin on special effects being used to portray real violence within the "reality" of the film was a mind-bending bit of coolness that engaged all of my family, but especially me. You see my love of horror films was still in a early stage, but I was definitely catching the "horror fever" for sure. And action movies were also kinda my bread and butter at that time, so to see this movie about a special effects guy who worked on both kinds of films was right in my wheelhouse. My parents were never big horror movie people, but they always loved a good thriller and F/X created a world where the normal rules of who's dead and who's alive were thrown into question. The filmmakers were definitely able to amp up the paranoia in this tale of an F/X man (Bryan Brown) who allows himself to become entangled with staging a fake assassination for the Department of Justice. The witness he is trying to protect is a mob snitch played perfectly by the late great Jerry Orbach. Brian Dennehy plays a cop that's investigating the faked murder. It all gets complicated and twisty, but the movie is a solid thriller that still holds up to this day. I believe that F/X was something of a breakout role for Bryan Brown (at least for movies), who was a lesser-known Australian actor who had a couple things he was recognized for (THE THORNBIRDS as I mentioned, and the film BREAKER MORANT). Australian actors seemed to have a spike in popularity around this time. The release and subsequent success of CROCODILE DUNDEE that same year definitely made Americans more aware of Australia via that movie's main character, Mick Dundee (played by Paul Hogan). I remember that my family say CROCODILE DUNDEE in a drive-in and we all loved it at the time. While that film was pretty family friendly, F/X was much more an R-rated movie and that's one of the things I remember about. My parents were pretty careful about showing R-rated stuff to my sisters and myself. I certainly saw a few rated R movies on my own outside of my parents supervision, but F/X was one of the earliest ones that I can recall my parents showing to us. There something special about that to me at the time and it made F/X stand out to me among a lot of the films I was seeing around that time. That combined with the fact that it is a genuinely good and suspenseful flick has given it a lot of staying power with me. I remember showing it to my son (now 16) several years ago for the first and it went over quite well with him too. As I am guessing it was with my parents showing the film to me, the fact that the movie illustrates that many of the most violent sequences within it are totally fake and goes one further by showing how they were done makes it a much different experience. It's almost educational.
For the cinephiles out there, the cast should be appealing as it includes Cliff De Young, Mason Adams (the voice of the Smucker's Preserves commercials) Tom Noonan, and Joe Grifasi.
Kino Lorber Studio Classics has put together a nice transfer for this Blu-ray and has included a few extras as well.

Special Features:

-- "Murder By Illusion - An Interview with Robert Mandel"(14 Mins) In this new Interview with Director Robert Mandel, he discusses his early career as well as his recollections of F/X.
--"Making F/X" (14 mins) This vintage making-of featurette includes interviews with Bryan Brown, Jerry Orbach, Director Robert Mandel, Special Effects man John Stears and others. For a fluffy little promotional piece, it's pretty neat and shows the behind the scenes setup fora few key sequences in the film.

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