Friday, August 12, 2016


The phrase "instant cult classic" is thrown around often and I have to take slight issue with its use. Those of us hardcore cult movie fans understand that cult classic status is not something to be taken or issued lightly. Only truly special movies are deserving of this special status. And a big part of a cult movie's reputation is built up over time. These movies are passed around between friends and gradually build up a passionate fanbase. In many case, they didn't connect with an audience at the time of their release and find new life on home video (or in the olden days - cable TV). Cult movies are can often be strange and unique, which may have been part of what kept them from finding theatrical success in the first place. Some are just victims of bad timing and were buried by a mega-successful blockbuster when they came out. Regardless, they have found their "tribe" as it were over the years and have become beloved items of culture. Movies like BUCKAROO BANZAI are to be absolutely celebrated. Sure, there may be a faction of fans who claim to have loved the film soon after it came out and that these "new" fans aren't as hardcore as they, but that's just the kind of fervor that movies like this attract. BUCKAROO BANZAI is one of those films that almost doesn't feel like it originated on this planet. Sure, the earthly craft of filmmaking is present in the movie, but it's just such an out there tale that it would seem to have originated somewhere else. This is due in part to the story itself, which deals with alternate dimensions, but the big thing is the Buckaroo Banzai character himself. Rarely has such a character been attempted since this film's release and there's a reason for that. Few movies could pull of a character like him. Some may try to classify themselves as a "jack of all trades" but Buckaroo does quite the job of personifying that description. He is at once a neurosurgeon, a particle physicist, a race car driver (and experimental car driver) and on top of all that - he rocks a mean guitar (he's a rock star as well you see). Readers of this site are likely familiar with him as he is something of a cult movie icon and that's what I pride this site being kind of about after all. But if for some reason you don't know him, and are unaware of Peter Weller's dazzling performance as Banzai himself - I recommend correcting that forthwith. It's hard to even describe the plot without sounding like a raving lunatic, so I'm not gonna try. Just watch it and see the righteousness for yourself.
Needless to say, I am a huge fan of this film. Merely hearing the theme music puts me into a state of near giddy euphoria (it's a delightful tune - listen to it below as it plays under the trailer).
The cast of the film is an ensemble of cult legend. Running down the list, beyond Peter Weller, you have Jeff Goldblum (in an amazing cowboy outfit that I've always wanted to do as a Halloween costume), John Lithgow, Ellen Barkin, Christopher Lloyd (as the wonderfully named John Bigboote), Clancy Brown, Matt Clark, Rosalind Cash and Lewis Smith (the HEAVENLY KID himself) . Even Dan Hedaya and Vincent Schiavelli have fun roles as goofy alien bad guys. It's just a who's who of cult actor glory and it adds up to magical goodness. The fact that Peter Weller could have to absolutely iconic performances in his career - both as Buckaroo Banzai and Robocop is a testament to how amazing an actor he is and how good his nose for good material is as well. So much of Hollywood films coming together can come down to luck and happenstance, but we are all the better for Weller having been used in these movies.
I also love the story you might have heard about the proposed sequel for BUCKAROO BANZAI (which is specifically teased at the end of the movie) and how the script for that fim (or elements of it) are supposed to have been adapted into another great cult masterpiece - BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA. That happens to be one of my very favorite films so it's pleasing to know that it shares a genetic kinship with BUCKAROO BANZAI. Both are fantastically realized classics that could only have been made in the 1980s. Ahh the 80s. I miss them dearly sometimes (other times...not so much).
Special Features:
This is one of the inaugural discs in the new Shout Select line and it very much functions as a Collector's Edition should. Some cool new extras here and a nice-looking transfer. I'm very much looking forward to more from Shout Select after this release.

Disc 1 (Blu-ray):
-NEW Into The 8th Dimension – A Two-Hour Retrospective Documentary Including Brand-New Interviews With The Cast And Crew
-NEW Audio Commentary With Michael And Denise Okuda
-Audio Commentary With Director W.D. Richter And Writer Earl Mac Rauch

Disc 2 (DVD):
-Buckaroo Banzai Declassified Featurette
-Alternate Opening Sequence (with Jamie Lee Curtis)
-Deleted Scenes
-Jet Car Trailer
-Theatrical Trailer

BUCKAROO BANZAI can and should be purchased here:

1 comment:

Friday's Child said...

So it's worth buying yet another copy? :D

One of the most brilliant things about this movie in retrospect is how they give Buckaroo more backstory than almost any other movie character ever simply by implication, and don't bother with an "origin story". Thank goodness!