Release Date(s)1978 (November 17, 2021)
Studio(s)Umbrella Entertainment (Ozploitation Classics #8)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B-
- Extras Grade: A-
[Editor's Note: This is a REGION-FREE disc.]
Call it what you will—documentary, mockumentary, rockumentary—but no one word fully describes the insanity and entertainment value found within Stunt Rock. Brian Trenchard-Smith’s wildly over-the-top slice of rock and roll exploitation, which was made prior to Christopher Guest’s and Rob Reiner’s seminal This Is Spinal Tap, was filmed at break-neck speed and completed in a few short months, from script to screen. It didn’t find its footing upon its initial theatrical release and went through a number of title changes, including Sorcery and the bland-as-water Crash, but it became a cult favorite many years later thanks to repertory screenings and its inclusion in the Australian filmmaking documentary Not Quite Hollywood.
The thin-as-paper plot revolves around real life stuntman Grant Page traveling to Los Angeles for stunt work in a film, befriending reporter Lois (Margaret Trenchard-Smith) along the way, as well as his get-up-and-go co-star Monique van de Ven (as herself). In between jobs, he tells them split-screen tales about the many extreme stunts he’s performed over the years, some not working out that well, but always pushing the boundaries of sanity and safety. His Amercan-based cousin introduces them all to the band Sorcery, a Peter Gabriel’s Genesis meets Kiss spectacle of heavy metal and magic wherein the King of the Wizards endlessly battles the Prince of Darkness whilst their brand of electrifying hard rock plays in the background.
In other words, there’s no need to follow a plot in this film. It’s not concerned with story mechanics or fleshing out characters, though it occasionally attempts to remind you that you’re watching a movie by shoehorning in a love story between Grant Page and Lois. The real stars of the show are the incredible stunts and Sorcery’s stage show, and the final film is jam-packed with both. Stunt Rock managed to achieve midnight movie status ala The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but it still flies under the radar of many genre fans who’ve never even heard of. But if you’ve made frequent trips to festival screenings or an Alamo Drafthouse, or purchased a trailer compilation disc, you’ve more than likely been exposed to Stunt Rock.
Stunt Rock was shot by cinematographer Robert Primes (as Bob Carras) on 35 mm film using Todd-AO 35 cameras and anamorphic lenses, finished photochemically, and framed at the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Umbrella Entertainment brings the film to Blu-ray for the first time with what is advertised as a “brand new 4K scan of the original film elements,” the source being an interpositive. Minor flaws aside, Stunt Rock has never looked better. Because the film uses various bits of footage of Grant Page’s stunt work, as well as a few opticals, it tends to have uneven grain and a bit of softness, but it appears organic and true to its source. Detail is boosted over the now twenty-year-old DVD release, especially during the concert sequences. The color palette in the scenes offers a wide range of hues, particularly the various colored lights and costumes. Swatches of green, red, and blue around the city are also potent. Blacks are deep with good shadow detail and the image is stable with good contrast. Only mild scratches and frequent speckling are leftover. It’s an imperfect-looking film, but it looks spectacular on Blu-ray.
The audio is included in English 2.0 DTS-HD with optional subtitles in English SDH. The film was originally released in 4-track stereo, which is sadly not represented here. What we have instead is a track that borders on mono. The mildest of stereo activity can be experienced, but you really have to pay close attention to even notice it, which defeats the purpose. As is, it’s a decent mono-type track with good fidelity, considering its source. Dialogue exchanges are mostly clear, but given the chaotic nature of the production, not all of it is front and center. There’s also a few sibilance issues, but nothing harmful. The quality of the sound effects and score push the needles into the red, causing occasional distortion. It’s an otherwise fine soundtrack. Just don’t think about what you’re missing.
The following extras are included:
- Audio Commentary with Brian and Margaret Trenchard-Smith, and Grant Page
- Audio Commentary with Brian Trenchard-Smith, Marty Fink, and Richard Blackburn
- Introduction to the Film (SD – 2:00)
- The Ultimate Rush: A Conversation with Brian and Margaret Trenchard-Smith (HD – 80:07)
- Extended Not Quite Hollywood Interviews (HD – 17:34)
- 2009 Interviews (SD – 68:34)
- Audio Interview with Perry Morris (HD – 22:21)
- Brian Trenchard-Smith’s Alamo Drafthouse Appearances (SD – 24:48)
- Cannes Promo Reel (Upscaled SD – 19:30)
- Theatrical Trailer (Upscaled SD – 2:23)
- Brian Trenchard-Smith Trailer Reel (SD and HD – 40:55)
- Trailers from Hell with Brian Trenchard-Smith (HD – 3:51)
Both audio commentaries were recorded in 2009 for the Code Red DVD release. They provide a wealth of information about the making of the film, as well as retrospective feelings about it and the experience making it. They’re both lively, insightful, and enjoyable. The Introduction to the Film, also from 2009, features Brian Trenchard-Smith and Richard Taylor. The Ultimate Rush is a new Skype/Zoom interview with Brian and Margaret Trenchard-Smith from their home with interviewer Justin King. Justin asks them many questions about the film and its star. The Extended Not Quite Hollywood Interviews feature Grant Page and Brian Trenchard-Smith. The 2009 Interviews include Brian Trenchard-Smith, Marty Fink, Richard Blackburn, and Richard Taylor as participants. The Audio Interview with Perry Morris also features Brian and Margaret Trenchard-Smith, interviewing drummer for Sorcery. The Alamo Drafthouse Appearances feature Brian Trenchard-Smith during several post-screening Q&As. The Cannes Promo Reel is sourced from a VHS tape and features footage from the film with introductory commentary. The Trailer Reel features trailers for The Love Epidemic, The Man from Hong Kong, Death Cheaters, Stunt Rock, Turkey Shoot, BMX Bandits, Frog Dreaming (aka The Quest), Dead End Drive-In, Day of the Panther, Strike of the Panther, Out of the Body, Danger Freaks, Night of the Demons 2, Leprechaun 3, Leprechaun 4: In Space, Britannic, Megiddo: The Omega Code 2, Operation Wolverine (aka Seconds to Spare), Arctic Blast, The Cabin, Chemistry, Absolute Deception, and Drive Hard. Missing from the Code Red DVD release is The Stuntmen documentary, also directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith.
The disc sits inside a blue amaray case with artwork featuring the film’s US poster artwork on the front and a poster featuring the alternate title Sorcery on the back; and the film’s French poster and another poster for the film under the title Crash on the reverse. Also included in the package is a 16-page insert booklet featuring a comic book adaptation of the film by Dark Oz, as well as the Italian poster artwork on the back cover. Everything is housed within a slipcover featuring a version of the film’s Australian one sheet poster artwork.
Once you see the trailer for Stunt Rock, there’s no way that you’re not going to want to click the order button. It’s not so much a film as it an experience, and an amazing one at that. Umbrella Entertainment’s Blu-ray release finally brings it to HD with a very nice selection of extras to go along with it. For fans of exploitation cinema, it comes highly recommended!
- Tim Salmons