Blue Sunshine

Blue Sunshine

Director: Jeff Lieberman Cast: Raymond Young, Bill Adler, Argentina Brunetti

DVD (Wide Screen)

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Overview

"Remember Rodan?" one character asks in the first section of Jeff Lieberman's Blue Sunshine (1978). The woman with him says, "The artist?" And his reply is, "No -- the monster." It's that sense of humor that helps hook viewers on this movie. Synapse Films is to be congratulated on this disc -- Jeff Lieberman's Blue Sunshine (1978) has had a very star-crossed history, one that could have precluded a DVD release. After earning huge applause at the Cannes Film Festival, getting a pair of abortive overtures from two broadcast networks, and then disappearing into late-night television oblivion, the movie developed a cult following among punk enthusiasts at the end of the 1970s and later emerged on VHS tape from Vestron Video in the mid-'80s in a pretty poor transfer. By the early '90s, when Blue Sunshine had developed a major cult following, there were no negative or interpositive master materials surviving from which a 35 mm print could be struck; even a showing at New York's Film Forum in 1997 as part of a drug movie series was of a 16 mm TV print. This DVD isn't perfect by a long shot -- some of the color in the opening pre-credit sequence could still use work, and there is evidence of some slight frame damage in that same segment -- but generally this is about as good as the movie is ever likely to look or sound. The audio is mastered a bit low but is also sharper than the audio on the old VHS. The decision to letterbox the transfer at 1.85:1 was a good one -- the action is framed so tightly that the movie seems even more suspenseful than before. That's always a surprise, when something done to a thriller makes it better the eighth or ninth time you've seen it; cleaned up and the color restored, the visual edits now seem beautifully sharp, and the sound edits have an impact that they've simply lacked in the editions of this movie that most viewers have seen. All of this work also restores to its full impact what is arguably the best performance ever given by the movie's star, Zalman King. The primary bonus feature is a full-length audio commentary by Jeff Lieberman in which he walks us through the movie, freely admitting his mistakes and also explaining some happy accidents that worked out well, and some near-disasters that were averted, including the loss of the actor who was to have portrayed the lead detective after only a single scene was shot. Lieberman posits, rightfully so, that the primary reason this movie works so well is Zalman King's performance, which projects a very sympathetic, eerily neurotic vulnerability. Lieberman also discusses his inspiration for many of the cleverer shots he uses, which mostly seem to have come from French cinema. We also find out that, at various times, Jeff Goldblum, David Birney, and a handful of other actors were in the running for roles in the picture. Also entertaining is Lieberman's onscreen appearance in the segment "Lieberman on Lieberman," a 30-minute on-camera interview in which he reveals how Antonioni's Blow-Up switched his interest from drawing to film. His account of his various successes of the 1970s and even stranger brushes with success is fascinating, almost as entertaining as the movie itself and as informative as any DVD interview available. The other major highlight of the DVD is "The Ringer," Lieberman's other anti-drug movie, an early '70s short made for Pepsi at King Features, which includes his commentary. It's difficult to say which is funnier, the film (with a cast that includes a young David Groh) or the reminiscences. The second disc is a CD containing Charles Gross' complete music score. The DVD menu is reasonably straightforward, though the producers have placed the audio commentary under the audio setup, rather than under the special features, but it's simple enough to sort out. The 17 chapters are generous and well-labeled and placed, and the insert, in addition to listing the chapters, also includes a good essay on the movie. The latter is well worth the price, and the extras make this a must-own item for horror movie buffs, fans of psychotronic cinema, and aspiring filmmakers.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/15/2003
UPC: 0654930302392
Original Release: 1978
Rating: R
Source: Synapse Films
Region Code: 1
Presentation: [Wide Screen]
Sound: [Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]
Time: 1:30:00

Special Features

New anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1), supervised by director Jeff Lieberman ; Brand new Dolby Digital 5.1 remix created and mixed for home video environments; Original mono soundtrack; Full running audio commentary by director Jeff Lieberman; Original short film "The Ringer" directed by Jeff Lieberman; Still gallery ; Rare original theatrical tailer ; Liner notes ; 30-minute video interview: "Lieberman on Lieberman"; Never-before-released original soundtack CD available only in this package

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Raymond Young Wayne Mulligan
Bill Adler Ralphie
Argentina Brunetti Mrs. Rosella
Bill Cameron John O'Malley
Ann Cooper Wendy Flemming
Zalman King Jerry Zipkin
Richard Crystal Frannie Scott
Jeffry Druce Junkie
Alice Ghostley O'Malley's Neighbor
Stefan Gierasch Lt. Jennings
Mark Goddard Edward Flemming
Brion James Tony
Meegan King Gun Salesman
Barbara Quinn Stephanie
Charles Siebert Detective Clay
Bill Sorrells Ritchie Grazzo
Robert Walden David Blume
Deborah Winters Alicia Sweeney

Technical Credits
Jeff Lieberman Director,Screenwriter
Charles Gross Score Composer
George Manasse Producer
Norman Page Makeup
Brian Smedley-Aston Editor

Scene Index

Side #1 -- The Movie
1. Main Titles [7:27]
2. The Party [9:14]
3. Wrongly Accused [7:38]
4. A Bad Hair Day [2:32]
5. Tangled Mystery [5:33]
6. Scene of the Crime [5:30]
7. "Here Is the Future" [5:14]
8. Standford Connection [10:52]
9. Let's Go Shopping [2:59]
10. Wigging Out! [10:17]
11. Investigation [2:29]
12. In the Park [3:54]
13. Target Practice [3:03]
14. The Last Rally [4:29]
15. Disco Destruction [6:18]
16. Showdown [5:19]
17. End Titles [1:39]

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