Countdown to Halloween: Schlock (1973)
Updated: Apr 24, 2019
WHY I'VE NEVER SEEN IT
It's not for lack of trying that I have never seen Schlock. I committed to writing about it for "Son of Unsung Horrors," but was unable to locate a copy to watch.
WHY I WATCHED IT
Arrow Video sent me a screening copy. (Hint: if you send classic horror screeners, I will watch them!) However, I wanted to watch it, anyway, to see what I missed the first time 'round.
WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT IT
As good as the movie looks on Arrow's new Blu-ray release of Schlock, I have to say I'm a little disappointed with the bonus features on this one. The only new "extra" is an 18-minute video "essay" by British author and critic, Kim Newman. It's interesting; I always enjoy Newman. However, most of his time is spent talking about monster kids in general and a history of "semi-amateur" films made by monster kids, instead of about the movie itself.
I was looking forward to the audio commentary by director John Landis and makeup magician Rick Baker more than the actual movie, but even it disappointed. I probably wouldn't have known any better, except Landis keeps talking about Anchor Bay releasing the film on DVD. That instantly dates it. I don't know how much it matters; he seems to have very little recollection about making Schlock and he's surprised at how much Baker remembers.
For these reasons, I'd recommend adding Schlock to your collection only if you're fond of the movie. It's a chicken-or-egg scenario, though, because you may never have seen it before to know if you like it. For what it's worth, I liked it. It's fascinating to see script and direction from the future American Werewolf in London-Landis. There are actual hints of what's to come in the 80-minute film made when he was only 21-years old.
With corny gags that work about 51% of the time, what elevates the story is the missing link character played by Landis in what was only Baker's second professional costume/make-up project (first was Octaman). It's incredible work from someone who was only 20-years old at the time, and Landis wears it well. As strange as it sounds, he delivers a much more human performance than your normal guy in an ape suit.
Special edition contents:
4K restoration of the film from the original camera negative
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original lossless mono soundtrack
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Audio commentary by writer/director John Landis and makeup artist Rick Baker
New video interview with author and critic Kim Newman
"Birth of Schlock," a 2017 video interview with John Landis
Archival video interview with cinematorgrapher Bob Collins
1972, 1979 and 1982 US theatrical trailers
US radio spots
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys