Porky's (UK - BD RB)
Chris goes in search of the ever-elusive Michael Hunt with this Blu-ray release...
Long before American Pie and Superbad came the original and best sex comedy. A firm favourite of teen movie fans, Porky’s introduced audiences to Kim Cattrall (Police Academy, Big Trouble in Little China) and made an absolute killing at the box-office.
It’s 1954 and the sex-obsessed boys of Angel Beach High School are looking to get laid. Porky’s is their destination, local nightclub and whorehouse. Only its redneck owner has other plans, as does his sheriff brother. Will Meat, Mickey, Tommy and the other guys in the gang get their own back? And will the barely-endowed Pee Wee finally lose his virginity?
Having established his credentials as one of Canada’s top horror filmmakers with the likes of Black Christmas and Dead of Night, Bob Clark took an unexpected turn into the world of the teenage sex comedy and inadvertently made the most successful Canadian motion picture of all time, an honour it still holds today. (Taken from the PR.)
I'm sure that many of you will be of an age where Porky's holds a special place in your heart. This raunchy 1982 sex-comedy was certainly the subject of enthusiastic school-yard discussion when I was in my teens in the late eighties/early nineties. Back then we just didn't have access to the saucy material that is now so easily obtainable via the Internet, so we had to rely on late night television for our puerile thrills (well, that and the odd, tatty page from a dirty magazine that would mysteriously appear in the bushes surrounding the playing fields).
Watching Porky's as an adult is an altogether different experience from watching it as an adolescent. Back then the mere sight of a boob was enough to get the pulse racing, but having been there and done that the film doesn't resonate in quite the same way. However, there's a strong nostalgic attachment to the adventures of Pee-Wee, Tommy, Billy, Meat and the gang that enables me to look past some of its obvious failings and enjoy it through the eyes of my thirteen-year-old self. It features some genuinely likeable performances from the cast, amusing (if callow) gags, and a number of memorable sequences that paved the way for movies like the American Pie series. Who could forget the adorable Wendy's increasingly urgent enquiries into the whereabouts of one Michael Hunt? Or the sight of Ms. Balbricker hanging onto Tommy's Turner's tallywacker for dear life?
For all of its infantile humour the film also has heart, touching on issues such as racism and sexism, without ever becoming overtly preachy. Some of the characters do act in questionable ways towards members of minority groups, but these is always met with condemnation by their peers, even if the individuals themselves are not necessarily ostracised for their views (so pretty close to real life then). Porky's is a warm remembrance of a more innocent time; a time that I occasionally miss until I remind myself that we only had four television channels and no Internet...
As is usual for Arrow releases the accompanying booklet provides details about the transfer, but in this case it doesn't go into too much detail. Here's what it has to say about the visual presentation: Porky’s was remastered in High Definition by 20th Century Fox and delivered by Hollywood Classics.
Given the above I was expecting Arrow's release of Porky's to look all-but identical to the Fox release, but from what I've seen of the US disc that's just not the case. For one thing, Arrow's colour palette is more balanced than the US release, which has a noticeable yellow push. While the primaries don't leap off of the screen they are nicely saturated and the overall appearance is very natural. Grain isn't as finely resolved as I was expecting - and indeed, the US disc appears to be better in this regard - but the presentation looks similar to many other low budget eighties movies (it actually reminded of Arrow's own release of The Last American Virgin, if not quite as grainy). The image appears cropped on all four sides when compared to the US effort, but to be honest I doubt you’d notice without the benefit of a side-by-side comparison. There are few instances of dirt or debris and no particularly egregious digital manipulation to report, and all things considered it's a pretty decent representation of what surely wasn't the prettiest film to begin with.
The disc includes a solitary LPCM 1.0 Mono track that would appear to faithfully recreate the original theatrical experience. Obviously it's pretty limited by design and sounds every bit of its thirty-two years, but dialogue and effects are always clear and stability is never an issue. The lack of bass is never really a problem either, save perhaps during the film's climactic set-piece, but again this is a limitation of the original mix rather than a deficiency of the Blu-ray. Really, what more is there to say? It's not particularly impressive, but it's an accurate reflection of the film's sound mix.
While the collection of bonus material assembled for this release of Porky's looks rather modest compared to some of Arrow's titles, it's a definite case of quality not quantity. Here's what you can expect to find.
- Audio commentary by writer/director Bob Clark
- Porky’s Through the Peephole – Bob Clark looks back at his box-office sensation
- Skin Classic! – Mr Skin celebrates Porky’s and the heyday of the 80s teen sex comedy
- Porky’s trailer reel
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jim Rugg
- Booklet featuring new writing on the film by Paul Corupe, creator of the Canuxploitation website, and a previously unpublished interview with director Bob Clark conducted by Calum Waddell, illustrated with archive stills.
Bob Clark's audio commentary is a joy to listen to from start to finish. I'm not sure exactly when it was recorded, but it has to be some time ago as Clark passed away in 2007. However, he speaks with calm assuredness and recalls a great deal of detail about the shoot. It's a track filled with anecdotes not just about the production, but also the real-life events that inspired the story. The content here is more than enough to make you forgive the occasional long pauses that punctuate the proceedings.
‘Porky’s Through the Peephole’ is a fifteen minute retrospective look at the film with director Bob Clark. He covers a number of topics, from the difficulties he had in getting Fox to let him make the picture, through the casting and shooting process. He also touches on the racial subtext and discusses the various real-life stories that he incorporated into the screenplay. In 'Skin Classic!' Mr. Skin himself, Jim McBride, is on-hand to extol the virtues of the film's nudity and generally get excited about 80s teen sex comedies. The last of the on-disc extras is a trailer reel, which comprises of three trailers of varying lengths. Completing the package are the customary booklet and reversible artwork.
Perhaps it's a sign of getting old, but I have a surprising amount of time for the silly exploits of the boys from Angel Beach High. Make no mistake, I'm fully conscious of the film's limitations and shortcomings, but watching it again after all of these years engendered feelings of nostalgic warmth that enabled me to overlook its weaknesses. In this case I'm not sure if our traditional scoring system is adequate. Perhaps it would be more fitting to award marks based on originality, neatness and hygiene? I honestly can't imagine the younger generation (God, I am getting old) finding the film particularly enjoyable, but if you're of a similar age to me and enjoyed features such as The Last American Virgin and Animal House this one should be right up your street.
As for the disc, well it's yet another solid release from Arrow Video, with a very respectable audio-visual presentation and some entertaining bonus material. Having seen stills form the US disc I think perhaps that there is slight room for improvement when it comes to the video transfer, but those elements that appear marginally inferior to the Fox disc are balanced by improvements in other areas.
* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray and have been resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking the individual images, but due to .jpg compression, they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Chris Gould
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 16th June 2014
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: LPCM 1.0 Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
Extras: Audio Commentary, Featurettes, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: Bob Clark
Cast: Dan Monahan, Mark Herrier, Wyatt Knight, Roger Wilson, Tony Ganios, Kaki Hunter, Kim Cattrall, Nancy Parsons, Scott Colomby, Boyd Gaines, Susan Clark, Chuck Mitchell
Length: 98 minutes
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