(image courtesy 20th Century Fox)
News comes from Shout! Factory that the 1984 cult classic The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension! will be seeing its first U.S. Blu-ray release in August. The company, which specializes in culty pop culture titles, announced the title will be released on August 16th as part of their new “Shout Select” series.
TABB, as it is known by its fans for short, is the story of the Buckaroo Banzai, a race car driver/neurosurgeon/rock star who, with his inner circle of fellow overachievers the Hong Kong Cavaliers, saves the world from a group of aliens bent on using his latest invention to travel through the 8th dimension to their home planet.
The movie is probably most notable for playing itself with perfect seriousness as a “docu-drama”, a supposedly fictionalized presentation of actual events as created with the cooperation of the “real” Buckaroo Banzai. Many people were put off by this conceit, or the complexity of the story (which manages to mix twins, physics, motorcycle chases, interplanetary diplomacy, the War of the Worlds radio broadcast by Orson Welles in 1938, and a watermelon). Its fans, by in large, consider it part of the charm, and it is still traditional to treat Banzai, et al as real.
While this is the first U.S. release on Blu-ray, it is not the film’s first release on home video. A DVD edition was released in 2002, which was loaded end-to-end with extra features, trivia tracks, commentary tracks, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and the legendary original opening (hitherto only available on the con bootleg circuit) in which a young Buckaroo watches his parents die in a science experiment (Jamie Lee Curtis plays Buckaroo’s mother). Throughout, the disk hewed close to the original idea of TABB as docu-drama: the interviews are supposedly filmed at Banzai’s actual bunkhouse, the commentary is by character Reno Nevada (actually by author Earl Mac Rauch), etc. The release was given high acclaim, and is generally regarded as a “dream release” created with its fandom in mind.
The film has been released in Blu-ray in other markets, most notably British, Australian, and German releases. These have more or less followed the original DVD release as far as extras, so it is at least reasonable to expect the same from the upcoming release. However, Shout are also talking about another, second disk of bonus material. So far they are keeping mum about it, but it does rather beg the question of what else they have left to add. We do know they are offering all-new interviews with cast and crew members, so perhaps it’s more along those lines. More information will be released closer to street date, so time will tell.
TABB is a unique film: a product of the 80’s, difficult to pigeonhole into one particular genre, it is the very definition of cult film: not to everyone’s taste, but those who get it, really get it. The DVD has long been an example of what could be done when a release goes out of its way to please its fans. With the new release in the hands of the people at Shout! Factory, we can be cautiously optimistic this will continue to be the case.
(Kelly Luck knows exactly what that watermelon is doing there. Her other SciFi4Me work can be read here.)