BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
Death Becomes Her is, ironically enough, getting a much longer shelf life than ever expected. After suffering from abysmally dismissive reviews at the time of its release, the black comedy is now celebrated as a cult flick. And why not? It's dark and twisted; definitely outside of the norm and absolutely hilarious in its condemnation of Beverly Hills' own self-interest. It is a movie in which the cosmetically enhanced socialites get roasted.
But let's take a step back and look at the particular talents involved with this project. Behind the scenes we have director Robert Zemeckis of Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit fame. Inspired by the narrative's darker aspects, it was he who encouraged its writers, Martin Donovan and David Koepp, to keep pushing the visual envelope and GO THERE with heads on backwards and shotgun blasts through the stomach that later become visual gags; effects that STILL hold up. Danny Elfman, always finding beauty in the macabre, scored the madness. The film was also photographed by THE Dean Cundey – who capitalized on the use of mirrors and fire to frame the narrative – and, hold on to your butts, it stars Bruce Willis, Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn, Isabella Rossellini AND the late Sydney Pollack as a doctor at L'Hospital Beverly Hills.
You got all that? Zemeckis. Koepp. Cundey. Elfman. Willis. Streep. Rossellini. Hawn and Pollack; all united in ONE movie. There's no way this fails. Stylized and twisted, it might have put a lot of people off. Ahead of its time? Maybe. But it is so much more deserving of praise than of condemnation from the press. This release – as the film can now be seen outside of its release era and judged on its own merits – is a witty display of guts and effects as Streep and Hawn go after each other in the most violent of ways after being granted eternal youth by a magical potion.
Ultimately, its low critical average leaves me a bit perplexed, especially after seeing its reintroduction on blu-ray by Scream Factory. Death Becomes Her is much more than cheap thrills and hollow laughs. It is witty, always engaged, and completely bonkers in its examination of our national obsession of youth and beauty. In short, it is nasty satire and it absolutely works as an entertaining film. Were people expecting more?
Death Becomes Her is a tale of madness and slapstick. Critics seem to hate both of these things. Put this together and I guess it is a recipe for disaster as far as they are concerned. Willis plays a talented plastic surgeon the two women – Hawn and Streep – both desire. He's also a drunk and a helpless schlep; henpecked by both as he attempts to murder his way through a sticky situation. Elevated acting from everyone involved means there are a lot of over-the-top moments and the effects are breaking new grounds left and right.
So, here it is, Death Becomes Her gets its heralded blu-ray debut. Critics be damned.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some nudity and off-color humor.
Runtime: 107 mins
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Writer: Martin Donovan, David Koepp
Cast: Meryl Streep, Bruce Willis, Goldie Hawn
Genre: Comedy | Fantasy
Tagline: Some people will go to any lengths to stay young forever. But Madeline Ashton and her old friend Helen Sharp are about to go TOO far...
Memorable Movie Quote: "You can't raise an eyebrow without major surgery!"
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Release Date: July 31, 1992
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: April 26, 2016
Synopsis: When a woman learns of an immortality treatment, she sees it as a way to outdo her long-time rival.
Available on Blu-ray - April 26, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles: English SDH
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz, 24-bit)
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A
Released by Scream Factory an offshoot of the fine folks over at Shout! Factory, the AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.85:1 is a decent viewing experience for fans of Death Becomes Her. There are some visible limitations in the print used for the transfer and those carry over with some other barely noticeable special effects deficits but, overall, the HD treatment cleans up previous muddied DVD releases. There are a lot of nighttime sequences and, as some of you know, Beverly Hills can be a pretty well-lighted place during the evening. As this largely takes place inside a gothic mansion, there are a lot of details to notice. This transfer adds depth to the shadows and the lights. Thankfully, the black levels in the transfer maintain their edges and their depth make watching this an interesting treat. Colors are crisp and skin tones are natural. The sound – presented here in both a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and a 2.0 track– is an immersive experience adequate for this release.
The main featurette included for this release is pretty cool. It's brand new and features interviews from Koep, Cundey, and Zemeckis. Other production personnel are interviewed, too. A vintage look at the effects is included, too. A photo gallery and the original trailer round out the release.
- The Making of Death Becomes Her (25 min)
- Vintage Behind the Scenes Featurette (9 min)
- Photo Gallery (4 min)
- Original Theatrical Trailer (2 min)