Release Date(s)1988 (October 10, 2017)
Studio(s)The Vista Organization (Shout! Factory/Shout Select)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: A
A cult film almost by default, Dudes came and went in the summer of 1987, but remained a favorite for those managed to actually see it. Directed by then-underground cult director Penelope Spheeris (The Decline of Western Civilization, Wayne’s World), the film itself has been out of print for many years, never managing to make it past VHS obscurity until now.
Starring Jon Cryer, Daniel Roebuck, Flea, Lee Ving, and Catherine Mary Stewart, Dudes is a story of three young punk rockers from New York City. Filled with angst and the need to do something different with their lives, they decide to hit the road for California with what little money they have. Their trip is ruined when they run into a group of rednecks who rob them and kill one of them, leaving the other two to run away. Unable to get any help from the police, they take it upon themselves to pursue the murderous gang and get some revenge, but not before visions of a horse-riding cowboy and a group of Native Americans inspire them to be more than who they are.
Watching Dudes today, it’s clear why it didn’t land initially. It’s a wildly uneven film with a huge mix of tonal shifts and ideas, which is ultimately difficult to market. None of that is a bad thing though. Despite the blender approach, it’s an engaging little fantasy with enjoyable performances and a hard rocking soundtrack, containing the likes of Megadeth, Jane’s Addiction, and W.A.S.P., among others. Cryer and Roebuck are fun and their journey, both physically and spiritually, keeps you engaged, despite the bumpy road beneath them. Combine all that with Spheeris’ direction and a satisfying ending and Dudes is just the kind of offbeat movie that could and should have a bigger appeal.
Shout Select’s Blu-ray and DVD debut of the film features what could be a dated transfer, but a solid one nonetheless. Grain levels are a bit heavy with good detail on costumes and objects. The color palette appears natural, as do skin tones, with some surprisingly strong hues, particularly during scenes in New York and along wooded roads later on. Black levels are fairly deep without any crush that isn’t already inherent to the source, while shadow detail offers satisfactory delineation. Contrast and brightness levels are slightly uneven from scene to scene, but given the low budget nature of the film, it’s not surprising. It’s not an altogether clean master either with some obvious scratches and speckling leftover. Overall, the presentation is quite filmic, and simply having it in any quality above VHS is a major upgrade, minor misgivings aside. For the audio, an English 2.0 DTS-HD track is available. Obviously, the film’s musical selection is as much of a star as the other sound elements, and it manages to come through with some potency. Dialogue is fairly clear and audible most of the time, with some inconsequential lower exchanges buried in the mix, but not all that often. Sound effects have some weight to them as well, and while the overall mix itself is a slightly messy, nothing is distracting or feels out of place. Subtitles are also provided in English if needed.
For the supplements, the team behind them have put together quite an educational and entertaining package. Three new interviews conducted by Penelope Spheeris on-camera are available, included Duckie Dude with Jon Cryer, Suburbia Dude with Flea, and Mohawk Dude with Daniel Roebuck. There are also two new additional interviews: Dude Looks Like a Lady with Catherine Mary Stewart and Writer and Producer Dudes with Randall Jahnson and Miguel Tejada-Flores. Additionally, there’s also the film’s theatrical trailer, a vintage EPK-style featurette, an animated photo gallery, and a DVD copy of the film.
In complete honesty, I had never seen or heard of Dudes prior to this release. It’s a shame too because this is the kind of film that Alamo Drafthouses were built for. It has massive cult appeal, not just due to its story, but because of its stars and its soundtrack as well. Longtime fans hoping for a special edition of the film on any format have gotten their wish, and newcomers (like myself) can enjoy a fun film in the best way possible. This Shout Select release is a real winner and offers plenty of repeat value. Highly recommended.
- Tim Salmons