The 1980’s were a fantastic time, and although I may not have had a chance to experience the neon decade myself, a look back at 80’s cinema can tell you that. The risks taken by studios just 30 years ago were incredible. Film wasn’t oversaturated by comic book adaptations, remakes, and repeat stories that were “guaranteed to work”. The 80’s were filled with originality and, at times, a few of the strangest cinematic adventures you can think of. I have nothing against Hollywood’s current idea of “blockbusters”, but there’s no denying that filmmakers were given the opportunity to take more chances in years prior. This is why I was so intrigued when I discovered the hidden gem that is Streets of Fire. A rock musical/action-comedy directed by Walter Hill (The Warriors and The Driver!) that co-stars Michael Pare, Diane Lane, Rick Moranis, and Willem Dafoe?! There’s no way that this wasn’t a winner! Shout Factory’s “Shout Select” division decided to give this film the love it truly deserved and it afforded me a chance to dive into the cult classic myself. So strap in boys and girls, as we dive “headfirst into a world of rain-splattered streets, hot cars, and deadly assassins”. This is Streets of Fire!
We open with an ominous title card informing us that we are, in fact, in “another time, another place”. This is one of those films that doesn’t really give us a long, drawn out opening, it goes right for the throat in terms of “getting to the point”. Ellen Aim (Diane Lane), famous singer, is giving the performance of a lifetime when she’s interrupted by the Bombers, a motorcycle gang led by the charismatic Raven Shaddock (Willem Dafoe). I know you’re wondering, yes, Willem Dafoe has always looked like a goblin…but he’s a kickass goblin at that! The kidnapping is witnessed by diner owner, Reva Cody (Deborah Van Valkenburgh) who then calls her brother, and Ellen’s ex-boyfriend, Tom (Michael Pare) to help. Being the ex-boyfriend of the “damsel in distress”, Tom declines the persistence to help. This is until he’s offered big money by Ellen’s manager, and current boyfriend, Billy Fish (Rick Moranis). Along with Fish and a strange, sidekick, ex-soldier named McCoy (Amy Madigan) Tom sets off to rescue the diva from the roughneck gang of bikers.
I loved this film! Being a “theatre kid”, the musical overtones throughout the movie were extremely welcoming. As soon as I found out the excellent names behind the numbers (Jim Steinman, Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty, and Ry Cooder) it was no mystery why. While the film isn’t a classic in terms of Hill’s previous work, the dude wrote and directed The Warriors for Christ sake, it has quickly become one of my favorite hidden gems of the early 80’s. It’s also one of my favorite Rick Moranis roles. It’s not too often you see Moranis play a, more or less, “serious” role. As usual, if you want more information about the movie, go watch it. You won’t regret it! Now let’s look at the Shout Factory specs.
This Shout Select release includes a new 2K scan of the interpositive. This film looks gorgeous on my 52 inch Visio, and it’s a movie that has no business looking this good. While I work mainly with Shout Factory’s Scream Factory line, it’s a nice change of pace to get a look at a Shout Select feature. I must say, they don’t skimp out on the extras here! Included is a brand new, feature length documentary featuring interviews with Michael Pare, Amy Madigan, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, and more! Another brand new featurette is “Rumble on the Lot” a revisit to the Walter Hill classic. Like all Shout releases, all prior bonus features are available as well, including 5 vintage featurettes and music videos. The only issue I have with this disc is that it doesn’t include a commentary with Willem Dafoe and Rick Moranis…in my dreams, right?
I can’t recommend this film any more than I already have! This film is a rock & roll rollercoaster that takes itself just serious enough to not become over the top schlock. The performances, both acting and singing, are fantastic. The visual transfer, and audio are phenomenal. Once again Shout Factory has knocked it out of the park when it comes to bluray upgrades. If you haven’t seen “Streets of Fire” then now is the time!
The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles is an obsessive fan of cinema, pro wrestling, horror, vinyl, and comic books. Bursting from the womb in 1992, Dylan’s surrounded himself with all things geek culture. Earliest memories include Wrestlemania 11, ‘The Death of Superman,’ and Jason Voorhees emerging from the waters of Camp Crystal Lake. You may see him sharing his opinion on just about everything on the internet or maybe even working the crowds at pop culture events up and down the east coast. You love him and he loves you!