Before sitting down to watch Vinegar Syndrome’s new Blu-ray of Luther the Geek, all that I really knew of it was the Troma DVD art from years back featuring our titular character biting the head of a chicken. That image alone apparently never inspired me enough to actually watch it. But, a decade or so later and here we are with a brand spanking new HD transfer of an oddity that seems to never have garnered as fervent an audience as it may have been looking for back in 1990. And, you know what, it kind of deserves that audience.
Luther the Geek is weird. I mean, it’s pretty much about a guy who bites heads off of chickens. I’ve long been a fan of films that utilize carnival sideshows – Nightmare Alley, Night Tide – and, though this one doesn’t spend much screen time at the carnival itself, this one is ripe for adding to that batch of titles. This isn’t your typical carny flick though. Most of what I’ve read about Luther lumps it into the rather broad slasher genre and I suppose that could be an apt categorization but, for my money, this is home invasion cinema through and through and, at that, it really excels.
Not too long into the run-time, Luther is let out of an institution with a new set of sharp, silver chompers that look like they’re ripped from 007’s Jaws. He uses these to chew through all manner of stuff for the rest of the movie, including people. He causes a scene at a grocery store, offering us up some of the more grotesque cinematic display of egg use this side of Pink Flamingos and In the Realm of the Senses and then embarks on a trip to a customer’s home. And that’s where this goes into Angst territory. This is home invasion cinema at its most fetishistic. Luther as a character is rather disgusting and clearly has no regard for anyone, including himself. As he begins offing those living in and/or visiting the house in question, the film gets more sinister as it goes on. It’s not particularly gory, but its excesses are aplenty with gratuitous nudity offered generously and Luther’s clucking and cawing sounds becoming a soundtrack of despair and glee, simultaneously. It’s likely not for most people, but those with a taste for the seedier side of horror and/or would willingly watch a movie about a chicken man terrorizing a family, should be pleased.
Vinegar Syndrome have brought Luther the Geek to Blu-ray for the first time and the results are impressive. I’ve never seen it on any other format, but from stills and clips, this is leagues beyond what the Troma DVD offered. For starters, this appears to be the first home video release that offers the film in its proper 1.85 aspect ratio, with Troma’s DVD only being cropped 1.33. The image itself is stunning. Blacks are solid, colors are vibrant and damage is pretty much non-existent. I’d be hard pressed to find any criticisms at all. I can’t imagine this ever looking better. Audio is DTS HD MA 1.0 and I didn’t find any issues there either. Just make sure to keep it turned down or those clucks and squeals may become a cause for concern.
The supplements here are pretty stacked. Things start with an intro from director Carlton J Albright which is short and amusing. He apparently had some issues when the film initially came out, to say the least. After that, we get a commentary with Albright that’s moderated by Vinegar Syndrome’s Joe Rubin. It’s a very lively, informative track with the production’s history detailed as well as a lot of context regarding the industry and genre. It’s a worthwhile listen and carries enough wait to warrant a re-watch for people who may not even like the film all that much. There’s also a new 6 minute interview with Albright and a 10 minute one with actor Jerry Clarke, both of which are fun and worth a watch. There’s also an HD trailer. But that’s just the new stuff. VS have also ported over the content from the previous Troma DVD which includes another 5 minute interview with Albright, a two minute interview with Will Albright (the director’s son), and a few more interviews or conversations with Albright that pertain to certain, key parts of the film. Any fan of the film should be very pleased with this package.
Luther the Geek isn’t all that it seems to be at face value. Rather than being in line with the schlockier side of Troma, this is firmly rooted in exploitation cinema and can be a pretty dark ordeal for those not prepared for it. Fans of home invasion cinema should feel quite, well, at home though and Vinegar Syndrome’s A/V presentation has it looking and sounding better than it has before on home video. Add to that a stacked collection of supplements and you’ve got yourself the definitive release of a film that nobody probably saw coming. And that’s what we have come to expect from VS. Highly Recommended.