Penelope Spheeris hasn’t had the best luck getting her films available on home video. And it’s almost always due to music rights; from the Decline of Western Civilization series to Suburbia and then to Dudes, her films have been difficult to pin down. Thanks to Shout Factory (who also put out the absolutely amazing set for the Decline of Western Civilization films) we can now add Dudes to our collections.
It’s amusing that Dudes could be considered Spheeris’ most punk film, considering she made the ultimate punk films in Suburbia and the first Decline of Western Civilization. It reaches some sort of cultural precipice where, following 1984’s Repo Man, punk in cinema was chic yet hadn’t reached the sort of bold faced (and more metal) parody of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. If anything, Dudes has much more in common with a different Alex Cox film: Straight to Hell. Like Cox’s film, Dudes is also a music fueled western road movie where reality seems to be an afterthought. A revenge film where the act of revenge seems about as dignified as head banging, this is as lighthearted as it is filled with rage – a film about outsiders, searching for those who wronged them as well as America itself. I guess, in all of that, it is about as similar to Straight to Hell as it is Albert Brooks’ Lost In America. One thing is for sure, there’s nothing else really like Dudes and it stands with Spheeris’ best work – even if it has yet to be mentioned in the same breath as Wayne’s World, it should be.
Shout Factory unexpectedly and welcomely bring Dudes to Blu-ray for the first time and it’s at least the best it has ever looked on home video. Time hasn’t been too kind to the film or the source this transfer is pulled from with scratches present and a slightly faded appearance but fans should be pleased that this is available at all. The audio is DTS HD MA 2.0 which faithfully recreates the original soundtrack with the punk and metal songs coming through clear and dialogue remaining balanced throughout. It’s not a perfect presentation but it fits the scrappiness of the film and fans should be happy with it.
It was a long time coming to get Dudes to Blu-ray and Shout Factory didn’t skimp on the supplements. We start with a half hour interview with John Cryer and Spheeris. It’s a lively talk that chronicles the production of Dudes and the two have a really great rapport. Next up is 26 minutes with Flea and Spheeris which is also a great talk with Flea being genuinely excited to have been a part of the film and shares some great anecdotes about filming. Then we get 13 minutes with Catherine Mary Stewart who primarily talks about her character in the film and working with Spheeris. We get 25 minutes with Daniel Roebuck who is also very talkative and speaks of the production fondly while also going into his other acting roles. Lastly we get 14 minutes with producer Miguel Tejada-Flores and screenwriter Randall Jahnson which is more technical and gets into the marketing of the film and the reception. We also get a vintage making of featurette, photo gallery and trailer.
Having Dudes available in HD along will be a cause for celebration for many Spheeris fans but that Shout Factory loaded up the supplements only makes it more sweet. The presentation is solid, but not great, but it is still far better than it has ever looked and sounded on home video. Recommended.