Color, 1993, 114m.
Directed by Rolf de Heer
Starring Nicholas Hope, Claire Benito, Ralph Cotterill, Carmel Johnson
Blue Underground (Blu-Ray US R0) (DVD US R0 NTSC) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9) / DD5.1
Color, 1993, 114m.
An utterly mad Australian cult item, Bad Boy Bubby won a slew of awards upon its release and made the rounds in film festivals, finally hitting home video in most countries where it received more than its share of praise. However, its skewed sensibilities were apparently too much for American distributors who decided to let it linger in the private libraries courtesy of word of mouth on the fan circuit. Too bad really as this is one of the most memorable Aussie comedies of the 1990s, one that makes the grim worldview of Muriel's Wedding positively radiant in comparison. Director Rolf de Heer (who helmed the equally discomfiting and remarkable Dance Me to My Song two years later) maintains a sure grip on the material, never allowing it to descend into buffoonery or pointless bad taste. There's plenty of potentially offensive material to be sure, especially for those of a devout nature, but everything clicks together in service of the story with a peculiar gesture of salvation waiting at the end. Of course the real star here is Nicholas Hope (whose later work ranges from Hal Hartley's Henry Fool to Scooby Doo), who stays in character as the thoroughly unpredictable Bubby - a man who's pitiful, hilarious, or terrifying from one moment to the next.
Usually screened in bland VHS editions, Bad Boy Bubby gets a much-needed makeover courtesy of Blue Underground's DVD. The original scope framing is nicely preserved with excellent color and detail; note that a few scenes were deliberately shot to appear grungy and dull, so that's not a flaw of the transfer. As an opening notation explains, the film was shot with a deliberately bizarre sound mix in which sounds often emit from the speaker opposite their source in order to simulate the mental condition of the hero. It's an eccentric choice to be sure, but the results constantly keep viewers on their toes - with a nicely textured 5.1 mix to complete the experience. The original 2.0 stereo mix is also included. The Blu-Ray obviously wins out by comparison by offering a similar but much more textured presentation, with the vastly superior video compression also yielding richer and more film-like black levels. Not surprisingly, the audacious and sometimes jarring sound mix benefits from the lossless upgrade, available in either DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 or Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (with optional English, Spanish, and French subtitles).
Both the Blu-Ray and DVD kick off the extras department with a 24-minute featurette, "Christ Kid, You're a Weirdo," in which de Heer talks about the making of the film and how he maintained the film's unique tone through the various episodes of the story, supplemented with numerous clips and production stills from the film. His other projects are also briefly covered, represented by some quick stills and clips. Then it's Hope's turn at bat with "Being Bubby," a 15-minute chat in which the actor (lounging on a sofa surrounded by film cannisters) explains his methods for creating the unusual protagonist. Worth returns in "Confessor Caressor," a 1989 short film (in 1.33:1) by Timothy Nicholls, as a grinning psychopath taking a camera team on a tour of his hellish, cross-covered domain (complete with tape recordings of his victims). Say what you will, the last shot won't be forgotten anytime soon. The package is rounded out with the Australian theatrical trailer and, on the DVD only, poster and still galleries. Definitely not an experience soon to be forgotten, this is highly recommended for adventurous moviegoers who don't mind their art and sleaze mingling together for two hours.