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Anchor Bay Entertainment presents
In the Gutter (2008)

“Exploitation films were made for what Hollywood could not do and didn’t want to do.”
- John Waters

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: January 30, 2009

Stars: John Waters, Lin Shaye
Other Stars: Stephen Furst, Peter Riegert, David Ansen
Director: Jeffrey Schwarz

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult situations, nudity)
Run Time: 00h:55m:23s
Release Date: December 02, 2008
UPC: 013138304384
Genre: documentary


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C- D+BC F

DVD Review

“Gross-out movies” have existed for many years, but they’ve never been as prevalent as in the last decade or so. From Dumb and Dumber to the American Pie franchise, entire movies have been made that rely on fart jokes and mounds and mounds of other forms of scatological humor. Even though the trend to make such nasty films has appeared to have died down at least a little bit (most of these types of films have been relegated to direct-to-video releases these days), 2008 saw the TV premiere of the documentary, In the Gutter, which takes a look at the history of such nasty-humor-driven films. Now, that documentary comes to DVD via Anchor Bay Entertainment, so we can revisit the history of gross-out humor over and over again.

From the earliest films of John Waters’ oeuvre to the newer, Judd Apatow canon, movies have pushed the boundaries of good taste to their limits. While the specific visceral levels and subject matter surrounding such humor has varied according to the surrounding political and social climates of the times, the attempt to shock audiences hasn’t. It’s all about the laughs though, and as long as there are audiences who enjoy a good farting noise, a little vomiting here and there, and maybe even a giant cross-dresser eating dog poo off of a city street, then movies like this will be made for years to come.

The best part of this hour is listening to filmmaker John Waters (Pink Flamingos) discuss the early shock films, including Blood Feast. He reminisces about how such films were major influences on his work, from the projects starring Divine to Johnny Depp in Cry Baby, and even more recent works like Pecker. While a documentary like In the Gutter could be made solely about Waters’ films, his contribution to this piece is really the only reason to give it an hour’s of your time.

The rest of this documentary is actually rather trivial and works only for those who still watch the American Pie films on a regular basis. Once we get past the John Waters section, we get to Animal House. Now, don’t get me wrong, I respect the film and its place in comedy history, but there have been far better retrospective pieces done on it already. It’s all downhill from there, as we’re left with dreck like Porky’s and other cheap imitators that were more concerned with nudity and the gross-out stuff than generating actual laughs.

The film winds its way through some other nasty movies, eventually covering the Farrelly Brothers films (Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary), the first few of which actually rise above their scatological focus to provide genuine laughs. We also get an extended (way too long) look at the aforementioned American Pie franchise, as well as the epitome of the gross-out film, Jackass: The Movie. Johnny Knoxville and crew have made a ton of money simply being gross for no other reason than to shock and disgust their audience. A calling out of Knoxville and the others responsible for such material by the people behind In the Gutter might have made for a much more effective, perhaps compelling documentary. Instead, their choice to go the safe route and deliver a straight-forward, uncontroversial fluff piece is the main reason that this is a rather disappointing 55 minutes.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The quality of this 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation looks virtually identical to that of its original TV broadcast. Some of the individual movie clips look quite good, though, and even the older material is virtually blemish-free, while colors are strong throughout.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 2.0 mix is rather bland, but also, virtually identical to the audio from the original TV broadcast. Everything stays up front, and, aside from some of the film clips, consists of interview clips. Fortunately, the dialogue in these interviews is always crisp and easy to understand.

Audio Transfer Grade: C

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: There aren’t any extras on this disc.

Extras Grade: F

 

Final Comments

A documentary that’s its own worst enemy, the Starz TV production, In the Gutter doesn’t take many risks in chronicling the history of gross-out cinema. We do get to revisit some of John Waters’ best works, but far too much time is spent on films like American Pie and Jackass: The Movie. Anchor Bay’s disc is rather disappointing as well, delivering average audio and video and absolutely nothing in the form of supplemental material.

 


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