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Anchor Bay presents
Ninfa: I am the best French kisser in Chile Verde.
DVD ReviewLust in the Dust stars the inimitable Divine as Rosie Velez, a big, small town girl intent on finding her way to the small village of Chile Verde. En route, she encounters Hardcase Williams (Geoffrey Lewis) and his gang, who spend the night taking advantage of her until she escapes under cover of darkness. Struggling through the desert, she meets Abel Wood (Tab Hunter), an Eastwood-esque desperado loath to reveal his name. In Chile Verde, the two encounter cantina/brothel owner Marguerita Ventura (Lainie Kazan) and her ladies, Big Ed (Nedra Volz) and Ninfa (Gina Gallego), as well as the humble priest, Father Garcia (Cesar Romero). The legendary buried Gold of Chile Verde brings these parties into comic conflict as they attempt to solve a mysterious limerick and find both halves of a treasure map, hidden in the most unlikely of places.
Roger Corman regular Paul Bartel brings strong visuals to this Western comedy, using a 2.35:1 widescreen canvas to lend it the majestic, sweeping feel of a classic western. Many of the jokes are inspired by Duel in the Sun and the Clint Eastwood/Sergio Leone "man with no name" westerns, with a hefty helping of stereotypical characters—the hooker with the heart of gold, los banditos tejanos, the kindly old priest, and the sweet little old lady who dreams of a better life in ... Abilene? The film's basic respect for the genre comes through clearly, and Bartel frames the action with skill and professionalism, aside from a few awkward reverse angles.
The cast of veteran comic actors brings a great deal of experience to the slight material; Tab Hunter succeeds again in sending up his heartthrob persona; Geoffrey Lewis mugs and curses with gleeful abandon; Lainie Kazan is as uninhibited and undignified as you will ever see her, and Divine is great fun to watch as he sashays, sings, snarls and schemes his way through the movie. Unfortunately, the performances can't save the film from its script—many of the jokes fall flat, too improbable or just plain obvious to generate honest laughter. There's a passable gag every few minutes, enough to make it watchable; it's better than, say, Rustler's Rhapsody, but Blazing Saddles it is not. A supplemental quote from Paul Bartel himself indicates that he wishes he'd aimed for a more outrageous tone with this effort, and one can see his point—the film is neither offensive enough to be a cult classic nor funny enough to succeed as mainstream entertainment.
Still, Lust in the Dust has its moments, and Divine is consistently entertaining in one of his/her few roles not written or directed by John Waters. Everyone seems to be having fun here, and that's a rare enough pleasure in and of itself; it's not to everyone's taste, but I'll be watching it again.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: C+
Image Transfer Review: Anchor Bay's DVD marks the first home video appearance of Lust in the Dust in its original 2.35:1 Techniscope aspect ratio. The anamorphic widescreen presentation captures sweeping Western vistas and seedy cantina brawls with equal aplomb, and the basic joke is enhanced by the film's visual resemblance to the Sergio Leone "spaghetti westerns" it parodies. It's a low-budget production, with a slightly soft look, and a few scenes are marred by grain and poor shadow detail. But most people have never seen the film looking this good, nor this complete.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: Lust in the Dust features its original monophonic soundtrack, mastered in Dolby Digital 2.0 format for ProLogic routing to the center speaker. Bass isn't particularly strong and dynamic range is on the narrow side, but the soundtrack is clear and crisp, with comprehensive frequency range devoted to Peter Matz's intentionally cheesy synthesizer score and Karen Hart's wonderfully tongue-in-cheek Western songs. A very nice digital presentation of a straightforward comedy soundtrack.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 25 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
Talent Bios: Biographies and selected filmographies covering director Paul Bartel and stars Tab Hunter and Divine. The biographies are lengthy, well-written and very thoroughly researched, though the Divine profile contains a minor factual error.
The film's original theatrical trailer, in 1.85:1 anamorphic format with 2.0 monophonic audio. The print is rather grainy, panned & scanned from the film's original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, but it's an interesting bit of marketing memorabilia. It's interesting to note that the trailer's narration tells us that Abel Wood and Rosie Velez "ravished the land", while the poster tagline opted for the more conventional "ravaged".
More Lust, Less Dust Featurette:
Anchor Bay commissioned this terrific new 16-minute documentary by director David Gregory, which pulls together new interviews, archival behind-the-scenes video and film footage, and rare recorded interviews with the late Paul Bartel and Divine to provide a brief but enlightening look at the production of Lust in the Dust. Fans of Divine's extended Dreamland family will enjoy clips from Edith Massey's audition tape (her failing health ultimately prevented her involvement in the film) and Divine's visible pleasure at the premiere of this "mainstream" comedy. New video interviews with Tab Hunter, James C. Katz, Lainie Kazan and Gina Gallego round out this great little documentary—a solid, unexpected supplement that lifts this disc right into the A category. It's presented in 1.33:1 windowboxed anamorphic format, which sacrifices resolution for the sake of consistency, but that doesn't diminish its value.
Extras Grade: A
Final CommentsLust in the Dust is a clumsy but amiable comedic Western, presented on DVD with a solid anamorphic widescreen transfer and a brand-new documentary courtesy of Anchor Bay. The uninitiated are advised to rent before buying, but Divine fans will definitely want to own this disc.
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