Digi-Schlock: CRAZY MAMA/THE LADY IN RED (Shout! Factory DVD)

Throughout this year, Shout! Factory has offered exploitation fans some of the best value-for-money options this year with their line of Roger Corman Double Feature DVD’s.  Thus, it is fitting that they cap the year with one of the best entries in the double feature line, a strong pairing of Crazy Mama and The Lady In Red.  Like the recent Big Bad Mama double feature, it offers fans a significant visual upgrade on both titles while also throwing in plenty of worthy extras.

Both titles on this disc had been previously released on disc but always in the same tape-based transfers used for their VHS incarnations.  This double-feature presentation offers new anamorphic transfers for both films – it looks like they were taken from print sources rather than negative sources (Crazy Mama is preceded by a title card revealing that it came from the UCLA Archive) but both look good, with a minimum of speckling and age-related wear.  The boost in detail and color is impressive on both films.  The original mono mixes are retained for both discs and they sound fine, with no distortion and clear blends of dialogue, music and effects.

This disc also offers a generous blend of extras both old and new.  Crazy Mama retains the commentary track from the old New Concorde disc and its a fun, informal duo track featuring Jonathan Demme and Roger Corman.  It is stronger on fun banter than it is on behind-the-scenes detail but there is the occasional intriguing factoid, like how Ann Sothern was a challenge to work with or how documentarian Shirley Clarke was originally chosen to direct this film.  Also included is a fascinating 15-minute video of Corman and Demme discussing how Demme came to work for Corman (also carried over from the New Concorde disc).

As for The Lady In Red, it is treated to not one but two commentary tracks that were recorded for this release.  The first pairs director Lewis Teague with uncredited feature player Robert Forster.  It’s not as heavy on production details as one might like and they run out of material by the second half but there a few good nuggets of info in its early stages, like how they came to work together and why Forster isn’t credited on the film itself.  Teague also tells an interesting story about how making his directing debut got him in hot water with the DGA.

The other commentary pairs writer John Sayles with producer Julie Corman and it’s the more substantial of the two options.  Sayles takes the lead and goes into great detail about the research he did for the film and how his take on American society shaped the film’s pro-feminist/anti-“System” themes.  Corman is mainly there for support but adds in the occasional production-focused detail.

The package is rounded out by trailers for each film and a brief poster gallery (including a poster for The Lady In Red‘s alternate titling, Guns Sin & Bathtub Gin).  It’s also worth noting that the disc offers you the option to watch both films together as “the Roger Corman Experience,” which includes theater-style title cards, thematically-appropriate trailers for other Shout! Factory titles and a brief intermission film that encourages viewers to visit the snack bar.  Your Humble Reviewer heartily recommends utilizing this option to get the full the retro-schlock effect.

In short, this Crazy Mama/The Lady In Red double bill is a lovingly assembled presentation that does justice to two of the more underrated New World productions.   As such, it’s a must for b-movie students.

Crazy Mama / The Lady In Red [Double Feature]

Crazy Mama / The Lady In Red [Double Feature]

Two action packed, gun totin’ films for one price!Crazy Mama: A widow in the 1950s begins a wacky life of crime when she loses her beauty parlor. She’s joined by her mother, her pregnant daughter (and her boyfriend), an old lady, a greaser and a defecting sheriff.Director: Jonathan Demme (The Silence Of The Lambs, Philadelphia, Stop Making Sense)Stars: Cloris Leachman, Stuart WhitmanThe Lady In Red: A farm girl flees her abusive father and lands in a sewing sweatshop in Chicago, where the girls are exploited by a sleazy manager. After landing in jail, she becomes a prostitute and then a waitress while falling in love with a mysterious hit man.Director: Lewis Teague (Cujo, Cat’s Eye, The Jewel Of The Nile)Stars: Pamela Sue Martin, Robert Conrad, Louise Fletcher, Christopher Lloyd

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