It always makes Your Humble Reviewer smile when an obscure cult title gets the special edition treatment on DVD. It’s all the sweeter when it’s the kind of VHS-rental-store or cable-t.v. staple that no one imagined would ever receive this sort of retrospective love. Loose Screws is exactly that kind of film and Severin Films has put together an expansive special edition for it. The film may be silly but the resulting DVD is definitely not.
To start with, the film has gotten a nice, professional anamorphic 1.78:1 transfer of its U.S. cut (the preferred version for the director and the film’s fans). It benefits from a handsome remastering job that shows off how skillfully shot the film actually is. Colors are vivid and the details are crisp, thus allowing the viewer to savor every bare boob as it jiggles past on the screen. The audio portion of the transfer sticks with the original theatrical mix and it sounds solid, with dialogue, sound effects and all the amusingly trashy new wave song soundtrack coming through loud and clear.
This disc also features a longer cut of the film used in other territories. It’s a few steps down in terms of visual quality because it was taken from a fuzzy-looking video master but it is presented in an anamorphic “window-boxed” presentation for the benefit of widescreen t.v. owners. Fans should note that this alternative cut doesn’t have any major differences in terms of plot or content: it’s merely a longer version of the U.S. cut with several scenes extended. Chances are that most viewers will stick with the superior U.S. cut but it is nice to have this version for the sake of comparison.
There is also a worthwhile slate of extras on the disc. The first is a commentary track pairing director Rafal Zielinski with commentator John Cregan. Zielinski tends to wax pretentious about the film, which he wanted to be a more sophisticated/less cartoonish response to the previous film. Normally, this would be annoying but Zielinski goes so far over the top that it’s unexpectedly entertaining (at one point, he compares his four heroes to the four wheels of a Tibetan Buddhist circle!). His point of view becomes easier to understand as the commentary progresses because he reveals how this was his “rebound” film after he lost out on directing a longtime pet project. Cregan keeps Zielinski on task with plentiful questions plus he also makes some observations of his own. Overall, the two make a solid team.
This disc also includes two interviews, one with production manager Ken Gord and producer Maurice Smith. Both are short – Gord’s runs about 5 minutes, Smith’s, around ten – but both are fun to watch because they are exceptionally frank. Gord doesn’t try to disguise his contempt for Loose Screws, insistently referring to it as “product” and claiming the best thing he learned from working on the film was to take a lunch break(!). Smith is more fond of the film but is refreshingly honest in how he admits that it and Screwballs were completely inspired by a fervent desire to cash in on Porky’s.
In short, this DVD version of Loose Screws is better than even its fans might have expected, offering a sleek presentation of its feature and some worthy extras that take the viewer into the why’s and wherefores of its exploitative whims. If you’re a serious student of the 1980’s teen sex comedy, it’s well worth your time.