Great movies come from all around the world, and so do great DVDs and Blu-rays. Import This! is an irregular feature here at FSR that highlights discs and/or movies unavailable in the US that are worth seeking out for fans of fantastic cinema. We’ll cover movies both foreign and domestic, new and old, and while some discs will require region-free players others will play on any DVD or Blu-ray machine. The one thing they’ll all have in common is their status as damn fine films and/or solid entertainment currently unavailable in the US but well worth importing into your collection.
All The Boys Love Mandy Lane
Country of origin: US
Blu-ray Label: Optimum Home/UK
Blu-ray Region: all region
“You seem different.”
“It’s cause I am.”
Mandy Lane (Amber Heard) is a special girl. Special in the sense that she went away for summer break and came back to school a blond and curvy bombshell. We get our first glimpse of her as she walks the school hallway in slow motion with her body absorbing the attention and stares from other students. The other girls in school want to be her (or claw her eyes out) and the boys all want to do her, but she rebuffs them all in favor of her true friend Emmet (Michael Welch). The pair attends a “cool kids” pool party and Emmet, obviously low on the social pecking order, coerces one of the popular kids to impress Mandy by jumping to the pool from the roof. He doesn’t quite make it, and nine months later Emmet is even more of an outcast and Mandy has joined the popular clique and left him behind. She’s invited to a weekend getaway by her new friends in the hopes that one (or more) of the guys can get lucky with her, but it seems someone else has other plans. And those plans involve murder! And handjobs, muff trimming, underage drinking, un-reciprocated oral favors, firearms, a mysterious yet broodingly sexy ranch-hand, and even more murder!
Jonathan Levine’s debut feature hasn’t had an easy road to audiences, but it’s definitely worth seeking out for horror fans and Heard fans alike. It hits all the right buttons for a traditional slasher film from the promiscuous teens who consistently find excuses to walk around alone at night to the handful of possible suspects to the bloody killings themselves. It takes a risk though by identifying the killer roughly two-thirds of the way through the film, but while the revelation should have reduced the suspense for the remainder of the movie it somehow doesn’t. It’s refreshingly old-school in a way in that it never tries to be self-aware or too smart, but it also doesn’t play anything for camp or laughs. There’s actually a message here if you want it, but its acknowledgment isn’t required for the film to succeed.
Levine’s stylistic choices are odd but work to create an interesting look and atmosphere. The film sports a washed-out seventies-era look at times with faded and grainy scenes mixed throughout. Other scenes are bright, sharp, and sun-dappled. (Yes, sun-dappled.) Some shots even seem perfectly framed for American Eagle ads including an edited montage of the gang playing around some railroad tracks. The soundtrack is a relaxed and deceptively casual mix of songs by The Earlies, Sunday Drivers, and even Bobby Vinton. Oddly, while the film is deservedly R-rated, the violence and bloodshed is a mixed bag. The murders range from a very graphic shotgun barrel jammed into someone’s distended mouth to stabbings that seem almost bloodless.
It’s a good flick, but it has some obvious deficiencies including one of the most poorly timed kisses in horror film history. Seriously… on the run from a killer, two of the teens reach the getaway car, keys in hand, and pause… to stare at each other for what seems like eternity and then kiss. BAM! There’s also some questionable acting from a few of the soon-to-be victims, and the dialog between the teens drifts in and out of believability.
All The Boys Love Mandy Lane deserves to be seen and enjoyed by US audiences. It’s a far better film than most of the studio horror releases of the past four years, it has a sexy lead in Amber Heard, and buying an import copy takes money away from the Weinsteins if and when they ever get around to releasing a domestic DVD or Blu-ray.
Blu-ray: This is/was a Dimension owned flick, but for various reasons it’s been sitting unreleased on US shelves since 2006. It was reportedly delayed because of a real-life school shooting that scared off the distributor for fear of copycat crimes and accusations of tastelessness. Since then it has bounced around release schedules repeatedly with no end in sight. Optimum Home Entertainment is the UK distributor and released the movie on DVD and Blu-ray in 2008.
The disc has two extra features… the UK trailer and a twenty-eight minute interview with Heard. She’s still a young actress and often gets lumped in with the Megan Foxes of the world, but she actually gives solid, entertaining, and informative answers to the the questions asked. She does have a weird habit of saying “Whale Rider… directed by Niki Caro” a few times though. Like some of OHE’s releases, All The Boys Love Mandy Lane is region-free and will play on any domestic Blu-ray player, but both the trailer and the interview are in SD/PAL so you’ll either need an all-region player that converts PAL to NTSC or a TV that can receive PAL signals.
– Buy All The Boys Love Mandy Lane on Blu-ray from Amazon.UK