Cecil B. Demented: Special Edition

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

In an effort to take cinema away from the Hollywood system, Cecil B. DeMented (Stephen Dorff) and his crew of cinema freaks have taken serious action. At the opening of her new film, Honey Whitlock (Melanie Griffith) is taken hostage by DeMented at gunpoint and soon, she will be forced to perform in their underground, no budget motion picture. Of course, Honey wants no part of this movie at first and resists, but some shocks and threats soon have her in fine form. The film starts in traditional fashion, but soon DeMented and his misfits take the production into real life, into real events with real people, where they capture their revolution within their movie. As time passes and the film progresses, Honey finds herself less resistant to DeMented and his crew, which makes her work even more effective. Will DeMented be able to make his vision become a reality and change cinema forever, or will he simply end up as another forgotten cult director?

I liked this movie a lot, but I have to admit, the message is a little forced at times, for my tastes. But if you can overlook the obvious hypocrisies inside the message and just watch the flick, Cecil B. DeMented is a load of fun. I know some folks will balk at the idea of battling bad mainstream cinema via making a bad low budget movie like Cecil does, but like I said, this one needs to be seen without a sense of message. I admire the support of underground cinema and the non mainstream cinematic efforts, but this seems more like an effort to be hip and not a real social commentary. So perhaps that could be seen as a flaw, but since I chose to watch just for fun, which worked out well. And also, I think Waters intended some of this to be a strike against indie devotees as well, who can be just as bad as the mainstream folks at times. I love the constant name dropping and references, which add a lot of depth and inside jokes to the film, which is always welcome. From the director’s cut of Patch Adams to the blond bimbo’s love for Quentin Tarantino, Cecil B. DeMented offers some hilarious jabs at the film realm. In the end, this movie can still be a little forced at times, but still offers a fun and entertaining way to spend an hour and a half.

Once again, John Waters delivers a fun and entertaining piece of cinema, although the underground attack is a little much at times. I’m all for putting the screws to the Hollywood machine at times, but here it seems to be in the name of coolness, which kinda dulls the shine. But still, Waters has offered up a humorous storyline loaded with colorful characters, which in the end, proves to be more than enough. Cecil B. DeMented is not one of Waters’ finer moments, but it is worth a look and provides a lot of laughs in the process. This just seems too simplified when struck against other efforts of his, which leaves me wanting a little more depth, from both story and characters. But in terms of entertainment, this is another solid addition to Waters’ resume of films. Other films helmed by Waters include Pink Flamingos, Cry-Baby, Hairspray, Serial Mom, Mondo Trasho, and Pecker. The cast here includes Stephen Dorff (S.F.W., Blade), Melanie Griffith (Cherry 2000, Milk Money), Alicia Witt (Four Rooms, Urban Legend), Mink Stole (Lost Highway, But I’m A Cheerleader), Adrian Grenier (Celebrity, Drive Me Crazy), and Jack Noseworthy (Event Horizon, U-571).

Video: How does it look?

Cecil B. Demented is presented in a 1.77:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Artisan has delivered a fantastic transfer here, which is bound to please fans of the film. I knew this would be a good transfer, but I was surprised with how slick and sharp this presentation is. The source print is very clean at all times, while the image is bold and well detailed also, a welcome combination indeed. The film’s bright color scheme comes off well here, with vivid hues and no signs of bleeds in the least. I also saw no problems with the contrast, which showcases a high level of detail and well balanced black levels at all times. I think this is one of Artisan’s best transfers ever, let’s hope they can keep this level of excellence in the future.

Audio: How does it sound?

This disc includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which provides an active and effective audio experience. This one has gunshots, screams, explosions, and a rockin’ soundtrack, all of which ensure the speakers have plenty of work to do here. The surrounds see a lot of action during this film, from subtle atmospheric effects to booming ones, so you’ll always be in the middle of all the action. The music sounds great in this mix also, very immersive and powerful at times. The dialogue isn’t lost here though, as the vocals are always crisp and very easy to understand. I wasn’t expecting much from this track, but I am very pleased with how it all turned out.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This isn’t a full special edition release, but this disc does house some cool supplements. An audio commentary track from John Waters is present, in which he talks about his thoughts on the film, the message, and of course, cinema as a whole. This track has some slow spots, but fans of Waters will not want to miss it, as it does offer a lot of insight. This disc also includes some talent files, production notes, two theatrical trailers, a television spot, and a Canned Ham featurette from Comedy Central.

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