by Shane “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” Hnetka
I get so frustrated by how difficult it is to find the Blu-rays I want to buy in local brick and mortar stores. I know that studios only want stores to carry the latest releases — which usually means recent blockbusters, sappy rom-coms, lame kid flicks, dumb-as-driftwood action movies and very little else. I know. This is nothing new. But it’s maddening. Way too often, I have to special order the films I want online.
I can’t be the only person that wants to buy specialized DVDs and Blu-rays at Regina stores. Someone sell them to me!
The Wages Of Fear
An example of my exasperation comes from the recently released re-mastered 1977 William Friedkin cult classic Sorcerer. Sorcerer, which stars Roy Scheider, is a remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1953 masterpiece The Wages of Fear and, yes, while I hate remakes, there are some exceptions, Sorcerer being one of them.
The plots of both movies are the same. In a squalid South American town, four strangers take the dangerous job of transporting unstable nitroglycerin through the jungle to reach an oil rig fire that can only be extinguished by a massive explosion. Gargantuan tension ensues.
The film’s title comes from the name of one of the movie’s trucks. Unfortunately, some moviegoers thought that a movie called Sorcerer would be another supernatural thriller like Friedkin’s previous hit, The Exorcist. They were sorely disappointed. On top of that, Sorcerer opened a few weeks after a movie called Star Wars and, well, needless to say, it didn’t fare too well in that competition.
The budget for Sorcerer was high, and two studios, Universal and Paramount, had co-financed it. You can bet they weren’t happy with returns. Sorcerer became one of the unlucky movies that marked the end of the 1970s New Hollywood movement and the beginning of the summer blockbuster era that continues to this day. Too bad for Sorcerer.
Fortunately, the movie’s story doesn’t end there.
The Sorcerer Strikes Back
Sorcerer was released on VHS, then on a crummy pan-and-scan DVD — and then, for decades, nothing. But over the years the film has been reevaluated and its cult following has grown. Quentin Tarantino even put Sorcerer on his Sight and Sound best film list.
Friedkin recently sued Universal and Paramount to get the rights back, and an agreement was eventually reached. Friedkin then oversaw a massive restoration of Sorcerer, screened it a few times and got Warner Brothers to release it on Blu-ray.
But can I find this Blu-ray anywhere? Of course not. So it’s back to the Internet, with my credit card.
Shane Hnetka is a Regina film and comic book nerd. He also writes Dog Blog’s weekly “Sunday Matinee” column at prairiedogmag.com.