On DVD & Blu-ray, 8/2/11: ‘Better Off Dead,’ ‘Conan the Barbarian’

John Cusack in 'Better Off Dead'


 “I want my $2!!”

One of the least recognized but cult favorite chapters in the “How To Be A Quirky Lovestruck Heartthrob” library of John Cusack, this 1985 classic cheese finally brings its cereal-prize spaceships, Howard Cosell-obsessed Japanese drag racers, singing hamburgers, and psychotic paperboys to Blu-ray. Lane Meyer (Cusack) would rather set himself on fire than watch his ex-girlfriend date his ski slope rival, or eat one more of his vapid mother’s slithering, gelatinous dinners. But fortunately, he’s in an 80’s teen comedy, so the love of his neighbors’ French foreign exchange student can save him. Paul Smith


“What is best in life?”

On the list of “comfort food” movies that I can (and do) watch on an almost endless loop over and over again, this one ranks very near the top. I’m not sure I can explain it, since I’ve never been particularly fond of the character in any other incarnation; not the original works of Robert E. Howard; not the Marvel comics of the 70’s; not the various television projects; and certainly not the other film efforts (although I’m hopeful for the upcoming Jason Momoa film). But there’s something about the alchemy of Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, writer/director John Milius, and composer Basil Poledouris, who gave us what to this day ranks as one of the greatest soundtracks of all time. Exhilarating, brutal, comedic, and wildly quotable, I’ve worn out many a VHS copy of this one. The DVD transfer was nothing spectacular, preserving the grainy, dark picture quality of the original, but at least it was harder to wear out with repeated viewings. Here’s hoping the transfer to high definition does this glorious, B-for-bloody-movie justice. Paul Smith

One thought on “On DVD & Blu-ray, 8/2/11: ‘Better Off Dead,’ ‘Conan the Barbarian’

  1. Now that you’ve got it on DVD, you need to take the 30-Day Conan Challenge. It’s something my brother made up.

    Wake up every morning and watch Conan the Barbarian start to finish. Make sure it’s the first thing you do every day, and don’t multitask! I mean, you can eat breakfast while you’re watching it, but you gotta focus on it. It can’t just be background noise.

    Do this for 30 days straight. No matter what.

    It will change your outlook on life.

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