Monday, October 3, 2022

WANTED ON BLU-RAY: DRAGONSLAYER (1981)




WANTED ON BLU-RAY:
DRAGONSLAYER (1981)


Rated PG | Color | 109 minutes

When I was growing up in the late 80s/early 90s, it was an age undreamed of. Between the VHS boom and the rise of cable television, there was just so much stuff to watch! And one of the many films I found myself stumbling across repeatedly while channel surfing was DRAGONSLAYER. Even now, with the leaps in special effects technology, I still think that this film contains my favorite onscreen dragon, which still looks fairly impressive all these decades later!

Synopsis: It is a dark time (in the Dark Ages) for the fictional kingdom of Urland. An ancient horror named Vermithrax Pejorative terrorizes the populace, and so a lottery is begun by their King to send virgin sacrifices to the fire-breathing beast twice a year so that it does not burn their villages and crops. Eventually help arrives in the form of Galen (Peter MacNicol), a wizard's apprentice who takes up his master's quest to defeat the dragon, after the old man is killed.

Using a magical amulet, Galen at first attempts to bury the virgin-snacking monster alive (which does not bode well for many Urlanders), but eventually uses it to forge a weapon strong enough to pierce dragon-hide. As the film heads towards its brilliant climax, the unlikely young hero battles Vermithtrax Perjorative on his own until he tags in help from an unexpected (and powerful) ally!

I've always had an affinity for DRAGONSLAYER ever since I first caught it on (I believe) A&E way back in the day (where it was usually paired with JABBERWOCKY). While the movie's first half is a bit on the slow side, the sheer spectacle of the second half more than makes up for it! The cast is wonderful, the Academy Award-nominated soundtrack composed by Alex North is epic, and Phil Tippet's (almost) Oscar-worthy effects work (using a new process at the time called "go-motion") brings it all together!
 
Though DRAGONSLAYER experienced huge critical success upon its theatrical release, it was surprisingly a box office failure pulling in $14 million on an $18 million budget. But as is the case for many films that are considered flops, DRAGONSLAYER has since garnered a large cult following over the past four decades, and fans are overdue a nice (collector's edition) Blu-ray of this classic fantasy movie!
 
Waiting for this movie to come to Blu-ray has been a pain in the neck I tell ya!

 
Availability: You can easily procure a copy of DRAGONSLAYER on DVD (which oddly seems to get re-released every six years or so) for a relatively low price. It is also available to rent or own digitally in HD!

Current Rights Holder: Paramount.

Blu-ray Wishlist: 
  • New 2K (but preferably 4K) restoration made from an original 35mm print of the film! 
  • Multiple Cuts of the film - It would be super cool if the theatrical version, the TV edit, and the rare Uncut version (only available ages ago on Laserdisc) were included! At the very least, I'd love to see the fully uncut version of DRAGONSLAYER!
  • A new audio commentary with director Matthew Robbins (who is still alive as my posting this), or even one with star Peter MacNicol and/or Phil Tippett!
  • Cast & Crew Interviews - Getting some behind-the-scenes input on the film from Robbins and MacNicol would be super cool, as would interviews with Phil Tippett and his f/x team (who are still working in the film biz today)!
  • Archival or new making of featurettes!
  • Trailer
  • Poster & Still Gallery
  • Really pushing it here, but a soundtrack CD would be wonderful as well!

I'm clearly asking for a lot, but honestly I'd be happy to get even a fraction of what's on my wishlist at this point! I've been fairly impressed with how Paramount has been handling their catalog titles lately, so I wouldn't be shocked if they gave this particular film a little love. And even if they have no interest in it, there's always the chance that DRAGONSLAYER could become a future Shout! Factory release (under either their Shout Select or Scream Factory labels)! All we can really do is sit and wait, and hope for the best.... though it probably couldn't hurt to bug Paramount on Facebook or Twitter in the meantime!

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