BLOW OUT [1981 / 2011] [The Criterion Collection] [Blu-ray] [USA Release] Murder Has a Sound All of Its Own! Brian De Palma’s ‘BLOW OUT’ is one of the finest films about the process of filmmaking!
In the enthralling ‘BLOW OUT,’ brilliantly crafted by Brian De Palma, John Travolta gives one of his greatest performances, as a film sound-effects man Jack Terry who believes he has accidentally recorded a political assassination. To uncover the truth, he enlists the help of a possible eyewitness to the crime Sally Bedina [Nancy Allen], who may be in danger herself. With its jolting stylistic flourishes, intricate plot, profoundly felt characterizations, and gritty evocation of early-1980’s Philadelphia, ‘BLOW OUT’ is an American paranoia thriller unlike any other, as well as a devilish reflection on moviemaking.
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FILM FACT No.1: Awards and Nominations: 1982 National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA: Nominated: NSFC Award for Best Cinematography for Vilmos Zsigmond.
FILM FACT No.2: Thematically, the film ‘BLOW OUT’ almost “exclusively concerns the mechanics of movie making” with a “total, complete and utter preoccupation with film itself as a medium in which ... style really is content.” In numerous scenes, the film depicts the interaction of sound and images, the manner in which the two are joined together, and methods in which they are re-edited, remixed, and rearranged to reveal new truths or the lack of any objective truth. The film uses several of Brian De Palma’s trademark techniques: split screen, the “Split Diopter Lens,” and the elaborate tracking shot. ‘BLOW OUT’ opened on the 24th July, 1981 to positive reviews from critics, including several that were ecstatic. In The New Yorker, Pauline Kael gave the film one of her few unconditional rave reviews.
Cast: John Travolta, Nancy Allen, John Lithgow, Dennis Franz, Peter Boyden, Curt May, John Aquino, John McMartin, Deborah Everton, J. Patrick McNamara, Missy Cleveland, Roger Wilson, Lori-Nan Engler, Cindy Manion, Missy Crutchfield, Marcy Bigelman, Ann Kelly, Dean Bennett, John Coppolino Jr., Archie Lang, Dave Roberts, Claire Carter, Maurice Copeland, John Hoffmeister, David De Felice, Barbara Sigel, Thomas J. McCarthy, Reginald M. Wallace, Robert L. Penrose, Larry Woody, Dick McGarvin, Michael Borghese, Rossana Fichera, James Jeter, Luddy Tramontana, Sid Doherty, Milt Fields, Bud Seese, Maureen Sullivan, Brian Corrigan, Elaine Filoon, Robin Sherwood, Tim Choate, B.J. Cyrus, Dave DeAngelis, Thomas Finn, Tony Devon, Henry Cohen, Bernie Rachelle, William Tarman, Michael Tearson, E.J. Dougherty (uncredited), Peter Fey (uncredited), Roberto Lombardi (uncredited), Ernest McClure (uncredited), Randy Spears (uncredited) and Susan Wool-Rush (uncredited)
Director: Brian De Palma
Producers: Fred C. Caruso and George Litto
Screenplay: Brian De Palma (screenplay) and Bill Mesce Jr. (uncredited)
Composer: Pino Donaggio
Costume Designs: Vicki Sánchez and Ann Roth (Nancy Allen's Costume Designs)
Cinematography: Vilmos Zsigmond, A.S.C. (Director of Photography)
Image Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 (Panavision) (Anamorphic)
Audio: English: 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio
English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Audio
Running Time: 108 minutes
Region: Region A/1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Metro Goldwyn Mayer / Filmways Pictures / The Criterion Collection
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘BLOW OUT’  opens with an elaborate joke. Via a lengthy Steadicam shot, the viewer is put in the position of a heavy-breathing killer peeping in through windows of a college dormitory. We share his point of view as he watches several barely dressed women cavorting in their rooms, before moving inside and preparing to stab a showering student.
It’s a compendium of clichés from late 1970’s slasher movies, and not a promising start. But then, it turns out this isn’t really Brian De Palma’s film at all; it’s a scene from a film within the film, a cheap exploitation movie being worked on by the real protagonist, sound effects technician Jack Terry [John Travolta]. It’s a fun, memorable trick, even for a director known for his cinematic flair, but it also raises some unintended questions: what qualities separate the ‘real’ film that follows from the parody we just saw? How different is De Palma from the low budget filmmakers he mocks? Uncomfortably, in the case of ‘BLOW OUT’ at least, the answers lie more in style than substance.
In the first, a photographer may have a picture of a murder. In the second, an audio recording is the key. In ‘BLOW OUT,’ the crucial clue is found in a combination of sound and image. While out recording background audio, Jack Terry witnesses and records a Chappaquiddick-style crash: a car containing the Philadelphia Governor and his lover plunges into a river. The Governor dies but Jack Terry is able to save the woman, Sally Bedina [Nancy Allen]. Something about the incident seems suspicious, and when film footage of the crash emerges, Jack Terry uses his brilliant skills as a filmmaker to demonstrate foul play, in the process uncovering a political conspiracy and putting Sally Bedina’s life in danger.
It’s here that the comparisons with the films ‘Blow Up’ and ‘The Conversation’ end. Those films use their mysteries to delve into the psychologies of their characters. ‘BLOW OUT’ uses its characters to build a series of suspense sequences, several of which at the start – dwell nastily on the deaths of attractive women. Jack Terry becomes more and more obsessed with proving the truth, a situation the film explains through a flashback to a past mistake, but too often his actions are driven by the needs of the plot, rather than consistent motivation. Nor does ‘BLOW OUT’ have much to say about politics, preferring to blame a lone psychotic operative Burke [John Lithgow].
The one aspect of the narrative that rings true is its presentation of filmmaking. From the haranguing producer behind the slasher film, to the detailed sequence when Jack Terry syncs up the sound and picture of the crash, and director Brian De Palma treats film production treats the film with real love and care. And for all its faults, the same love and care is evident throughout the film ‘BLOW OUT’ technical production. Every scene has been carefully thought out, using expressive angles and camera moves.
Brian De Palma appears to have had a particular interest in pushing the possibilities of deep focus, even using post-production techniques to go beyond what could be achieved in camera. The film’s colour palate is similarly striking, using red, white and blue as background to the action. These flourishes are enough to make ‘BLOW OUT’ a very entertaining on the edge of your seat experience.
‘BLOW OUT’ is unquestionably a fantastic film that, commercially and perhaps critically, was released at the wrong time. Since then it has aged well remarkably well and stands as an underrated career highlight for all those involved. Combining equal parts paranoia thriller, black comedy and tragic love story, ‘BLOW OUT’ will totally enthral those new to the film and delight those that haven't seen it in years. The Criterion Collection Blu-ray does a perfect job of maintaining the film's tone and spirit, pairing a rock-solid technical presentation with a handful of thoughtful, appropriate bonus features. ‘BLOW OUT’ is a top-tier effort and this Blu-Rray is worth every penny.
‘BLOW OUT’ is a total masterpiece; from the first shot till the very end shot it is simply magnificent. It has amazing cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond and is totally mind blowing, and it utilises the use of the Steadicam and the person who invented it really helped this film to give his best to the filming team. In fact, ‘BLOW OUT’ has kept its impact as a thriller mystery with its political overtones as it mixes crime with the lives of influential people that might give viewers a point of reference between the film and actual historical facts. Director Brian De Palma thriller is visually stylish. ‘BLOW OUT’ is a must see for all Brian De Palma's film admirers.
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Blu-ray Image Quality – The Criterion Collection presents us with the most outstanding Brian De Palma film of its time and that is ‘BLOW OUT’ and has an outstanding 1080p image and enhanced with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio and looks excellent from start to finish. Supervised by director Brian De Palma, and there a wonderful thick layer of film grain over much of the image, detail is remarkable and the film's vivid, stylish colour palette shines through nicely. Several outdoor scenes and close-ups absolutely sparkle with clarity. Digital problems, including compression artefacts, edge enhancement and ghosting, as well as dirt and debris, are all practically non-existent. Here's the bottom line, the film ‘BLOW OUT’ is a carefully-crafted film with a clear attention to detail, and this Blu-ray does everything possible to maintain its visual spirit. The only thing that I am curious about is that they state that the film was done in Technicolor, this I think is not right. The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc and says, ‘BLOW OUT’ was supervised and approved by director Brian De Palma, this new digital transfer was created on a Scanity Datacine in 2K resolution from the original 35mm camera negative. Thousands of instances of debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI's DRS system and Pixel Farm's PFClean system, while Digital Vision's DVNR system was used for small dirt, grain, and noise reduction.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – The Criterion Collection has once again given us a very professional audio experience with the film is ‘BLOW OUT.’ Pino Donaggio's brilliant and evocative moody music film score has a very important role in the film ‘BLOW OUT.’ Fortunately, the 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track enhances it very well and especially the moody flute and sax solos, the stings, and the percussions truly come alive. The various noises Jack records and later on analyses also sound great. The dialogue is crisp, clean, stable, and exceptionally easy to follow. For the record, the audio mix is also superb, offering clear, stable dialogue, crisp, atmospheric ambience and effects, and again we get an excellent presentation of Pino Donaggio’s dramatic, and highly effective, jazzy, woodwind-infused score, with no signs of any distortion, crackle or hiss and especially the dialogue and background noises, especially those featured during several of Jack Terry's “recording sessions” are crisp and directionally accurate, creating a truly enveloping sense of atmosphere from start to finish. On more than one occasion, viewers will swear that certain sounds are happening just outside their window... providing they live in or near a city, of course. The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc for the audio presentation and says. They say the audio is Dolby 2.0 surround soundtrack which is wrong and should say the 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track was remastered at 24-bit from a 35mm magnetic track with Dolby A noise reduction. Clicks, thumps, his, and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube’s integrated workstation. Please be sure to enable Dolby Pro Logic decoding on your receiver to properly play the 2.0 Dolby Surround soundtrack.
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Blu-ray Special Features and Extras
Newly restored digital transfer supervised and approved by director Brian De Palma, with an awesome 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack.
Special Feature: Filmmaker Noah Baumbach Interviews Director Brian De Palma  [1080p] [1.78:1 / 2.40:1] [57:48] The following interview with director Brian De Palma was conducted with filmmaker Noah Baumbach in New York City in October 2010. Brian De Palma says that when he was doing the sound for the film ‘Dress To Kill’ that that idea for the film ‘BLOW OUT’ came to fruition while working with Dan Sable [Supervising Sound Editor] who had worked with the director with a whole lot of previous films by Brian De Palma and at one time they were listening to a wind sound he had recorded to go with a specific film and Brian De Palma said to Dan Sable in a sort of angry voice “Why haven’t you found a new wind sound effect, we have used that wind sound effect in all my other films, haven’t you got a new one, and why don’t you go out and record a new wind sound effect,” which he did, and this is how the idea came about for a film using a guy who goes out and records sound effects to put onto films, and Brian De Palma recalls the assassination of President Kennedy and working out how it happened and putting all the images together and matching them up with sound effects, and decided to transfer that idea for the film ‘BLOW OUT’ so the film becomes very cinematic, where someone had taken loads of photographs of the incident and then the sound engineer who happened to be there just recording natural sounds at night and at the same time seeing the car plunge into the river after hearing the gun shot sound which he also had recorded, and now starts the mystery of finding out about how the incident came about. Brian De Palma wanted to have the film to be totally realistic and in real time, instead of making the film all done with CGI. Brian De Palma also says he did not want to start the film with boring scenes of vehicles driving about and that is why he started the film that is not related to the story of ‘BLOW UP’ and of course instead we are watching a scene from a schlock horror film with a madman walking about with a huge knife and plunges it into the back of a security policeman, and then at a certain point of what we are watching, we actually find out we are in the sound editing room where the director and Jack the sound engineer is sorting out the sound effect for a scene in this schlock horror film, but there is one sound effect the director is very angry about and rants at Jack in complaining about the pathetic scream from the actress in the shower, and Brian De Palma says that first scene in the film, they were all having a great laugh filming it, and had a great hilarious time, but with this schlock horror film, it was the first time Brian De Palma used a SteadiCam camera, and used Garrett Brown who invented the SteadiCam unit because it has stabilizer mounts for smooth motion picture shooting and wanted to help Brian De Palma for that shooting of the schlock horror film segment. Brian De Palma talks about people he has worked with before, like Composer Pino Donaggio, Vilmos Zsigmond, A.S.C. Director of Photography, Film Editor Paul Hirsch, actors like John Travolta, John Lithgow and Nancy Allen who was his wife at the time of making the film ‘BLOW OUT’ and also points out the reason why he uses those people, because he is very close to them and they also like to work with Brian De Palma in his films, as they are sort of like family, and Brian De Palma says it was wonderful process in making the film. Brian De Palma gives great praise for Composer Pino Donaggio in doing a brilliant composed film score for the film, but also said Pino Donaggio did not speak very good English and Brian De Palma was not very good in communicating in Italian, but because they have collaborated together on several films, they somehow are able to communicate well together. Brian De Palma talks about the scene with Nancy Allen in the car plunging into the river and the car filling up rapidly with water and with John Travolta trying to break the window to rescue the actress, well we find out that Nancy Allen is incredibly claustrophobic and it was Brian De Palma’s most scariest moment in the filming of that scene and especially making Nancy Allen do that scene, and even though the actress was totally terrified, she agreed to do that scene as it was all part of the film, but of course it was filmed on the film set’s massive water tank, so of course all safety precautions were taken into account and of course they also had very professional divers to help out in case there was a very dangerous emergency. Brian De Palma talks about the actor John Travolta, who he found to be a dream to work with and with the film ‘BLOW OUT’ has now become an International actor and Brian De Palma spoke the actor about this small film he was directing and John Travolta asked if he could read the script, read it, and immediately wanted to be in the film, as he loved what he had read, and again Brian De Palma says that John Travolta was really wonderful to work with and also says the actor had a warm personality. They talk about certain scenes in the film where people are wearing red shirts and Brian De Palma really likes this situation and they found John Travolta’s red shirt in New York City in some store in Broad Street (Manhattan) they found by chance and so they just walked in with John Travolta and made him put on the red shirt to see what he looked like wearing it. Brian De Palma informs us that before he directs a film, he has to personally check out certain locations, especially in Pennsylvania and some of those particular locations he had actually seen in a film he has watched and has to check it out to see if it will be suitable for the film ‘BLOW OUT.’ We find out that the film ‘BLOW OUT’ was Brian De Palma’s first political film and came about due to the terrible tragic assassination of President Kennedy and was totally obsessed by the whole incident and also the total investigation into the assassination of President Kennedy, which gave Brian De Palma a total incentive to come up with a political drama with really nasty political intrigue and total cover ups, and of course this was definitely the main theme of ‘BLOW OUT,’ and another input to make the film was when Brian De Palma watched the 1996 film ‘Blow-Up’ by director Michelangelo Antonioni and really liked the film and especially the Italian director who he admired, because he has an incredible visual aspect of filming and Brian De Palma felt a total wonderment at the images Michelangelo Antonioni was creating. We hear from Brian De Palma about a disaster that happened to him while they were mixing the sound of the film ‘BLOW OUT,’ and was informed that 10 reels of film was stolen, and those particular reels of film were of the Philadelphia Parade and John Travolta recording the sound on the bridge at night, so they of course had to reshoot all those scenes again, and when Brian De Palma got the distressing phone call about the stolen reels of film negatives, he was totally devastated and the filmmaking community and some actors rallied behind Brian De Palma to shoot those scenes again. One thing that I found slightly boring, is that Brian De Palma is totally obsessed by the director Alfred Hitchcock and just goes on and on endlessly about a couple of his films and the way Alfred Hitchcock shoots scenes in a particular way and especially the film ‘Vertigo.’ Both of them get onto the subject of the shower scene in the schlock horror film in trying to get the right screaming sound for the naked girl in the shower sequence and we get to view this running joke in the film, especially getting loads of females into the recording studio to do their version of a scream and having the director getting more and more frustrated in not getting the right scream he is looking for. But of course when we get about three quarters into the film ‘BLOW OUT,’ John Travolta hears Nancy Allen screaming because she is being seriously attacked by John Lithgow as he tries to strangle her, and again ironically, the Nancy Allen scream we hear eventually on the finished schlock horror film ‘Co-ed Frenzy’ at the very end of the film ‘BLOW OUT,’ is the recording John Travolta was recording while chasing after Nancy Allen and the very evil John Lithgow. Brian De Palma talks about the studio was not very happy with the very end of ‘BLOW OUT,’ because of the very devastating sad ending of the film and because of director Brian De Palma’s logistic attitude of ending the film like it did with the massive firework display behind John Travolta holding Nancy Allen, so Brian De Palma told the studio that is it and he is not going to change the end of the film, and sadly upon the initial release of the film ‘BLOW OUT’ it did not do very good box office success, but of course since then a few years later the film has now become a massive cult success. But at that point in the interview between filmmaker Noah Baumbach and director Brian De Palma ends, and with some reviews I have read they gave it a very negative review, whereas I found it totally fascinating, especially on the point of view of Brian De Palma, whereas not so much interest with Noah Baumbach who I found slightly boring because of his creepy obsession with Brian De Palma. So despite this, the interview is still worth viewing. To add interest to the interview, we get to view some scenes from the film ‘BLOW OUT’ and some still images.
Special Feature: Nancy Allen Interview  [1080p] [1.78:1 / 2.40:1] [25:25] This interview with Nancy Allen was conducted in Los Angeles in January 2011 and it is a total joy from start to finish. Nancy Allen informs us that she first met fellow actor John Travolta when they did a screen test together for the film ‘Carrie,’ but first rehearsed with another actor named Michael Talbott who was also in the film ‘Carrie’ and played the character Freddy and the screen test went well so thought Nancy Allen, and when finally John Travolta was chosen, eventually Nancy Allen chatted to John Travolta and got an immediate chemistry reaction with John Travolta. Nancy Allen says that they had a great time together and found John Travolta very supportive of Nancy Allen and remembers when both of them went to view the first dallies and John Travolta thought Nancy Allen was really great and felt the actress had a good future in the acting profession and of course Nancy Allen got very emotional with that comment from John Travolta and it also gave her great confidence, and when they started filming together, again Nancy Allen felt a great chemistry with fellow actor John Travolta. When Brian De Palma had finished the script, he gave it to Nancy Allen and really liked what the actress had read and also felt it was a good piece of work and also felt the film was very dramatic and said to Brian de Palma that she wanted to work with John Travolta again. Again, after reading the script, Nancy Allen could not quite understand her character in the film and felt the character was like a rag doll or a sad little girl, and very goofy, and why would her character want to get involved with the other characters, like the one she was with in the car that ends up in the river with, but evolved her character of people she has met over a certain period in her life, and because then she found her character, then she knew she could actually do the film, especially when Nancy Allen finally heard that John Travolta had been given the script, especially even though the actor was not on the official list of actors that would be in the film, so Nancy Allen said to Brian De Palma, what are you going to do if John Travolta likes the script, and Nancy Allen was informed that John Travolta really liked the script and was going to be in the film, so of course Nancy Allen was very happy with the outcome, and to make Nancy Allen even more happy, heard that John Travolta was going to be very happy to be working again with Nancy Allen, on top of all that, Nancy Allen was worried about what voice to use for a her character to Brian De Palma and happened to mention the actress Judy Holliday in the film ‘Born Yesterday’ and so viewed the film again and felt yes that is the voice I will use, because Nancy Allen got slightly emotional and was very touched by her performance in the film and had a great empathy towards Judy Holliday. But when filming started, Nancy Allen decided she really hated doing the voice of Judy Holliday accent and just could not get it right, as it was a combination of a New York / Philadelphia accent. When Nancy Allen first read the amazing script, found it very dark and a very evil piece, and also felt her character was very cynical, and this character is heading for nothing but disaster, and total suicide. Nancy Allen comments that John Travolta never ever went to acting school, but Nancy Allen says when she was very young did study acting, but not a lot, and also did some dancing lessons. But working with John Travolta had a great sense of play, especially as they got on so well together especially with their scenes together in the film. One thing Nancy Allen wanted to address to Brian De Palma, did John Travolta and Nancy Allen's characters have some sort of emotional relationship, but all in all it was just a unique chemistry working together. Nany Allen says that when doing scenes with John Travolta at the start of the film, there was a lot of improvisation between the two of them, and so Brian De Palma decided to do a new script to include all this chemistry between John Travolta and Nancy Allen, One thing Brian De Palma stipulated, that there must be rehearsals for each scene between John Travolta and Nancy Allen for the most part, so Brian De Palma feels if it does not look quite right, but eventually when the rehearsals are just right, it will definitely be a good shoot when the camera starts rolling. But Nancy Allen says that they did something totally unique, which she found it a fantastic process, right before they viewed the film and the whole cast was in Philadelphia up in the production building, and everyone was sitting outside and Brian De Palma was sitting inside a particular room, and Nancy Allen and John Travolta acted out the whole film together in one go, and it was like a play and found it a great experience, but does not say what Brian De Palma thought of their particular play performance between Nancy Allen and John Travolta. Whenever Nancy Allen does a film and likes working with a director and even likes the give and take and felt that director Brian De Palma personally had a great respect for actors. Whereas some directors Nancy Allen had worked with did not have any kind of great respect for actors in general and especially female actors. Nancy Allen talks about the actor Dennis Franz who she has worked with in the film ‘Dress To Kill’ and felt he was a very good solid actor, and Nancy Allen was totally thrilled when she heard that Dennis Franz was to be in the film ‘BLOW OUT,’ and again feels Dennis Franz is one of those good solid actors you really like to work with, and felt he played a fabulous character in the film ‘BLOW OUT.’ Nancy Allen now gets to talk about the actor John Lithgow and again thinks this actor is another very solid actor and when he was dragging Nancy Allen up the steps near the end of the film, John Lithgow was worried he might be hurting the actress, especially the way he was throwing her about in a very rough way, but on top of all that, in between breaks in the shoot they called John Lithgow “Mr. Entertainment” because he would keep them well occupied with lots of jokes and other stuff. Nancy Allen wanted to talk about how extraordinary Brian De Palma was desperate to make the film and make the film like a massive production ensemble and also to make it a very busy film, but also at the same time Brian De Palma hated directing this film because of all the massive amount of logistics involved in putting this film together and all the complicate plot lines and also the terrible logistic on filming that massive big parade in Philadelphia, but on the other hand he enjoyed planning the film, but also hated the execution of the film, especially with the amount of actors involved and also had to cope with a lot of departments involved, so all in all it was not a great deal of fun for Brian De Palma, as he finds the process of directing the film a right old slog. When Nancy Allen had to do the underwater scene in the car, it was something the actress was not looking forward to and also having to using the diving equipment which was totally alien to her, but what helped her get through the ordeal was John Travolta who was extremely kind to her and was very supportive towards her while filming the underwater scene, especially because Nancy Allen is 100% claustrophobic and something the actress feared for a very long time when eventually she has to do the underwater scene and Brian De Palma informed the underwater team to make sure they make Nancy Allen feel safe and to make sure the actress can exit the car full of water in good time, so Brian De Palma assured Nancy Allen that she was in safe hands, but when underwater scene finally started and the car was starting to fill up with water very quickly, so in turn Nancy Allen really started to panic and by the time Nancy Allen got out of the car and above the water the actress was totally exhausted, and when you see the women being dragged out of the car window, the car was full of water up to the roof inside of the car, but the person being dragged out of the car window was not Nancy Allen, as Nancy Allen refused to go back into the car full of water to finish off that scene filming. Nancy Allen says that when the film ‘BLOW OUT’ was released, it was received either with reviews of people loved the film, or they totally hated the film, and thinks the film should have been released in the Autumn of 1981, but instead they decided to release in the Summer of 1981, and Nancy Allen totally agrees with that comment, but unfortunately it was entirely out of the hands of Brian De Palma and could not influence the head of the studio to release the film later on in 1981, but the head of the studio in his naïve wisdom felt having John Travolta in the film would make it the greatest and biggest blockbuster movie ever released, but instead some critics said it was the greatest movie ever released, but on the other hand, some critics reviews said the film was a great big mess, some said it was a totally awful, so all in all the film got rollercoaster reviews, but as far as Nancy Allen is concerned, the actress really loved the movie the first time she watched ‘BLOW OUT,’ and again thought it was a wonderful film and of course over the years since the film came out in 1981 and now the film 'BLOW OUT’ it is not greatly appreciated and has had a lot of glowing praise written about the film and especially in Europe it was a totally huge success and Nancy Allen has been asked whether the film has changed over the years since it was released, and definitely and categorically says no it has not, it is still the same film when it was first released in the cinema in 1981, and the timing was very important. When they did all of the publicity photos for the film ‘BLOW OUT’ with John Travolta and Nancy Allen in them, the actress totally hated the images of herself, and of course the marketing is a very delicate balance. What also made Nancy Allen very angry, is when the critics surprised her by saying they loved her in the film ‘Dress To Kill,’ loved her work and have hated the choices the actress has made, especially appearing in the film ‘BLOW OUT,’ and Brian De Palma said to Nancy Allen, “The thing with reviews is, if you believe the good news, you have got to believe in the bad ones, so the format does not change and you have to decide for yourself, whether you are satisfied with it.” But overall, Nancy Allen again thinks it is a very good movie and it is also a classic film, and sometimes working on a film, you feel it is not going to work, and it does not, and as to the film itself, people are people, it is the humanity in the film, it is the characters, it’s the double dealing in the film, also the sleazy side of politics in the film, and all of that stuff and it never changes. Nancy Allen also says that the film ‘BLOW OUT’ has really great production values, it had a solid script, everyone is cast perfectly and there is a heartbeat to the film and I think that the heartbeat starts at the centre and so it goes on right throughout the film, and keeps you wanting to watch right to the end of the film. At that point the interview with Nancy Allen ends, and it was totally fascinating and equally totally interesting hearing Nancy Allen talking about her intimate thoughts about the film ‘BLOW OUT’ and is well worth viewing, as I think Nancy Allen is a totally wonderful person and also a very intelligent female actress, and also has a terrific personality, and I can personally definitely give this interview a five star rating.
Special Feature: Garrett Brown Interview  [1080p] [1.78:1 / 2.40:1] [15:03] In this interview, cameraman Garrett Brown, the inventor of the SteadiCam system, shares his recollection of shooting the ‘Co-ed Frenzy’ scenes that appear at the beginning of the film ‘BLOW OUT.’ Here Garrett Brown introduces himself and informs us that he is the one that invented the SteadiCam, which is a way of operating a hand held camera without shaking the image that you normally get without a SteadiCam, and says humans are a wonderful mobile creature, we walk, we run, climb stairs, and what Garrett Brown tried to do is to allow us to do all that while holding a camera, and it actually went a little beyond that, you are not only holding the camera if it is close to you, but also holding it out like you are holding the camera with your fingertips, so it is like moving through space. Next we see Garrett Brown in his workshop and start’s to ensemble the SteadiCam with the harness, and starts to demonstrate what the SteadiCam equipment can do, and he uses a small video camera, and you can definitely see how the SteadiCam easily floats about, and looks like there is no gravity and looks totally amazing, and the camera is balanced on a gimbal. Also Garrett Brown shows us a much smaller SteadiCam unit with an even smaller camera mounted on it and shows us the same principle like the large SteadiCam unit and how easy it is film with. Now Garrett Brown shows us a much more up to date smaller SteadiCam unit called a “Smoothy” that you can fit a iPhone on it. Garrett Brown’s dream would be if camera’s would shrink to possibly be the size of a contact lens and that way we don’t have to lug all this bulky equipment around, but that is something for some time in the near future. Garrett Brown informs us that sometime ago he had just come back from shooting the film ‘The Shinning’ with director Stanley Kubrick who was a very well practice perfectionist, because the director likes to take lots of multiple takes, and Garrett Brown says, “I was on good form,” and at the same time he was also asked to do something he had never done on ‘The Shinning’ and it was a point of view, what that means is a complete mystery to me what that off the cuff comment meant, answers on a post card. But Garrett Brown says that in the film ‘Halloween’ it was not very well executed and he had to move the camera about is a very over the top vigorously way to make you feel uncomfortable, which humans do not do. But when on the set of the film ‘Halloween’ he had to do the film as parody, meaning a totally crappy horror film and to Garrett Brown it is not easy to do something that bad in his profession, after particularly working with Staley Kubrick who he admired as a professional director, and with that film in particular, it went against the grain for Garrett Brown, and would of loved to go back again and do a much more professional job for the film ‘Halloween.’ Now when Garrett Brown arrived on the set of ‘BLOW OUT,’ he found director Brian De Palma had clearly thought out what he specifically wanted for the film ‘BLOW OUT’ and there was no arguing about bad versus good, and the start of the film we view ‘Co-ed Frenzy’ which of course is a parody of a horror/slash film, and every aspect of it was imbedded in Brian De Palma’s memory and at the same time was pretty well planned, and was very well pleased to work with director Brian De Palma and the film was done very briskly and contained a lot of elements you see in the film. As Garrett brown recalled, that they rehearsed quite a lot continuously and evert shot for the film was very well meticulously planned and by Brian De Palma. By the end of the film ‘BLOW OUT,’ Garrett Brown says, “You know I got kinda into being really scary murdering guy, by the end of it,” but of course that was a very tongue in cheek fantasy he felt after finish shooting the film ‘BLOW OUT,’ and in reality would never ever contemplate such an action. With Garrett Brown’s closing thought of the outcome of the invention of the SteadiCam unit, he says, “Modestly, I would say, the SteadiCam has become well used and it has been a boon with all kinds of filmmaking, and if you are careful with the SteadiCam, because it looks like a dolly shot, and if you think not too long ago you had to put the camera on wheels to move it about, but now we have tremendous freedom of all sorts and it has literally liberated the camera form a mechanical angle, because the wheels tended to go in a straight line as with other equipment related to the camera, in a sort of robotic way, but with the Steadicam you can make the movements in so many says that is so smooth, and a much more professional attitude for the cameraman to be able to shoot a film to look so natural. At that point in this featurette, the interview with Garrett Brown finishes and at the start of this interview we had a good insight into the way the SteadiCam unit worked and we get his thoughts on his filming techniques. But on the other hand, Garrett Brown near the end of this interview started to really annoy me in a totally annoying irritable way, as he kept on repeating himself on his aspect of filming technique with the SteadiCam and again really started to annoy me and he is totally obsessed with himself and especially by keep going on that he was the was the one who invented the SteadiCam, so Garrett brown please give it a rest as again the way he carried on started to get very boring and so Garrett Brown please can you give it a rest mate. Throughout this featurette we get lots of clips from the film ‘BLOW OUT.’
Special Feature: Louis Goldman Photographs: The following set of images we get to view were taken on the set of the film ‘BLOW OUT’ in 1981 by the late great still photographer Louis Goldman, whose work has spanned more than seventy major films. Books on Louis Goldman’s life and career includes “Lights, Camera, Action,” published in 1986 and his autobiography “Friends for Life: The Story of a Holocaust Survivor and His Rescuers,” published in 2008. To navigate the images you get to view, you press the large right arrow on your remote control to move forward and the large left arrow to move backward. To exit, press ENTER. What you get to view are 24 stunning high definition black-and-white images.
Special Feature: ‘MURDER À LA MOD’  [1080p] [1.37:1] [80:23] ‘MURDER À LA MOD’ was Brian De Palma’s experimental 1967 feature film, and is like the film ‘BLOW OUT,’ a thriller that takes place in the world of moviemaking. Scenes from it can be glimpsed in the film ‘BLOW OUT,’ on Manny Karp’s television in chapter 8. The complete film is just over eighty-minutes and is presented here. From what I viewed of this totally vacuous pompous first experimental film, to me it was totally unbelievable that director Brian De Palma decided to pursue making this so called film, and that it was also unbelievable that Brian De Palma went onto make classic iconic films you actually want to watch. I suggest you get hold of your remote control when the film starts and keep on pressing the right NEXT button to skip through all the chapters to the very end of this totally rubbish film and say to yourself, “I am so glad that right load of old crap is over.” This was an ARIES Documentaries Production. This was presented in English: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono Audio.
Theatrical Trailer  [480i] [1.85:1] [1:45] This is the Original Theatrical Trailer for the film ‘BLOW OUT,’ sadly it is presented in very rough shape print and why couldn’t it have been shown in the right aspect ratio.
PLUS: Here we have a beautiful printed designed 40-page booklet entitled “BLOW OUT.” Table of contents includes CAST. CREDITS. AMERICAN SCREAM by Michael Sragow. PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG GADGETEER by Pauline Kael. McRYAN’S TRAGIC BLOW OUT – Frame by Frame Sequence where we get to view the photographs of Wissahickon Crash by Emmanual Karp. We also get ABOUT THE TRANSFER. SPECIAL THANKS. ACKNOWLEGMENTS and PRODUCTION CREDITS. Plus lots of colour and black-and-white images from the film “BLOW OUT.” As a bonus we get a selection of B-movie posters.
Finally, with the film ‘BLOW OUT,’ director Brian De Palma delivers a really special masterpiece thriller, it’s a film that has you thoroughly engrossed from start to finish. ‘BLOW OUT’ not only looks visually stunning but also sounds totally amazing. ‘BLOW OUT’ comprises of a great story, acting and filmmaking meaning this is definitely one film I think you should take the time to watch. I for one thoroughly enjoyed it with the film delivering a couple surprising twists and turns along the way. Very Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado
Le Cinema Paradiso