- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Director John McNaughton’s 1998 erotic crime thriller debuts on the ultra-high definition disc in a package loaded with extras and goodies in Wild Things: Limited Edition (Arrow Video, not rated, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 115 minutes, $39.99).

Set in a rich Miami suburb, the story starts out like a “90210” TV episode with gorgeous teens enjoying life and quickly devolves into a high school student falsely accusing a guidance counselor of rape and then further diving down a dirty rabbit hole into a sinister and sexually charged noir conspiracy.

A collection of young stars of the day led the cast, which included Neve Campbell and Denise Richards as the lead, troublemaking and hypersexual teens; Matt Dillon as the counselor; and Kevin Bacon as an obsessed police detective.



Pop connoisseurs should also pay attention to appearances by legends Robert Wagner as a rich and jealous father and Bill Murray (yes, the Bill Murray) as an ambulance-chasing attorney.

Absolutely relegated to the “cult classic” home theater shelf, “Wild Things” is B-movie exploitation at its best, a smarmy thrill ride loaded with twists and stacked with a great cast.

Viewers also get two cuts of the movie: the theatrical release and an unrated edition adding about seven minutes of extra sleaze.

4K in action: Sony Pictures has meticulously remastered the film from the original 35mm camera negative and, even approved by the director, delivers the cleanest, crispest and most respectful upgrade to date.

Audiences looking for some of the digitally enhanced payoffs should focus on scenes of the counselor buzzing around the Florida Everglades with his airboat at sunset as well as encounters with an assortment of subtly shaded alligators.

The quality moments for the remaster comes with the counselor driving a Jeep during the night on a road glistening with purplish-blue highlights or his sailing on a bright sunny day in his expensive yacht on the high seas.

Both of these extreme opposite lighting examples maintain saturated colors and are never washed out with only a hint of film grain.

Best extras: For a film that had such low impact in the history of cinema, I am amazed at the generous supply of bonus material and hard copy stuff in the package.

Start with the 4K disc containing a new commentary track from Mr. McNaughton and producer Steven A. Jones, with the director leading the loose and scattered discussion.

They focused on production detail, locations, casting and plenty of memories such as paying a prestigious high school $200,000 or so to shoot on campus and Mr. Murray calling and asking to be in the movie.

A second vintage commentary track from the 1998 DVD release has way more production information and features an entertaining nearly nonstop discussion with Mr. McNaughton while adding key members of the crew, including editor Elena Maganini, producers Steven Jones and Rodney Liber, composer George Clinton and cinematographer Jeffrey Kimball.

Also new is a 26-minute interview with the director covering his early career, shooting in a steamy Florida, adding the eroticism elements to the film, the character motivations, the problems with casting directors, casting, the rehearsal process, the script-editing process and working with alligators.

And, a new 14-minute interview with Miss Richards has the actress focused on discussing some of her nude scenes, the appreciation of working with Mr. Murray and how “Wild Things” helped her have a film career.

The plastic case holding the disc (with reversible art-covered sleeve no less) also has six-full-color, double-sided postcards (4.25 inches by 6 inches) highlighting key members of the cast.

The cardboard slipcase also houses a double-sided poster (16 inches by 20 inches) with new newly commissioned artwork by Sam Hadley; a 60-page, full-color booklet featuring stills from the movie; and new essays on the film by critics and film historians Anne Billson and Sean Hogan.

Suffice it to report, the fans of this movie will never get a better-looking grab bag of goodies than in this loaded version of “Wild Things.”

• Joseph Szadkowski can be reached at jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com.

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