Sunday, November 3, 2019

The tale of BIOHAZARD

DISCLAIMER - My blog is an attempt to show respect to films some small minded, intellectually dishonest hipsters automatically label "bad". There is no film I discuss here that I believe to be bad at all.  The title of the blog comes from a discussion that took place some years ago when I was trying to explain the appeal of these films. The title is not meant to suggest I think these films are bad in the least.  Remember - ART IS ART!


Sometimes I get a little behind - it is the sad side effect of having had to grow up whether I wanted to or not. So, I only recently picked up the special edition blu-ray of Fred Olen Ray's Biohazard originally released in 2015.



I certainly have soft spot for this film.  I consider it the picture that really started my video collection.  To be sure, like most everyone in the late 80s, I picked up a tape here and there - Burton's Batman and a used copy of Tremors were always a possible "go to" in my youth.  But, this was during the time when video tapes were expensive and priced to be used as rentals, so collecting video tapes was still a pricey proposition.

However, by the early to mid-90's, that began to change with outlets like Suncoast Motion Picture company and "record stores" selling more moderately priced tapes, some even letterboxed instead of the standard "pan and scan".

Where it began...



...and where it is today.
Biohazard was a Christmas gift in 1994 and not only did I love watching it, loved seeing it sitting on my shelf and realized I had now become quite greedy...and wanted to see more of them sitting on my shelf.  So, I picked up a copy of Trancers, then Glen or Glenda and went ahead and paid a bit too much for a new copy of Flesh Gordon.  I was now addicted to collecting movies, an addiction that never significantly waned except in times when funds were a bit tight.

This brings us finally to my thoughts on the Blu-ray for Biohazard.  But, more specifically about Fred Olen Ray.  

The plot of Biohazard is a bit difficult to summarize.  Don't believe me?  Check out the Wikipedia page for the film (Biohazard at Wikipedia).  But, you know what?  I don't care - I love this movie. And, listening to Fred Olen Ray and Dave Decoteau discuss the film during the commentary I finally had the information I needed for an epiphany - its not about the story, its about the visuals.  Its about what a geek like me (or Fred Olen Ray) want to see in a movie...and this film is full of the things I want to see.  I don't want to speak for Fred Olen Ray, but, I think Joe Bob Briggs (John Bloom) summarizes it best with "The 3 B's - Blood, breasts and beasts". 

I mean - I can't speak for you, but, my job can be stressful...sometimes really stressful.  When the weekend rolls around, I want entertainment.  I'm not looking for soul shattering truths at 10:30 on a Friday night while I'm drinking some cold brews.  I want a film like Biohazard...and it is that kind of art that Fred Olen Ray has been providing me and other like minded people for 3 decades.

And this allows me to segue into some additional thoughts about Fred Olen Ray.  I've mentioned Fred and others in passing in this blog here.

But, I've never really taken the time to fully share my thoughts on someone I think is truly a national treasure. And having listened to Fred Olen Ray's commentaries on Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Scalps and now Biohazard, I feel I've gone long enough without discussing how much I appreciate him, how many Friday nights he saved and just how generally impressive he is as a person, a father and a filmmaker. 


When I was in high school - I wanted very badly become a filmmaker. I went so far as to apply to SIU Carbondale ( I think they called the degree cinematography).  But, when I went to the orientation, I was confronted with the daunting cost of the degree as well as a bunch of young film studs from Chicago with 16 milometer rigs, money and five or six "student" films under their belt.  I'd made one silent, 8mm movie my Sophomore year in High School.  So, at the lunch break, I left, got in my car, drove back to Cape Girardeau and eventually found myself a History major.  I wimped out.  I quit. For me, it was only just a dream and I didn't have the spine, force of will or character to pursue it. At an age when I could have done anything, I did nothing.


But - this was not the case with Fred Olen Ray.  He is an artistic force of nature that would not be stopped. As a single father, with very limited resources, he didn't let anything stop him.  When you listen to him speak about the things he had to overcome, especially making his early films, it is completely impossible to not be both impressed and inspired by what he has accomplished. Even more so when you see that his son Chris, who plays the alien in Biohazard (at the age of 5/6) is following in his footsteps.

I think it really hit home in the interview with Fred's son Chris on the Blu-ray extras. For both Fred and Chris, the stories of late nights shooting on weekends, sleeping on floors and scraping up money to get a meal are not "woe is me" stories but a badge of honor or what can be accomplished when a person wants to be a filmmaker...and will not let anything or anyone tell them no.  When Fred posts pictures on Facebook of dinners with the people he's worked with for years, my first reaction is always a pang of jealousy. But, then I grow up and think, no one deserves that cigar and martini with friends more than he does.

No one.


Fred Olen Ray - The Man Himself

I mean this in all sincerity - someone needs to make a movie about the life of Fred Olen Ray.  In a world filled with people (like me) who always have an excuse for why they didn't do this or blame someone for preventing them from living their dream - Fred Olen Ray is a living, breathing, prolific examples of what can be accomplished if you have a dream that cannot be stopped.

I never made it...but Fred did, and for that every movie geek and lover of genre films should be eternally grateful.

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