Stunt Rock [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - Australia - Umbrella Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (21st December 2021).
The Film

"Stunt Rock" (1978)

Stuntman extraordinaire Grant Page (played by Grant Page has made a name for himself with filmwork in his native Australia, but when a chance opportunity comes for work in Hollywood, Grant takes the opportunity to test his might on an upcoming action oriented TV series, led by Dutch star Monique van de Ven (played by Monique van de Ven). While in Hollywood, Grant meets and hangs out with his cousin Curtis (played by Curtis Hyde), a member of the rock band Sorcery, who put on live shows that mix stage magic with hard rock for a unique experience. It is also during his time her that he meets entertainment journalist Lois (played by Margaret Gerard) who wants to cover his story in the field of stuntwork.

Filmmaker Brian Trenchard-Smith had worked with Grant Page on a number of films and documentaries and wanted a way to showcase his incredible talents to the rest of the world. He says that one day in the shower he came up with the idea of centering a film around a stuntman, and also a story of a unique rock band to accompany his journey. Luck came when Bassart-Group from Holland helped finance the production, but it was under strict conditions. The film had to have a Dutch star in one of the leads, which they provided Monique van de Ven. The production had to be shot in Hollywood, not in Australia. The film had to be completed in June which left Trenchard-Smith and his staff only half a year to find a band, find locations, and complete the production. The Dutch company was not at all helpful with finding a band, and while there were some frontrunners like Journey and Foreigner, the production was looking for a band with something more exciting in a live sense. When they encountered Sorcery, the dynamic and the theatrics of the band that mixed hard rock and proto metal along with a sensational stage show that involved pyrotechnics, illusions, and large setpieces, it was exactly what they were looking for. The script was rushed out, but to pad out the runtime, it was ingenious of Trenchard-Smith to not only include new stuntwork by Page, but to also include stock footage of Page's stunts as seen in "The Stuntmen" documentary as well as the theatrical works "Death Cheaters" and "Mad Dog Morgan" along with behind the scenes footage. As Page would basically be playing himself, there wasn't any cheating with the footage there.

An exciting thrillride of stuntwork and behind the scenes of moviemaking, along with magic and hard rock? What is not to like? The weakness in "Stunt Rock" is inevitably the very weak script, which has barely a plot and very little in terms of character development. Grant's travel to Hollywood to work as a stuntman seems like it could have some interesting twists, such as a love triangle between the journalist covering him and the star of the series, but this never happens. Van de Ven's character gets involved with the stuntwork more, as she has a desire to do more of her own stunts, but this subplot doesn't go further to develop a relationship. As for the relationship that is supposed to be with Grant and Lois, there is not a lot of chemistry to be had, and that may be because Trenchard-Smith cast his wife in the role of Lois. And the uncomfortable aspect of having any love scenes between his real life best friend and his real life wife may have made things a little uncomfortable personally, but that does suffer in the case of character relations going further. As for Sorcery, there are some fun instances with them such as illusionists Curtis Hyde and Paul Haynes to showcase their skills as magicians on stage as well as outdoors in certain sequences, and the always masked keyboardist Doug Loch being questioned about his look, but always having an interesting reply. As for the other members of the band, they don't have much character and their time on screen for dialogue is kept to a minimum, but thankfully the band itself does get to shine with their time performing songs in multiple scenes, from in the recording studio to times on stage in front of an audience. The band barely has a story for themselves. They are not out to get a record deal or have some issues with a manager or agent. Instead they are basically doing their own thing and enjoying it to the best. Not exactly to packed crowds or towards fanatical fans, so it's not clear about their popularity or particular drive. It obviously would have helped in a narrative sense to give the band a story of their own and the struggles a band would have. The only agent to give some headaches in the story is Richard Blackburn's character who represents Van de Ven, but even his character is left to a few scenes mostly for comic relief. The script certainly is more or less incomplete in a traditional structured sense with little to connect individual characters, give little to struggles or drama, and even the love story is basically flat.

But the real story here is with Grant Page's showcase. From the dangerous diving and swinging from the edges of cliffs, climbing buildings barehanded, being lit on fire, to car hopping while speeding, he is a stuntman without fear yet with safety always in mind. Before Jackie Chan took audiences by storm with his knack for performing his own stunts in films, Page was doing the same for Australian cinema. While Page did not have the same charisma on screen as a lead actor, he is still a magnificent and daring stuntman in his own right with his work, and "Stunt Rock" is a fun showcase for his capabilities. Trenchard-Smith even admited that "Stunt Rock" is basically a ninety minute trailer for Page's talents, but that may be a bit unfair to Sorcery, as the film does equally showcase the band's music and magic talents. Page would later go on to do various stuntwork in notable films such as the "Patrick" (1978), "Mad Max" trilogy (1979-1985), "Roadgames" (1981), his career was mostly in his native Australia, with some occasional work in Hollywood and elsewhere. The rushed production and release of "Stunt Rock" had some issues not only with its storytelling, but it's release as well.

After a promo reel of the unfinished film was presented at the 1978 Cannes Film Festival in May, the completed film was screened in Amsterdam the following month. Unfortunately for the screening which was scheduled at night and was running late, the projectionist sped up the film to make the film end quicker, resulting in slightly higher pitched voices and music. For the band Sorcery, who were still quite new to the music scene had to complete their debut album to coincide with the film's release. Their album, which also doubled as the film's soundtrack album was released in 1978 on Groovy Records in The Netherlands and EMI Records in the UK. While Dutch audiences could see the film and pick up the soundtrack album, it was more difficult for the overseas market. The film never received a theatrical release in Australia even though it was an Australian co-production. For America, Allied Artists planned to release the film theatrically, but due to its bankruptcy, the release was shelved until two years later in 1980, and the soundtrack album was not released domestically. With limited and spotty distribution, everything the film set out to do seemed to miss their marks. Page's career didn't expand to the international market as quickly as hoped. Van de Ven's career also didn't take off in Hollywood and the returned to The Netherlands for most of her subsequent work. Sorcery would perform live shows on stage and sometimes on television, but they never landed on charts as their recording career was virtually non^existent. Their second album "Sorcery 2" was recorded in 1982 but didn't see an official release until 2000. In 1984 the band was featured in the horror film "Rocktober Blood", and the band was featured on the soundtrack album, but again it was nothing that broke the charts.

Although the initial release was botched in all aspects, the film gained a cult status in the video era, just like many other Trenchard-Smith films. There were legal entanglements over the years, but Trenchard-Smith was able to obtain the legal rights to the film as well as having access to the original film elements, leading to a special edition DVD release from Code Red in the US in 2009. The film would see a release on Blu-ray for the first time in 2016, though only as a bonus feature on "The Man from Hong Kong" by Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, in standard definition no less (more on that below). In 2021, the film finally received a 4K restoration transfer and Blu-ray release upgrade from Umbrella Entertainment, and in all accounts is a major upgrade on all levels. The film itself might have some shoddy elements, but it's always loads of silly fun and fans have been able to revive the forgotten film in the new century. The film predicted that "Stunt Rock", a combination of stuntwork and rock music would be the next big thing. It obviously wasn't but why shouldn't such a crazy combination exist in the fantastical world of cult cinema?

Note this is a region ALL Blu-ray


Umbrella Entertainment presents the film in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio in 1080p AVC MPEG-4. The transfer comes from a 4K scan and restoration of the original film elements. Shot on 35mm, the visuals look quite strong showcasing the cityscape of Los Angeles with its bold colors in the locations as well as the fashion. Colors are vibrant and strong, skin tones look natural, detail is quite strong, and depth is also great. Darker scenes such as the indoor concert scenes also look great, with deep blacks, bright costume designs, and blazing fire during the stage shows. The transfer looks very clean with a lot of damage being cleaned while still leaving a healthy amount of grain, though there are some shots of damage being visible as well as gate hairs. There are some scenes coming from vintage source materials which have more damage than the rest of the film, but that should be expected. Overall a very strong transfer that should be very pleasing for fans and newcomers.

The film's runtime is 91:18.


English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
Although the film was mixed in 4-track stereo, it is unfortunate that only the mono track is included here. Granted it seems none of the home video releases so far utilized the original surround mix, so it's not a downgrade, but unfortunate the original audio couldn't be located or used for this Blu-ray release. On a positive note, the lossless mono track is in fairly good form, with good balance between dialogue, music, and effects. Dialogue is always clear and easy to hear, and the music and effects are never out of balance. The mono mix does flatten out the song cues by Sorcery though, and for a film to heavily rely on the rock cues, that may not be ideal, but it does sound fitting with a mono mix track.

There are optional English HoH subtitles in a white font for the film.


Audio commentary with director Brian Trenchard-Smith & cast members Grant Page & Margaret Trenchard-Smith
In this commentary, the director and two of the main cast members share their behind the scenes secrets, with Brian Trenchard-Smith being the most talkative. Very informative from the conception of the film, details of Page's various stuntwork showcased, the very quick time between conception and completion, the short 15 day shooting schedule, information on casting the band, the awful first screening in Amsterdam, the film's rise in cult status, plus the director's adoration for his wife's legs. There are lots of great fun topics covered here and there is not a second wasted. Note this commentary was also available on the US Code Red DVD release and the Australian Umbrella Entertainment Blu-ray release of "The Man from Hong Kong".
in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

Audio commentary with director Brian Trenchard-Smith, producer Marty Finn and actor Richard Blackburn
Although the above commentary was packed with information, Trenchard-Smith still has more to discuss in this second commentary track. There are more information on the behind the scenes, the editing, shooting around Los Angeles and elsewhere without permits, the magic tricks and behind the scenes information on the band's stage sets, as well as the copyright status and preservation of the film. Blackburn chimes in a little on his character, but his conversations are kept at a minimum here. Since this was recorded for the Code Red DVD release, Trenchard-Smith at one point even says, "Who knows? One day we might even go Blu-ray" and here it is finally. Note this commentary was also available on the US Code Red DVD release.
in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"The Ultimate Rush: A Conversation with Brian & Margaret Trenchard-Smith" (80:07)
In this new remote video interview conducted by Justin King, Mr. and Mrs. Trenchard-Smith talk about the film from their comfortable home in Oregon. From the first idea for making the film, the unusual demands from the Dutch producers, bands that could have almost made it into the film, as well as personal tales from the couple on how they met and their marriage, and much more. A lot of the information is heard in other extras found in this set, so there is a lot to dig through until getting into any new content, but their conversation is still a fun one to listen to.
in 1080p 30fps AVC MPEG-4, in 2.00:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

2009 introduction to the Film (2:00)
This vintage DVD introduction has a separately interviewed Brian Trenchard-Smith and Sorcery guitarist Smokey Huff giving a brief non-spoiler introduction for audiences. The Trenchard-Smith portion is in 1.33:1 while Huff's portion is in windowboxed 1.78:1. Note this featurette was originally available on the US Code Red DVD release.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.33:1 and windowboxed 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

Extended interviews from "Not Quite Hollywood" with director Brian Trenchard-Smith and actor/stuntman Grant Page (17:34)
These extended interviews with Trenchard-Smith and Page from the seminal documentary "Not Quite Hollywood" shares some information on the making of "Stunt Rock". Page admits that Sorcery's magic skills outclassed their music abilities, the fire used in their shows, he recalls his costar Monique van de Ven, while Trenchard-Smith talks about the idea for the film, using it as a presentation for Page's skills, the Dutch company's demands, information on the stuntwork, the band, and his favorite sequences.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1. In English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

2009 interviews with Brian Trenchard-Smith, Marty Fink, Richard Blackburn, and Smokey Huffs (68:34)
These vintage interviews have more behind the scenes tales. Trenchard-Smith talks about his earlier days as an amateur filmmaker, the pre-production of "Stunt Rock", how the concert sequences were done, and much more. Fink has the shortest time as he details his producer work on "Stunt Rock" and others in the past. Blackburn recalls playing the Peter character and basing it off of sleazy Hollywood agents, and how he was cast in the part. Huffs talks about Sorcery, from their early days performing live shows, the great time the band had during the film's production, the short time to complete the studio album, the premiere in Hollywood, and the band's subsequent legacy. The interviews with Trenchard-Smith. Fink, and Blackburn are in 1.33:1, with film clips being in windowboxed 2.35:1. The Huffs interview is in 1.78:1, with film clips being in full 2.35:1. Note these interviews were originally available on the US Code Red DVD.
in 1080p 30fps AVC MPEG-4, in various ratios, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

Audio interview with Sorcery drummer Perry Morris (22:21)
Here the Trenchard-Smiths interview Morris by telephone. Morris discusses the history of the band, the stage antics, the member changes, the pyrotechnics and magic they used for their performances, the bands that influenced them, as well as the band's first meeting with the director and their time on set. Note this interview was originally available on the US Code Red DVD.
1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

Brian Trenchard-Smith's Alamo Drafthouse Appearances (24:48)
A montage of various Q&A appearances of Trenchard-Smith at various screenings of his works at the Alamo Drafthouse cinema. There are some stories from “The Man from Hong Kong”, “Stunt Rock”, “Leprechaun IV” and more, coming from questions from moderators as well as from audience members. The clip has also been embedded below.
in 1080p 30fps AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

Cannes Promo Reel (19:30)
A twenty minute highlight reel of scenes from the film with narration, which was prepared for the Cannes Film Festival for international sales while the film was still in the stages of editing. Unfortunately the quality of the source material here is quite poor, as it comes from an aged analogue tape source, so colors are faded, the image is blurry, and there are examples of some tape damage, plus buzz in the audio at times. In addition, the image is slightly cropped, cutting off some of the names in the scrolling credits.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 2.00:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

Theatrical Trailer (2:23)
Although it is labeled as “HD Theatrical Trailer” in the menu, the quality is quite poor with the picture looking a bit blurry.
in 1080i60 AVC MPEG-4, in 2.35:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

Theatrical Trailer with commentary by Brian Trenchard-Smith from Trailers from Hell (3:51)
The director gives a fun and quick introduction and commentary for the trailer for the Trailers from Hell site. Although the trailer is not in the original aspect ratio and has some issues with pixelation, the quality does look a bit more watchable with sharpness than the theatrical trailer found above.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78.1/1.85:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

Brian Trenchard-Smith Trailer Reel for "The Love Epidemic", "The Man from Hong Kong", "Death Cheaters", "Stunt Rock", "Turkey Shoot", "BMX Bandits", "Frog Dreaming", "Dead End Drive-In", "Day of the Panther", "Strike of the Panther", "Out of the Body", "Danger Freaks", "Night of the Demons 2", "Leprechaun 3", "Leprechaun 4 in Space", "Britannic", "Megiddo", "Operation Wolverine", "Arctic Blast", "The Cabin", "Chemistry", "Absolute Deception", "Drive Hard" (40:55)
As the title says, here is a lengthy reel of Trenchard-Smith's film trailers. "The Love Epidemic", "BMX Bandits", "Out of the Body", "Danger Freaks", "Night of the Demons 2", "Leprechaun 3", "Leprechaun 4", and "Britannic" are in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio. “Death Cheaters”, “Stunt Rock” are in the 1.66:1 ratio. "Dead End Drive-In", "Chemistry", "Absolute Deception", and "Drive Hard" are in full 1.78:1 while "Megiddo", "Operation Wolverine", "Arctic Blast", and "The Cabin" are in windowboxed 1.78:1. "Turkey Shoot", "Frog Dreaming", "Day of the Panther", and "Strike of the Panther" are in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and "The Man from Hong Kong" is in 2.35:1. The image quality of the trailers can range from pristine to muddy, depending on the title.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in various ratios, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

Comic Book
Enclosed in the keep case is a 16 page full color comic book from Dark Oz, which condenses the story of "Stunt Rock" wonderfully with the key scenes. The artwork, by Ben Sullivan looks great, capturing the essence of the film with many shots mirroring what appears in the film.

This Blu-ray features all the main extras found on the US Code Red DVD from 2009, with the exception of the documentary "The Stuntmen" from 1973. This is the second time "Stunt Rock" is being released on Blu-ray, but for its first release it was relegated as a bonus film for the Blu-ray release of Umbrella's "The Man from Hong Kong" in 2016. It was also unfortunate that the transfer and the encoding were absolutely terrible. The transfer came from the Australian PAL DVD, which took the Code Red NTSC master and incorrectly converted it to PAL without adjusting for PAL speed-up. This badly transferred master was then slowed down 4% for the Blu-ray encoding, wrongfully lengthening the runtime to 95 minutes and making all the songs sound sped down from how they are supposed to sound. In addition to this, the original pressing wrongfully encoded the 2.35:1 aspect ratio by stretching it to 1.78:1, so everyone looked extremely tall and slim. Though the encoding was corrected in later pressings, it was still a standard definition picture that was wrongfully sped down. In comparison, this new Blu-ray is more than just night and day in difference. Everything about the image benefits from this newly remastered release and the packed amount of vintage and new extras are more than welcome.

An excerpt from the remastered version of the film courtesy of Umbrella Entertainment:

From Trailers from Hell, with Brian Trenchard-Smith:


This is spine #8 in the "Ozploitation Classics" range, which comes with a slipcase.
The inlay has differing artwork, with each side having differing original poster artwork, including the French poster with its title "La rage de la casse", and three versions of the US posters, each with differing titles - "Stunt Rock", "Crash", and "Sorcery".


"Stunt Rock" may basically have an incredibly weak plot, but the insane stuntwork reels from the legendary Grant Page and the over the top music and illusion performances by forgotten band Sorcery are still wonderfully fun to see and experience. The Umbrella Entertainment Blu-ray release is a major upgrade with the visuals and lossless sound (sadly still only in mono), with a wealth of extras making this very recommended.

The Blu-ray is avaiable at various retailers and from Umbrella Entertainment directly.

The Film: C- Video: A- Audio: B+ Extras: A Overall: B+


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