Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Eddie and the Cruisers Double Feature

Released in 1983 Eddie and the Cruisers was a box office bomb despite a hit soundtrack that got the film a second theatrical release the following year. A rock and roll mystery, the film told the story of frontman Eddie Wilson (Michael Paré) through flashbacks and interviews with the other members of the band (primarily the keyboard player played by Tom Berenger) by a reporter (Ellen Barkin) hot on the story of the band's missing second album and questions as to what really happened to Eddie Wilson. Despite it's lack of response from both theatrical audiences and critics the movie has become a cult hit that even spawned a sequel in 1989.

Where the first film focused on the fallout of Eddie's disapperance to those he left behind, Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives! picks up the threads of the first film finding Eddie Wilson alive in Canada pushed to give music a second chance thanks to the release of the Cruisers lost "A Season in Hell" and an Eddie Lives! campaign by the studio that ruined his life.

Both films focus on the life of a band on the road. Paré is well-cast in his first major role as the troubled musical genius who was impossible to live with alive or dead. Helen Schneider and Marina Orsini play Eddie's love interests in each film (neither being all that memorable) while Matthew Laurance, as Eddie's bass player and best friend Sal, is the only cast member other than Paré to return for new scenes shot for the sequel.

The soundtrack and score of the film was provided by John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band. It's certainly a strength of the movie setting the mood and time of the story while providing the movie a #1 hit single for "On the Dark Side." (Despite not being as strong, I'll admit to owning the soundtrack of the sequel on cassette as well.)

With its mystery, time-period flashbacks, the feel of complicated band dynamics on the road, and better soundtrack all playing on the loss of a music icon, Eddie and the Cruisers is better than its sequel, but both are worth viewing for fans. Combined together on both DVD and Blu-ray, extras include trailers and short featurettes from previously released versions of both films.

[20th Century Fox, Blu-ray $24.97 / DVD $14.98]

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