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Blu-ray Review: Cruising (1980)

A serial killer has marked gay men frequenting New York’s meat packing district; home to the S/M and leather scene, and he’s been dismembering them like a beastly butcher! Thankfully police officer Steve Burns (Al Pacino) is placed deep undercover onto the streets to try and draw the killer out. Soon our hero becomes almost completely isolated from his previous life as his new fabricated existence consumes him. Will Steve be able to catch the killer and remain who he is?

Comprised of a stellar cast (besides the aforementioned Pacino; Paul Sorvino, Karen Allen, James Remar, Ed O’ Neill and the Maniac himself Joe Spinell round out the roster), a brutal mystery to solve, a deep-dive into a subculture not often examined, and the unbeatable grit and grime of late ’70s/early ’80s Manhattan; Cruising is a rock-solid horror film dressed in thriller clothing.

Among all of that goodness, there is of course the ol’ elephant in the room that should be discussed; namely that the denizens of this sado-scene aren’t presented in a very sympathetic light. Every character is a deviant, or violent, or a combination of the two, save for Steves’ playwright neighbor Ted Bailey (Don Scardino)… and that dude while gay doesn’t even go for the leather bag. It makes for a rather one-sided presentation for most of these cats.

As for extras on the release from Arrow Video, things are kept mostly on the archival tip, ya dig? We get featurettes examining the film’s genesis and production, the controversy surrounding the picture, the original theatrical trailer, and two audio commentaries featuring writer/director William Friedkin (one also features film critic Mark Kermode which I believe is new, but you cats n’ creeps can feel free to correct me if I’m wrong).

Bottom line; if you are lookin’ for a flick with that raw energy of late ’70s New York City, and a murder-mystery with a flavor you may never see again I highly recommend you slap your putrid peepers on Cruising; just be prepared to witness a world quite different from our modern times.

 

 

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