4k UHD Review: Dune (1984)

September 4, 2021

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Holy hell, how in the shit am I going to condense down David Lynch’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 epic sci-fi novel; Dune for the sinister synopsis portion of this revoltin’ review?!!
Umm, so the Emperor of the Universe (José Ferrer) decides that the two most powerful houses in the galaxy; the noble House Atreides and the vile House Harkonnen… the latter of which is about to be relieved of their duty running the day to day of the harvesting and processing of the most precious item in all of space; the Spice Melange (which can be used to “fold” space making travel times nearly non-existent) on the dessert world of Arrakis by the Atreides (who have been developing a fighting system based on sound) by command of the Emperor… which will not only put the House Atreides so far away that they can’t possibly cause him static… and just to make sure they won’t, he has plans of returning the Harkonnen’s (under the control of their boil covered, over-weight, flying, murder-loving Baron Vladimir Harkonnen… played with scne stealing… and eating gusto by Kenneth McMillan) to Arrakis to secretly murder the whole clan!
Also adding to the whole affair is the Guild Navigator’s (those that control the folding of space, and look like a cross between a fetus and a dog shit… with laser shooting vaginas for mouths) insistence that Duke Leto Atreides’ (Jürgen Prochnow) son Paul (Kyle MacLachlan) be killed as well because he is most likely the only male space witch in existence… which also vexxes said space witches (the Bene Gesserit by name) to say the least.
That’s a lot… how long are we into this thing? Twenty-nine minutes… out of two hours and sixteen minutes…
What else? So Dune… that’s the other name for Arrakis… lot’s of things in this have more than one name, just to keep those not paying attention on their lil’ tippy-toes… that planet is lousy with absolutely fuckin’ gigantic sandworms, and fortunately for Paul, desert warriors known as the Freman, who’s eyes have turned blue from Spice exposure… they also wear suits that make their piss and shit into drinkable water, ‘cuz there is little of that on ol’ Dune… oh, and they aren’t keen on the Spice harvesting… see where describing this can go so very far off the rails…
Christ I haven’t even gotten to the fact that Piece’s Paul L. Smith appears… and Sting… fuck, Patrick Stewart, Sean Young, José Ferrer… Max Von Sydow (the cast is impressive to say the least, and full of familiar faces for genre fans)…
Dune is exactly what you’d expect a film directed by David Lynch and produced by Dino De Laurentiis (producer of some of my favs including 1976’s King Kong remake, 1980’s Flash Gordon, and 1992’s Army of Darkness)  to be; a film that’s as extravagantly opulent as it is indiscernibly weird… it’s a loosey-goosey adaptation (though Herbert thought it was rad as fuck… and I’m with him!) of the source material that isn’t afraid to be fiercely original and absolutely filled to the brim with grandiose sets, outlandish costumes, imagination for miles, and enough political intrigue and messiah biz for a hundred epics.
Also on display are fantastic miniatures, practically realized grotesquely beautiful creatures, and some early computer animation that looks pretty damn awesome (bet you’d never hear me say shit like that, did ya?)!
Bottom line, the entire picture comes off as a fever dream you’d have after falling asleep, sick as a dog, to a Flash Gordon serial (the Reader’s Digest version of the story only adds to this)… and the effect is simply intoxicating if you love psychotronic cinema with a sci-fi chaser!
As far as special features on this 4K UHD from Arrow Video (along with MVD Entertainment) there’s a sandworm sized ass-load of ’em!
First up comes two audio commentaries, one courtesy of film historian Paul M. Sammon, and the other from Mike White of The Projection Booth podcast. The first presents a thorough analysis of the film’s production with plenty of anecdotes as well (and Sammon provides this knowledge first hand, as he worked on the film as a publicist), while the other is more anecdotal, yet equally as informative and offers a fan perspective to the affair.
Following that we get a host of archival material including: a 2003 retrospective of the film featuring interviews with cast and crew, a look at the film’s stunning production design (featuring designs from Lynch himself), FX, models & miniatures, and costumes.
Also included are a collection of deleted scenes (with an intro from producer Raffaella de Laurentiis), a 1983 press kit, a series of trailers and TV spots (and an ad for the film’s VHS release), and image galleries (including some ridiculous “sexy time” photos of MacLachlan that need to be seen to be believed).
Disc two brings us an excellent examination of the baffling attempt to make the uber-dark Dune into the next Star Wars toy-wise courtesy of The Toys that Made Us‘ Brian Sillman (an absolutely fascinating watch), an examination of the film’s score (featuring interviews with Toto guitarist Steve Lukather, Toto keyboardist Steve Porcaro, and film music historian Tim Greiving), and interviews with make-up effects artist Giannetto de Rossi, production coordinator Golda Offenheim, Paul Smith, and make-up effects artist Christopher Tucker (those last three are archival if you are keeping score at home).
Bottom line: Dune is a masterpiece of sci-fi cinema that features a visual aesthetic second to none and provides a one-of-a-kind viewing experience… and this release is they definitive way to do just that!

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