Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Laserdisc Collecting: Crash (Japan, 1997, Herald Films)

I mentioned laserdiscs in a recent post and I thought it might be fun to kick off a series documenting some of the more interesting items in my collection. I should mention from the outset that these posts will not feature any technical information about transfers and so on – I don’t own a laserdisc player and have no interest in picking one up (a functioning machine is prohibitively expensive to get hold of these days), but if I can gleam some relevant information from the smattering of laserdisc review sites still out there, I will include it. What these posts will focus on is the art and design aspects of the laserdisc which is the raison d’être of my collection. And for this inaugural post, I’m going back to the beginning, to the first laserdisc I snagged on eBay, the Japanese edition of Crash. I’ve always been dissatisfied with home video presentations of David Cronenberg’s 1996 masterpiece, my old VHS edition and subsequent R2 DVD were content to use the over-familiar image of Holly Hunter straddling James Spader, indeed, the Criterion used this same image for their 1997 laserdisc. So it was quite a revelation to discover the Japanese edition and what a provocative and brilliant piece of design it is - the shot of Rosanna Arquette’s character seductively clad in fish-net tights and leg braces, and sporting a ravine of a scar captures much of the film’s transgressive sexuality in one single image.

Herald Films produced the Crash laserdisc for the Japanese home video market and it’s one of their more sleeker designs, the rear sleeve has a nice clear layout and features some sexually charged stills from the film (including that ubiquitous Hunter/Spader shot!). And I like the OBI strip which comes in luminous road-sign yellow, rather appropriate I think whether it was intended or not, and far more effective than the sleeve of the UK DVD which features faux road signs warnings - Crash Ahead, No Cuts and Open Soon (?)

The Japanese Crash is thankfully one of the more common titles still in circulation and one can pick this edition up quite cheaply. As ever prices fluctuate among eBay dealers but prepare to pay €20-€25 for this beauty. Incidentally, the Criterion edition remains the definitive laserdisc presentation of the film, transfer wise, but more importantly contains a typically excellent Cronenberg commentary which sadly has never been ported over to later DVD editions. However, if you're curious, the commentary can be downloaded here as an mp3 file...

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