There was once a little video store called Tandy’s Video, it was situated on Astwood Road in the middle of Worcester, which happened to be only a few minutes walk from where I grew up as a child.
I spent a lot of time there; it was a dusty and dirty place where battered copies of all manner of films could be found.
In the early 80’s I watched a great many films that would be illegal to view a few years later when the video nasties craze began. In 84 Tandy’s ceased to be and for a short time the place remained closed. Eventually it reopened as Vale’s Video and I resumed my dedication to my Church of Film.
It was in this new place, with the junk cleared out and refurbished shelving holding films of a much higher calibre, that I first saw the movie The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.
I had heard of it before, back in those far off days before the internet we had these things called "magazines" which were our doorways to another world of film. They focussed on releases we would often never see, or at least we would never see in an unmolested format, and some of the films they mentioned would sit on my wish list for many, many years before I finally laid eyes on them.
So Buckaroo Banzai leapt into my hands as if attracted by some ethereal force unconnected to me or it; a spiritual force perhaps emanating from Planet Ten that you’d need and aide of the Oscillation Overthruster to see.
I took the VHS cassette home and watched it, and watched it, and watched it. I asked David Vale (the man who owned this revamped shop) how much a copy would be and initially he was reluctant to help me obtain one. By this time of course my rentals alone for the film probably paid for it several times over so I can’t say I blame him.
Eventually however he let me go on a buying trip with him to a Video Fair, where he often purchased back catalogue titles.
I’d never seen anything like it.
It was like a video library, where you could buy films to KEEP!
That day I spent over three hundred pounds on VHS cassettes, more actually that David did, and these trips became a regular occurrence for me. Eventually I became a buyer for him, and I would often be consulted in his purchases and included in any deals he’d arranged for multiple copies of films.
It was a good time to be a film fan.
So when a few months ago I heard that Arrow Film was releasing The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension I had an almost overwhelming surge of nostalgia and a need (that should have been written as NEED!!) to purchase this disk immediately.
I couldn’t though, as it hadn’t been released… So I had to wait an agonising few months, hoping beyond hope that the release would be worth the wait.
So on 20th July 2015 I walked into the city centre and into a well known chain of music retailers; I did this, rather than go online, because I still have a need to keep stores open, I still want to pay a person and have them give me my purchase. I suppose some part of me still wants Vale’s Video to still be there, and in my delusional mind perhaps it is.
Half an hour later I put the disc in and began to watch it.
Delusional mind or not, I had an evening of re-discovery.
The films itself looked wonderful, bringing out the films eccentric photography and creative design. The sound was clear and had the punch it needed. The presentation was what it should have been and I felt no disappointment there.
But this wasn’t my fear, I have had many copies of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, and its presentation has always been rather good across the board. The upgrading to Blu-ray showed the added detail I would have expected and though it was good it was not a surprise.
What was a surprise, and an absolute pleasure, was the extras specifically filmed for the release; most notably the quarter of an hour interview with Buckaroo himself, Peter Weller.
Peter Weller is a man who should be held in much higher regard. Weller is Buckaroo, he is Robocop, he was in Leviathan and Screamers and some of his lesser known films should be known better in the mainstream (Of Unknown Origin, watch it; it’s awesome, and while you’re at it Warner’s animated The Dark Knight Returns is a must watch too).
The Arrow interview just lets Weller talk, almost rambling for fifteen minutes. His monologue wanders from his training in modern jazz to his interest in art, and through cyclic thinking he keeps coming back again and again to Buckaroo and what fuelled the character. In the future I’ll know what Adam Ant and Jacques Cousteau have in common; and I think I’ll be a better man for it.
It seems that everything is circular, and nothing exists in a vacuum. Buckaroo is evidence of this, and so is Weller.
The movie The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (how I love writing that title!) is far more interesting than most give it credit for. Peter Weller touches on this in his interview and allows even an old fan such as myself a new way to see an old favourite.
And for that alone this new release was worth the purchase.