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Raw Nerve (Culture Shock Releasing) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Raw Nerve (Culture Shock Releasing) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Culture Shock Releasing
    Released on: January 26th, 2022.
    Director: David A. Prior
    Cast: Ted Prior, Sandahl Bergman, Traci Lords, Glenn Ford, Jan-Michael Vincent, Tex Cobb
    Year: 1991
    Purchase From Amazon

    Raw Nerve – Movie Review:

    The legendary David A. Prior’s 1991 film, Raw Nerve, is placed in Mobile, Alabama, a town being terrorized by a serial killer with a shotgun whose evidently got an axe to grind against beautiful women in red high heel shoes. An orphaned race car driver named Jimmy Clayton (played by Ted Prior) is plagued by recurring visions, nightmares really, where he continues to see beautiful young women slaughtered and so he decides to go to the police, figuring that maybe what he’s been seeing will be of some use and help them bring the killer to justice. The cops have been trying to find ‘The Face Killer’ for a while now, and keep coming up empty.

    The cops, not surprisingly, think that Jimmy is nuts. Specifically, Detective Bruce Ellis (Jan-Michael Vincent) and Captain Gavin (Glenn Ford, in what would turn out to be his final film role
    ) think his possible psychic connection to the case is a load of hooey and they throw him in the clink to cool down for a bit. While all of this is going on, Ellis’s ex-wife, Gloria (Sandahl Bergman), who is an investigative reporter, just knows that Jimmy is innocent and starts working with him to prove as much. Things get even more complicated when, Jimmy’s scruffy, beer-swilling, biker of a mechanic (Randall “Tex” Cobb), starts to become seemingly obsessed with Jimmy’s hot younger sister, Gina (Traci Lords)… and then Gina appears in one of Jimmy’s visions, leading he and Gloria in a race against time to get to her before the killer does.

    This one starts of really strong, slows down a bit in its middle stretch (seemingly content to let its seriously weird but seriously awesome casting to all of the heavy lifting) and then picks up quite nicely again for a fairly unexpected and surprising finale. It also features a legitimately bad ass truck stunt that it almost worth the price of admission all on its own, despite the obvious dummy behind the wheel for its finish. Overall, the production values are fine. The cinematography is genuinely good for most of the movie and there’s a somewhat generic but fairly effective score behind all of this.

    Ted Prior doesn’t quite have the dramatic skills to work as well in the lead as he should have, but he’s big and tough and fun to watch regardless, especially when he gets to chew the scenery a bit here and there. Traci Lords proves that she was unjustly maligned by the stigma attached to her from her days in the XXX film industry and acts circles around almost everyone else in the film. Her character isn’t given loads to do here but she makes Gina interesting and believable. Lords was more than just a hottie, she could act and should have gone on to bigger mainstream projects than she did. “Tex” Cobb just sort of seems to be playing himself here but he’s a kick to watch and, intentionally or not, steals a lot of scenes from some of the bigger names. Glenn Ford was probably just cashing a paycheck, but he’s Glenn Ford, who the Hell are you? Sandahl Bergman is also very good here, likeable and able to deliver some less than great dialogue with a fair bit of conviction.

    And then there’s Jan-Michael Vincent.

    Shot shortly after he got out of rehab, he’s clearly not in great shape here. There are scenes where he seems completely disconnected from the rest of the cast, scenes where his line delivery is way off and scenes where he’s looking off into space (the extras go over why this is). Vincent was troubled for much of his career, his substance abuse issues have become the stuff of legend over the years. He doesn’t seem wasted here like he does in some of his films, he just seems beaten up. It’s an interesting performance to watch, he’s still got some natural charisma that allows him to coast a bit, and his presence just sort of adds to the overall weirdness of the casting here.

    Raw Nerve – Blu-ray Review:

    Raw Nerve arrives on Region Free Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition presentation framed at 1.85.1 widescreen with the feature taking up 26.65GBs of space on the 50GB disc. A disclaimer before the movie starts tells us that this was taken from the best available elements and that there are issues related to splices evident throughout playback, but overall this looks quite good. Taken from a new 4k scan of a 35mm print, grain is a bit thick at times and some minor nicks and scratches show up throughout playback but this is a solid looking and very film-like image even if it isn’t pristine.

    An English language audio option is provided in 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono with optional subtitles provided in English only. Audio quality is fine, if maybe a bit on the flat side. Dialogue is always easy to understand and follow. It’s clean, clear, nicely balanced and free of any major hiss or distortion.

    An audio commentary with actor Ted Prior, cinematographer Andrew Parke and Editor Tony Malanowski starts off the extras on the disc. It's a fairy scene-specific talk that goes over the opening sequence at the carnival, the late David A. Prior's work as a director on the picture, what was built for the movie versus where locations were used, what the difference crew members were responsible for, some of the audio work in the picture, the film's distribution, how professional Traci Lords was to work with on the shoot, the different lenses that were used during the production, what Jan-Michael Vincent was like to work with (not always easy), the color scheme of certain films and the use of red throughout, some of the different locations where they filmed including the cemetery, some of the stunt work featured in the movie and the car crash work and plenty more.

    Actor Ted Prior, very good natured here, is interviewed in Ted Prior: Toughing A Nerve. This thirty-four minute interview covers how he got interested in acting through his brother's work, Sledgehammer's cult status and cult following and his thoughts on that movie, his initial thoughts on the script for Raw Nerve and how the movie was a bit of a departure for him, what working on Raw Nerve was like compared to something like Deadly Prey, what it was like working with his co-stars on the movie, working on non-union productions, his favorite acting roles from his career and other career highlights.

    Ruta Aris: The Raw Materials is a thirteen minute interview with the film’s friendly seeming Producer, Ruta Aras, that goes over her background, her education, how she got her start in the movie industry, working for AIP (Action International Pictures) on Raw Nerve, her thoughts on the script and its many typos, working with David A. Prior and how much everyone really and truly liked him and liked working with him, the important of David's relationship with his brother Ted, her thoughts on the different cast members both positive and not so positive, how the film was a significant first break for her, the movie's marketing and poster campaign and some amusing stories from her time on the set.

    Finishing up the extras on the disc is a remastered original trailer, a fourteen minute vintage blooper reel, a selection of Culture Shock Releasing trailers (The American Scream, Girlfriend From Hell, Slashdance, Video Murders and the amazing looking Death Collector), menus and chapter selection options. It’s also worth noting that this release comes packaged with some reversible cover sleeve art.

    Raw Nerve - The Final Word:

    Raw Nerve isn’t a lost masterpiece but it’s a decent enough thriller made not only watchable but genuinely intriguing mainly by the fact that it has such a bonkers cast working in its favor. Seeing Jan-Michael Vincent act alongside Glenn Ford is a bizarro-world treat! Culture Shock Releasing’s Blu-ray roll out for the film presents the picture in a solid presentation and with some nice extra features, highlighted by a really good commentary and some nice interviews as well. All in all, this is a nice package for a cult film oddity that is worth checking out.

    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Raw Nerve Blu-ray screen caps!

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