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Savage Steve Holland
John Cusack, David Ogden Stiers, Kim Darby
Writing Credits:
Savage Steve Holland

After his girlfriend ditches him for a boorish ski jock, Lane decides that suicide is the only answer.

Box Office:
$3.5 million.
Opening Weekend:
$2,573,297 on 650 screens.
Domestic Gross:

Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
French DTS 2.0
Spanish DTS 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 97 min.
Price: $16.99
Release Date: 8/2/2011

• Trailer


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver;
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer.


Better Off Dead [Blu-Ray] (1985)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 5, 2021)

Ah, the 1980s, back when major studios released comedies about suicidal teens – and only got “PG” ratings for them! Such became the case for 1985’s Better Off Dead.

High school student Lane Meyer (John Cusack) gets dumped by his girlfriend Beth Truss (Amanda Wyss). Because Lane feels more than slightly obsessed with Beth, he takes this poorly.

So poorly that Lane decides he can’t continue with his life, in fact. Lane makes a few attempts at suicide, though he proves inept at these and eventually pursues other paths to deal with the end of his relationship.

I understand that the “PG-13” rating remained fairly new in 1985, but it shocks me that Dead only got a “PG” rating. With teen sex, suicidal content and a character who tries to snort every substance he finds, the movie seems to rub against an “R”, much less a “PG-13”.

I also feel surprised that Dead enjoys a pretty good cult following. Absurdly dated, this becomes a mess of a movie.

Dead really does feel like the platonic ideal of an 80s “outrageous comedy”. Granted, I think some of this is intentional, as I get the impression Dead acts as semi-parody of the genre.

If Dead managed any wit or cleverness of its own, this might work. However, it feels less like a spoof of bad 80s teen comedies and more like an actual bad 80s teen comedy.

With a movie like this, we find a strong “you had to be there” factor. If you were a teen in 1985 and saw it then, you probably loved it and maintain an affection for it that allows you to overlook its flaws.

I was a teen in 1985, but as far as I recall, I never saw Dead. If I did, it failed to stick with me, so I bear none of this nostalgic connection to it.

As I watch it at age 53, I find it to offer a nearly incoherent collection of comedic beats without much to link them. Dead throws everything it can find at the screen and hopes some of it sticks.

Unfortunately, little of the material connects, so the movie becomes a bit of a chore to watch. This frustrates as the film’s wacked-out attitude means it should turn into a blast, but instead, it just feels random and asinine.

36 years after its debut, Dead retains a decent cult following. I can’t become an addition to that club, as I think it delivers little more than a headache.

The Disc Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B-/ Bonus D-

Better Off Dead appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with a dated but decent presentation.

Overall sharpness felt adequate to positive. While the movie lacked great delineation, it became fairly concise and only sporadically showed any signs of softness.

No jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge haloes remained absent. With a heavy layer of grain, I didn’t suspect issues with noise reduction, but various specks and marks cropped up occasionally through the flick.

With a resolutely natural palette, the colors of Dead seemed passable. They seemed a bit heavy but weren’t bad in the greater scheme of things.

Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows appeared decent. Though a few low-light shots could be a bit murky, the flick usually presented adequate definition through its shadows. The image seemed watchable for its era but not much better.

Although Dead comes with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, you shouldn’t get too excited about that prospect. The results seemed decidedly low-key and didn’t do much to open up the soundfield. The movie’s score provided the best use of the various channels, as the music showed decent stereo imaging and spread to the rears to a mild degree.

Otherwise, this was a limited mix. The effects stayed somewhat focused on the center channel and only occasionally expanded to the rest of the domain.

Audio quality never excelled but seemed fine. Speech was concise and distinctive, with no edginess or other distractions.

Music showed good range and definition. The synth-heavy score offered nice reproduction across the board.

Effects were also clear and reasonably accurate, though they didn’t boast great dynamics. I didn’t think the track impressed, but it sufficed for a product of its era.

The disc comes with the film’s trailer but lacks any other extras.

If you want an extreme example of 1980s comedy trends, the massively dated Better Off Dead provides a clear lesson. If you want a funny, entertaining movie, look elsewhere. The Blu-ray provides mediocre picture and audio and it lacks supplements. Dead fails to provide anything witty or amusing.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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