In the mid-80s, David Cronenberg went from low-budget indie horror director to acceptance in Hollywood with "The Dead Zone," "The Fly" and "Dead Ringers."
Rather than using his new access to steer yet more Hollywood, he made "Naked Lunch" — drawn loosely from William S. Burroughs' notorious novel, as well as other works and his eventful life — a film sure to alienate, enrage and even nauseate a large portion of the public.
Peter Weller plays the "hero," Burroughs surrogate Bill Lee, a writer/junkie drifting — for real or in his head? — between New York and North Africa. The cast also includes Judy Davis, Roy Scheider, Ian Holm and Julian Sands, but they're all upstaged by a variety of bug-like, humanoid monsters.
Criterion released a topnotch DVD 10 years ago; only now have they ported it over to Blu-ray. The primary improvement is, of course, resolution and visual depth, and maybe the audio quality as well. (The sound mix impressed me, but I don't have access to the DVD version for direct comparison.)
Other than that, the Blu-ray simply duplicates all the extras from 10 years ago: a good commentary track from Cronenberg and Weller; a six-minute promotional "making of" film from the period; a later (and far more informative) 50-minute "making of"; trailers; and galleries of production stills and preliminary monster sketches. Normally I don't care about the paper inserts and booklets in DVD and Blu-ray packages, but the one here is exceptional and includes a substantial piece by Burroughs himself. The author can also be heard reading from his work on an hour-long audio-only track.
"Naked Lunch" (Criterion, Blu-ray, $39.95)
ANDY KLEIN is the film critic for Marquee. He can also be heard on "FilmWeek" on KPCC-FM (89.3).