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Ranking:
Sale Price: $39.98 Last Price: $ Buy now! 3rd Party 38.92 In Stock
Release Date: December 26th, 2023 Movie Release Year: 1990

The Killing of Bobby Greene

Overview -

The plan never goes to plan in 1994’s The Killing of Bobby Greene by SOV filmmaker Mick McCleery. When a teenager’s prank becomes a deadly mistake, his true intentions are revealed, putting his friends in a life-or-death situation. This pulpy crime thriller is a surprisingly confident first-time feature from the director, which rises above its SOV roots. The Blu-ray disc from Saturn’s Core and OCN Distribution provides a solid A/V package and many special features. This thrilling and surprising SOV drama is Worth a Look.  

High school student Ray Sterling (Mick McCleery) has it in for his fellow classmate Bobby Greene. Seems Bobby’s father was responsible for putting Ray’s father behind bars where he ultimately took his own life. With the help of his three best friends, all donning ominous clown masks, Ray orchestrates a cruel and elaborate prank; kidnapping Bobby and imprisoning him inside an underwater cavern within the local quarry. This seemingly harmless prank turns deadly when Bobby accidentally drowns during the proceedings and the unrepentant Ray quickly covers up the fatal misdeed. When detectives start asking questions, Ray will do anything to keep his friends sworn to secrecy at any cost….even if it means resorting to cold blooded murder.

Like an analog after school special from hell, The Killing of Bobby Greene cleverly skirted the lines between the gritty, indie film crime capers of the ‘90s and the YA thrills of Lois Duncan’s I Know What You Did Last Summer. A masterful early SOV feature from prolific New Jersey based actor, writer, & director Mick McCleery (Twisted Tales, Track 16, The Altruist, Addicted to Murder), Saturn’s Core is proud to present The Killing of Bobby Greene in its definitive, director supervised Blu-Ray edition, newly paired with McCleery’s never before released 1989 SOV crime comedy Crooks and over 9 hours of special features chronicling the entire first ten years of Mick’s One by One Films & Video imprint through documentaries, commentaries, and rare short films!

directed by: Mick McCleery
starring: Mick McCleery, Felicia Freedman, Joshua Batt, Kim Haist, Chris Gullo
1990 / 91 min / 1.33:1 / English DTS-HD MA 2.0

Additional info:

  • Region Free Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary by actor / writer / director Mick McCleery
  • “Unlimited Vision” -Writer / director Mick McCleery in conversation with filmmaker Kevin J. Lindenmuth
  • “One by One Film & Video: 1982-1992” -archival 10th anniversary feature length retrospective documentary (89 min.)
  • BONUS MOVIE: CROOKS (1989) -Mick McCleery’s never before released SOV comedy / crime caper (104 min.) with optional director’s commentary
  • “Crooks: Redux” -New 2023 director’s edit of Crooks (88 min.)
  • “Making of a Vision” -archival making-of featurette for Limited Vision
  • Mick McCleery’s short works (all with optional director’s commentary)
  • “Cyborg” (1984 / 10 min.)
  • “Out All Night” (1988 / 26 min.)
  • “Boys Will Be Boys (1988 / 16 min.)
  • “Limited Vision” (1991 / 35 min.)
  • “Pick-Up” (2019 / 7 min.)
  • Reversible sleeve
  • English SDH subtitles

OVERALL:
Worth a Look
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Limited edition Blu-ray of 1000 units
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p/AVC MPEG-4
Aspect Ratio(s):
1.33:1
Audio Formats:
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Subtitles/Captions:
English SDH
Release Date:
December 26th, 2023

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

“Always shoot twice.”

High schooler Ray Sterling (Mick McCleery, Vampires and Other Stereotypes) harbors a grudge against the preppy, convertible-driving Bobby Greene. You see, Ray’s father embezzled some money from Bobby’s dad, and Bobby’s dad pressed charges. After he was imprisoned, Ray’s father committed suicide. Looking like an after-school special, we’re introduced to Ray’s group of friends, including his bestie Dan, Dan’s girl Christy, and Ray’s new girl Kelly. After running into Bobby, Ray cools off at the quarry lake, where he discovers an underwater cave. Soon, he convinces his friends to help him kidnap Bobby as a prank. Ray just wants to scare him a little. Obviously, Bobby dies accidentally, forcing the crew of teens to cover up a murder. When a detective starts snooping around, relationships are tested, and allegiances are revealed.  

The Killing of Bobby Greene is a capable SOV thriller filled with suspense and psychological drama. It strives to punch above its weight in the teen thriller genre while never letting technical limitations get in the way of the story. Surprisingly, McCleery maintains a strong sense of composition in the film. Framing and camera movements are confident. It's noticeable that the pacing seems to be dictated by Ray’s actions, which slow to a snail’s pace when he’s off-screen. Dialogue isn’t very naturalistic, but the cast seems to grasp the characters' motivations easily. 

The feature wisely puts the burden on the actors working in dingy living rooms and borrowed locations. Mick’s characters are relatable even if the performances aren’t. The cast is filled with first-time actors who manage to relate the material convincingly. The director smartly casts himself as Ray, allowing him to control the main character confidently. While Ray isn’t the focus of every scene, having the writer/director manage him against the amateur cast is a wise approach.  

Pacing issues aside, the film moves at a slower clip than expected, giving the actors plenty of time for exchanges. As the characters turn on Ray, the film becomes a fairly predictable affair, though the twists leading to the end are a bit surprising. Overall, The Killing of Bobby Greene is a solid SOV thriller. Filled with suspense and psychological tropes. Compared to other SOV thrillers of its time, the feature lacks gratuitous nudity and gory violence; however, the practical effects utilized are quite satisfying. 

My only gripe pertains to the handling of the father’s suicide. Keeping this fact until midway through the story puts us in a predicament of either siding with Ray or, at the least, understanding his intentions for messing with Bobby. I almost feel that the suicide would’ve been left until much later so that once Ray goes crazy, we’re left out to dry once his father’s fate is revealed. The dramatic irony isn’t wasted. Revealing the death at the end allows viewers to walk away with questions, further engaging them after the credits roll. 

First-time filmmaker Mick McCleery cut his teeth on Super 8 with his friends before getting a VHS camera and cooking through shorts, honing his craft. Years later, The Killing of Bobby Greene is the culmination of years spent making shorts. Debut SOV features are rarely structured well, leaving filmmakers to rely heavily on genre tropes to occupy time or cover up shortcomings in the narrative. Mick doesn’t have that problem. Bobby Greene maintains a strong story structure, relatable characters, and a confident look throughout the feature.

Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
The Killing of Bobby Greene arrives on Blu-ray thanks to Saturn’s Core and OCN Distribution. The disc is housed in a transparent keep case with reversible artwork. Loading the disc presents a Saturn’s Core logo before landing on the Main Menu screen, with scenes from the film playing against typical navigation options. 

Video Review

Ranking:

As with many SOV features, the source material provides a predictable expectation for its jump to Blu-ray. The Killing of Bobby Greene looks solid in an AVC-encoded 1080p HD image in the film’s original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. An analog patina washes over the image with muted colors and noisy black levels. VHS processing lines add a harsh texture to the image, adding a pleasing grimy aesthetic to this scuzzy crime thriller. Skin tones are fairly even within interiors. Detail is limited thanks to the source format, but the image is appreciable. Supplemental materials indicate source S-VHS tapes were in good condition, accounting for the image's quality on the disc. 

Audio Review

Ranking:

Mick McCleery dodges a bullet most VHS productions encounter with on-camera microphones muddying the audio mix. Going for post-recorded dialogue alleviates this messy obstacle, but the result is exchanges that don’t gel with the DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio mix. Exchanges are clean and clearly recorded but clash against the music and effects tracks. Heated exchanges between Ray and his friends often distort the audio levels. From the start, there is a noticeable hiss throughout the feature as well. Thankfully, the dramatic hooks of the film draw you in enough that these quibbles don’t even matter. Finally, please be aware that errors occur frequently for those using the English SDH subtitles.

Special Features

Ranking:

Saturn’s Core and OCN Distribution load this disc with bonus features meant for fans of Mick McCleery’s filmography. Short films, commentary tracks, and bonus features pack the disc, giving fans plenty to enjoy. I’d start with the excellent audio commentary track before moving through the bonus films.  

  • Audio Commentary with director Mick McCleery
  • Bonus Film: Crooks (HD 1:44:12) McCleery’s first SOV feature from 1989 shot on S-VHS. The story follows a master criminal who unwillingly takes on two bumbling apprentices. 
  • Crooks Audio Commentary with Director Mick McCleery: A matter-of-fact conversation with Mick who details the technical limitations of SOV filmmaking and his own challenges learning the craft on the fly. He’s joined by various cast members who call in for the audio commentary to offer their perspectives. 
  • Bonus Film: Crooks: Redux (HD 1:28:17) A 2023 digital red-edit of the film which axes 15 minutes and updates opening credits with digital replacements. McCleery cuts mostly filler scenes, which doesn’t affect the story at all. No audio commentary is available here, as Mick details this 2023 red-edit on the other commentary track. 
  • Unlimited Vision (HD 37:55) Director Mick McCleery chats with filmmaker Kevin J. Lindenmuth (Blood of the Werewolf) about his career in film, spanning from home movies to starting a production company. 
  • One By One Film & Video: 1982 - 1992 (HD 87:30) archival 10th-anniversary feature-length retrospective documentary from Mick McCleery’s production company. The feature begins with clips and interviews with an 8th-grade Mick and his friends making Super 8 movies in their backyards. Exhaustive and hilarious, the documentary is a chronicle of true SOV filmmaking. 
  • Making of a Vision (HD 24:16) An archival making-of documentary on McCleery’s short film Limited Vision which was a segment in a sci-fi anthology titled Alien Agenda: Out of the Darkness
  • Mick McCleery Short Films each with Optional Director Audio Commentary:
  • Cyborg (1984) (HD 9:48) Mick’s Super 8mm homage to The Terminator
  • Out All Night (1988) (HD 25:48) A peeping tom causes hijinks in this early VHS short.  
  • Boys Will Be Boys (1988) (HD 15:52) A suspense thriller featuring kidnapping, Mexican standoffs, and shady deals. McCleery would use similar themes in The Killing of Bobby Greene.
  • Limited Vision (1991) (HD 34:19) This short film follows a Doctor who is searching for his twin brother who has ruined his life. Used as a segment in McCleery’s sci-fi anthology Alien Agenda: Out of the Darkness
  • Pick-Up (2019) (HD 6:48) Created for the 2019 Philadelphia 48 Hour Film Project, this dark comedy sees an Uber driver become involved in a bank heist. 

Final Thoughts

The Killing of Bobby Greene is a capable psychological drama rooted in the pulpy crime thrillers of the 90s. Thankfully, Its SOV limitations never hinder the characters or storytelling. Pacing issues aside, the thriller offers a twisty yet believable narrative for an entertaining ride. The Blu-ray from Saturn’s Core and OCN Distribution presents the film with a solid A/V package and a slew of bonus features, including short films and bonus features. This disc is a must-have for Mick McCleery fans, but for others, it's Worth a Look.

Order your copy of The Killing of Bobby Green on Blu-ray