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Blu-Ray : Recommended
Ranking:
Sale Price: $33.99 Last Price: $ Buy now! 3rd Party 33.99 In Stock
Release Date: December 26th, 2023 Movie Release Year: 1990

Shredder Orpheus

Overview -

The post-apocalyptic skate rock opera Shredder Orpheus is an industrial microbudget retelling of the classic Greek myths of Orpheus and Eurydice. Brimming with anti-establishment themes, killer skating, and sci-fi tropes, this 1990 film is a hallmark of skate culture and the independent punk scene. The Blu-ray from AGFA and OCN Distribution presents the film with a surprisingly strong A/V package and an exciting set of bonus features for fans of the film. Recommended.  

Let's shred our way to hell! The Greek myth is reimagined as a post-apocalyptic skateboard rock opera in SHREDDER ORPHEUS—a low budget hallucination that drops somewhere between the music video for Devo's "Whip It," a Bones Brigade skate tape, and a surrealist art project. The story follows Orpheus (director Robert McGinley), a rock star who descends to hell in order to save his kidnapped wife (and the universe) from Satan and his hypnotic TV signals. Filmed in Seattle and featuring a rare screen role from Steven Jesse Bernstein—the William S. Burroughs of the Pacific Northwest—SHREDDER ORPHEUS makes its disc debut with a new preservation from the original film elements.

directed by: Robert McGinley
starring: Various
1990 / 88 min / 1.85:1 / English DTS-HD MA 2.0

Additional info:

  • Region Free Blu-ray
  • Preserved from a 35mm blow-up print; created from the original 16mm, Beta SP, and 1" tape master elements
  • Commentary with director Robert McGinley and AGFA’s Bret Berg
  • Bombshelter Video promo from 1993
  • Behind the scenes photo gallery
  • Preservation of the original VHS version
  • Original home video trailer
  • Booklet with a Robert McGinley interview by David J. Moore and writing by Amy Rose
  • English SDH subtitles

OVERALL:
Recommended
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
This special limited edition spot gloss slipcover is limited to 2,000 units
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p/AVC MPEG-4
Aspect Ratio(s):
1.85:1
Audio Formats:
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Subtitles/Captions:
English SDH
Special Features:
Audio Commentary with Robery McGinley and Bret Berg, Vintage Bombshelter Video Promo (6mins), Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery (5mins), VHS Version of the Film (88mins), Original Trailer (1min), Insert Booklet
Release Date:
December 26th, 2023

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

“Ma’am, I've dedicated my life to the sound of metal insects screaming in a wall of oatmeal.”

Skate rocker Orpheus (Robert McGinley) and his band of shredders must journey to Hell and save his bride, Eurydice (Megan Murphy, Brand Upon the Brain!), from the control of Hades (Gian-Carlo Scandiuzzi, Bonfire of the Vanities) and Persephone (Vera McCaughan). Eurydice is forced to become a performer on their variety show, which aims to sedate its viewers. These deadly signals beamed from the underworld’s Euthanasia Broadcast Network (EBN). 

The story is set in a dystopian future where affordable housing is 5 acres of shipping containers, affectionately called The Gray Zone. Outcasts, war veterans, and skate punks scrape by with the clothes on their backs and the boards under their feet. Life is good for Orpheus until his new bride is killed by Hades’ goons and taken to Hell because she would attract viewers to his show. Hell is a bland television station resembling a Tery Gilliam setpiece with dismal color palettes and hallways filled with shredded memory documents. Ultimately, Hades tricks Orpheus, leaving the rocker forever separated from Eurydice. The only way to save her is to skate the Euthanasia Parking Garage with a skateboard from Hell. 

Director Robert McGinley would take inspiration from the skate videos of Stacey Peralta (Dogtown and Z-Boys) and Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus as the building blocks of production. This punk retelling of the classic myth paired with anti-media themes makes this the perfect statement for late 80’s skaters dealing with the capitalist culture takeover and a growing sense of economic dismay. Not to mention society’s take on skate culture as the dissolution of the nuclear family. At the time, this feature would’ve been an anti-MTV manifesto eaten up by the outsiders. 

Shredder Orpheus smartly ditches huge rock numbers for lean storytelling. The moments we get with The Shredders are worthwhile but never overstay their welcome. Frankly, we’re so blindsided by the intense characters and crazy obstacles in Orpheus’ path that we forget in the wrong hands; this could be just another rock music video. Composer Roland Barker (Ministry, Revolting Cocks, Blackouts) searched Seattle to find musicians for the fictitious band and to create a uniquely PNW sound for the film. Ultimately hitting paydirt with Bill Rieflin, Dennis Rea from King Crimson, and avante-garde jazz rocker Amy Denio. On-screen, The Shredders comprises Amy on bass, Dennis on guitars, Bill on drums, and Roland on synth. 

Sets comprise abandoned parking garages and buildings with little production design other than lighting and tossing around garbage. Bigger set pieces like the EBN production studios, performance spaces, and Oepheus’s bedroom require more finesse to balance budget-friendly and industrial wasteland. Costuming looks on par with most late 80s future-set flicks. The script follows the Orpheus mythos closely but oozes with skate slang and futuristic nonsense. 

Performances are committed, with Scandiuzzi and McCaughan chewing scenery behind layers of makeup as Hades and Persephone. McGinley and Murphy have excellent chemistry as the rocker couple separated by Hell. However, the MVP of the feature goes to John Billingsley as Linus, the band manager, for his line delivery of “There is an oracle coming in on the next tangent shipment. She’s got everything: counseling, channeling, neurolinguistic programming, and video tarot. She’s HOT.” 

Maligned by shaky distribution and marketing, Shredder Orpheus lived its best life through VHS tape swapping and word of mouth. Embraced by the skate community and punk spheres, the film gained a rabid cult fan base. Audiences today will connect with its outrageous world-building, killer music, and anti-establishment themes. I’d double feature this with Videodrome or my favorite post-apocalyptic underground dance flick, The FP


Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Shredder Orpheus arrives on Blu-ray thanks to AGFA and OCN Distribution. The disc is housed in a transparent keepcase with reversible artwork and an insert booklet. Loading the disc presents the AGFA logo before landing on the Main Menu screen with typical navigation options adjacent to scenes from the film. 

Video Review

Ranking:

The cathode rays fill our souls thanks to this solid HD image presentation of Shredder Orpheus. This AVC-encoded 1080p transfer was created from a preserved 35mm blow-up print from the original 16mm, Beta SP, and 1" tape master elements. A grainy patina washes over the image surface with grime, dirt, and focus issues present. Primary colors are appreciable but lack any dynamic presentation. Detail is limited, and flickering is evident. Black levels are noisy and offer little depth, with nighttime scenes losing considerable detail. Overall, the presentation is raw and unfiltered, which amplifies the messages of the film. 

Audio Review

Ranking:

Shredder Orpheus skates the garage in a single DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio track. Surprisingly, the dialogue is clear and cleanly presented without hiss or pop detected. Music tracks offer a clear presentation with excellent mids and lows, offering an excellent listening experience. Effects are rendered clear, whether it's the clacking sound of skateboard trucks or timed explosions in the Euthanasia garage. Overall I was very impressed with the fidelity of the DTS track when compared to the raw, grimy aesthetic of the image on screen. 

Special Features

Ranking:

AGFA and OCN Distribution offer a wealth of new and archival bonus features on this disc. I recommend starting with the commentary track before moving through the other options. Don’t forget to check out the original VHS Version as well.  

  • Audio Commentary with Robert McGinley & Bret Berg AGFA Theatrical Sales Director Bret Berg and McGinley offer a laid-back discussion of the film filled with fun anecdotes and production stories. 
  • Vintage Bombshelter Video Promo (HD 6:20) Bombshelter Video was a late-night cable access show dedicated to exposing viewers to indie music, film, and skate culture in the late 80s and early 90s. Footage provided courtesy of producer Frank Harlan. 
  • Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery (HD 5:35) Still photographs from the production are accompanied by music from the film. 
  • VHS Version (HD 88:03) Experience the film like most fans did with this VHS copy of the film. As expected, the image quality is less refined than the original 35mm blow up print used in the HD transfer.   
  • Original Trailer (SD 1:10): “First they were thrashing, then they were gleaming. And now they’re shredding their way to hell!”
  • Insert Booklet with a Robert McGinley interview by David J. Moore and writing by Amy Rose

Final Thoughts

Shredder Orpheus is the tale of a post-apocalyptic skate-rock opera brought to life by a group of skaters and musicians in Seattle. Its raw retelling of the Orpheus myth is an excellent metaphor for the growing capitalist tide consuming brainwaves and robbing independent thought. Today’s skate culture and independent punk scene owe much to this microbudget epic. The Blu-ray from AGFA and OCN Distribution provides a surprisingly good A/V package and bonus features for fans of the film. Recommended

Order your copy of Shredder Orpheus on Blu-ray