The Sore Losers

Type: New Blu-Ray

An alien being known to humans as Blackie (Jack Yarber), returns to earth after a failed attempt to kill 12 beatniks in the 1950s. Instead, he was only able to kill nine and hide their bodies in the woods behind a Drive-In theater. He blames his failure on the location of his landing, The deep south, mostly Mississippi. Now he must finish the job with the help of his human friend Mike (Mike Maker) and a mysterious criminal (Kerine Elkins). The only thing standing in his way is a group of renegade aliens (The Japanese rock group Guitar Wolf).

The Sore Losers (1997) is a bizarre blend of 50’s and 60’s pop culture from director J. Michael McCarthy. Cutting his teeth on music videos and shorts, The Sore Losers is filled with love for the trashy side of pop culture with the bizarre editing choices of early Godard films (Some lovely nods to Band of Outsiders). Like Godard’s films, we see wild jump cuts and plenty of handheld shots. There is also an ever-changing overhead narration between Blackie, an FBI agent, and an unseen announcer. 

The matter of fact blending of sci-fi and juvenile delinquent films is also aided by some energetic performances from the cast that references the films of John Waters, Doris Wishman, Russ Meyer, and even some Herschell Gordon Lewis styled gore. It feels like a color version of all those lovely sexploitation films in Something Weird Video’s catalog. The pacing never lets up so there is no time to really worry about the story.

The story is the only real problem with the movie. The world of the aliens and the rules they follow are not really explained. So some plot points come up and feel head-scratchingly out of place. The dialog and wacky nature of the movie keep it from being lost in these details. This is a mood piece and a tribute to a specific era of low budget weirdness. So by this logic, The Sore Losers is a fun 80 minutes of punk rock fun.

The Sore Losers comes to Blu-ray from Big Broad Guerrilla Monster Productions. This three-disc set is packed to the gills with extras and plenty of love. The Movie comes to us on Blu-ray-R on Disc 1, with the bulk of extras on Disc 2 (DVD-R), and the film’s soundtrack on Disc 3 (CD).

The film comes with two audio tracks. First up is The English Surround 5.1 Dolby Digital is rough around the edges. There are some uneven sound effects, some coming from the film’s production. Motorcycles are deafeningly loud, while cars are quiet. Some of the film’s ADR work is even more noticeable with a couple of moments of background (The worst one around the 7-minute mark). The dialog is mostly level with the expectation of some moments when the film’s soundtrack cuts in. The numerous songs never become overpowering. The second track is the English Stereo which shares some of the same issues, with the expectation of the motorcycle, which now sounds leveled. English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, and Spanish subtitles are included.

The 1080p HD Transfer comes with a new scan of the original 16mm film. It is shown with a 1.33.1 aspect ratio (4:3) with no signs of cropping on the corners of the image. There is some minor natural film grain, with only one moment where it gets washed out during a cab fire. Flesh tones look natural and black levels are balanced. The primary colors are vivid with the reds looking candy-colored. There is also plenty of texture on clothes and the rough back roads. 

Fans of this film are in for a treat with the overpowering amount of extras. The first disc comes with a director’s commentary, and the rest on disc 2 divided up into Photo and Video sections.

  • Director’s Commentary: J. Michael McCarthy discusses the film’s production, his influences, and about every other detail you can imagine in this constantly entertaining track. McCarthy comes off as a nice and down to Earth guy with plenty of humble thoughts on his work. You’ll have to listen to this track twice to absorb all the information.
  • Photo galleries: There is a series of photo galleries under the titles Chicago Underground, New York Underground, Los Angeles, Memphis, Nurses and Nudes, Emmy Collins Gallery, Gator Bait, Photographers, JSL Shooting Locations, and Meeting Susan.
  • Trailers: There are two trailers. Both are in rough condition with the second one featuring narration.
  • Demo Reel: A 4-minute reel of J. Michael McCarthy’s work from a number of projects (including The Sore Losers).
  • Three Nurse Lost: A deleted scene with three Nurses that was not completed during production.
  • The Films of Emmy Collins: A series of short films by Collins with “Jack The Dipper”,” Headshot”,” Punk vs. Hippie”, “TV Humper”, and “The Egoist”.
  • JMM Music Videos: A gallery that includes videos for Guitar Wolf, Oblivians, The Clears, The Makers,200 Sachen, Poli Sci Clone, River City Tanlines, Real Losers, The Cute Lepers, The Flakes, and The True Lovers.
  • Blue Soldier: a 9 minute videotaped cabaret.
  • San Fran Super 8: A reel of Super 8 footage with the crew of The Sore Losers during a trip to a 1997 screening. 
  • Visual Effects: A series of footage showcasing the effects in the film. Included are Wheat, Kevin Webster, Dragonwyck, and Joe Riley.
  • Complete soundtrack: Disc 3 is a CD of the film’s complete soundtrack.

The Sore Losers is a bizarre letter to yesteryear’s trash. This new Blu-ray is the perfect way to experience it. Minus the audio issues, this is a fantastic disc. Recommended.

Director- J. Michael McCarthy

Cast- Jack Yarber (as John Oblivian), Kerine Elkins, Mike Maker, Guitar Wolf

Country of Origin- USA

Discs- 3