Review Date: January 23, 2000
Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date: 12/14/1999
Region 1, NTSC
Full frame 1.37:1
When we begged and screamed for an Army of Darkness director's cut with all deleted footage reinserted back into the movie who delivered? When we cried for a GOOD release of Halloween on DVD who came and delivered (on their 2nd try) with perfect results and then some? When we were pissed after learning a mighty cool looking Bruce Campbell movie just came out, but was only available on VHS and for a cost of $50.00 who came and delivered a low priced DVD/VHS release? ANCHOR BAY!!!
Now you may be asking yourself why Running Time is being reviewed on a web site devoted to horror movies on DVD. There's a few reasons. First, if any of the reviewers on the site particularly love a certain movie and feel the urge to review it we will absolutely support them on that - whether it be horror, action, comedy, etc. Or if the movie is from a certain studio, or has a certain actor that has done a lot for the horror genre then we may review a non-horror film that they were involved in just as our way of tipping our hats to them and showing them our appreciation. With Running Time we have Anchor Bay, who has done wonders for the horror dvd community by releasing such gems as Army of Darkness, Halloween, The Beyond (coming soon) and so many more. We also have Bruce Campbell, who stars in Running Time and has done quite a bit for the horror community, and continues to support his fans of The Evil Dead films by doing commentary tracks for the various Evil Dead special editions that have been released on DVD and laserdisc.
Ex-con Carl (Bruce Campbell) is being released prison early after serving 5 years out of a 10 year sentence due to good behavior. After having the usual departure talk with the warden and informing the warden that he'll be going into the laundry business with a friend, since he has become such an expert with laundry during the past 5 years, Carl is released where he is met by his friend Patrick (Jeremy Roberts). Patrick and Carl have been friends since high school and the prison sentence Carl served was actually for something that was Patrick's fault. Being the friend that he is, Carl served the time and did not betray his friend by ratting him out.
It turns out Carl doesn't plan to go into the laundry business after all. As soon as Carl and Patrick begin to drive away from the prison they head off to their next heist together, which Carl has worked out during his time in prison. The warden of the prison Carl was in runs a laundry operation within the prison and uses the inmates as slave labor. The local laundromats pay the warden to do their laundry - it's cheaper to pay the warden then actually hire their own employees. The plan is to rob one of the pickup locations for the warden's payment from a local laundromat. But before business must come pleasure, and in the back of their van is a prostitute named Janie (Anita Barone) that Carl gets a quick sex fix from. As it turns out Janie is a girl that Carl dated in high school and they agree to see each other again on a non-professional basis (i.e. the sex will be free...).
After dropping off Janie, Carl and Patrick head off to pickup their partners in crime. The first being Donny (Gordon Jennison Noice), a druggie who will be their getaway driver. Next is Buzz (Stan Davis), an ex-cellmate of Carl's that is an expert at picking locks - he will open the safe that contains the warden's money. Once the gang is gathered they had off to the laundromat, but soon their first problem arises. The tire in the van blows, and they have 12 minutes to get to the laundry. Quickly they change the tire and resume their trip. Carl begins to worry about Donny when he can't even set the time on his watch and considers calling off the heist, but Patrick quickly talks him into continuing on.
They arrive at the laundromat and begin their heist. They take the receptionist and security guard into the back room where both the safe and manager of the store are. They seat them on the couch and allow Buzz to begin opening the safe. Things quickly fall apart, however, when Buzz informs them that it is not the model safe that he was originally told and that it's going to take him longer to get it open. Carl is quick to blame Patrick for this since Patrick was the one who was supposed to scope out the store and get the model of the safe. To make things worse Patrick shoots the security guard when he attempts to flee and the store manager begins to have a heart attack from the tension. Time is running out! They must get the safe open and flee the scene before the warden and his armored car arrive. Will they do it? Rent/Buy the movie and find out!
I was excited to have the option to rent this movie on DVD. But to be honest I wasn't sure what I was more excited about
: the movie or the Bruce Campbell commentary.
More on the commentary later. This movie is quite enjoyable. The plot was simple enough - get the money and make it out alive and not be captured. The acting was superb, but what can one expect from Bruce Campbell? He's a terrific actor and does a great job holding the movie together. And overall I did enjoy the movie quite a bit. It's to the point and fast paced, which I've always liked. It doesn't beat around the bush with lots of side stories and what not. There's always the issue of "time running out" throughout the entire film, and that really helps build tension with the audience (or at least with me it did).
But really the best part about the movie is that it gives the illusion of being in one long continuous shot, and Director/Writer Josh Becker's inspiration for doing this was Alfred Hitchock's 1948 film, Rope. Now in the commentary they reveal there's a total of 30 cuts in the film, but that's still an amazing accomplishment for a 70 minute film. Most of the takes run around 5 to 6 minutes each and trying to locate where the cuts are in between takes is nearly impossible. Now I wasn't looking extremely hard for the cuts but I can admit to only observing about 4 or 5 cuts at the most, and when I found out there were 30 I was quite impressed.
Running Time is presented in its original ratio of 1.37:1. The film used in the film appears to be a mixture of 16mm and 35mm black and white film, or at least that's what the Internet Movie Database specifications page for Running Time lists. The image is crisp and clear throughout the presentation, and colors were solid and clean. No grain was observed at any point in the film.
The thing that hurts the image quality is the fair amount of specks that appear throughout the film. There was also some print blemishes observed but those were fairly minor. The specks appearing is what bothered me and for such a new film I didn't expect to see this. I imagine it's the result of being a low budget film and not being able to use the best quality film, or be able to store the film in the best possible environment. I don't think the quality is any worse, or better than something like The Blair Witch Project, another low budget film that has a good amount of specks appearing. Certainly the specks aren't overwhelming, and perhaps I'm just becoming a bit too spoiled in the age of DVD and all the new high definition transfers we've been getting from Anchor Bay as of late. But I do think a little more time could've been spent cleaning up the film a bit, and that the image quality could've been improved. I'm not going to hit the grade too hard for this, but of course specks and blemishes definitely take points off. I'm going to giving this transfer a B+.
Presented Dolby Surround 2.0, the sound is clear and audible with no distortion heard. The rear speakers were silent but the fronts were well balanced. The film doesn't exactly have lots of special effects moments and I think given the low budget aspect of the film the sound is well presented on the DVD.
The highlight of the disc would be the commentary track with Actor Bruce Campbell and Director Josh Becker. As with every Bruce Campbell commentary track the information and comments are plentiful, with very few gaps occuring. Bruce always adds his thoughts to the films and asks questions to those joining him on the commentary. It's almost as if he's the mediator during the commentary track. This one doesn't contain much humor but I still enjoyed listening to it quite a bit. They give lots of behind-the-scenes information on the film, and it's obvious they were both very passionate about making the movie. Not something with a high replay value but definitely worth a listen once.
The only other extra is a theatrical trailer for the film. Though it's not jammed packed with extras, I always appreciate the value of a good commentary track, and Running Time certainly has that.
Everyone should see this movie at least once. I'd recommend it as a rental first just in case it's not your cup of tea and won't have a high replay value for you. At 70 minutes it's short enough where you can watch the movie and listen to the commentary track in the same day. I'm sure for most Bruce Campbell fans this movie will be a must own. I know I'll be adding it to my collection.
Movie - B+
Image Quality - B+
Sound - B
Supplements - B+
- Running time - 1 hour 10 minutes
- 1 Disc
- Chapter stops
- Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround sound
- Commentary with Director Josh Becker and Actor Bruce Campbell.
- Theatrical trailer.