Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 24th, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: Spain / USA, 1988
Director: Monte Hellman
Writers: Steven Gaydos, Monte Hellman, Alberto Vázquez Figueroa, David M. Zehr
Cast: Everett McGill, Fabio Testi, Jack Taylor, Maru Valdivielso, Michael Madsen
BluRay Released: October 7th, 2014
Approximate running time: 100 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Stereo English and Castilian
Subtitles: English (only for the dialog that is spoken in Castilian)
BluRay Release: Raro Video USA
Region Encoding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.98
Iguana was co-written and directed by Monte Hellman, whose other notable films include The Shooting, Ride the Whirlwind and Two-Lane Blacktop. Key collaborators on Iguana include producer Franco Di Nunzio (Cannibal Holocaust, House on the Edge of the Park), cinematographer Josep M. Civit (Anguish) and composer Franco Campanino (A Man Called Magnum, To Be Twenty). Iguana was adapted from Spanish author Alberto Vázquez Figueroa’s novel of the same name.
At the heart of this film is a story about a man whose disfigurement only brought him cruelty and how he is unable to break free of the cycle of cruelty that others had ingrained in his psyche. And though the character is clearly a damaged, the way in which he is presented makes it easier to loathe him then sympathize for him.
Behind every beast is a beauty and in this film though Carmen outwardly fills the bill of the ‘beauty’. She has her own skeletons in her closet that do not put in a much better light then this protagonist. She is essentially a seductress who uses men to get what she wants and when this gets her nowhere with Oberlus, she finally just accepts her fate as his slave.
At first the film’s narrative follows a parallel narrative, one which follows Oberlus and the other which follow Carmen. And once these characters intersect their narratives become one. And though there are a few lulls along the way, the narrative for the most part moves along at a good pace.
When it comes to how one man can keep several men from overpowering him and ending his reign of terror. One need not look further then the way Oberlus is treated at the beginning of the film. He is simply using the same methods that were used on him to maintain his power over his slaves.
Performance wise outside of this film’s two leads Everett McGill (Dune, ‘Twin Peaks’) in the role of Oberlus and Maru Valdivielso in the role of Carmen, none of the other cast leave any lasting impression. Of course the cast does feature several recognizable faces like Jack Taylor (Succubus, Female Vampire), Fabio Testi (The Heroin Busters, The Big Racket) and Michael Madsen (Kill Bill Vol. 2).
From a production stand point the visuals are first rate and the film takes full advantage of Carney Islands’ which served as the main location for the majority of the film. And those looking for action should look elsewhere as the action is limited to one sequence which involves Oberlus fighting his former tormentor Gamboa to the death. Ultimately Iguana is uneven melodrama that never fully realizes its interesting premise.
Iguana comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Though this transfer is listed as director’s approved and newly remastered there are a few areas where things come up short. The good details generally look crisp, colors and flesh tones look accurate. The bad, when it comes to black levels there is an inconsistency and at best they are serviceable. Also this release like so many Italian film’s making their way to Blu-Ray has that odd grain structure and it looks like to combat this that DNR has been applied that varies in degree throughout.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD stereo English and Castilian. Dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. Range wise things they are best describe as adequate.
Additional information about this film’s soundtrack. This film is presented in dual language were the Carmen character speaks Castilian up until the moment when she becomes Oberlus’s slave and when her father comes looking for her these moments are in Castilian. These moments in Castilian is subtitled in English. The rest of the film is presented in English.
Extras include a trailer for the film (2 minutes 2 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) and an interview with Monte Hellman moderated by Fangoria’s Chris Alexander (20 minutes 25 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) who discusses how he got involved in the film and how he originally tried to turn down the project, rewriting the screenplay, the cast, working with producer Franco Di Nunzio, challenges that arose during filming, critical response to the film and his overall thoughts on the final film. Rounding out the extras is a twelve page booklet with a text based interview with Monte Hellman also moderated by Chris Alexander, a brief essay about Monte Hellman written by Chris Alexander and Monte Hellman’s filmography. Content wise this text based interview covers things that are all covered in the video interview extra.
This has been a film that since its completion has been hard to see and more importantly in its full length version. This release tries to rectify this by finally giving those who have always wanted to see this film is full uncut version and to top things off an informative interview with Monte Hellman. Unfortunately somewhere along the way something went awry and what should have been a first rate release ends ups a release that has lost some of its luster due to issues related to authoring of this disc, most notably its transfer. Overall Iguana gets a serviceable audio / video presentation from Raro Video USA.
Note: This film is also being released by Raro Video USA on DVD.