Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 8th, 2016
BluRay released: February 8th, 2016 (UK) / February 9th 2016 (USA)
Approximate running time: 91 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Coding: Region A,B / Region 1,2 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.95 (USA) / £15.99 (UK)
Sheba, Baby was co-written and directed by William Girdler whose other notable films include, Abby, Grizzly and The Day of the Animals. Frequent collaborators include, cinematographer William L. Asman who worked with Girdler seven times and co-screenwriter / producer David Sheldon who worked with Girdler six times. Sheldon’s other notable film’s include as a director Devil Times Five and as a producer Just Before Dawn.
Content wise, Sheba, Baby foreshadows Pam Grier’s next film Friday Foster with its opening set up where the protagonist is introduced as a private investigator. This new type of character is only sustained for about half of the film and then the film ventures into revenge territory it takes on a vibe that is closer to Coffy and Foxy Brown.
Narrative wise things are straight forward and there are no real surprises along the way. And when it comes to the characters which populate things film there are no grey areas. They are either good or they are bad!
From a production though this film does a superb job making sure it’s leading lady always looks fine! The overall quality of this film’s visuals is lacking the ‘oomph’ that Grier’s two previous films Coffy and Foxy Brown, had an abundance of. And when it comes to pacing things move along at briskly from one moment to the next.
And when this film is not busy making its leading lady look good, it does a very good job showing off her fighting abilities. With two scenes in particular that stand out. The first of these two moments is a scene where a group of heavily armed men show up to Sheba’s fathers office to intimidate him. And in the process one of them accidently kills her father. Then all hell breaks loose as she takes out of Magnum and returns the favor with a flurry of bullets. The other standout moment is the film’s finale where Sheba show’s up on a yacht in her wet suit to settle the score once and for all!
Performance wise, the cast are best described as adequate and outside of Pam Grier no performance, there is not another performance in this film that leaves any lasting impression. This is clearly a film tailored for its star and for the majority of the film it plays to its star’s strengths.
Sheba Baby comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Another excellent transfer from Arrow Video that has solid color saturation, accurate looking flesh tones, black levels and shadow details remain strong throughout and details look crisp. Also grain looks natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix English. There no issues with background noise or distortion. The audio is also in great shape as there are no issues with distortion or background. Dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and robust when it needs too. Also included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles.
Extras for this release include, an image gallery, a trailer for the film (1 minute 54 seconds), an interview with producer / screenwriter David Sheldon titled ‘Sheldon Baby’ (15 minutes 16 seconds), a featurette titled ‘Pam Grier: The AIP Years’ (11 minutes 54 seconds) and two audio commentaries, the first audio commentary with David Sheldon and moderator Nathanial Thompson and the second audio commentary with Patty Breen, webmaster of WilliamGirdler.com.
Topics discussed in the interview with David Sheldon include, how got into film industry, how he wrote a screenplay for Coffy that was completely rewritten by Jack Hill, AIP and working with Samuel Z. Arkoff, his contributions to the film Devil Times Five, the origins of Sheba, Baby and how it became a Pam Grier film, filmmaker William Girdler and their numerous collaborations are discussed in detail.
Topics discussed by film historian Chris Poggiali for the extra titled ‘Pam Grier: The AIP Years’ include, how Pam Grier got her big break as an actress, working with Roger Cormen, her leading lady status at AIP and how after Friday Foster she decided to move more towards main stream cinema.
Topics discussed in the first audio commentary with David Sheldon and Nathanial Thompson include, how he had unofficially worked with William Girdler on two films while still working for AIP, one of those films they worked on was Abby and why it was pulled from distribution by Warner Brothers, how the film Cleopatra Jones inadvertently lead to Coffy being made, Sheba, Baby was his first official movie where he was officially credited as producer, he discusses various projects like Rambo that he almost made with Girdler and the role of a film producer.
Topics discussed in the second audio commentary with Patty Breen include, she gives a brief overview of the website about she runs, William Girdler and information about the film’s he directed, locations featured in Sheba, Baby and other production related topics. It should be noted that she spends large portions of the commentary talking about what is occurring onscreen.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art option and a sixteen-page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled ‘Sheba, Baby’ written by Patty Breen and information about the transfer. Also included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall Sheba, Baby gets a first rate release from Arrow Video.