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King Cobra (Blu-ray Review)

King-CobraBased on a stranger-than-fiction true story, King Cobra is a deliciously dark, twisted plunge into the behind-the-scenes world of the pornography industry. Starring Christian Slater, James Franco, Molly Ringwald and Alicia Silverstone and Molly Ringwald, King Cobra is part delirious tabloid-shocker satire, part American tragedy. Making its Blu-ray and DVD debut on February 14th, 2017 from Shout! Factory, in conjunction with IFC Midnight, King Cobra also includes an audio commentary with director and co-writer Justin Kelly, outtakes from the film and the theatrical trailer as bonus features. Fans of this debauched thriller can pre-order their copies now at ShoutFactory.com.

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Film 

It’s 2006, YouTube is in its infancy, and internet porn is still behind a paywall. Taking the stage name Brent Corrigan, a fresh-faced, wannabe adult video performer is molded into a star by Stephen, a closeted gay porn mogul who runs the skin flick empire Cobra Video from his seemingly ordinary suburban home. But as Brent’s rise and demands for more money put him at odds with his boss, he also attracts the attention of a rival producer and his unstable lover who will stop at nothing to squash Cobra Video and steal its number one star.

Well, I had no idea what this movie was about going in.  And what a surprise I had waiting for me.  Though, I think its a story on a topic that really hasn’t had its lid fully opened.  Internet porn.  But, its of two varieties.  One being the independent scene of people jumpstarting their own personal websites which sort of took the mid-2000s by storm and really is the viral industry porn has today.  The other corner they are are tackling is the gay male side of things.  No, this isn’t probably the first movie to cover that, but its probably one of the first mainstream ones.

Making it mainstream is that its been brought to you by James Franco.  Franco also has tried to tackle some homosexual topics in his experiment film that explored the possibilities of the deleted material from William Friedkin’s Cruising.  Franco is all in here, and I’m a fan of him, but some of his acting choices feel a bit too extreme, cartoonish and almost mustache twirling at times.  With how serious and dark the film turns in its final 20 minutes, it just didn’t feel right.

Christian Slater actually puts in some of his best work in the film.  He’s a whole range of things with his character and feels pretty genuine.  The film makes a choice to make you hesitant to trust him but then ultimately saddened with his fate.  Making me feel old here was Alicia Silverstone (Who still looks great, btw), who plays the lead character’s (who is 18) mother.  Just man, how the times have just flown on by, eh?

King Cobra has an intriguing and shocking premise and story to tell itself from, but it has a hard time keeping a straight face or holding onto a tone.  This film involves a some really damaging and hurtful relationships as well as a very dark incident, but also comes across as a bit goofy, silly a little too cartoony at times.  In the end, though, the subject matter on a topic that nobody is doing anything on and seeing a particular story based on it makes for a solid one-time entertainer.  A documentary on the actually happenings also would probably prove even more engaging.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: King Cobra makes its Blu-ray debut with an okay, kinda cleanly above average transfer.  It should be a bit better than this, but that’s nit picking as its more than fine.  The image is pretty clean and sharp.  Details run good with a full image that looks quite solid.  Those watching will get a nice clear and well rounded picture.

Depth:  Good depth work here.  Characters move naturally and in a cinematic sense with no real blurring or anything.  Some good spacing and the dimensional work is especially fine looking in the movie’s final scene.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and very rich.  No crushing witnessed during this viewing.  Details still come readily available during dark scenes or on dark hair, clothing or surfaces.  Some do get lost in the fold though.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are rather natural even though there “feels” like there are some flashy things going on.  Sports cars and website designs pop pretty good here.  Our lead’s red ball cap stands out well, too.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and keep a consistency throughout the film.  Skin is really solid and fully looking in stature.  Details are strong in closeups and medium shots.  Wrinkles, make-up, lip texture, stubble and the like all look quite clear.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English, Spanish

Dynamics:  King Cobra has a very crisp and neat (In terms of cleanliness) sounding track.  Most of the audio is vocals, music and humping.  There aren’t any real effects thrown into the mix, so its pretty much based on drama standards.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  The subwoofer primarily makes its impact for the score and sometimes a car engine or door shutting.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Rear speakers spark ambiance and also will have a moment or two here and there.  Most of the action is in the front which is accurately depicted.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals are crisp, smooth and catch most all diction from the characters.

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Extras 

King Cobra comes with a DVD edition and a reversible cover.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director/Co-Writer Justin Kelly

Outtakes (HD, 7:42) 

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:13)

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Summary 

King Cobra makes its Blu-ray debut from Shout! Factory & IFC Midnight.  Oddly enough it does not carry the Scream Factory branding on it.  Nevertheless, you get the film with a solid transfer and good audio.  Extras prove somewhat good with a commentary pretty much having to suffice.  Those curious should probably look into renting before making the purchase.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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