Tusk (Blu-ray Review)

TuskTusk is one of those rare gems where if you never heard of it before and accidentally stumble upon the film’s trailer you secretly say to yourself I just got to see it, if for nothing else, the shock value.  However, I know what you’re all thinking.  Is it worth 90-minutes of your life?  To some people that’s quite an investment in time.  The parents of the world will understand what I’m rambling on about and questioning here, but fret not!  The answer to my question is exactly what we are all gathered here to talk about today.  Seeing Tusk on Blu-ray was the first time I viewed the film so down below you’re going to learn everything you’v ever waned to know about the movie and its production history, plus my valuable insights on the topic too.



Tusk was written and directed by Kevin Smith.  It’s actually based on a story from his SModcast podcast episode 259, The Walrus and the Carpenter.  In the episode, Smith with his longtime friend and producer Scott Mosier discussed an article featuring a Gumtree.com ad where a homeowner was offering a living situation free of charge, if the lodger agrees to dress up as a walrus.  Wow!  Now tell me, how could you not pass up an offer like that if you were homeless?

Needless to say, the podcast discussion spiraled out of control from there, resulting in almost an hour of the episode being spent on reconstructing and telling a hypothetical story based on that very Gumtree ad.  Don’t fret because you’ll get to hear some of that precious audio here on this Blu-ray release, but I digress.  Smith then told his Twitter followers to tweet #WalrusYes if they wanted to see their hypothetical podcast ideas they just thrown around turned into a film, or #WalrusNo if they did not.  Obviously, we know what vote won here.

It was later found out that the post on Gumtree was in fact a prank post by noted Brighton poet and prankster by the name of Chris Parkinson.   Smith eventually hired Parkinson as an associate producer for Tusk.  Wow again!  How cool is that?  I need to think of a creative idea for one of Smith’s next podcasts so I can get my proverbial foot in the door, but I digress again.  Meanwhile,  Smith wrote an 80-page screenplay while waiting for Bob Weinstein’s  approval of his Clerks III submission package, which we’ll talk about some more down below in the Extras section, I promise.

Tusk is truly notable because it is Smith’s first major wide release since Cop Out, and we’ll discuss more of that in the Extras down below too.  This modern day monster movie stars Michael Parks (Kill Bill: Vol. 1Kill Bill: Vol. 2, Django Unchained), Justin Long and his mustache (Live Free or Die Hard, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story), Haley Joel Osment (Amazon’s “Alpha House,” The Sixth Sense) and Genesis Rodriguez (Identity Thief, Hours).  Tusk premiered to the world at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival as a part of the Midnight Madness program and was released theatrically by A24.  It will see its release on home video, the reason we are here, on December 30th.  So the only question we have not covered yet is what the hell is Tusk all about?  Now that my friends is a loaded one!

Our story introduces us two practical jokester podcasters, Wallace Bryton (Long) and Teddy Craft (Osment).  They have made their fortune as kind of shock jobs in the podcasting world poking fun at the unfortunate, bizarre and weird tales of others.  Bryton, while on assignment in Canada, looks for a juicy story because the interview he had lined up err…let’s say got cancelled.  Bryton and his wise-cracking mustache is plunged into an unpredictable, unsettling and absurd nightmare after he travels to the backwoods of Canada to meet an eccentric recluse who goes by the name of Howard Howe (Parks), who promises anyone that may stay with him a lifetime of incredible adventures.  There’s no way Bryton could ever pass up that opportunity.  However, once there and swapping stories with this old man, he discovers his disturbing fondness for walruses, but unfortunately it’s too late.  Bryton has a destiny he cannot seemingly escape.

I guess I left out the part about superstar Johnny Depp being in Tusk, didn’t I?  Well, he was!  While Justin Long’s performance was nothing short of outstanding as that of Michael Parks too, Depp took this film over in Act 2 and spun it out of control with his over-the-top superior, commanding performance as Guy Lapointe, an alcoholic Quebec ex-cop who has been hunting Howe for years.  When Depp enters the picture here the dialogue turns into something of a Tarantino film.  I just can’t say enough good things about it really.  Just when you’ve lost hope that this film can never really amount to anything more than a clone of The Human Centipede, Depp delivers and propels this movie forward full steam ahead.

So I mentioned the Centipede movie just now because in all honesty, up until Depp’s entrance, that’s what Tusk felt like tonally, visually and in the direction it was headed.  However, unlike The Human Centipede, Tusk has something all together better, a cohesive story of how we get from point A to point B, most notably a resolution that’s wrapped up rather nicely if you ask me, unlike that of the ending of Centipede where the cops just show up out of nowhere and there’s a shootout, cut-to-black.  However, that’s not to say Tusk is for everyone, quite the contrary.  Sure it’s witty and I hesitate to use the word charming at times, but its subject matter is gross at times and downright lunatic too.  The lunacy and implausibility of a human turned into a walrus, and what that ultimately looks like, will probably turn a lot of viewers off.  I was on the fence a lot about it too throughout the film so take that for what it’s worth.  However again, make NO mistake, the secret sauce and strength of Tusk is all in the performances, and of course Justin’s mustache too.



I know you’re not going to believe this given the film’s lunacy and subject matter, but things look amazing here in the video presentation of Tusk on Blu-ray.

  • Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Clarity/Detail:  Things are outstandingly clear, crisp and sharp here throughout.  This film seems to be all about facial hair and rest assured there’s plenty of it and it all looks gorgeous here from Justin’s mustache to Park’s crazy do.  There’s fine detail everywhere from the veins in the stitched up walrus suit to the leather in Bryton’s jacket, things never disappoint here.  The outside shots are absolutely surreal too.  They made me feel like I was back in Ohio on a sunny, crisp autumn day.
  • Depth:  The onscreen characters all have a three-dimensional pop throughout and therefore the contrast between them and their surrounding environment gives things a nice look in the spacial dimensionality department no matter where we’re at, even in tight rooms.
  • Black Levels:  The black levels are all deep and inky throughout no matter what environment or “lair” we are in.
  • Color Reproduction:  Like everything else I mentioned up above here, things are perfectly balanced an din check here.  The colors are bright, distinct and authentic.  Things pop when we’re in the boys’ podcast room and as I already mentioned, the outside scenes were crisp and lively as can be.
  • Flesh Tones:  The skin tones all looked natural, pleasing and authentic throughout.
  • Noise/Artifacts:  I could not find a thing to nitpick about here.  There’s not a single speck of dirt, debris or noise to be found anywhere in the print here.  Bravo!



Since the performances are paramount here it makes complete sense, at least to me, that the dialog levels be equally impressive too.  Rest assured, things sound spectacular here.

  • Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
  • Dynamics: Since this is not a robust action movie it makes sense that dialogue is given priority here, but make no mistake it’s the creepy ambience of the environments that are equally weighted here alongside the screams because after all it’s a horror film in the end, right?
  • Low Frequency Extension:  Although my subwoofer’s green light never turned off throughout, the LFE channel is primarily engaged to bring balance to the atmosphere here and is always ready for any moments necessary that convey heavy tension and terror.
  • Surround Sound Presentation:  The score in the rears here is the real show stealer here.  Sure there’s some action and ambient effects at play here, but it’s the creepy score that sucks you in here and completely immerses you.
  • Dialogue Reproduction:  The dialogue is given high priority here and I’m perfectly fine with that because it’s the performances that are bar none here throughout.  Every spoken word is loud, clear and intelligible.



The Tusk Blu-ray release includes deleted scenes, multiple “making of” featurettes, an excellent career retrospective featurette with Kevin Smith, an audio commentary with Kevin Smith plus the original podcast that inspired the film.  How cool is that?  However, let’s not stop there!  Let’s throw in one more extra fans of the film can rejoice about.  There’s a redemption code for an HD Digital Copy of the film that you can enjoy anywhere in your favorite UltraViolet app. However, the real star of this section is just the wealth of knowledge Smith shares with everyone about every facet of making this film and lessons learned from his 20-year career.  This is a wannabe filmmaker’s pot of gold.  I can’t say enough good things about this section.  I guess it just goes to show you don’t judge a book by it’s cover because there’s so much more underneath the hood here than what’s listed on the back of the box.  So without further ado let’s talk about all these extras now down below.

  • Deleted Scenes (HD) – There are two deleted scenes to be found here, “Halifax Explosion” (6:57) and “Duplessis Orphan” (5:22).  Kevin Smith personally introduces them both in great detail.  Honestly, I wish more Extras presentations on Blu-ray were like this.
  • Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Kevin Smith (HD) – This is what filmmaker’s dreams are made of.  Do I need to say more?  If you watched any of these extras I mention here as of yet, you’ll notice how verbose, but great Kevin Smith is at speaking so imagine spending the entire movie with him here.  I fricking love it!  It was also cool to know that it was Justin who recommended his character have a mustache.  Alright.  I’ll shut up.  You just have to listen to this track the second time around you see Tusk.
  • “20 Years to Tusk (HD, 24:27) – This featurette shows Kevin Smith talking about how with less money he can be more original.  He mentions how Clerks has financed his next 20 years of life.  He candidly talks about his career and how he faded from the limelight because he was no longer making interesting films, did not want to be mainstream and his 8-year podcast career.  He also chats about the infamous podcast that clicked for him as his moment of inspiration for Tusk and how it’s like Clerks and it’s a film no one would make except him.  He also constantly hints about Clerks III.  If you watch nothing else here in the Extras, make sure you check this one out at least.
  • “The Making of Tusk” Featurettes (HD) – Are you ready for this?  There’s a whole smorgasbord of featurettes to be found here that covers EVERY facet of the film’s production.  I honestly can’t believe the wealth here.  There’s no doubt here that a lot of fun was had making this film.  For your home viewing dissection purposes, they are as follows: “Main Story” (2:17), “Pre-Production” (2:57), “Director Down” (2:03), “Filming: Take 1” (5:28), “Filming: Take 2” (2:49), “Filming: Take 3” (3:30), “Filming: Take 4” (3:02), “Filming: Take 5” (4;19), “Filming: Take 6” (2:18), “Production Design” (3:02), “From Pod To Screen” (4:25), “Flying With Mewes” (3:52), “Meet The Crew” (4:51) and “Wallace the Walrus” (6:35).  My only nitpick here, if you can call it that, is I wish there was a Play All option here, but nevertheless these aforementioned featurettes are all film school baby.
  • SModcast #259: The Walrus and The Carpenter (29:55) – This is the infamous, much talked about podcast that inspired the film here.  FYI…this is an audio only extra.
  • Trailers (HD) – The following trailers can be found here on this Blu-ray release: Life After Beth, Under the Skin, The Rover and The Devil’s Hand.



Tusk on Blu-ray is one of those rare circumstances where sure the movie may not be an Oscar product, but the presentation and extras package are colossal and therefore the cumulative score (rounded up slightly) of 4.5 reflects this in my opinion.  I cannot say enough good things about this Blu-ray.  I’m not sure why the majority of moviegoers panned this, but hopefully they will give this one a second chance on Blu-ray and it will one day become one of those Kevin Smith “cult classics.”  I have a newfound respect for Kevin Smith after spending about three hours with him here in the Extras so I’m looking forward to seeing what his next projects accomplish.  Bring it on Kevin!  BTW Kevin…I need to get that ringtone!  So long story short, remember this kiddies, if you hated The Human Centipede, I doubt you’ll dig this, but if you’re fan of Smith or something different than the norm, sink your teeth into Tusk available on Blu-ray December 30th.  If nothing else, just think how cool you’ll be popping this one in after the stroke of midnight at your New Years Eve party.  Enjoy!


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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

1 Response to “Tusk (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    Everything about that “second act character” that is supposed to be a surprise is what made me really dislike this movie.