New on disc, “Buckaroo Banzai” and “Raiders!”
Long before the term multi-tasking truly entered the popular lexicon, Peter Weller, director W.D. Richter, and writer Earl Mac Rauch supplied a veritable dictionary definition with “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension” (1984). Arriving this week as a well-appointed Blu-ray reissue, the cult fave stars a pre-“RoboCop” Weller as the eponymous pulp hero, a renowned particle physicist who’s also a world-class neurosurgeon and a guitar-shredding rock star. Rushing from the operating room and assisting his medical colleague/band recruit New Jersey (Jeff Goldblum), Buckaroo hits the desert to field test a dimension-hopping rocket car, only to get tangled in an imminent alien invasion. (Now quick, let’s hear you repeat that back to us 10 times fast.) Lots of familiar faces here — Ellen Barkin, Christopher Lloyd, John Lithgow as comically Italiano mad scientist Emilio Lizardo — and many turn out for a satisfying new two-hour retrospective. None of the principals knew quite what to make of the anything-goes story they were telling, Lithgow and others admit — “and yet we were all very proud of the film,” he says with a laugh. And how’s this for trippy: Richter and producer Neil Canton note that an initial pick for Buckaroo was Tom Hanks, but execs rejected him as a TV actor, while another was Michael Keaton, whose reps balked. Funny thing is, their ultimate casting choice ended up being something of a renaissance man in his own right, garnering attention in recent years for his second career as an art history academic. It’s right there in the retrospective’s onscreen ID: Peter Weller, PhD. (Shout! Factory, $34.93)
RAIDERS! THE STORY OF THE GREATEST FAN FILM EVER MADE (2016)
OK, I’ll admit it: I’ve always considered it a loud and proud declaration of my Indiana Jones affinity that I keep a life-size Indy promotional standee next to the desk where I write this column. But I’ve got nothing on the subjects of this fanboy doc, who as kids growing up in the ’80s undertook a scene-by-scene re-creation of “Raiders,” then finally wrapped their homemade epic as middle-age adults. Seems that the exploding Nazi airplane sequence took a little longer than they expected. (Drafthouse Films, Blu-ray, $34.95)
BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE (2016)
Acclaimed comics scribe Alan Moore managed something incredible with his 1988 “Killing Joke” graphic novel, crafting a definitive portrait of the Joker decades after the character’s introduction. But while it’s intriguing to see the comic adapted as an R-rated animated feature, it also brings to mind the movie version of Moore’s Jack the Ripper study, “From Hell.” It’s one thing to read this sort of harrowing depravity on the page, and quite another to experience it onscreen. Mark Hamill gamely reprises his longtime voice-acting role as the Clown Prince of Crime — or not so clownish, as the case may be. (Warner, $19.98; Blu-ray, $24.98; available now)
Titles are in stores Tuesday unless specified. Tom Russo can be reached at email@example.com.