New On Blu: Class Warfare in Albert Pyun’s DANGEROUSLY CLOSE

Olive Films released Dangerously Close to Blu-ray and DVD on 24 Feb.

Here in the halls of Cinapse, we’re no strangers (or detractors) to low-budget maestro Albert Pyun. Ed Travis paid him tribute with a review of Heatseeker for The Action/Adventure Section in 2013, and I wrote a sprawling love letter to his debut The Sword & The Sorcerer for our Pick Of The Week last April. We love this man, and that’s even before considering his tireless can-do attitude in the face of difficult personal and professional hurdles.

In a career full of gangster tales, post-apocalyptic worlds, rock & roll nightmares, and even medieval fantasy, a story about high school student body conflict might seem a low-key downshift, but Dangerously Close delivers on a pretty interesting concept of student vigilantism.

If I’m watching a film about vigilantes, that would almost certainly mean I’m rooting for them. Dangerously Close subverts this audience expectation by stripping the romanticism of vigilantism and presenting it in a negative — and perhaps more realistic — light.

The vigilantism presented here isn’t depicted as fun, cathartic, or audience-indulgent, but maladjusted and sociopathic. A group of rich, preppy students form an elite club dedicated to “improving” their high school, calling themselves The Sentinels. Led by charismatic pretty boy Randy (John Stockwell), the group outwardly performs appreciable services to the school such as policing the grounds, attending student council, and cleaning up graffiti, but uses their positive cover to hide a far more sinister activity: identifying and terrorizing the “undesirables” among the student body. Anyone who doesn’t conform to their elitist white upper-class image is targeted.

Things take an even more serious turn when students start to go missing. The Sentinels always went too far with their cruelty and extremely mean-spirited bullying, but are they murderers?

Our protagonists are school newspaper editor Danny and his punker pal Krooger. The Sentinels try to pal up to Danny to win his support, but his friendship with “the Kroog”, a wild man on campus, creates a great deal of friction. He’s initially intrigued by their stated goal of helping the school, but begins to see through the cracks in their façade.

The story plays a bit like a “slobs versus snobs” but the high school setting makes the conflict even more surreal and vicious, especially when full depth of The Sentinels’ brutality begins to come to light.

I should also mention that the 80s soundtrack is pretty great, playing up Pyun’s obvious love for rock music which colors so many of his films. There’s a shootout set to Depeche Mode. Depeche Mode!

New not only to Blu-ray but to DVD as well, Dangerously Close is a solidly engrossing and thoughtful film from the early part of Albert Pyun’s career, and I’m super grateful to have caught it thanks to this new release.

The Package

I’ve come to understand and accept that Olive Films’ releases are going to be barebones affairs. Many of these catalog titles are obscure, left of center picks — the sort of films that barely squeak onto the format in the first place. That being understood, I’m glad they’re getting released. A dearth of features is better than no release at all, though I really would’ve loved to have heard Pyun’s commentary on this resurrected film.

Special Features and Extras

Theatrical Trailer (1:33)

A/V Out.

Get it at Amazon:
 [Blu-ray] | [DVD]

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