One of my favorite movies of all time is Rocky Horror Picture Show. My favorite character of that movie is Dr. Frank-N-Furter who is just a sweet transvestite transexual from Transylvania. So when I got Priscilla Queen of the Desert to review which had two cross dressers and a trannie and a grand helping of humor to boot, I was hoping it would become one of my favorite movies as well. The story behind Priscilla is that Tick Belrose (drag name: Mitzi) …(played by Hugo Weaving) got a contract to perform a show way out in the Australian desert. He convinces an old trannie named Bernadette (male name: Ralph) (played by Terence Stamp) and a rather flamboyant newcomer named Adam (drag name: Felicia) (played by Guy Pearce) to come along to be part of the act. From there, they take a faboulous journey across the desert with many hilarious stops along the way.
This is an outrageous comedy that largely works due to the extremely strong and different three leads. The interesting thing about the three leads is that they are totally straight in real life but yet have the drag queen persona so dead on. But that is the constant stereotype, that this is a gay film. Sure there is a trannie & two drag queens with enough dresses and makeup to get Kelly Ripa to blush but in by no means is it a gay movie. It’s a story about a journey across the desert with three guys regardless of occupation who overcome obstacles and reach their destination to perform their little heart away. The drag just adds that layer of fun and turns it into the cult classic it is. The movie is heartfelt and when you aren’t laughing you might just shed a tear. Oh stop it you old queen; you’re going to ruin your mascara. It’s a delight and a fun torture to watch them work thru various performances to disco hits and cabaret tunes. It’s like a musical but also a drama and a comedy which is why this works so well.
The film is in 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (the box is a little misleading since the previous release was non-anamorphic), and this is the best Priscilla has ever looked. Unfortunately, despite the restoration the film has many blotches and imperfections. The color is vibrant but that’s more the costumes than the film used. However, keep in mind that it is a nearly 15 year old film on a 3 million austrailian dollar budget. Not to mention a lot of it was shot on that old pink bus.
This package has a host of audio options; 5.1 English DTS, 5.1 English Dolby Digital(listed on the box but not the slipcover), and 2.0 in French. The DTS soundtrack is the best as expected, however don’t expect wonders from the track except during the musical sequences. The dialog is clear for the most part but suffers for the same reasons as the video does. Great job on the DTS track but you can only do so much. Subtitles are also provided in English and Spanish and thankfully so as the accents might be hard for some.
Audio Commentary by Stephan Elliott (director), – A pretty decent commentary to start out the package. The director goes into great depth to explain the film and every scene. There is some dead space but for the most part it is an excellent look at the film and its history.
Birth of a Queen 29:18 – A wonderful 30 minutes of the history and information about the cult classic that is Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Goes deep into the casting and costume design of the movie. Many interesting tidbits here (some rehashed on the commentary as well).
Deleted Scenes (4) – Four deleted scenes; good stuff here. All of these scenes would have worked on some level if they were reinserted. (and might have explained a couple of odds and ends too).
Tidbits from the Set – A cute little piece where you click on a part of jewerly and get 30 seconds to a minute of an interview or quip from one of the members on the set.
The Bus from Blooperville 9:35 – A good helping of bloopers for everybody to enjoy. It’s interesting to see some of the Australian actors and how they react differently to some scenes.
Frocks, Frills, Fotos – Sixty seven photos of the production from behind the scenes to on camera.
Original Theatrical Trailer & Original Theatrical Teaser Trailer – Nice to see these included especially the teaser where it compares them to some kinda alien from another planet. Bizarre.
Automatic Trailers – Girls will be Girls
Priscilla Queen of the Desert is one of those films where you forget yourself. You become lost in the movie and just try to enjoy it for the 100 minutes that you have to watch it. Even the closing credits are a joy to watch. Almost as much fun as watching a certain frock on a rock. The costumes are horrendously gorgeous and the musical numbers are an absolute riot. Each lead character has strength but yet pulls the movie in an entirely seperate and different direction. The dvd is for the most part strong boasting the best picture and sound to date. The extras are top notch and you simply won’t find more information about the movie unless you were on the set. This is a cult classic and should be enjoyed by all audiences who aren’t afraid to think a little bit outside the box. So let’s take a desert holiday and pack the drag away. You take the lunch and tea and I’ll take the ecstasy. Bugger off you silly queer, I’m getting out of here!
Special Features List
- Commentary by Stephan Elliott (Director)
- Birth of a Queen
- Deleted Scenes (4)
- Tidbits from the Set
- The Bus from Blooperville
- Frocks, Frills, Fotos
- Theatrical Trailer
- Theatrical Teaser Trailer
- Automatic Trailer (1)