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The Ambulance (1990) - Blu-ray Review

Movie Review

5 beers“She’s down. Send in the ambulance.”

Writer/Director Larry Cohen, you know him as the dedicated B-Movie auteur of horror and such science fiction films like Q: The Winged Serpent and It’s Alive, can always be counted on to deliver the b-movie madness. He’s simply not afraid – like in The Stuff – to push the envelope and go there with the content and subtext of his flims

Cohen might be a master or the B-movie, but he has a slew of fine, fine movies that show intelligence in thought and in action that can’t be quieted, no matter how poor the reaction is from the peanut gallery. But, and this is just me talking here, there is one flick in which his inconsistencies as a director actually pay off the greatest. And those loveable hooligans over at Scream Factory have just issued it on Blu-ray with a fantastic looking transfer that will make you drool.

Ever heard of The Ambulance, Boils and Ghouls? It is fantastic. Starring Eric Roberts (in a role he was born to play), this horror comedy fires on all engines and sounds the loudest alarm imagined as it comes barreling down the street. Simply put, there’s no stopping the thundering drive of this red rocket as it tells the story of spooky old hearse-turned-ambulance that has a mysterious green glow in the back of the ride. And it takes the people close to one comic book artist.

Without a doubt, though, it is with the release of The Ambulance in which everything comes together to deliver what I consider to be his masterpiece. The Ambulance likes its humor dark and, baby, you can paint it black all day everyday. Co-starring James Earl Jones, Janine Turner, Red Buttons, Eric Braeden as the Doctor, and Millenium’s Megan Gallagher, The Ambulance is a whole lot of fun to dive straight into and, if appearances are what they seem to be, it looks like this flick was a blast to make.

So Roberts, playing the Marvel comic book artist at the center of this whacked-out mystery, feels compelled to introduce himself to the gorgeous girl (Turner, star of Northern Exposure) he’s been seeing walking by on the street for the past couple of weeks. When he does, her health – she’s a diabetic – takes a turn for the worse and she collapses on the street. A mysterious figure signals for the ambulance – the strange one – to whisk her away.

It’s not a normal hospital that they are taking her to, though. No, this place is much more demented and dangerous.

And Roberts, already affected by their brief and super flirty conversation, is going to find out where she went. Except no hospital has her records and no hospital knows of this mysterious-looking hearse. So where is she? Featuring Stan Lee in his first film role, Cohen’s film is both funny and twisted. It’s unexpected in its development and remains, to this day, one of the most energetic films – with its staccato-like zingers and deliveries – to never cross into absolute mania. It’s just a lot of fun and, in low budget flicks, that makes up for a lot of weaker aspects.

The Ambulance is balls-to-the-wall fun. The cast is superb, striking the right tone to the madness time and time again. Even James Earl Jones kills it with strong comedic touches and Red Buttons? Please. He’s perfect. Just like this movie and its soundtrack by Jay Chattaway.

Vehicles of mercy become meat grinders in cult filmmaker Larry Cohen’s superb testament to terror, The Ambulance. It is now available on blu-ray thanks to Scream Factory.



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Film Details

The Ambulance (1990) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime: 96 mins
Director: Larry Cohen
Writer: Larry Cohen
Cast: Eric Roberts, James Earl Jones, Megan Gallagher
Genre: Horror | Action | Comedy
Tagline: You'll be in perfect health before you die.
Memorable Movie Quote: "How many patients have you killed today, Nurse Feinstein?"
Theatrical Distributor: Triumph Films
Official Site: Release Date: March 31, 1990
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
March 13, 2018
Synopsis: One minute Josh Baker (Eric Roberts, The Human Centipede III: Final Sequence, The Dark Knight) is meeting the woman of his dreams. The next, he's watching her whisked away by a mysterious ambulance that never arrives at the local hospital. Doubted by the police, Josh is forced to carry on a one-man crusade that leads to a discovery more frightening than his worst fears.



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The Ambulance (1990) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray - March 13, 2018
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles: English
Language: English
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Scream Factory’s 2K transfer from the film’s vaulted interpositive film element is a wonder of expressive mystery and more. Shadows are crisp and detailed and the whole thing operates as if a new movie in and of itself. That’s how impactful the 1080p transfer is. With an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and Dolby Digital Stereo track, the film is treated nicely by Scream’s efforts. Nicely saturated, there are no dents in its shiny armor. Colors are strong throughout and are particularly memorable with their inclusion of details and strong edges. Black levels are clearly defined, too.  



Larry Cohen himself provides a wonderfully articulate feature length commentary for the release of this cult classic. Fans will not be disappointed.

Special Features:

Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot. We get a still gallery and a theatrical trailer and that’s it. Bummer, I know.

Still Gallery
Theatrical Trailer



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The Ambulance (1990) - Blu-ray Review