BAG BOY LOVER BOY (2014) Blu-ray
Director: Andres Torres
Severin Films

Hotdog vendor Albert really wants to create art in BAG BOY LOVER BOY, a 1970s New York grindhouse throwback on Blu-ray from Severin Films.

Albert (Jon Wachter) is a New York nobody working the night shift at a hotdog stand who is mocked by his customers and co-workers. Pining for starving artist Lexy (Adrienne Gori) who depends on him for free hot dogs, Albert is frustrated about her lack of interest in him in favor of other would-be artist types. When he becomes the unlikely "muse" of photographer Ivan (Theodore Bouloukos) who makes him the centerpiece of a series of fetishistic art photographs as the "demon butcher of meat street" terrorizing models, Albert insists that Ivan teach him how to be an artist. To get Albert off his back, Ivan fobs off some advice about "charming" models off the street and gifts him with what he describes as his own first Polaroid camera. While Ivan is off on a trip to Paris, Albert finds that his artist "ploy" seems to work on, but the model he takes back to his studio is actually a hooker and willing to accommodate the fetishes of an apparently moneyed client. When his model does not take kindly to his attempts to emulate the way Ivan badgers motivation into his models, he accidentally kills her. Frustrated by the blurry photographs he has taken, he learns from a camera shop person that the camera is fine but stillness is required to get sharp exposures. With that in mind, Albert develops a way of getting his models to stay still and be hands-on with posing them, as well as a way to dispose of them while upping the revenue of the hot dog stand with some "all American" meat.

The feature debut of short filmmaker Andres Torres, BAG BOY LOVER BOY maintains an intimate scope while shooting on the streets of New York and initially seems to be channeling 1980s Troma with Wachter's quirky performance but shapes up – once Bouloukos' Ivan has disappeared from the middle – into something in the vein of a homage to THE DRILLER KILLER – with a side of BUCKET OF BLOOD, perhaps – as Albert's artistic frustration is the cause of his violence rather than latent bloodlust. The Swedish-born Wachter's stilted way of speaking is used to suggest but never specify any sort of mental disability, and the characterization balances a slowness in understanding with an awareness that he is being used. The finale is let down by an ending that strives for both cynicism and black humor. Besides the Wachter's quirkiness and Bouloukos' Mephistophelean take, AFFLICTION's Kathy Biehl and Karah Serine also turn in amusing performances as Ivan's assistants who alternately baby and badger Albert as if not entirely sure how slow he is next to some of the more vapid models.

Having made the film festival rounds in 2014, BAG BOY LOVER BOY has been long in coming to Blu-ray, and Severin's 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC Blu-ray of this Arri Alexa-lensed high definition production looks quite crisp in close-ups while the grading seems to favor the distortions that the lighting of the different environments can have on skintones with Wachter's face sometimes looking paler and even sickly green or orange-yellow under street lamps. The LPCM 2.0 stereo soundtrack boasts clear dialogue, piercing shrieks, and a bassy presence in the scoring (particularly a dancing setpiece set to techno music that figures prominently into the film's trailer). Optional English SDH subtitles are provided and includes only one noticeable error ("subway" becomes "savoy" in the transcription).

The film is accompanied by an audio commentary with actor Bouloukos, director Torres, and editor Charlie Williams, a freewheeling discussion that covers Wachter as a person and his characterization, Bouloukos' inspiration for his character, the New York shooting, as well as their annoyance with actresses who knew what the script entailed but then objected to being objectified (which is lampooned in the film with the vegan model). Video extras consist of the film's trailer (2:34) and two short films directed by Jon Wachter: the one-joke "Got Light" (1:21) and "The Never-Starting Story" (1:15), the latter missing its audio and replaced with commentary by Wachter who discusses more about what did not work in the short than what ended up onscreen. (Eric Cotenas)