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Unearthed Films Sets No Escape Free on Blu-ray

Feature Presentations: Episode 46

Welcome to my column dedicated to the appreciation of physical media supplements called: Feature Presentations. The goal of this column is not to say whether a film is good or bad and worth picking up or not—I would like to highlight the discs that go the extra mile and provide film fans with enough tasty tidbits to satisfy even the hungriest of cinephiles. With all that out of the way, today’s article will focus on No Escape from Unearthed Films.The Blu-ray cover for No Escape

As a disclaimer of transparency, I was provided a review copy of No Escape for this episode of Feature Presentations. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Certain films come with special meanings for all of us. I recall seeing trailers for No Escape in the early months of 1994. As a teenager, the idea of Ray Liotta battle tribes Lord of the Flies-like, complete with explosions and battle scenes, spoke to me. I wasn’t old enough to get into such an R-rated film, but when the movie hit video shelves, I was ready to check it out. But, like life, things don’t happen how you expect, and it took me many more years before I saw No Escape.

I finally got a chance to check it out, and while not as epic as my then-teenage-addled brain made it out to be, it wasn’t half bad either. You get a batch of top-tier character actors taking source material you’ve seen before and elevating as only such a talented cast can do. Warring factions of criminals are left to rot on a maximum security island. Liotta’s John Robbins takes shelter with the “Insiders,” a law-abiding community, as opposed to the lawless group, the “Outsiders.”

You’ve seen the movie before, but the film is replete with talent. Director Martin Campbell and producer Gale Anne Hurd help guide the familiar source material and make what should be forgettable into an enjoyable watch that is better than one might expect.

Unearthed Films has taken No Escape and given the film a respectable Blu-ray release. The disc comes with a slipcover that features the original theatrical artwork.

The first feature is “Welcome to the Future: The Sci-Fi Worlds of Gale Anne Hurd.” Hurd discusses her life and career—discussing her fascination with film and the science fiction genre. “Welcome to the Future” is an audio-only feature with Hurd’s comments overlaid on the feature films discussed. Anyone who has listened to Hurd talk, whether in interviews or audio commentaries, knows that she is knowledgeable and makes for a compelling listen.Marek stands with his arm around Robbins.

Tracing her career from her early work with Roger Corman‘s pictures, Hurd briefly touches on her job duties on projects leading up to 1994’s No Escape. Hurd then recalls production details about how No Escape came to be. Her discussion includes how she can upon the source material, changing the film’s location from Europe to Australia, and her thoughts about the overall film shoot. This featurette from Ballyhoo Films is a well-made and invaluable slice of supplemental material for fans of No Escape and Gale Anne Hurd.

The next feature, “Survival of the Fittest: Directing No Escape,” is a discussion with director Martin Campbell. “Survival of the Fittest” plays out similarly to “Welcome to the Future,” with Campbell’s audio-only comments posted over film clips. Campbell runs through the basics of the film’s production with a cheerful tone. He recounts shooting in Australia, the change of the film’s climax, and addresses accusations of No Escape as “too violent.” “Survival of the Fittest is another tight and detailed feature courtesy of Ballyhoo Films.

“Penal Colony: Writing No Escape” is a featurette with writer Joel Gross. The last of the disc’s interviews, “Penal Colony,” has the same structure as the prior features, with Gross’ thoughts playing over clips from the film. Gross discusses meeting Gale Anne Hurd, how he adapts scripts from other source materials, and his thoughts on the finished product. “Penal Colony” is another solid bit of supplemental material courtesy of Ballyhoo Films, though it appears there’s more to the film’s writing than Gross states. At the end, he talks about writing two drafts, then seeing the finished product—not entirely resembling what he wrote. Maybe I’m reading a bit too much into it.

Unearthed Films also includes an alternate introduction to No Escape, using the title, Escape from Absolom. The only thing alternate on this feature is the title. Everything else about the opening plays identical to the finished film.

Next on the disc is a featurette titled, “The Making of Escape from Absolom.” What you get here is a promotional piece shot during the film’s production. Mixed in with footage from the finished product are behind-the-scenes shots and on-camera interviews including: stars Ray Liotta, Stuart Wilson, and Lance Henriksen, plus Gale Anne Hurd and Martin Campbell, among others. Even though this is a marketing piece, there’s a hearty dose of interesting tidbits dispensed, plus it’s welcome to see and hear from many associated with No Escape.

Unearthed Films also includes the original Electronic Press Kit for No Escape. As with most of EPKs, they are fluff pieces and are there to sell the film. Most of the behind-the-scenes material on the EPK is on “The Making of Escape from Absolom.” There’s not much detail here—the EPK is for completionists or those who can’t get enough of No Escape. While I may disparage the EPK, I’ll never not appreciate such an inclusion. As physical media becomes more niche, it’s vital to cull as much material as possible for a well-rounded film experience.

The disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer and four television spots plus trailers for Dark Side of the Moon, Nightwish, The Unnamable, and The Old Man Movie. Completing the Unearthed Films Blu-ray is a significant promotional gallery with shots from the finished film, behind-the-scenes images, and marketing materials.A hologram of The Warden looking down on people.

And there you have it! A better-than-expected film gets a better-than-expected Blu-ray release. Featuring three well-crafted features courtesy of Ballyhoo Films and an added batch of additional supplemental material, Unearthed Films has given love and care to No Escape. If you’re a fan of the flick or have been meaning to check it out, this is the best edition of the film currently available and worth adding to your collection.

Written by Robert Chipman

Robert is a lifelong cinephile and has had an admiration with film for as long as he can remember. When he's not checking out the most recent theatrical release, viewing a movie on one of a 1,000,000,000 streaming services or picking up the latest physical media disc, he's trying and failing to make it in Hollywood as a screenwriter. He also has a weird fascination with Stephen Dorff. Make of that what you will. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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