Drawing Flies: Anniversary Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
September 29, 2013 by Dennis Amith
“Drawing Flies” is a fun mid-90’s stoner film. It may not be the best View Askew film but for longtime fans who have waited and have wanted to see this film, now they finally have access to it thanks to this 2013 Kino Lorber Blu-ray release.
TITLE: Drawing Flies: Anniversary Edition
FILM RELEASE: 1996
DURATION: 76 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:66:1, DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 Monaural, B&W
COMPANY: Kino Classics/Kino Lorber
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Directed by Matthew Gissing, Malcolm Ingram
Written by Matthew Gissing, Malcolm Ingram
Produced by Matthew Gissing, Malcolm Ingram, Jonah Loeb, Marie Loeb
Executive Producer: Scott Mosier, KEvin SMith
Associate Producer: Mark Cohen
Line Producer: Lisa N. Cohen
Cinematography by Brian Pearson
Edited by Matthew Gissing, Malcolm Ingram
Art Direction by Karen Brown, Sonia Levesque
Costume Design by Donna Wong
Jason Lee as Donner
Renee Humphrey as Meg
Jason Mews as Az
Carmen Llywelyn as Cassidy
Martin Brooks as Jake
Joey Lauren Adams as Hippy Chick
An essential film for fans of the “View Askewniverse”, Drawing Flies stars Jason Lee (“My Name is Earl”), Jason Mewes (Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back), Renee Humphrey (French Kiss), Martin Brooks (Tail Lights Fade) and Carmen Lee (Chasing Amy) and includes appearances by Scott Mosier (Clerks), Ethan Suplee (“My Name is Earl”), Joey Lauren Adams (Chasing Amy) and a cameo by the man himself as Silent Bob (making it an unofficial Mallrats reunion).
Drawing Flies tells the story of Donner (Lee), the unofficial leader of a troupe of slackers who’ve just been kicked off of welfare. Donner convinces his friends that what they need to turn their lives around is a camping trip; but as they go deeper and deeper into the woods, Donner’s behavior grows increasingly erratic and unbeknownst to the group, finally reveals that “visions” have put him on a quest to find Bigfoot.
Drawing Flies, the quirky, indie comedy that Executive Producer Kevin Smith (Red State, Clerks) refers to as “the bridge flick between Mallrats and Chasing Amy”, is the debut film from directors Malcolm Ingram and Matt Gissing. Often called “the lost View Askew films” by fans, this film has finally been found and restored in a beautiful, new, widescreen high definition transfer (for the first time) and restoration from original film elements.
In 1995, right after Kevin Smith was finishing up his film “Mallrats”, he would meet Film threat journalist Malcolm Ingram (of “Film Threat”) and his friend Matthew Gissing.
Not so long after, Kevin Smith’s View Askew Productions would give a small budget for the two to make their own film in Canada and “Drawing Flies”, a title that came from the Soundgarden song “Badmotorfinger” was created.
The View Askew film that would feature Jason Lee (“Chasing Amy”, “My Name is Earl”), Jason Mewes (“Clerks”, “Mallrats”, “Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back”), Martin Brooks, Renee Humphrey (“French Kiss”, The Sex Monster”), Carmen Llywelyn (“Never Been Kissed”, “Chasing Amy”) and cameo appearances by Kevin Smith and Joey Lauren Adams.
The film was released on DVD in 2002 but only for a short while and not long after, “Drawing Flies” became a difficult film to find for over a decade.
And now Kino Lorber via Horizon Movies will be releasing “Drawing Flies: Anniversary Edition” on Blu-ray in Sept. 2013.
“Drawing Flies” revolves around five friends trying who try to earn welfare: Donner (portrayed by Jason Lee), Az (portrayed by Jason Mewes), Cassidy (as portrayed by Carmen Lee) and Jake (portrayed by Martin Brooks).
Unfortunately, all but Jake’s welfare were denied and everyone is broke. As everyone has a long night of partying, Cassidy uses Jake’s money to purchase some weed. At first the group decides to buy a few kegs to have a party and make some money but the kegs are stolen.
Meanwhile, as Donner is drugged out and is sitting down while watching television, he starts to have hallucinations of seeing a sasquatch.
The next day, he tells his friend that they should all go camping because his family own a cabin in the wilderness and the experience may turn their fortunes around.
But as the group head farther into the forest, they start to realize that Donner is acting erratic. Meanwhile, a camping trip meant to be a bonding moment among friends, may end up tearing them apart.
“Drawing Flies: Anniversary Edition” is presented in 1080p High Definition black and white. The film does have its share of white specks, scratches and some shimmering but considering this was a low-budget film, the film was remastered and contrast levels are good.
Considering the film was shot on 16 mm thus the low-budget film tends to have quite a bit more grain. But I’m not going to be too picky with overall picture quality, “Drawing Flies” is a low-budget film and I’m sure this is probably the best that this film will ever look.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Drawing Flies: Anniversary Edition” is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0. The monaural track featuring dialogue and music is clear and I heard no issues with the audio, no pops, crackles or hiss. But audio is OK, considering its a low-budget film.
There are no subtitles included with this release.
“Drawing Flies: Anniversary Edition” comes with the following special features:
- Directors Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Malcolm Ingram and Matthew Gissing.
- Cast Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with Matthew Gissing, Malcolm Ingram, Renee Humphrey, Carmen Llywelyn, Jason Mewes, Scott Mosier, Jason Lee and Kevin Smith.
- Deleted Scenes and Outtakes – (11:01) Deleted scenes and outtakes from “Drawing Flies”.
- Stills Gallery – Using your remote (or keyboard), you can cycle through various stills.
- Original 2002 Introduction with Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier – (4:32) The original 2002 DVD introduction with Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier.
- New Introduction with Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes – (3:13) New 2013 introduction for “Drawing Flies: Anniversary Edition”.
- New Interview with Jason Mewes – (11:28) Jason Mewes talks about being cast for the film and how he was messed up at the time.
- New interview with Matt Gissing – (2:44) Matt Gissing talks about the remastering of the film and finally finding an audience.
- Trailer for Malcolm Ingram’s Bear Nation – (2:11)
- Groovy Cartoon Movie Trailer – (2:19) Trailer featuring Jay and Silent Bob.
- Easter Egg – (1:28) Hit up on the bonus features and you will see a yellow mark showup and Kevin Smith will show up and answer questions.
Back in the ’90s, I have to admit that I was a fan of the Jay and Silent Bob films.
Having watched the majority of the films, there was one that I found nearly impossible and that was “Drawing Flies”. A film that was shown at smaller film festivals and a DVD that seemed nearly impossible to get a hold of, finally after all these years, Kino Lorber via Horizon Films will be releasing the film on Blu-ray.
First, it’s important to note that “Drawing Flies” is directed by Malcolm Ingram and Matthew Gissing. These two directed the film and features some of the cast that were featured on “Mallrats”.
Second, I have known fans to debate if this film should be considered an official Jay and Silent Bob film. While Silent Bob does make an appearance with the trenchcoat, he is known as John. While, Jason Mewes does not play Jay but the character named Az.
But the film does show importance in the Jay and Silent Bob universe. Jason Lee who stars in the film gave Kevin Smith the idea to use Jason for his film “Chasing Amy” and for Jason Mewes, who was working as a roofer, gave him the idea that perhaps acting is a way to make money. And eventually he pursued the career, but also at the time got caught up in the lifestyle.
But this is a Ingram and Gissing film and it’s an entertaining low-budget stoner film. According to Kevin Smith, “Drawing Flies” was made on a budget of $45,000 and watching the film, it may not be the best edited film nor the best acted film, but as a low budget film, it is quite inspiring to see how far they were able to take the film.
The film is rather surreal and crazy, a man who takes his friends to the forest for camping but he has his own ulterior motives of why he wants to go to the area. Meanwhile, while spending time together away from their home and instead of drinking or doing drugs, the group of friends start to see sides of each other that is not really all that great and it starts to test their patience.
Suffice to say, the group of friends will never be the same again after this camping trip!
While Jason Lee delivered a good performance in the film and some scenes were rather interesting than others, part of the problem with the film are certain situations that probably don’t make sense and the acting was rather spotty at times.
Donner and Cassidy seem like a couple, but she appears to be messing with Az. Meg is with Jake but some dialogue alludes to the fact that also may like Donner. And no one knows why Az and Jake hang out in the same circle as they don’t get a long at all.
And after walking hours in the forest and no one really having any experience in the wilderness, personally I thought that once they start separating from each other, they would get lost or even die. But obviously I was thinking way too much during my viewing of the film and you really shouldn’t be thinking too hard.
But as Scott Mosier joked about this film, it’s the Canadian “Dazed & Confused”! Others consider it as the missing Jay and Silent Bob film, while others look at it as a low-fi mid-90’s stoner film.
But I did enjoy the film and enjoyed the Blu-ray release because of the amount of features included. Director and cast commentary plus new interviews for this 2013 release.
As mentioned earlier, I’m not going to be too picky of this indie film as it was shot with on a very low-budget using a 16 mm camera. Picture quality and audio is not going to be the greatest but this is probably the best the film will ever look.
Overall, “Drawing Flies” is a fun mid-90’s stoner film. It may not be the best View Askew film but for longtime fans who have waited and have wanted to see this film, now they finally have access to it thanks to this 2013 Blu-ray release.
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