Blu-ray Shopping Bag: The Shadow -

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Blu-ray Shopping Bag: The Shadow

Everyone has their one!

By Robert T. Trate     February 25, 2014

The Shadow (1994)
© Scream Factory/ Universal Studios
 When Shout! Factory announced that they were going to release a Collector’s Edition of Russell Mulcachy’s The Shadow (1994), I was overjoyed. Not for myself, but for my good buddy, Jim. He is a close and dear friend of mine and loved the old radio dramas that featured the titled character. So on July 1st, 1994, three days before his birthday, Jim gathered us all up and took us to see The Shadow. It was probably the worst decision he ever made. After those two hours were over, we spent the next five years never letting him forget that night at the movies. That was until it was my turn*. 

Ironically enough, The Shadow was brought to life by Universal Studios. The trailer, featured below, uses Danny Elfman’s brilliant Darkman score, also a Universal property. A property that Darkman’s director Sam Raimi had to make because the studio wouldn’t give him The Shadow. The possibilities suddenly come to mind. It had been nearly 20 years since I saw The Shadow, I figured it was time to give it another chance without Jim in the room. 

The Shadow really does suffer from the time in which it was made. Arriving 5 years after Tim Burton’s Batman (1989), The Shadow came at the very end of the Superhero boom. The final nail in the coffin would arrive with Batman Forever. The genre was collapsing on itself and thus became a cash cow, no more. That is where The Shadow’s problem really derived from. It wasn’t in the incredible cast that featured Ian McKellen, Tim Curry, Peter Boyle, Jonathan Winters or Penelope Ann Miller. Alec Baldwin was perfectly cast as the Shadow’s alter ego, Lamont Cranston. The story of the Shadow is from another time. Up to that point (correct me if I’m wrong), all the Superhero movies took place in the modern world. So when the Shadow uses secret rings, a taxi cab, and two revolvers, it seems a bit tame. The world that David Koepp created was glossy and refined. It wasn’t the world of the Dark Knight and Tim Burton, which movie goers expected. 

Where the movie treads ever so lightly is the backstory. Lamont Cranston is a very bad man. Yet with a quick abduction and a slow scrolling title card, he is now our hero. There are hints of him battling his darker side, but none that have any weight. Perhaps the studio was trying to sell a kids movie and pulled back on the man wrestling with his demons? Upon watching the film again, I discovered there is a good movie in there, it’s just white washed with smiles and action figures (of which there were many). 

The other major misstep is the casting of John Lone as Shiwan Khan. He has powers and can do an ominous look with his eyes, but other than that, he is boring. It’s more than obvious when one of the greatest character actors of all time is his stooge, in one Tim Curry. The man played a character called Darkness once and looked like the devil in Legend (1985). Should I even mention that Ian McKellen is standing right there, who will go on to play Magneto and then one hell of Nazi at 59! If you have no fear of the villain, the hero is just a guy wearing tights. 

If you are like my buddy, Jim, or a fan of Jerry Goldsmith, who did compose one of hell of a score for the film, The Shadow arrives today in a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray. 

*Personal Note: I mentioned in the first paragraph, “my turn”. I feel as if this is something I should address. We all have that certain movie or property that our friends connect us to. Jim’s was The Shadow, mine is Star Wars. Yeah, I got an ear full on May 19th, 1999 at 3 AM from my buddy Jim. It was rightfully deserved. 


Top 5 Picks of the Week:
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2. Thor: The Dark World (2-Disc 3D Blu-ray + Blu-ray + Digital HD)
3. Nebraska (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)
4. Monsters: Complete Series
5. The Shadow (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]



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samurai1138 2/25/2014 3:12:05 AM

 It has its share of problems, but overall the Shadow , much like the Phantom (the purple one, not the Menace-ing one) is a highly underrated superhero flick that suffered from Batman envy at a time where everything tried too hard to be too much like Batman. I paid 2 bucks to see it in a crappy theatre back in the day, and it was well worth it. 

Dazzler 2/25/2014 4:14:42 AM

I bought the collectable knife from the movie I thought it was pretty cool at the time. This movie suffered from too big a budget to make it syndrome. 

karas1 2/25/2014 4:20:06 AM

I always liked The Shadow.  I liked the '30s setting with the fashions and the hairstyles.  I didn't expect bat jets or other futuristic gimicks so the taxi and the revolvers worked well for me.

macthorn 2/25/2014 5:26:47 AM

What karas1 said, I still enjoy watching it from time to time. Still love when he tries to put the Shadow eyes on the girl and it doesn't work. Watching it back then made me track down the old radio serials and add them to my playlists. 

CyanideRush 2/25/2014 5:38:59 AM

Yeah, I hold The Phantom and The Shadow in the same vien- a rare 90s-esk suoer hero flick that's fun and captures some of the same camp as 60's Batman, while still delivering fun action. In fact, they would make for a solid double feature. It's been a while since I've seen either, might be time for a revisit.


TheFuzzyDan 2/25/2014 6:14:37 AM

Ha.  I too have a movie in my life I dragged my friends to they wouldn't let me live down (Halloween 6).  I also deserved their scorn.

The Shadow for me is like The Phantom.  It isn't bad so much as it is just...blah.  I give The Phantom the edge due to Billy Zane's enjoyable performance.

monkeyfoot 2/25/2014 8:26:24 AM

"Oh, that knife."

- Lamont Cranston

(my favorite line)


I'm also a Shadow lover (that doesn't sound right). I've listened to a few of the radio dramas, read some of the stories enjoyed many of the comic book versions (including Mike Kaluta's). But his spooky superhero-ness has never been brought to the screen in the way I've wanted. That includes this film. At that time Hollywood treated all comic book/superhero properties with a tongue in cheek quality. Burton's Batman had some of that but his artistry also made it mysterious and gothic and the Superman of that time was lighter from the Chris Reeve's movie series. Also the influence of Indiana Jones and some of the imitators gave an overall light hearted feeling to these films. You see it in The Phantom and The Shadow. There is almost a constant winking at the audience of "You know this is all pretty silly!" with over the top bad guys and crazy conquer the world storylines.

That's why I was so disappointed in this movie. I liked how his powers worked and the basics of his origin with him being an evil man redeeming himself. But I didn' tlike the idea that it wasn't his idea to be a hero. He was forced into it and just went along. For me a hero needs to decide he will be a hero in order for him to REALLY be a hero. That's what was missing....and alot more.

With the passage of time I also now enjoy the film for its campy fun and I've seen it numerous times on cable. But my dream is for someone to do it the way I envision it. Today he could be done in  "gritty and real" film noir style with not always clear cut good and evil in our modern world. A mysterious man who shows up with blazing .45s and with the aid of a seemingly endless band of associates loyal to him 'til death, he battles evildoers everywhere. He would be unstoppable and relentless and no one not even his associates would know who he is. For in the books, even Lamont Cranston is just another guise.

hanso 2/25/2014 8:40:57 AM

Now that Cyanide Rush mentions it, I thought Phantom sucked balls and wasn't too fond of The Shadow either.  I haven't seen either movie in a lot of years, maybe I should make time to check them out.   Dont' remember much from them.  Is Genghis Khan in the The Shadow?

redhairs99 2/25/2014 9:15:52 AM

I know I caught The Shadow a few years back on HBO or something.  Haven't seen The Phantom in years, but I did record it to my DVR a few months ago.  I think I might just watch it tonight.  I recall being disappointed in both of these flicks when they were released as well.  They aren't terrible, but as stated more of a call back to some of the 60's campiness.  And if you all are honest with yourselves, Burton's 1989 Batman is pretty campy too.  I love the movie, yes, but I just rewatched it again last month and, damn, it's pretty silly, but yes in a dark way.

I think both The Shadow and The Phantom are due for a reboot just don't let Frank Miller near them.  I loved Sin City, but The Spirit was one of the worst films I have ever seen.  Also, don't let SyFy near them, I didn't watch The Phantom mini-series/movie or whatever it was, but it looked awful.

hanso 2/25/2014 4:05:38 PM

Yo I agree, The Spirit is complete shit.  WTF! was that.

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