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Chris Walas
Bill Paxton, Michael Ironside, Marshall Bell
Writing Credits:
Richard Jefferies

A business man buys a house but he has a hard time trying to get rid of its previous tenant, a dirty bum.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English LPCM Stereo
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 91 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 2/7/2023

• “Vagrant Memories” Featurette
• “You Are In Hell” Featurette
• “Barfuss, Homicide” Featurette
• “Handling His Property” Featurette
• Trailer
• Image Gallery


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The Vagrant [Blu-Ray] (1992)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 4, 2023)

Chris Walas made his name in Hollywood as the Oscar-winning effects artist behind hits like 1984’s Gremlins and 1986’s The Fly. In 1989, he rose to the director’s chair for The Fly II.

That didn’t go well, as the sequel failed to sell many tickets and alienated many fans of the 1986 film. Walas’s career as a director lasted one more chance via 1992’s The Vagrant and he never took that position again.

With Vagrant, we meet Graham Krakowski (Bill Paxton), a man who just bought a new house. However, this comes with a problem, as he fears a homeless man (Marshall Bell) stalks him.

To counter this potential threat, Graham gets the vagrant arrested for public urination. Graham’s concerns don’t stop there, though, as the pair engage in an escalating battles of wits that may lead to something more violent.

Given that Vagrant offers an “R”-rated movie directed by a man famous for over the top content, I suspect I could eliminate the “may lead” in the prior sentence. Viewers go into the film with the promise of physical confrontation that comes with those scenes.

Though we get less blood and gore than one might expect due to the movie’s tone. Whereas that synopsis implies a psychological thriller, instead Vagrant leans toward the realm of black comedy.

And it leans awkwardly in that direction, as Walas seems wholly unsure where to go with the story. The tale jumps and flits all over the place and never settles into a coherent path.

A superior filmmaker could meld the different genres on display, but Walas proves incapable. One moment shoots for cynical laughs and then the next embraces the story’s Hitchcockian vibe in a more literal manner, without much real cohesion.

I suspect Vagrant would fare better if Walas treated it strictly as a paranoid thriller. The movie implies that Graham’s deteriorating mental health acts as the root of his concerns, and if taken more seriously, it could explore these topics in a satisfying manner.

But instead, Walas opts for a semi-campy Tim Burton vibe on many occasions, right down to a Christopher Young score that often emulates the Danny Elfman oeuvre. Walas’s direction really damages the movie, as the erratic mix of moods and genres creates a sloppy mess.

We do get a good cast, as in addition to Paxton and Bell, we find talents like Michael Ironside, Colleen Camp and Marc McClure.

Unfortunately, most seem just as lost as Walas. Even the immensely talented Paxton never appears to know what to do with his character.

Buried deep, one can find the bones of a good Hitchcockian thriller. Unfortunately, the end result fails to connect to the story and turns into a dud.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus C+

The Vagrant appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though it remained a product of its era, this was a largely appealing presentation.

Sharpness worked fine. Interiors tended to seem a little soft, but in general, delineation seemed adequate, with good accuracy most of the time.

I saw no issues with jagged edges or shimmering. Both edge haloes and print flaws remained absent.

For the most part, the movie opted for a natural palette, with a lean toward an amber impression. The colors tended to feel a little heavy – not unusual for the era – but they were more than acceptable and occasionally pretty vivid.

Blacks seemed deep and dark, and shadows displayed nice smoothness and detail, even though we did get some softness in those low-light shots. Though the movie showed its age, it offered a reasonably positive image.

As for the film’s LPCM stereo soundtrack, it worked okay for its vintage. Given the movie’s ambitions, the mix didn’t shoot for much, but it added a little zest to the proceedings.

Music showed good stereo presence, and the various channels contributed reasonable engagement to the sides. Nothing excelled, but the soundscape gave us a bit of breadth.

Audio quality also seemed fine. Speech was reasonably natural and concise, while music showed acceptable pep and clarity.

Effects brought us accurate enough material. This was never a memorable track, but it suited the story.

As we move to extras, we start with Vagrant Memories. Recorded in 2022, this offers a 15-minute, 52-second chat with director Chris Walas.

The filmmaker looks at what led him to the project as well as cast/performances, issues during the production, sets and locations, props and production design, screenings and the movie’s release/legacy. Walas offers us a good take on the flick and makes me wish he’d done a commentary.

You Are In Hell runs 14 minutes, 59 seconds and features actor Marshall Bell. Also from 2022, he discusses how he got the title role along with aspects of his performance, thoughts about his coworkers and his experiences during the shoot.

Expect another solid chat here. Bell covers a good array of experiences and makes this a winning reel.

Next comes another circa 2022 interview called Barfuss, Homicide. During this 12-minute, 16-second piece, actor Michael Ironside covers his time on the film and related thoughts. This turns into a good piece, though not quite as informative as Bell’s.

Handling His Property also stems from 2022 and brings us a 12-minute, eight-second chat with actor Colleen Camp. She examines her casting and memories of the shoot. Camp provides a worthwhile take on these topics.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we finish with an Image Gallery. It displays 13 elements that mix movie shots, publicity stills and ads. Though it comes with decent material, we don’t get much.

At its core, The Vagrant wants to offer a thriller in the Hitchcock vein. However, director Chris Walas never settles on an appropriate tone so this becomes a flawed mix of genres. The Blu-ray boasts generally positive picture and audio along with a few bonus features. Though it sports potential, The Vagrant doesn’t satisfy.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
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