We love Lowlife around these parts. Ryan Prows’ brutal, comic, and oddly sweet crime saga took us by surprise at last year’s Fantasia and Ithaca Fantastik film festivals, and my placing of it in my 2017 Top Ten made the movie’s poster. I’ll stan for this movie all I can, is what I’m saying.
Lowlife hits Blu-Ray next month from Shout Factory, and we’ve got an exclusive look at some of the unique special features it’ll be sporting. It’s got two audio commentaries - a nuts-and-bolts track with Prows and cinematographer Benjamin Kitchens, and a more hangouty track with Prows and writers Tim Cairo, Jake Gibson, and Shaye Ogbonna. There’s a making-of featurette in there too.
But the real drawcard - one that few filmmakers would ever think of making - is a trio of shorts produced specifically for the Blu-Ray. Inspired by the “Mattress Man” faux commercial from the Punch-Drunk Love DVD extras, Prows reteamed with the film’s cast and shot a series of brand-new short films, exploring the characters’ backstories. The cast was already experienced with shorts and sketches, so the short films are loose kind of hang-outs with their characters - not mandatory viewing for understanding the feature, but certainly fun vignettes for fans.
In Crystal and Dan’s vignette, we join the characters as they receive the terminal diagnosis that helps drive the feature’s plot. “I really just wanted put Nicki Micheaux and King Orba back together in a scene for selfish reasons,” says Prows. I get it; the ensemble cast is one of Lowlife’s greatest strengths.
Breakout fan favourite character El Monstruo’s short takes the form of “his failed attempt at becoming a social media influencer,” as he teaches the audience the secrets of a good workout - and of the El Monstruo philosophy and tradition. Apparently, the feature’s original script called for El Monstruo to coat himself in baby oil before the action-packed climax. Prows says the team “wanted to right the unfortunate wrong of having to cut that detail” through making this short.
Finally: Randy, Keith, and Nessa return in a home video ostensibly shot in 2007. Randy lacks his unfortunate swastika prison tattoo; Keith wears FUBU; and the whole thing is shot using an old Hi-8 camcorder. The situation is a bittersweet one: it’s Randy’s last day before he goes to prison, and Keith’s taking him to the beach - where he’s never been before - for a final pre-prison hangout. Nawww.
Lowlife is available on various streaming platforms now, but you'll really want to wait til August 7th for this Blu-Ray release.