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DVD reviews: Era-defining ‘Breakfast Club’ is a dish best served by Criterion Collection

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Preston Barta

A brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Those are the key ingredients that drove John Hughes’s 1985 teen hangout film to be a classic that, following its primary track by Simple Minds, has not been forgotten.

The Breakfast Club

Rated R, 97 minutes.

Available Tuesday on Blu-ray and DVD through the Criterion Collection.

5 of 5 stars

The Criterion Collection is perhaps best known for resurfacing old gems and releasing contemporary arthouse films. But every once in a while the home entertainment distribution company will shine the spotlight on more popular titles, like this week’s The Breakfast Club.

If you already own the film or recently purchased its 30th anniversary edition in 2015, Criterion’s re-release is easily the ultimate edition to trade your seasoned copy in for. Not only does it include a fully restored version of the film you love about a group of teens (Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy and Judd Nelson) bonding during Saturday detention, but it also comes complete with all-new and archival supplemental material to entertain and inform.

The Breakfast Club meticulously captures an era in our lives and all the social rifts that we all helped to create for ourselves. Through its gathering of rebellious youths, we learn that timeless lesson that needs to be heard over and over again: Doesn't matter where you come from or what your situation is, extend a helping hand, because we all need it and have more in common than you might think.

Extras: The Criterion Collection release includes an audio commentary from 2008 with Anthony Michael Hall and Judd Nelson, interviews both new and found with the late Hughes and cast, a new video essay featuring Hughes’ production notes, a 2008 documentary, 50 minutes of never-before-seen deleted and extended scenes (the most exciting bonus feature), trailer and an essay by author and critic David Kamp.

Hell Night (3.5 stars) After 1980’s Friday the 13th, we began to see a series of seemingly low-budget films where hard-partying teens would go somewhere spooky, engage in some sexual activity and slowly start getting picked off by a malicious entity. Whether the killer wields a knife, an ax or a hatchet, these often cheesy, but fun dead-teenager fests are worth your time and amusement.

1981 s <i>Hell Night </i>fits into the teens-have-sex-then-get-murdered, but it also breaks ground. It s surprisingly more thoughtful and developed than most movies of its kind. It stars <i>The Exorcist's</i>&nbsp;Linda Blair as one of four pledges of Alpha Sigma Rho fraternity who, as part of an initiation, spend the night in Garth Manor, twelve years after the previous resident murdered his entire family.Courtesy photo
1981 s Hell Night fits into the teens-have-sex-then-get-murdered, but it also breaks ground. It s surprisingly more thoughtful and developed than most movies of its kind. It stars The Exorcist's Linda Blair as one of four pledges of Alpha Sigma Rho fraternity who, as part of an initiation, spend the night in Garth Manor, twelve years after the previous resident murdered his entire family.
Courtesy photo

1981’s Hell Night fits into this column, but it also breaks ground. It’s surprisingly more thoughtful and developed than most movies of its kind. It stars The Exorcist’s Linda Blair as one of four pledges of Alpha Sigma Rho fraternity who, as part of an initiation, spend the night in Garth Manor, 12 years after the previous resident murdered his entire family.

Beautifully restored by Scream Factory, Hell Night is equal parts Friday the 13th and Amityville Horror. However, instead of simply watching clueless young adults being gutted for an hour and a half, the movie takes its time to make you care for the characters before they become victims. There are even moments in which the teens discuss what they’re feeling and going through, much like The Breakfast Club.

While it does have its fair share of jump scares and frustrating bits that cause you to shout, “No! Don’t do that, you idiot!,” Hell Night is like most films in Scream Factory’s collection: silly but entertaining as hell.

Rated R, 101 minutes.

Extras: The Scream Factory Collector’s Edition (available through shoutfactory.com) includes new interviews with the cast and filmmakers, an audio commentary, a fun breakdown of the death scenes, revisiting the shooting location at the Kimberly Crest House, a featurette on the design of the film, original promotional ads and trailers and a photo gallery.

Battle of the Sexes (3.5 stars) This absorbing biopic about the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King (portrayed by a should-be-nominated Emma Stone) and ex-champ and serial hustler Bobby Riggs (an equally as great Steve Carell) was lost in the awards season shuffle. 

This image released by Fox Searchlight Pictures shows Emma Stone, left, and Steve Carell in a scene from "Battle of the Sexes." On Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, Stone was nominated for a Golden Globe for best actress in a motion picture comedy or musical for her role in the film. The 75th Golden Globe Awards will be held on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018 on NBC. (Melinda Sue Gordon/Fox Searchlight Pictures via AP)AP
This image released by Fox Searchlight Pictures shows Emma Stone, left, and Steve Carell in a scene from "Battle of the Sexes." On Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, Stone was nominated for a Golden Globe for best actress in a motion picture comedy or musical for her role in the film. The 75th Golden Globe Awards will be held on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018 on NBC. (Melinda Sue Gordon/Fox Searchlight Pictures via AP)
AP

It’s a shame because the movie is quite good and sports some of the best performances and film editing of the year. Here’s to hoping the Academy Awards sneak in a few surprises and don’t just play the hits.

Rated PG-13, 121 minutes.

Extras: The Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment release includes raw footage of Billie Jean King’s  grand entrance, a featurette on “reigniting the rivalry,” Billie Jean King in her own words and galleries.

This absorbing biopic about the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King (portrayed by a should-be-nominated Emma Stone) and ex-champ and serial hustler Bobby Riggs (an equally as great Steve Carell) was lost in the awards season shuffle. The movie comes out on DVD on Tuesday.Courtesy photo
This absorbing biopic about the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King (portrayed by a should-be-nominated Emma Stone) and ex-champ and serial hustler Bobby Riggs (an equally as great Steve Carell) was lost in the awards season shuffle. The movie comes out on DVD on Tuesday.
Courtesy photo

Also available on Blu-ray and DVD: American Made, Brad’s Status, Breathe, The Houses October Built 2, The King’s Choice, Love Beats Rhymes, A Question of Faith, Rebel in the Rye, Shock Wave, Slumber, The Stolen and Ten Days in the Valley: Season 1.

PRESTON BARTA is a member of the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association. Read his work on FreshFiction.tv. Follow him on Twitter at @PrestonBarta.

FEATURED IMAGE: From left: Ally Sheedy (the basket case), Judd Nelson (a criminal), Anthony Michael Hall (a brain), Molly Ringwald (a princess) and Emilio Estevez (an athlete) in John Hughes iconic The Breakfast Club. Photo courtesy of Criterion Collection.