Slaughterhouse-Five (1972)

Based on Kurt Vonnegut’s classic 1969 novel, this tale of time travel and alien abduction finds Billy Pilgrim (Michael Sacks, The Sugarland ExpressThe Amityville Horror) finds himself unstuck in time. Traveling back and forth to random points within his existence, Pilgrim experiences his life in scattered fashion, such as what it was like to grow up, the firebombing of Dresden and a surreal adventure on a distant planet named Tralfamadore at some point in the future.

Praised by Vonnegut himself, Slaughterhouse-Five was directed by George Roy Hill (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance KidThe StingThoroughly Modern Millie). The author would say, “I love George Roy Hill and Universal Pictures, who made a flawless translation of my novel Slaughterhouse-Five to the silver screen. I drool and cackle every time I watch that film, because it is so harmonious with what I felt when I wrote the book.”

For horror fans, keep your eyes open for Gilmer McCormick as Lily Rumfoord (she played Sister Margaret in Silent Night, Deadly Night), Roberts Blossom as Wild Bob Cody (he was Ezra Cobb in Deranged and Old Man Marley in Home Alone), Sorrell Booke as Lionel Merble (he was in Devil Times Five as well as more famously playing Boss Hogg on The Dukes of Hazzard) and Kevin Conway as Roland Weary (he’s Conrad Straker the Funhouse Barker in The Funhouse).

Plus, Valerie Perrine plays the Hollywood starlet Montana Wildhack, along with Perry King (like I need an excuse to mention TV’s Riptide) and Holly Near (The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart) as Pilgrim’s children.

Although Vonnegut’s renown refrain, “So it goes”, appears over a hundred times in the novel, it does not occur, even once, in the movie version. However, he did base the story on his own experiences as a prisoner of war during the Battle of the Bulge while a battalion scout with the 106 Infantry Division on December 22, 1944. Vonnegut also lived through the bombing of Dresden, an experience that informs the entire first part of this movie.

The character of Howard W. Campbell Jr. in this movie is also the subject of another Vonnegut novel which was turned into a movie, Mother Night. Nick Nolte played Campbell in that movie. Also, the character Elliot Rosewater, who Billy’s mom talks to in the hospital, is the title character in Vonnegut’s 1965 novel, God Bless You Mr. Rosewater, and would be played by Ken Hudson Campbell in 1999’s Breakfast of Champions.

This is a film that I’ve always wanted to see, so I really appreciated the opportunity that the new Arrow Video release afforded me.

Their new blu ray release features a brand new 4K restoration from the original camera negative, produced by Arrow Video exclusively for this release. Plus, you get audio commentary by author and critic Troy Howarth, an appreciation from author and critic Kim Newman and interviews from Perry King, Rocky Lang, Robert Crawford, Jr. and film music historian Daniel Schweiger. Obviously, Arrow puts astounding care into everything they release and this is no different. You can order it right here.

DISCLAIMER: This movie was sent to us by Arrow Video.

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