by Anthony King
The Synapse Films release of Ryan Meade's documentary about Tom Sullivan, creator of the make-up effects in the first three Evil Dead movies called Invaluable: The True Story of an Epic Artist is a touching tribute to a largely unheralded artist and craftsman, yet it simply doesn't warrant its 105-minute runtime. Steve Villeneuve's Hail to the Deadites (2020) showcased the fandom surrounding the franchise started by Sam Raimi that has spanned five films with more on the way and a television series. Six years prior, though, Meade's documentary was the first to highlight the franchise's diehard fans, starting with himself.
Synapse has included as one of the bonus features another feature-length documentary from Ryan Meade about childhood friend and collaborator of the Raimis and Bruce Campbell, director Josh Becker, called Other Men's Careers. At 77 minutes, this is how long Invaluable should have been. With a few more years of experience under his belt, Meade has turned out a better documentary in Other Men's Careers. Gone are the odd camera angles. Gone are the quickly stolen interviews on the horror convention floor. The poor sound quality of some interviews (including Becker) is distracting and disappointing, but I am far more impressed with this documentary than the film that is being sold as the feature presentation. Here we see clips of Becker's early films starring the Raimi brothers and Campbell, and chronicle, in timely fashion, Becker's less-than-illustrious but no less interesting career in film.American Movie (1999). There are also extended interviews from Josh Becker and Tom Philo filmed for Invaluable that didn't make the final cut.
I appreciate the chance to learn a little more about a brilliant artist I'd never even heard of. Unfortunately I can't give this release a strong recommendation unless you fall into the camp of the diehard Evil Dead fans.
Other Men's Careers – A bonus documentary about the life of filmmaker Josh Becker (77 min.)
Vintage Tom Sullivan In the Spotlight interview (50 min. / 1989)
Unedited interview with Tim Philo, cinematographer of The Evil Dead (48 min.)
Extended interview segments with Josh Becker (6 min.)
Invaluable Promotional Trailers
Ryan Meade short films: "Bong Fly" (19 min.) & "Cosmos Locos" (30 min.)
Bong Fly Behind-the-Scenes (10 min.)
Motion Stills Gallery
New slipcover art by Joel Robinson
Reversible cover art
Blu-ray release date: August 1, 2023
103 minutes / 2014
Mono PCM Audio (English)
Region: All region