This World, Then the Fireworks [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Kino Lorber
Review written by and copyright: Anthony Arrigo (26th February 2018).
The Film

As a big fan of “Twin Peaks” (1990-1991, 2017), I was excited by the prospect of a mini-reunion within “This World, Then the Fireworks” (1997) due to the casting of Billy Zane and Sheryl Lee. Although the two didn’t share any scenes in David Lynch’s little town, having both pop up in a sultry neo-noir made not too long after “Twin Peaks” closed up shop was intriguing. Add in the hotter-than-hell 90's bombshell Gina Gershon and quickly I found myself wondering how this had slipped under my radar for so long.

The answer: it isn’t very good, and it is filled with reprehensible characters that deserve no redemption.

After opening in 1926, when a case of infidelity leads to murder right before the eyes of two children, the film cuts to 1950. Marty (Billy Zane), is a street reporter who gets caught up in some mob business and is forced to leave town, fleeing to California where his mother, Mrs. Lakewood (Rue McClanahan), sister, Carol (Gina Gershon), live. His arrival is not warmly met, as his mother appears frightened of her two children (even sporting some mysterious bruises on her face) and their bizarre relationship. As it turns out she has every right to be concerned, since Marty and Carol are, in fact, carrying on an incestuous fling. The two live by their own code, bilking and grifting at every opportunity with zero regard for whose lives they ruin.

Not long after arriving in town Marty meets Lois (Sheryl Lee), a cop who lives in a cozy little place on the beach. In his seemingly endless quest to be an immoral piece of sh*t, Marty decides to crush Lois’ heart after convincing her to sign over her beachfront property, at which point he’ll cash it out and skip town. Lois is, unfortunately, a pathetic soul who is so desperate to have Marty in her life she’s willing to endure constant verbal and physical abuse. Lois is so gorgeous she could likely have any man in town but, no, she settles for this walking sack of d**ks. As expected, both Marty and Carol get caught up in situations above their heads and outcomes not-so-planned await both before the credits roll.

This is a film I had hoped to like, as a big fan of both the genre and casting choices. Sadly, the movie starts off by introducing viewers to horrid characters and the decisions they make as the plot progresses only reinforces the fact these are bad people who only deserve the worst life has to offer. There isn’t even any dynamic to them; Marty and Carol are shitty people who are morally bankrupt and neither expresses even a vague hint of remorse. Carol is the Black Widow type, selling her body and squeezing every last dime out of the men who pay her. Her deceit is tied to one of the oldest professions in the world. Marty, however, is a live wire on wet pavement. He lives by his own code, quoting his own make-believe b.s. and assaulting acquaintances. His boss at the paper gives him a promotion, only Marty sees it as a fall man position and lambasts his employer. None of his actions make much sense; it would have been better to explain he has some mental imbalance, although the film makes it clear that’s likely true.

Sheryl Lee is a wonderful actress and she’s very much in Laura Palmer mode at times here, plus she has a scene wearing revealing lingerie that nearly makes up for all the sh*t viewers have been served up to that point, but her character is so woefully pathetic all she can elicit is a groan from every audience member. How is anyone supposed to believe she is a cop when she can’t even muster up the courage to stop Billy Zane from bruising up her pretty face?

There is some style and a bit of sizzle to “This World, Then the Fireworks” but hampering by a bad story cripples the feature early on and it never manages to recover. Zane is soundly cast as the eccentric wild man, Marty, a role similar to his devilish turn in “Tales from the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight” (1996), but even his bravado can’t turn around an endless parade of villainous acts and troubled, one-dimensional characters.


The 1.85:1 1080p 24/fps AVC MPEG-4 encoded image is clean, providing evident depth within the frame and a tight & defined grain structure. Colors are often cool and natural, though cinematographer Tom Priestly, Jr. does make use of blue light filtering frequently. Occasional white flecks crop up but never enough to warrant serious complaint. The film displays more style than many mid 90's pictures, so at the very least it never looks drab. Expect to see mild filtering to achieve a specific period look, bringing with it an expected level of softness.


An English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo carries the quirky, percussive score. Composer Pete Rugolo’s soundtrack is jazzy and sultry; a perfect complement to the noir-ish activity unfolding on screen. Dialogue comes through loud & clear, though there are a few moments when it looks like the sync is ever-so-slightly off. Score gets a bit Mickey Mouse in some scenes, playing too on-the-nose, but aside from the cinematography this is the best thing the movie has going for it. There are no subtitles.


Kino has included two interviews, the film's original theatrical trailer, plus a collection of bonus trailers. Below is a closer look.

Interview with director Michael Oblowitz (1080p) runs for 15 minutes and 44 seconds.

Interview with screenwriter Larry Gross (1080p) runs for 16 minutes and 42 seconds.

The film's original theatrical trailer is included and runs for 1 minute and 54 seconds.

Bonus trailers (1080i) are included for:

- “China Moon” runs for 1 minute and 31 seconds.
- “Shattered” runs for 1 minute and 51 seconds.
- “Slam Dance” runs for 2 minutes and 24 seconds.
- “Last Embrace” runs for 2 minutes and 54 seconds.


The single disc comes housed in a standard Blu-ray keep case.


Solid casting and a cool neo-noir mood can’t salvage a film populated with weak, scummy characters. Zane deserves praise for his manic turn as an incestuous grafter but his character is too unpredictable and irredeemable to be lauded much further. It is now apparent to me why this film has gone unsung for so long.

The Film: C- Video: B+ Audio: B+ Extras: C Overall: C


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