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Ultra HD : Highly Recommended
Release Date: February 1st, 2024 Movie Release Year: 1981

Southern Comfort - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray VSU Limited Edition

Overview -

Walter Hill directed some impressive films in his day, but it doesn’t get much grittier or swampy than the Action Thriller Southern Comfort. When a group of National Guardsmen trespass into Cajun country and cross the wrong people, violent retribution and a bloody fight for survival ensues. Starring Powers Boothe, Keith Carradine, and Fred Ward - the film debuts to UHD with an exceptional 4K release thanks to Vinegar Syndrom. Near-reference quality video complete with excellent audio, and a bounty of bonus features makes this a Highly Recommended addition for the collection.

Highly Recommended
Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
This special limited edition deluxe magnet box + slipcover set (designed by Tony Stella), includes a 40-page perfect bound book and is limited to 8,000 units, 20-page booklet with an essay by author Brian Brems, Reversible sleeve artwork
Video Resolution/Codec:
2160p/HEVC HDR10
Aspect Ratio(s):
Audio Formats:
English Mono
English SDH subtitles
Release Date:
February 1st, 2024

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take


Full confession, I have a weird thing for survival movies. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about seeing a group of men or women (or a mixture of both) and having them enter a world where they don't belong thinking they’re prepared, and then discover in the worst ways how wrong they are. And I don’t mean typical Man vs Nature films like Cast Away or Alive (although a case could be made for The Edge or The Gray), I mean raw violent trespass flicks where someone encroaches into the territory of another and pays a hefty price. The best way I know how to describe these films is “Everyone believes they're Fred until they discover they’re actually Shaggy.” AliensThe DescentThe Hills Have EyesThe Texas Chain Saw Massacre; these films aren’t just my kind of entertainment bread and butter, they’re the whole English Breakfast feast. It’s a genre that’s repeated often, but rarely well, so I tend to cherish the greats. 

Walter Hill’s action-packed and sometimes outright terrifying 1981 thriller Southern Comfort is among the leaders in that pack. The film opens with a platoon of Louisana National Guardsmen on training maneuvers during the height of the Vietnam War. Everyday grunts like Spencer (Keith Carradine), Cribbs (T.K. Carter), Casper (Les Lannom), Reece (Fred Ward), the new guy Hardin (Powers Boothe), and their leader Captain Poole (Peter Coyote) are tasked to lock and load with blanks and traverse the backcountry swamps to train up for possible jungle warfare. As they try to cross a huge chunk of swamp water, they borrow some canoes from the locals without asking. This simple misunderstanding will blow up their training mission and force them into a desperate run back to civilization.

Now comes the hard part, having to write about the film in an analytical way that informs a reader who hasn’t seen it while enticing them to also go check it out but without giving away key events or spoilers. In the case of Southern Comfort, I’m trapped in the space of not wanting to say anything beyond “Just watch it, it’s so good!” in that slobbery movie fanatic way that makes your friends look at you in disbelief, and then you follow up with “No, no, you gotta believe me, it’s really good!” Then they go “Oh yeah, okay, I’ll check it out…” but they don’t watch it. I don’t want to do that. I really do want people to see this movie!

Perhaps the easiest way I can describe Southern Comfort is it’s as if Sam Peckinpah directed Deliverance, but even then that doesn’t give the film enough credit. It does cover similar ground with outsiders encroaching on the territory of some backwoods toughs featuring some beautifully horrific explosions of shocking violence. Still, it’s a much smarter film that it’s often given credit. It’s a study on race relations, all forms of masculinity, the education divide, and the Vietnam War without screaming at the audience about these themes. It’s a character study about how different types of men respond to a terrible situation where there is no right answer. 

In addition to Hill’s terrific eye for action and deft touch with complex themes, he also captures some excellent performances from his cast. Powers Booth, Keith Carradine, and Fred Ward are the key standouts of the film, but equal mention needs to be given to the rest of the guys. Franklyn Seals, Lewis Smith, T.K. Carter, Peter Coyote, Les Lennom, and Alan Autry, are all excellent with Brion James giving a menacing turn as the Cajun trapper they take prisoner. Keep a close lookout and you can spot Sonny Landham as one of the hunters on the soldiers’ trail. With these great actors, the film finds great moments for character development while maintaining a tightly wound breathless pace. The film’s last fifteen minutes are genuine edge-of-your-seat hold-your-breath suspense. If I haven’t discussed this enough without spilling the beans I don’t know what to tell you now. I’ll just fall back on typical film nerd blubbering - “Go watch it, it’s so good!”

Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Walter Hill’s Southern Comfort invades 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray for the first time thanks to Vinegar Syndrome as the 8th entry in their deluxe VSU line of releases. A two-disc 4K UHD and Blu-ray set, the 4K is pressed on a with a Region Free BD-50 disc saved for the 1080p version and the extra features. The discs are housed in a standard two-disc case with reversible insert art, a dark ominous black slipcover with the title in dark crimson red. Also included inside is a booklet with an essay from Briam Brems. Another 40-page booklet is included featuring another essay by Nicolas Rapold. The whole package is bundled together in a beautiful hard stock magnetic box with amazing art from Tony Stella. Each disc loads to an animated main menu with traditional navigation options.

Video Review


Southern Comfort has enjoyed a fairly decent life on home video with respectable DVDs and a solid disc from Shout Factory a few years back, but I’ll say at the front, I wasn’t ready for how great this 4K HDR10 disc looks! Reportedly sourced from a scan of the interpositive, this is easily the best I’ve seen this film. Fine details in facial features, the soldier’s uniforms, the swampy locations, and all those Cajun huts and the swampy production design looks dynamite (no pun intended). Film grain has a natural gritty quality to the show without it appearing overly noisy or intrusive. Given this was shot in winter with constant gray skies, muddy brown locations, and our cast wearing olive-drab costumes, it’s not exactly colorful and flashy but it’s still pretty. In that sense, visually it has the look of a film you should be able to smell the sour and musty locations. The HDR grading is right on point giving plenty of attention to primaries, blood red gets a lot of pop with skin shades looking accurate and healthy. Black levels are terrific lending real depth to the forest and swampwater. It’s one of the creepier aspects of the film is being able to see so much scenery in broad daylight but not the men attacking our band of soldiers. This transfer does that justice.

Audio Review


On the audio side, we have a lovely DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono track. With all of the swamp water, there are plenty of sound effects of tromping and sludging boots and splashing intermixed with the lively sounds of nature. The dialog is clear throughout so you never had trouble hearing anyone. Gunfire, explosions, and cries of pain and terror all lend to an impressive soundscape. Then you have the terrific, almost soulfully languid score from Ry Cooder anchoring the entire mix. Again that last ten or fifteen minutes is damned suspenseful and the impeccable sound design work really helps that tension build. 

Special Features


Sweetening the package for this release is a pretty great selection of new and archival extra features. On the top of the pack is a very interesting audio commentary with Walter Chaw. It’s a very expansive track, an almost breathless one really where he covers a wide range of Walter Hill-related history and themes while also discussing the scene-specific action and trivia. After that, we have over an hour of new interviews with Walter Hill and various crewmen and historians discussing their various roles in the film and the making of the project. Hill covers some of the same ground as the older featurette (carried over here again from the Shout disc) but it’s always nice to hear from him again discussing his career and the film. Add in the essays and you’ve got a lot of great material to enjoy after the film’s over. 

  • NEW Audio Commentary featuring author Walter Chaw
  • NEW Battle in the Bayou - Interview with Walter Hill (HD 17:26)
  • NEW Behind Enemy Lines - Interview with Freeman A Davies and Lisa Zeno Churgin (HD 26:02)
  • NEW Soldiers, Not Mailmen - Interview with Dan Moore (HD 17:17)
  • NEW Into the Unknown - Interview with Historian Wayne Byrne (HD 15:00)
  • Archival Featurette (HD 27:12)
  • Still Gallery 
  • Video Trailer

It’s a damned difficult task to pin down a favorite Walter Hill film. Between his work in the ‘70s and ‘80s as a director as well as all of the films he’s either written, produced, or both - there are just too many great flicks. That said, I would put Southern Comfort among the leaders of the pack. It’s action-packed, thrilling, suspenseful, but also thoughtful and thematically relevant. With an impeccable cast, great writing, directing, editing, and score - it’s just a fantastic flick front to back. And now it's on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray as the latest deluxe VSU release from Vinegar Syndrome. The video transfer is first rate, the audio is excellent, the bonus features are entertaining and informative. Capped off with some beautiful packaging and it’s another essential pickup for the collection. Highly Recommended 

Order Your Copy of the VSU Limited Edtion 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of Southern Comfort