30 Years Later, the Weirdest Sci-Fi Movie Ever Made Gets a Big Update

They’re brothers. They’re plumbers. And they’re back in 4K.

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Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Super Mario Bros. might have kicked video game adaptations back to square one in 1993, but time has been (somewhat) kind to the film. With Bob Hoskins as Mario and John Leguizamo as Luigi in a whacked-out parallel universe, Super Mario Bros. is one of the most out-there adaptations ever made. It’s also the first live-action feature inspired by a video game, but its choice to diverge so sharply from the classic Nintendo property probably doomed it from the get-go. It didn’t help that Super Mario Bros. suffered a tumultuous production, and dismal box office results further hurt its reputation.

Today, most involved with the film are quick to call it a catastrophe, but Super Mario Bros. has still become a bit of a cult classic. Sure, the love may be dipped in irony, but it’s got its fandom all the same. In May, US audiences turned up in droves to catch the film in theaters for its 30th anniversary. The reappraisal won’t stop there: Super Mario Bros. will soon continue its anniversary tour in Japan with a surprising new upgrade.

September 15 marks the 30th anniversary of Super Mario Bros.’ Japanese release. Per Crunchyroll, the film will return to Japanese theaters for a limited run, and with a brand new 4K remaster. There’s no word yet on whether this new restoration will make its way overseas (or get a home video release), but things are looking up for what was once considered the bane of the Mario franchise.

The film was released in Japan as Super Mario: Goddess of the Demon Empire, a decidedly gnarly title, but one that aligns with the film’s more dystopian sensibilities. It follows the Italian-American plumber duo, Mario Mario and Luigi Mario, as they stumble into a parallel dimension inhabited by sentient dinosaurs. King Koopa (Denis Hopper) schemes to fuse his cyberpunk reality with ours and conquer the world. He kidnaps Princess Daisy (Samantha Mathis), who’s actually a paleontologist, to bring his evil plan to fruition. In keeping with the loose premise of the Mario games, our heroes are tasked with Daisy’s rescue. Aside from a flurry of Easter eggs, that’s about where the similarities end.

It’s a kooky film, and compared to the much more on-brand Super Mario Bros. Movie — which might be the most successful video game adaptation ever — it’s a mess. But it was in line with the grungier kid-focused films of its day, like 1990’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As nightmarish as it apparently was to make, it’s nice that it’s getting a second look. Thirty years is a long time to wait for reappraisal, but it’s better late than never, right?

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