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DVD Reviews for 6/24: No Jacket (or much else) Required

by Peter Sobczynski

In which your faithful scribe looks at another “Unrated” edition that isn’t all that it is cracked up to be, a couple of interesting catalogue titles, a few less-interesting major releases and realizes that some release weeks are better than others.

A couple of weeks ago, an old friend dropped a line after watching a DVD in which the behind-the-scenes interviews and commentary for the film in question (an perfectly good recent title which won’t be named here) made it sound like a cross between “Citizen Kane,” “The Rules of the Game” and “Switchblade Sisters: He wanted to know if there had ever been a DVD in which the bonus material featured people outright slagging the film proper. I mentioned a couple–the critic commentaries on the “Matrix” box set and the making-of on the “Alien 3" disc sprang to mind–but since most of the bonus materials are produced alongside the actual film, DVD’s in which the participants wholeheartedly slag on the main feature are admittedly few and far between.

When “Cursed,” the meta-werewolf film from “Scream” team Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson that bombed earlier this year, had its DVD announced scant seconds after it was hooted out of theaters, it seemed that it might wind up being a worthwhile purchase despite its awfulness. First, Dimension Home Video announced that they would be making an “Unrated” version of the film available that would restore all the gore that was sliced out at the last second in a perplexing effort to score a PG-13 rating. More surprising was the fact that one of the rumored bonus features was said to be a commentary with Craven and Williamson. Considering the long and tortured history of the project–which included massive rewrites and reshoots when the original versions tested badly, equally massive casting changes when parts were dropped or actors weren’t available to refilm scenes (Mandy Moore once played the role now performed by Mya, a scene that was evidentially once designed to kick off the film, and Portia del Rossi had here scenes added at the last second while Scott Baio’s once-significant role as himself (apparently he turned out to be the main werewolf in the original cut) was shredded to a cameo-length appearance) and numerous feuds between Craven and Miramax/Dimension–such a commentary could have been a priceless examination of how a once-promising film could have gone so horribly wrong.

Unfortunately, anyone picking up “Cursed: Unrated Edition” for those reasons is liable to be massive disappointed. A Craven commentary is nowhere to be found–all we get is a “selected scenes” commentary with makeup supervisor Greg Nicotero and the stuntman who played the werewolf that offers precious little insight. There are also a couple of brief behind-the-scenes featurettes and the incredibly disappointing “Behind the Fangs: The Making of ‘Cursed’,” a bland making-of in which stars Christina Ricci, Mya and others offer the kind of bland “Boy-was-this-fun!” comments usually seen in interviews filmed at promo junkets and never even allude to any of the backstage conflicts. Even the “Unrated” nature of the film isn’t really worth it–sure, the film is bloodier (especially Shannon Elizabeth’s death scene, which is so ludicrous that it plays like a “Scary Movie” outtake) but an extra minute’s worth of gore is hardly seems worth the effort. Maybe once the Weinstein/Miramax split officially goes through and Disney retains the DVD rights, perhaps Craven could be induced to do a special edition in which he spills his guts about what he has labeled as one of the worst filmmaking experiences of his life. Until that disc comes out (which will probably be about the time that Hell freezes over or “Cursed 2" makes its debut), feel free to give “Cursed” the same wide berth in your local store that you did at your local multiplex.

Written by Kevin Williamson. Directed by Wes Craven. Starring Christina Ricci, Joshua Jackson, Jesse Eisenberg, Judy Greer, Scott Baio, Shannon Elizabeth and Mya. 2005. 99 minutes. Unrated. A Dimension Home Video release. $29.95


AMERICAN PSYCHO: UNCUT KILLER COLLECTOR’S EDITION (Lions Gate Home Entertainment. $19.98): You just know that some dumb person is going to bring this violent 2000 adaptation of the brutal Bret Easton Ellis best-seller for the kids just because Batman himself stars in it. This could be as much fun as when families that enjoyed “Hairspray” unwittingly decided to seek out some other John Waters films.

BEWITCHED: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (Columbia/Tri-Star Home Entertainment. $39.95): The entire first season of the relatively beloved TV series is now at your fingertips to be enjoyed without brutal edits or commercial interruptions. There is also a coupon included for a ticket to the current big-screen monstrosity but I guarantee that you will derive more pleasure from it if you use it as a bookmark.

COACH CARTER (Paramount Home Video. $29.98): I, for one, am hoping that Dave Chappelle gets back to work on his show as soon as possible because I cannot wait to see his take on this insufferable Samuel L. Jackson vehicle.

DARK WATER (A.D. Vision. $19.98): Those of you who had to suffer from hearing know-it-alls lecture you about how much better the original Japanese versions of “The Ring” and “The Grudge” were compared to the American remakes can now turn the tables by getting a hold of this 2003 horror hit (another ghost story involving, ghosts, weird kids and dripping water) before the Jennifer Connelly remake hits in a couple of weeks.

HOSTAGE (Miramax Home Video. $29.98): Until it becomes simply ridiculous in the last 30 minutes, this is a lean, tough and reasonably effective thriller in which Bruce Willis tries to defuse a hostage situation and track down the people who have kidnapped his own family in an effort to manipulate the situation.

HUSTLE (Paramount Home Video. $14.95): Those of you who dug the combination of Burt Reynolds and director Robert Aldrich in the original version of “The Longest Yard” might get a kick out of this tough cop drama, in which Reynolds plays a police detective who gets involved with glamorous hooker Catherine Deneuve. For a further reminder of the pre-“Dukes of Hazzard” period when Reynolds was the biggest star in the world, you should also check out the 1979 James L. Brooks-scripted romantic comedy “Starting Over” (Paramount Home Video. $14.95) as well.

THE JACKET (Warner Home Video. $24.95): A good cast–including Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley, Kris Kristofferson, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Daniel Craig–is wasted in this befuddling mind-bender about an amnesiac war veteran who seems to have traveled through time and who investigates the circumstances of his upcoming death. Most people have two questions about this film and I will answer them simply–yes, she does and no, it still isn’t worth it.

MISS CONGENIALITY 2: ARMED AND FABULOUS (Warner Home Video. $27.95): Why yes, it is a pretty weak week for DVD’s, now that you mention it.

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originally posted: 06/24/05 13:43:23
last updated: 07/08/05 15:15:58
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