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Thursday, March 06, 2008

You bastards, why are you torturing me like this? Why?

Like Terminator 2 and the original Dawn of the Dead, I think the Evil Dead trilogy (specifically the first film) has been reissued a record number of times on DVD. Why exactly that's the case, I'm not sure. (I've heard rumblings it's about rights changing hands after companies being bought, thus making it go out of print, but I've never heard an official word.) Anyway, it's with this in mind (as well as my store-bought copies of the trilogy back in 2001 on my shelf) that I decided to spring for the recent 3-disc, "Ultimate Edition" of the original Evil Dead.

From what I can remember, Evil Dead has been reissued no less than four times. The version I've stuck with for so long has the film in pan-and-scan with two commentary tracks. Other editions came with the film in matted widescreen and one with a Bruce Campbell-produced documentary called Fanalysis. I was lucky to rent a copy of the film with the Fanalysis documentary attached as I didn't want to buy the DVD again.

Now with the Ultimate Edition containing the commentary tracks, the film in both pan-and-scan and widescreen, the added value comes in the form of new featurettes and deleted scenes. A new retrospective looks back at the making of the film and its legacy. Plus, there are two features on the women in the film -- a side of the story that's never really been told before. In other words, there's a lot of good stuff here, but I don't blame people for being skeptical.

Top of the list as to why is the exclusion of the Within the Woods short film -- something filmed to show potential investors for what became Evil Dead. For whatever reason (I've heard it's a rights issue), it has never seen the light of day on DVD. Then there's the exclusion of the Fanalysis documentary. So, maybe a 30th anniversary edition is in the works?

What I'm getting at is the ridiculous number of times any film gets reissued. I like the Evil Dead trilogy, but it's not my absolute favorite. Bruce Campbell's Evil Dead commentary track is one of the best tracks I've ever heard and do love hearing more about the making (and legacy) of the first film. Plus, I wouldn't mind seeing the film in widescreen.

So that's why I'd even consider buying something again simply for the extras. But I do wonder: why are some of my all-times favorites issued only once, jam-packed with extras? How crazy are rights issues with DVDs, more specifically, for independent movies?

I will say this though: I'd rather have a beloved film remain in print than out-of-print.

1 comment:

Py Korry said...

Love the trilogy! There's a stage version making its way to my neck of the wood in the fall, and I'm pretty sure I'll be there to see it.