Man – Collector’s Edition (Universal/Focus)
Sound: B Extras: B+ Film: A
Let's get this out of the way at the top -- I'm not one
for double-dips. In fact, I find that,
usually, they're unable to rise above cheap marketing tools to promote a
sequel, prequel, or remake of the film being re-released on DVD.
So imagine my surprise when, after perusing
Universal/Focus' release of Repo Man, the third DVD release of the film,
that it was not only a worthwhile upgrade but also a nice companion to Anchor
Bay's initial release.
A few years back, Anchor Bay released two DVD versions of Repo
Man, a cult classic about a punk, Otto (Emilio Estevez), who gets caught up
in the repo game and a government plot revolving around a car with either
aliens or a neutron bomb in the trunk.
It's certainly a film up Anchor Bay's alley -- cultish, directed by a
fringe filmmaker (Alex Cox), and peppered by a brilliant character actor cast
headed by Harry Dean Stanton.
Anchor Bay's two releases came as a single-disc DVD and a
limited-edition package where the film came bundled together with its killer
punk rock soundtrack, a stellar booklet containing a comic book about the film,
and a mini-poster that doubled as a chapter stop list, all contained in a nifty
tin case made to look like a license plate.
The technical side of the set wasn't really anything to
write home about. The video
presentation was clean for the most part -- only a few occasions of dirt and
dust peppering the print can be found -- but it was also a bit washed out. And the audio sounded decent enough, with a
Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. Overall, though,
you couldn't really levy that many complaints against the audio-visual aspect
of the disc -- it's a 20-year-old cult film that probably didn't have the best
care and handling.
On the extras side, the disc was fairly full for early
Oughts standards: a commentary with Cox, Executive Producer (and ex-Monkee)
Michael Nesmith, Casting Director Victoria Thomas, and actors Sy Richardson,
Zander Schloss, and Del Zamora; two trailers, one for the theatrical release of
Repo Man and another for the video release; and talent bios. Of course, by today's estimation, this is a
fairly barebones release. But packaged together with the tin can and such,
Anchor Bay's limited edition release of Repo Man was a set that, for
fans of the film, couldn't -- and can't -- be beat.
Now, almost five years later, Universal has released a Collector's
Edition of the film, and, with all due respect to the studio's home video
marketing department, Anchor Bay's edition was the collector's edition. But that doesn't mean that Universal's disc
is any less worthwhile.
While the audio on this disc is essentially the same mix
as that on Anchor Bay's, the video is certainly an upgrade. Universal's transfer is much cleaner and
brighter than Anchor Bay's, and while Anchor Bay's disc was fairly decent to
begin with Universal's transfer is definitely an upgrade.
In the extras, though, is where the nicest surprise is
found. The commentary track on
Universal's disc is the same as that on Anchor Bay's, and there's still a
trailer for the film (though the video trailer is missing, unfortunately). But the major addition is a making-of
feature broken into three parts, exploring different aspects of the film. “Up Close with Harry Dean Stanton"
is a video interview with -- surprise -- Harry Dead Stanton, in which he talks
about Repo Man, his friendship with Marlon Brando, and some animosity
with Alex Cox. "Repossessed"
is a reminiscence of Repo Man with producers Jonathan Wacks and Peter
McCarthy and Cox where they discuss the film and its impact. "Missing Scenes," the final
part of the feature, follows Cox as he discusses and watches some deleted
scenes with the inventor of the neutron bomb as well as the fake neutron bomb
inventor from the film.
Most interesting in these featurettes is how the producers
and Cox keep coming back to how much Zander Schloss, who portrayed Otto's punk
friend and co-worker, looks and acts like Napoleon Dynamite. I'm not sure if this is one of those things
where those responsible for Repo Man are just pointing out a new pop
culture item inspired for the film or simply trying to gain credit for Dynamite
the character and film, but it's certainly an odd, compelling observation.
But, that aside, these new featurettes lend themselves to
a disc that's ultimately a nice companion to the earlier Anchor Bay release of Repo
Man. The menus might be more
dynamic on Anchor Bay's disc and that company might have produced a better
package for the film, but Universal's Repo Man disc is just as worthy of
a place on your shelf -- especially if you don't already own the film.
- Dante A.