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The (once-)complete AOD DVD breakdown.,
This review is from: Army of Darkness (DVD)
Confused by all the Army of Darkness DVD releases (some in print, some out of print, some lingering halfway between)? I know I was. But I've done some research and figured it out, and here's how it breaks down:
1. The original DVD release-- was the original theatrical version of the movie with few extras. Good picture, good sound, S-Mart ending. If you just want to watch the best available version of the movie, you might get this one (if you can still find it; it's out of print now). It also has the familiar movie poster cover with an overly muscled Bruce and the hokey "Low on gas" slogan.
2. The director's cut-- with the silly Molly Hatchet cover and the original ending. There are many minuses: key lines are changed (not necessarily for the better). Much of the footage looks really horrible, including the entire concluding battle. All the deleted scenes have the feel of an eBay-purchased bootleg. Bottom line: AOD fans will like to see the material, but this is hardly the movie's best presentation. It's still circulating but they're not making any more of them.
3. The special edition-- probably the best DVD release of the movie to date. The 2 disc version (which, like the director's cut, is nearing the end of its availability) is great. It features both the watchable theatrical version and the borderline-unwatchable director's cut. It has commentary, unlike every other release, although the commentary is only available when viewing the director's cut. It has a making-of featurette.
The single disc version (now the primary version of AOD available) is only a slight downgrade; basically, it's the theatrical release, lookin' and soundin' fine, with the original ending as an extra, and the making of featurette also included. (The commentary is sadly missing.)
In summary: You can't go wrong with the single disc special edition or the even better double disc special edition. Avoid the director's cut unless you already own the original DVD and just want to see all the new footage in all its grainy glory. The original DVD is a fine purchase if you just wanna watch the movie, already.
2009 edit: to clear up some confusion in comments on this review, I wrote this eight long years ago. "Army" probably has five new DVD editions since then, and I'm sorry to report that I don't care enough to keep buying and comparing them. My experience so far has been that they keep releasing new versions with little regard for what people really want. In my eyes, a definitive version would be:
1. The main feature would be the theatrical version, fully restored and anamorphic.
2. Deleted scenes and the alternate ending would be cleaned up and well-presented as extras - I know this is possible because I own an Australian DVD of the movie that has them looking a lot cleaner than I've seen on all the older American versions. It would be also great if they had a menu option to watch the theatrical cut with some of the deleted scenes added back in - in particular the longer (and more cohesive) windmill battle with the mini-Bruces should never have been trimmed down; I'd love to see that in full as part of the movie. There's a cut that plays on some TV channel (AMC maybe?) that includes this scene, but unfortunately other parts are changed to their detriment - not a great trade-off. I think most fans of the movie prefer the original version of the movie - the S-mart ending, the original one-liners, etc. - but don't mind seeing some additional scenes thrown in.
3. Commentary, making-of featurette, etc. all included. The track record of this stuff on previous releases has been very spotty.
4. And finally do it right - put this version (probably a 2 DVD set) in print and get rid of the other ones, and KEEP it in print. Fans are tired of re-buying this movie just to find out that it's the same damn thing with a line or scene changed... if that. Let's tie a neat bow on this thing and be done with it. I'm as big a fan as they come and I stopped buying the new DVDs a couple versions ago.
2011 edit: Go to this page for a detailed look at all the notable Army DVD editions, including the ones I have not covered (be they Boomstick, Screwhead, or whatever else Anchor Bay/MGM/whoever has decided to foist upon this movie's beleaguered fanbase): [...]
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Showing 1-10 of 21 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 17, 2008 6:38:03 PM PST
I think it's time to update your review! Now you got all the HD and Boomstick versions to talk about.
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 21, 2008 9:23:22 AM PDT
G. Langston says:
The Director's Cut disc released in region 3 by MGM had all the same extra footage, but the quality was as good as the rest of the film... there's a good comparison here: www.dvdbeaver.com/film/DVDCompare/army.ht
In the comparison shots of the scene with the windmill you can clearly see the improved quality in the MGM release. Also, the other releases were cropped pretty drastically in some cases, as seen in the shot of the castle. The dvd is region 3, but if you have a region-free player and can track down the dvd, it's worth it. Hopefully they'll release a Bluray of the film...
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 10, 2009 10:06:37 PM PDT
Movie Marty says:
Just want the original version in Anamorphic Wide Screen. Is it available in anamorphic and if so, where?
Posted on Sep 17, 2009 5:14:26 AM PDT
M. Sanges says:
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 21, 2009 2:06:40 PM PDT
Eric D. Musall says:
M. Sanges: I'm pretty sure you did read the same review a couple years ago, because as you can see, that review was posted in 2001. I don't control the fact that Amazon appends the same ocean of reviews to every version of the movie that is released. I'm also not indefinitely responsible to the internet for checking out every new iteration of a movie that seems to be reissued annually, and breaking down how good or bad the DVD is. I did this as a favor to Army fans, many moons ago; I don't own the Boomstick or Screwhead editions because I already have four copies of this movie, and enough is enough.
If they eventually release one that is 1. region 1/NTSC, with 2. the deleted scenes and alternate ending in their best condition, with 3. the theatrical edit of the movie as the main feature, though perhaps with an option to restore some deleted scenes into the mix, and 4. somebody else buys it and lets me know via their own detailed review, I will buy my fifth copy of this movie and then post a new review. Until that day, I'm done with this subject.
Posted on Nov 15, 2009 1:23:30 AM PST
Thanks for taking the time to post this info even if it is old, its still appreciated bye some like myself : )
Posted on Dec 10, 2009 1:33:26 PM PST
From what I've seen, the Screwhead Edition is a barebones dvd. Since a new company is distributing it, and presumably doesn't want to pay Anchor Bay for the extras they created, they made a scant few exclusive features. But if I remember correctly, there are maybe one or two features, all very short and useless. There's nothing there that makes me want to bite, unless its the blu-ray. I'm keeping the Boomstick (which is only slightly better than the Special / Limited Edition) for now.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 15, 2009 2:59:44 PM PST
Kindle Customer says:
Please help, I'm very confused. What's the Boomstick version? All I want is the original movie, with the original, theatrical ending. I've never actually SEEN the real ending! That's why I want to get a DVD that has it! My friend has the Director's Cut, and it doesn't even offer the original--which sucks. I don't like that ending at all, and I want to see the one that folks say is actually funny. Which version would you purchase? I'm cool with extras, but frankly, I just want to see the ending of the movie!
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 27, 2010 7:44:00 PM PST
The Screwhead Edition is the original theatrical release, which I agree has a better ending (at least one more consistent with the lively intent of the rest of AOD). The Boomstick Edition has BOTH versions, and a lotta good extras. The Universal standard edition is also the theatrical version. Hope this helps!
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 27, 2010 7:46:35 PM PST
Boomstick! Boomstick! The only edition that matters. . .gimme some sugar, baby.