Saw II: Unrated Special Edition (DVD)

Saw II: Unrated Special Edition DVD (click for larger image)Starring Donnie Wahlberg, Shawnee Smith, Tobin Bell, Franky G, Glenn Plummer, Beverley Mitchell, and Dina Meyer

Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman

Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment

The time:
Monday, February 13th, 2006

The prediction:
*puts on turban and glares into a crystal ball* I predict an unrated, extras packed DVD of Saw II next year! Don’t mess with me, man; I was one of Dionne Warwick’s Psychic Friends!

Yep, those were my words just a few months ago, and except for the time frame, my forecast was dead on. Here we sit just a few days shy of Saw III‘s theatrical release, and in stores we can now find a new edition of Saw II. Who knew, right? Double dipping is a scary prospect for fans. We’ve all been there. I’m sure just about everyone reading this has owned several editions of each Evil Dead film and probably at least two versions of Jaws. So the question once again beckons: Does this newest two-disc release of Saw II give us enough bang to warrant the extra bucks?

The answer — Hell yes!

I’m not going to bother covering the film’s storyline as we already have two other reviews that do that aspect of a review justice, so let’s get right to the goods.

First up, what’s extra in the film itself? In a nutshell, we get a few more looks at some of the movie’s violence. You know the drill — some gooier brain matter here, an extra bit of burning flesh there. Hell, you may not even notice the extra shots if you haven’t watched this in a while. It’s pretty standard stuff except for the restoration of one scene in particular: the needle pit. In the theatrical cut of Saw II this scene lasted around the two-minute mark. If you’re watching that version closely, you’ll see a discrepancy on the trap’s timer; it counts down from four minutes to two minutes in literally the blink of an eye. Well guess what, kids? Those missing minutes have been lovingly added back into this disturbing little mix. All in all, the excised footage gives us a few extra minutes of brutality. Not too shabby, but what makes this edition really shine is the supplemental material.

In addition to the new cut of the flick, Disc One also finds itself sporting two insightful commentaries. The first with director Darren Lynn Bousman, production designer David Hackl, and editor Kevin Greutert tackles a lot of the technical aspects of making the movie. Don’t worry, it’s not all techie stuff. Bousman and company also spend a great deal of time talking up the on-set antics, what it’s like working with the actors, and a few quick glimpses at where their heads are at pertaining to Saw III. The second track finds franchise creators Leigh Whannell and James Wan discussing their inspirations and sharing anecdotes about filmmaking in general. Listening to these two guys chat is like being privy to an intimate conversation between best friends. Really good stuff. It’s a shame that Saw II‘s original commentary track didn’t make the jump to this release, but hey, you can’t have everything, right? Fear not, Disc Two more than makes up for this omission.

Saw II: Unrated Special Edition DVD (click for larger image)As soon as you pop this baby in, you’re informed by Billy the Puppet that you have two choices: You can either access the supplements the easy way, or you can do it the hard way. The novice route is simple stuff; click on an icon and be transported to an extras menu where everything is laid out for you in black and white. Or should I say black and dirty gray? If I had to pick one thing that’s very wrong with this disc, it’s the way that the words (fonts) blend in with the menu graphics. There were a couple of times I honestly couldn’t see what I was choosing to watch from my couch. While this is annoying, it’s hardly a deal breaker. Included is a literal cavalcade of featurettes that cover just about every conceivable thing about Saw II. The first thing we get to watch is a several part series of featurettes dealing with the ordeal that was getting the film from script to screen and beyond. As a whole these featurettes total up to a bit over a half an hour’s worth of behind-the-scenes goodies and interviews.

Next up on the slab we find Darren Lynn Bousman’s short student film Zombie complete with self-deprecating commentary track. Clocking in at around two minutes, Zombie is exactly what you would expect a student film to be — nothing great. While you will see a couple of flashes of brilliance here and there, this addition to this set is certainly nothing to write home about.

From there we get an interesting little feature called The Scott Tibbs Documentary. This Blair Witch style mockumentary follows the exploits of obnoxious band front man Scott Tibbs. Scott is obsessed with serial killers. Especially Jigsaw. So what’s a crazed fan-boy to do? Grab a camera and engage in a little digging, of course. Upon his exploration of the Saw mythos, Scott ends up eventually on the wrong side of the trap. I’m sure you can guess how this one ends.

Ever wonder what the story behind the Saw franchise is? I mean come on, these movies have some really fucked up shit in them. As Whannell and Wan explain in The Story Behind the Story featurette, the genesis of Saw really isn’t all that grisly, but it is a bit on the disturbing side. I’m not gonna ruin it for ya! Check out the DVD for yourselves!

Things are wrapped up with a heartfelt tribute to late producer Gregg Hoffman. Gregg helped to create a lot of memories for horror fans the world over. He will be missed and always remembered. God speed, my friend. Save us a seat at the big cinema in the sky.

There’s no denying it; this DVD is stacked. But what of the aforementioned hard way to watch the extras? Did you think I’d forget about that? Come on, you know old UC always has your hook-up! For those of you up for a bit of a challenge, you can participate in one of Jigsaw’s murder games. Upon beginning, you’ll find yourself sitting in a virtual room with Billy on the TV instructing you what to do. He will ask you a series of riddles, and you’ll need to find the key to any one of several death traps in order to make it through five rounds of questions. Get them all right and you’ll be shown some maniacal takes on some very old stories with Billy as your narrator and guide. The game is interesting and silly fun for sure, but it’s not likely one you’ll come back to and mess with more than once or twice. Good thing that easy route is an option!

The Saw franchise has quickly become one of horror’s premier properties. It’s only fitting that the movies themselves get the royal DVD treatment. Maybe next time Lionsgate will spare us the initial release and provide the goods the first time around. Double dipping can sometimes be justified, but it’s never any fun. If they do this with the Saw III DVD release, they’re likely to find hordes of fans screaming, “GAME OVER“! Let’s hope for the best, shall we?

Special Features
Commentary by director Darren Lynn Bousman, production designer David Hackl, and editor Kevin Greutert
Commentary by writer/executive producer Leigh Whannell and executive producer James Wan
Zombie – a short student film by director Darren Lynn Bousman
The Scott Tibbs Documentary featurette
The Making of Saw II featurettes
The Story Behind the Story featurette
Gregg Hoffman: In Memorium tribute to producer Gregg Hoffman
Play Me set-top game

4 out of 5

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Steve Barton

You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never, ever choose to be.

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