Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Edward Sanders, Timothy Spall, Jayne Wisener
Directed by Tim Burton
Distributed by Dreamworks Home Entertainment
“There’s a hole in the world like a great black pit, and it’s filled with people who are filled of shit, and the vermin of the world inhabit it, and it goes by the name of London” — Sweeney
And with that, we’re off on one of the oldest and darkest journeys into madness and vengeance that the world has ever known. Johnny Depp plays everyone’s favorite demon barber with the maniacal glee of a serial killer picking up his first sharpened shiny object, and who better to give him a world to stain with blood than the great Tim Burton? No one, that’s who. Sweeney Todd is a movie so well crafted that it would be easy to sit here and gush like the many geysers of gore that escape the throats of this film’s victims, and honestly with a movie this good and a DVD set this packing, that’s just what I intend to do. Before we tackle all that (and there is a lot to tackle), let’s look at the events leading up to Sweeney’s rampage.
Based upon the Broadway musical and complete with songs by Stephen Sondheim, Sweeney Todd tells the story of Benjamin Barker (Depp), a local barber in London with the perfect life. That is until the vile Judge Turpin (Rickman) takes an interest in his wife and daughter. It’s not long before the judge has Barker, framed for a crime he didn’t commit, sent away, leaving his spouse and child unprotected and in his clutches.
Years later Barker returns to London under a new name, Sweeney Todd, and as soon as he reaches the city’s shores, he’s off to find out what happened to his wife and little girl. Unfortunately, Sweeney finds that Mrs. Barker has passed on and his kid is still being victimized by Turpin as he keeps her locked away in his home. As you can imagine, this doesn’t sit well. Todd decides to open up a new barbershop above a meat pie store run by the equally as crazed Mrs. Lovett (Carter), and together the two make quite a team. Sweeney provides the cattle and Lovett does the butchering and the cooking. This goes on as Sweeney rids London of its corrupt aristocracy shave by shave, in the hopes that one day he may be able get his revenge on Turpin and save his daughter Johanna (Wisener).
“Alright! You, sir? How about a shave? Come and visit. Your good friend Sweeney! You sir! Too, sir! Welcome to the grave. I will have vengeance. I will have salvation… Who, sir? You sir! No one’s in the chair come on, come on! Sweeney’s waiting! I want you bleeders. You sir? Anybody? Gentlemen, now don’t be shy. Not one man. No, nor ten men. Nor a hundred can assuage me.” — Sweeney
And vengeance is exactly what Todd has as this film spews blood by the bucketful at a relentless pace. In my opinion this is Burton, Depp, and Carter at their absolute finest. Brilliant is an understatement when referring to Sweeney Todd. For a more in-depth review of the film itself, check out Tristan’s Sweeney Todd review here. Our subject of the day is the two-disc special edition DVD, and WOW is there a lot of ground to cover!
Disc One is home to the film and just a single supplement, the twenty-six-minute featurette entitled Burton + Depp + Carter = Todd. This bit of goodness basically documents the making of the movie from the mouths of the title stars. Covered here are casting, costume designs, character development, and recording the film’s soundtrack. While rock solid stuff, I still have to wonder where the hell the commentary is? That’s the only missing piece of the puzzle in this set, but not to worry — Disc Two more than makes up for the missing track.
Things kick off with footage from a press conference from November of 2007 with director Tim Burton, stars Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, and Timothy Spall, and producer Richard Zanuck. Running about twenty minutes, this is nothing earth shattering, but it’s entertaining nevertheless. The really good stuff starts with the next featurette, Sweeney is Alive: The Real History of The Demon Barber. Coming in at around twenty-six minutes, this bit of supplemental goodness covers the London legend of Sweeney Todd, which dates back to the late 1700’s. Did this happen? Could it have happened? Does this tale share anything in common with that of cannibal Sawney Bean? Everyone from historians to professors get their say, and without question this was one of the most interesting things I’ve watched in a really long time. Excellent stuff! Next up are six more featurettes to pour through, Musical Mayhem: Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd (twelve minutes), Sweeney’s London (a look at how London actually was during this time period — seventeen minutes), The Making-of Sweeney Todd (twenty-four minutes), Designs for a Demon Barber (a look at the film’s costumes, set decoration and production designs — nine minutes), A Bloody Buisness (a look at the F/X — nine minutes), and the gem of them all, Grand Guignol: A Theatrical Tradition (twenty minutes).
While a little off-topic, Grand Guignol: A Theatrical Tradition, takes a look at the birth of horror theatre in France and the impact it had on both the Broadway musical and, of course, the film itself. As a huge fan of everything Grand Guignol, seeing its history documented from its birth in 1897 to present day was an absolute dream for me! Riddled with still photos and lots of insight, this is one part of this set you just don’t want to miss. But alas, there are still a few more tasty tidbits to discuss …
Things are finally wrapped up on Disc Two beginning with MovieFone Unscripted with Tim Burton and Johnny Depp interviewing Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. Running twelve minutes, it’s easy to see the chemistry these two have with each other. You won’t learn anything that hasn’t already been covered elsewhere on this DVD, but it’s still a good time. From there we have The Razor’s Refrain featurette, which is basically an eight-minute musical montage, a photo gallery, and the movie’s trailer.
In retrospect I don’t think I could have handled a commentary too. Sweeney Todd gets my vote for DVD of the year. The film itself is genius, and this set packs everything you could have hoped for and lays it on thick. Hit the link below and get yourself a copy like yesterday!
“They all deserve to die! Tell you why, Mrs. Lovett, tell you why! Because in all of the whole human race, Mrs. Lovett, there are two kinds of men and only two. There’s the one staying put in his proper place and one with his foot in the other one’s face. Look at me, Mrs. Lovett! Look at you! No, we all deserve to die. Even you, Mrs. Lovett, even I!” — Sweeney
Revenge has never been so ghastly sweet!
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Discuss Sweeney Todd in our Dread Central forums!