I gotta tell ya: the initial rush of DVD "special features" wore off on me pretty quickly following the introduction of the technology. Don't get me wrong - my bones were built on the protein of The Making of "Thriller" and HBO First Look. And maybe that's just the thing: maybe a lotta these special features weren't so special. I know for some people it's the only reason to buy these goddamn things, but for me, in the end, it really was just about the movie (or show).
Nevertheless! There are popular supplements and hidden gems all around us: some that are worth your time, some that make it worth the purchase, and at least one instance where the specialness of the features are more special than the film on which they focus.
Heed this list as a guide to the stuff that you may've potentially ignored -- or, as tangible appreciation of the grooves of which you already approve.
HARD EIGHT - Two Filmmakers' Commentaries
P.T. movies lead the industry when it comes to special features - especially the earlier ones. And this, his earliest, has no shortage of fanfare despite its small scope and limited theatrical distribution.
The disc has two equally engrossing commentary tracks - my favorite being the one featuring just Paul & Philip Baker Hall, which opens with Paul literally singing Aimee Mann's "I Should Have Known."
JACKIE BROWN - Pam Grier Movie Trailers / Robert Forster Movie Trailers
Quentin doesn't do much in terms of extras nowadays. It's a shame, because this set is a shrine to its very particular niche of film history - particularly because of the dozens of movie trailers of every film Pam Grier and Robert Forster ever made in their respective careers. Were I introducing this movie to someone who's never seen it, I would start with these.
LITTLE MONSTERS - "Making Maurice"
In case you were wondering, they did a marvelous job with this package - so much so that I had a little trouble picking just one bonus segment. But if you're like me, you can't pass up a good, lengthy makeup FX featurette - especially when it's mostly raw footage depicting the entire application, complete with incessant in-chair Howie Mandel wisecracking.
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: THE SCREAMING SKULL - Gumby & Clokey
Ever since Rhino became Shout! Factory, the MST3K box sets have enlisted Ballyhoo Motion Pictures to produce a series of comprehensive, esoteric featurettes to accompany many of their episodes.
The refreshing thing is that, for a show that makes fun of its subject matter, these short-form documentaries remain entirely objective and informative, and - in the case of this brief history of "Gumby" creator Art Clokey - heartwarming.
THE GODFATHER - Foreign Language Easter Egg
The novelty of "Easter Eggs" was as fleeting as the hidden clips themselves. And like all bonus material: sometimes they were useful, sometimes they were interesting, and sometimes they were stupid. This very short Godfather surprise is all three of these adjectives; a hidden montage of the Saga's globally famous lines/catchphrases, cut together in the various foreign language dubs available in the set.
These movies have their share of humor, but this silliness is just delightful.
THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST - On Location in Morocco
Behind-the-scenes footage shot by Martin Scorsese? It's weird and wonderful -- particularly to witness Jesus in a mobile home, as well as a master filmmaker teaching himself how to use a consumer-grade video camera.
THE DEVIL'S REJECTS - Deleted Scenes: "Dr. Satan Attacks"
Don't get me wrong: Devil's offered a welcomed change of tone, but it would've been damned neat if one of the more prominent threads of 1000 Corpses could've carried over into its sequel.
Lo & behold, the gruesome, exhilarating bridge between the films was left on the blood-soaked cutting room floor - and I'm not so sure it should've been... (and that's a fun thing to argue about.)
THE SIMPSONS: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON - Commercials
For me, Simpsons DVDs pay for themselves - like, 40,000 times over. But that's just for the episodes -- the features, as sparse as they are, were never really the draw. I'm no fool though; if you got old TV commercials (especially ones from m-m-my generation) I'm gonna be there. Besides, the old Butterfinger commercials (even if they didn't really jibe with the humor of the show) are kinda like 'lost episodes.'
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS - Outtakes
There are "outtakes" and there are "bloopers." These are bloopers, folks. And you know, the grim tone of the movie just makes them that much more enjoyable -- if for no better reason than that they accomplish what 'movie mistakes' always accomplish, which is to include us all in the fun of filmmaking.
Also, this is the only example I can think of that makes a case for collecting more than one home video release of the same movie; this feature apparently wasn't worthy of Criterion.
JASON GOES TO HELL - Filmmaker Commentary
Well, here it is: my whole reason for writing this thing, and the whole reason for ever watching this mostly-mediocre movie.
JG2H is a weird, low-budget SciFi Action/Adventure flick that combines pod people stuff with Slasher tropes. But who cares? If you haven't watched it while listening to the "Filmmaker Commentary," you're missing out on a wild movie-watching experience. No one is more aware (or candid) about this film's strengths and weaknesses than director Adam Marcus and screenwriter Dean Lorey: two Friday the 13th fans who understand (apparently better than most people) the kind of attitude one should take while watching this franchise.
So you can jump onto message boards and comments sections and bitch about the "change of pace" and "sparse screentime of Jason" (::dramatic eye-roll::), or you can share your viewing time with two guys who are quicker to make fun of it than you are, and who also understand how to compose a home video commentary track better than most artists.