Darkman Collectors Edition Blu-ray Review (Mania.com)
By:Robert T. Trate
Review Date: Tuesday, February 18, 2014
During the entire of summer of 1990, the tag line: “Who is Darkman?” echoed in movie theaters and on televisions. The interesting thing was that we all really wanted to know. I’m still shocked that my parents took me see Darkman. They had no clue who Sam Raimi or Liam Neeson were. Oddly enough they would later become household names. This just looked like the right kind of fun summer movie.
Here we are 24 years later and Scream Factory is given Raimi’s dark superhero tale the treatment it so rightfully deserves. When I say I am a fan of Darkman, please believe me. If not, I will tell you that I have crafted my own Darkman action figure (out of burnt Spawn) and performed his meltdown scene, “see the dancing freak”, in my high school drama class. So long after my Blockbuster “previously viewed” Video cassette had worn out, I wanted the film on DVD. Imagine my surprise when there was only the trailer attached for the special features. As Raimi’s popularity grew and the studios started to celebrate his other older works over and over again, I thought Universal Studios would celebrate Darkman. The 2007 Trilogy release was just another slap in the face. So when I tell you that the Scream Factory Collector’s Edition is an A+, you better believe it!
I could go into great details about the plot and story of this film that is nearly a quarter of a century old. If you don’t know “Who is Darkman?” by now, you are clearly on the wrong site. The story of Peyton Westlake (Liam Neeson) is the very best of The Phantom of the Opera, The Invisible Man, and The Shadow. Before Sam Raimi went off and told the story of Spider-Man on the big screen, he crafted this dark tale of a good man who has to learn to live with the consequences of his life, a man who was pushed out of the light and into the darkness.
The Blu-ray Experience:
Where all other releases of Darkman failed (and failed miserably) was in the special features. There were simply none. Now the marketing of the film, even back in 1990 was colossal. Universal Studios followed the path that Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) had laid out. Though not as kid friendly with the R rating, Darkman had a massive ad campaign. A simple trailer or TV spot reel would have been easy to add to the DVD. If anything, a collection of posters and stills with a sample of Danny Elfman’s score would have been good, too. Where would Universal get these? If they weren’t in the archives, they are on eBay. Thank god for Scream Factory!
The complete list of special features is posted below. What is appalling is that Universal Studios had over an hour of vintage interviews from the leads and Sam Raimi about the film. Scream Factory supplied them here as well as a vintage 9 minute making-of. Again, where were these on the 1998 DVD release? Those alone would have satisfied this fan of the film. Where Scream Factory rivals the Criterion Collection is in their love of movies and special features. Scream Factory collected new interviews with Liam Neeson, Larry Drake, Frances McDormand, and several members of the cast and crew. Each and every one of them said that they had an enjoyable experience on making Darkman. Neeson revealed that he still has the hat and shirt. Drake loved playing a socially unredeemable character. McDormand couldn’t believe the performance that Neeson gave and stated that he just loved working behind the mask. The cast and crew highlight the brilliance of this film that required old school movie tricks and practical effects. It is interesting to note that the only computer that worked on this film was the one that kept track of the production budget. Sadly, there are no recent interviews from Sam Raimi or composer Danny Elfman.
If you are fan of Darkman, this is the release you have been waiting for. My copy sits proudly with my copy of Danny Elfman’s score, my “Who is Darkman?” button, and my official Darkman action figure from Sota Toys. This Blu-ray, with all its bells and whistles, was worth the wait.
Interviews with Liam Neeson and Frances McDormand
MY NAME IS DURANT – interview with Larry Drake
THE FACE OF REVENGE – interview with Makeup Designer Tony Gardner
HENCHMAN TALES – Interviews with actors Danny Hicks and Dan Bell
DARK DESIGN – interview with Production Designer Randy Ser and Art Director Philip Dagort
Audio Commentary with director of photography Bill Pope
Vintage “Making of” and interview Featurettes featuring interviews with Sam Raimi, Liam Neeson, Frances McDormand and more…
Vintage full-length interviews, not used in the featurettes, with Sam Raimi, Liam Neeson and Frances McDormand
Still Galleries – Posters & production stills, Behind the Scenes, Make-up Effects and Storyboards
1080p High-Definition Widescreen (2.35:1)/ DTS Master Audio 5.1/1990/Color/96 minutes/Subtitles: English/Special Features are Not Rated.
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Mania Grade: A+
Starring: Liam Neeson, Frances McDormand, Colin Friels, Larry Drake, Dan Hicks, Ted Raimi, Dan Bell
Written By: Sam Raimi (story), Chuck Pfarrer (screenplay)
Directed By: Sam Raimi
Original Year of Release: 1990
Studio: Universal Studios
Distributor: Scream Factory
Special Features: See Below