Confused Views: Collection killers

News Matt Edwards 5 Aug 2010 - 05:44

Matt Edwards highlights the DVDs that, should you dare to buy them, will kill your collection outright...

As much as possible, I try to keep this column accessible. I mean, not language-wise or by being pleasant or coherent, but I try not to get too nerdy.

I know we're on Den Of Geek, but I try to be realistic. I'm not saying that I'm usually successful, but I do try a bit.

This week, I'm not trying very hard. This article is not going to make sense to you if you're not a bit geeky about collecting something. I mean, do feel free to keep reading. Who am I to tell you that you won't enjoy it? What exactly puts me in a position to comment? I'm an idiot. However, if you are going to keep reading, please don't try to apply logic to collecting. It doesn't work like that. Collecting is not a hobby that is born of logic. I'm sure that there are many reasons I collect things and that a well-qualified psychiatrist would have no trouble explaining to me what they are. But it's not the logical answer to some question I‘ve been posed in life. I just do it. I like to.

I'm quite obsessive about DVD buying and have been involved in all sorts of ridiculous practices. These have, on occasion, involved buying foreign collectors editions where the discs are essentially useless, double, triple and even quadruple dipping on titles, buying multiple cuts of the same film and owning more copies of The Evil Dead 3 than I'm comfortable admitting. Of all of these practices, few can compete with the ludicrousness of the ‘completion purchase'.

The ‘completion purchase' is a DVD you buy just so you have the full set. For example, if a person were to buy The Next Karate Kid using the reasoning "Well, it's awful, but I've got all of the Macchio Karate Kid movies, so I should probably complete the set", then The Next Karate Kid would be a ‘completion purchase'. I have made many, many completion purchases because I'm very, very thick.

However, in the last few years I've started running into films that can only be described as ‘collection killers'. Films that are so dreadful that you can't buy them, even if it does render your collection incomplete.

Michael Bay's production company Platinum Dunes are experts in crafting ‘collection killers'. It's their speciality and they're ever so consistent. Their most recent cinematic ejaculation slid down screens and stung my eyes earlier this year. It was a reimagining of A Nightmare On Elm Street and was so rubbish that I just can't bring myself to buy it.

To give this some context, I had all of the Elm Street films on VHS cassette (except number 5 which always managed to elude me), have all of them on DVD (the eight disc import boxset complete with 3D glasses), had the special edition of the first one on DVD and have the imported Blu-ray of the original too. I've also got the only official DVD release of Freddy's Nightmares, which contains the first three episodes (and I've got, erm, one unofficial complete collection of the episodes) and have a special documentary produced by one of the guys who did special effects on Nightmare 4.

I take my Elm Street collection seriously. But, thanks to Michael ‘Explosion' Bay, it's over now.

The press release announcing the US release date for the film really brought this home to me. I sighed as I read and admitted to myself that I can't do it. The film is just too boring. I don't want to have to sit through it again. This is a film I dislike to such a degree that I'm genuinely not happy to have it sitting next to Freddy Vs Jason in my collection. Let that idea gestate for a minute. You remember how terrible Freddy Vs Jason was? Well, the remake was worse than that. Worse. As in less good.

Platinum Dunes did the same thing to my Friday The 13th collection last year. Granted, I'm less dedicated (or jaw-droppingly pathetic, depending on how you look at it) to the Friday series, but that's another instance of Platinum Dunes ending a red-hot collecting streak that had involved several video cassettes, DVD's and a Blu-ray (although I'll admit that I've been avoiding eye contact with the TV series).

They also killed my Texas Chainsaw Massacre collection, although they did so in a different way. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has the most bizarre sequels you could ever imagine. For a start, none of the sequels acknowledge each other, as each is intended as a direct carry-on to the original film.

Second, they're all extremely strange films. The first sequel is about a rogue policeman, played by Dennis Hopper, chasing the Sawyer family after they kidnap a hippy radio DJ. The second, which is called Leatherface, is about the famous villain from the original relocating to a swampy shack to live with his cousins, who are similarly disturbed and occasionally played by Viggo Mortensen. The fourth film, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, has Renée Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey in it, which is reason enough to see it.

The first Platinum Dunes Chainsaw remake was actually not too bad (certainly better than most of the original sequels) but the prequel to that film, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, was so boring that I never want to have to sit through it again. Hence, another collection dead.

I think there are two reasons why Platinum Dunes appears to be contract killers, hunting down and laying waste to our favourite horror franchises. The first is that it's the collectability of these franchises that they're banking on. They know that idiots like me will see and, usually, buy any old tat that's linked to these films and they want to be the people I buy that tat from.

The second problem is that their films, for the most part, are very boring. They're not necessarily worse than most of the films in these series that I have, but they're not at all interesting. I bought Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation out of curiosity. It's terrible, but every few years I'll throw it on and try to grasp what on Earth they were trying to do. These new remakes feel like a marketing exercise, taking these interesting films and concepts and turning out glossy anodyne approximations. No grasping required.

Of course, Platinum Dunes aren't the only collection killers out there. George Lucas has the blood of many DVD collections on his hands. I've no doubt that many Star Wars fans have simply given up on handing their cash over to the guy. And what luck that we'd all already bought the Indiana Jones boxset prior to Kingdom Of Crystal Skull's release. Sorry George, no double dip required.

Moving back briefly to horror franchises, I wonder how the recent Halloween remake series has affected Michael Myers collections on DVD shelves? Not so much, would be my guess. I'm in the minority here, in that I really liked Zombieween 1 and 2, but I also suspect that there were very few complete Halloween collections to begin with.

Halloween does not benefit from a tidy collection boxset, as Elm Street and Friday the 13th do. There was once a big box release, but it was pricey and soon became out of print. I bet some of you have it, you lucky sons of guns. The releases of the Halloween series are scattered and inconsistent. Some of the films are really quite difficult to find. On top of that, the third film in the series doesn't feature Michael Myers, and so, has probably killed a few Halloween collections before they ever really started (despite it being considerably better than many of the ‘proper' sequels).

In some ways, it's nice to have the burden lifted. I'll never again feel like I have to sit down a watch a shitty looking Freddy movie. Of course, I'd much rather have another good one to enjoy, but such is life.

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