David Cronenberg’s films have got­ten a lot of atten­tion on home video over the years.  However, the size of his fil­mog­ra­phy has ensured that some titles have got­ten more play than oth­ers on var­i­ous for­mats.  Consider Dead Ringers: it got an ear­ly Criterion DVD and a 2005 Warner Brothers disc but sub­se­quent­ly drift­ed out of print.  It deadr-bluhas final­ly made it to blu-ray via a new spe­cial edi­tion from Scream Factory.  The results give it the red car­pet treat­ment it has long deserved in this for­mat.

Firstly, you get two trans­fers: a 1.78.1 trans­fer on the first disc and a new 2K trans­fer of the inter­pos­i­tive at 1.66:1, Cronenberg’s pre­ferred ratio, on the sec­ond disc.  Both look good but the it’s the 1.66:1 trans­fer that gets the edge here.  Everything — col­or, detail, film grain — looks a lit­tle bet­ter on the 2K trans­fer.  Both 5.1 and 2.0 loss­less stereo mix­es are includ­ed for each trans­fer.  The 5.1 was uti­lized for this review: like the film itself, it’s a sub­tle affair.  Surround speak­er effects are deployed gen­tly and it’s the musi­cal score that real­ly ben­e­fits from the full dig­i­tal treat­ment.

In terms of extras, this set car­ries over vin­tage DVD extras and adds some impres­sive new mate­ri­al as well.  Here’s what you can look for­ward to:

Commentary 1: This is a solo track with William Beard, a film pro­fes­sor and Cronenberg schol­ar.  He gives the film an appro­pri­ate­ly intel­lec­tu­al scene-by-scene analy­sis, focus­ing on “twin-ness” as a the­me and offer­ing a stream of com­ments with par­tic­u­lar focus on char­ac­ter­i­za­tions, direc­to­ri­al tech­nique and visu­als (he has real­ly inter­est­ing obser­va­tions on the use of light­ing).  He describes the film as “the sad­dest of Cronenberg films — and the best”: this track makes a nice case for that.

Commentary 2: this is a DVD-era solo track with Jeremy Irons.  He gets into the artis­tic and tech­ni­cal chal­lenges of play­ing twins, also offer­ing his thoughts on his direc­tor and cast­mates.  Comments get sparser as the track pro­gress­es but there’s enough inter­est­ing thoughts on the act­ing process for fans to give it a lis­ten.

Heidi Von Palleske inter­view (19:05): this actress dis­cuss­es one of her ear­li­est roles with great fond­ness.  She reveals how she land­ed the role before explor­ing her thoughts on Cronenberg and Irons, the tech­ni­cal chal­lenges of the scene where she dances with twins and her thought­ful analy­sis of key sce­nes.  A par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ing moment arrives when she dis­cuss­es how her mom, who was a twin in real life, react­ed to the film.

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Stephen Lack inter­view (23:56): if you’ve seen an inter­view with Lack before, you know this artist and some­time actor is a fas­ci­nat­ing­ly quirky char­ac­ter.  He lives up to that descrip­tion here, offer­ing a tour through his per­son­al gallery that is inter­cut with anec­dotes about his rela­tion­ship with Cronenberg, some fun anec­dotes about the shoot (lis­ten for the lighter sto­ry) and an analy­sis of the film.  It’s quite enter­tain­ing, par­tic­u­lar­ly the parts where he reads from some illus­trat­ed books he has cre­at­ed.

Gordon Smith inter­view (19:16): the make­up FX spe­cial­ist is frank about his dis­agree­ments with the direc­tor and his own tech­ni­cal fail­ures as he dis­cuss­es the film’s make­up effects, includ­ing a few that didn’t make it into the film.  You’ll learn about the alter­na­tive ver­sion of the film’s “siame­se twins” effect as well as anoth­er, sim­i­lar effect that was cut from the film (and why).

Peter Suschitsky inter­view (12:41): the vet­er­an cin­e­matog­ra­pher dis­cuss­es this film, which was the begin­ning of a lengthy asso­ci­a­tion with Cronenberg.  He goes into detail on their instinc­tive work­ing process and how they shot the sce­nes with both twins on cam­era at the same time.

Vintage Interviews (17:03): a com­pre­hen­sive block of talk­ing head inter­views uti­lized for the vin­tage fea­turet­te seen else­where on the disc. It includes a pro­file of Irons, a nice expan­sive chat with Cronenberg where he dis­cuss­es both the film’s tech­ni­cal chal­lenges and taboo themes and some brief inter­views with pro­duc­er Marc Boyman and co-writer Norman Snyder.

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Vintage Behind The Scenes Featurette (7:14): an EPK pro­duced dur­ing the film’s shoot that mix­es talk­ing heads, on-set footage and film clips.  It’s inter­est­ing to note how it tries to make the film look like more of a “nor­mal” dra­ma than it is.  It also gives you the best look at the cam­era trick­ery involved in cre­at­ing the visu­al illu­sion of Irons as twins.

Trailer (1:36): sells the film like a scary soap opera.  Fittingly, it uses some musi­cal cues from the score of the pre­vi­ous Cronenberg film, The Fly.

To read Schlockmania’s film review of Dead Ringers, click here.