For the last few decades, Dr. Butcher, M.D. has been one of the lost leg­ends of grind­house film on disc.  Its par­ent film Zombie Holocaust has had a few DVD and blu-ray incar­na­tions but those inter­est­ed in the punchy American edit had to rely on dupes of the old, blur­ry Paragon Video VHS.  Severin has put an end to this with a DrButch-blucol­lec­tor-friend­ly two-disc set that col­lects both edits of the film in high-def qual­i­ty plus a bevy of sup­ple­ments that will please fans of both ver­sions.

The trans­fers look great here: vibrant col­ors abound, nice detail with appro­pri­ate lev­els of cel­lu­loid grain and an over­all vivid­ness that was unimag­in­able to those who became famil­iar with the film via that mud­dy VHS edi­tion.  Lossless mono tracks on both offer nice, clear ren­di­tions of the vin­tage mix­es: you can real­ly appre­ci­ate the added gross-out sound FX added to the American edi­tion as well as that wild syn­th score.

Without fur­ther ado, here’s a quick run-through of the extras by disc.

Italian Version Blu-Ray:

Voodoo Man (8:14): a fast but info-dense chat with star Ian McCulloch.  He gives a quick overview of his career as an actor and relays a fun­ny tale of how he end­ed up in Italian shock­ers.  He reveals that Zombie Holocaust was his favorite and offers brief thoughts of his direc­tor and cast­mates.

Blood Of The Zombies (23:03):  FX artist Rosario Prestopino cov­ers his expe­ri­ences with Zombie Holocaust as well as gen­er­al thoughts about the Italian film busi­ness.  You get expla­na­tions of how dif­fer­ent effects were achieved, often over footage of said effects, as well as an inter­est­ing descrip­tion of how Italian gen­re film finance worked in its hey­day.  He’s soft-spo­ken but shows a charm­ing love for his trade.

Enzo DrButch-05On Marino (7:46): a quick audio inter­view with cult fave film­mak­er Enzo Castellari, the son of Zombie Holocaust direc­tor Marino Girolami,  that plays over a vari­ety of stills and press pho­tos.  He paints a por­trait of his father as a kind, moti­vat­ed man of many inter­ests who found a niche in the film busi­ness and brought up his sons for suc­cess.  He also reveals an amus­ing feel­ing of sur­prise that his com­e­dy-spe­cial­ist father end­ed up direct­ing a grue­some hor­ror flick.

Sherry Holocaust (34:04): the American-born actress has a leisure­ly but com­pelling chat as she reveals how she got into the Italian film busi­ness and enjoyed an idyl­lic peri­od work­ing as a mod­el and actress in Italy dur­ing the late ‘70s/early ‘80s.  She speaks with great fond­ness about the fam­i­ly atmos­phere of Italian sets and also reveals why she tran­si­tioned out of the busi­ness.

Neurosurgery Italian Style (4:36): a brief but amus­ing snip­pet of chat from FX super­vi­sor Maurizio Trani who talks about the off-the-cuff nature of the Italian make­up FX busi­ness, offer­ing a nice trib­ute to Prestopino and DrButch-04reveal­ing how the “beat the clock” nature of his work led to inno­va­tion.

New York Filming Locations — Then And Now (3:03): a quick piece that com­pares shots of the New York loca­tions from the film with how they look now.  Surprisingly, it’s a 50–50 split between changed and unchanged, reveal­ing how time­less a lot of NYC archi­tec­ture is.

Audio Bonus: an audio pre­sen­ta­tion of an ear­ly ‘60s folk sin­gle by Ian McCulloch, “Down By The River,” that shows he was a pret­ty decent singer!

Trailers: both Italian and German ver­sion of the European spots, a lengthy piece that is essen­tial­ly a great­est-hits reel of footage from the film.

Italian Soundtrack: alas, there are no English sub­ti­tles for it but you do get a bonus option of watch­ing the Zombie Holocaust cut with the orig­i­nal Italian mono mix.

U.S. Edit Blu-Ray:

Butchery And Ballyhoo (31:36): a fun inter­view with Terry Levene, who was one of the great leg­ends of exploita­tion film thanks to his work run­ning Aquarius Releasing.  He talks about his adven­tures in film dis­tri­b­u­tion, which include every­thing from Deep Throat to a Truffaut film(!).  He’s a regal pres­ence but shows a sense of sar­don­ic wit as he gets into the top­ic of Dr. Butcher, M.D. and how he envi­sioned the film and cam­paign as a way to top his gross-out suc­cess with Make Them Die Slowly.  Near the end, he also offers an inter­est­ing and com­plex take on the death of 42nd Street as a grind­house des­ti­na­tion.

DrButch-003Down On The Deuce (21:55): a his­tor­i­cal piece about 42nd Street and its grind­house the­aters, pre­sent­ed as a walk-and-talk chat between film­mak­er Roy Frumkes and film his­to­ri­an Chris Poggiali of Temple Of Schlock fame.  Frumkes talks about the expe­ri­ence of watch­ing films on 42nd Street and also reveals how footage from an unre­leased pro­duc­tion became the new open­ing sequence for Dr. Butcher, M.D.  Poggiali offers a lot of fas­ci­nat­ing info about the the­aters, their spe­cialties and what became of them.  A must-watch for grind­house afi­ciona­dos.

Roy Frumkes film clip (8:07): Frumkes nar­rates a reel of footage from Tales That’ll Tear Your Heart Out, the unre­leased hor­ror anthol­o­gy that Levene lift­ed footage from for his Dr Butcher, M.D. titles sequence. There’s lots of inter­est­ing details about the dif­fer­ent film­mak­ers involved, includ­ing Wes Craven, and what the dif­fer­ent sto­ries would have been.

The Butcher Mobile (12:33): an inter­view with Rick Sullivan, the scribe behind the leg­endary fanzine The Gore Gazette.  He gives a wit­ty account of his times as a grind­house the­ater-goer, includ­ing his rival­ry with fel­low zinester Bill Landis and friend­ships with Michael Weldon and Levene as well as why he ulti­mate­ly stopped pub­lish­ing.  Best of all, there’s a fun account of how he helped cre­ate and worked on the famous “butcher mobile” pro­mo cam­paign for Dr Butcher, M.D.DrButch-blu2

Cutting Dr. Butcher (10:12): an infor­ma­tive sit­down with Jim Markovic, who super­vised the Aquarius re-edit/remix that trans­formed Zombie Holocaust into Dr Butcher, M.D.  He gets into the strate­gies that Levine used to “trick out” for­eign films for domes­tic grind­house con­sump­tion and how the re-cut­ting and ad cam­paign devel­op­ment process­es worked.  He also offers a few hair-rais­ing bits about the dan­gers of work­ing on 42nd street.

Trailers: you get the the­atri­cal spot for Dr Butcher, M.D., which might be the great­est grind­house hor­ror trail­er ever made, and two bonus VHS pro­mo spots that are just as charm­ing­ly trashy.

Text Essay: an excel­lent piece by Gary Hertz that gets into the dark allure of moviego­ing on the Deuce, includ­ing some fun anec­dotes about crowd reac­tions to dif­fer­ent films.

To read Schlockmania’s film review of Dr Butcher, M.D., click here.