One blu-ray in a collector’s edition isn’t the limit for Scream Factory anymore. As they showed with their excellent 2 blu-ray set of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, they’ve got the chops to complex presentations of fan favorites that boast tons of extras and sometimes multiple transfers. They’ve applied this treatment to the Michael Mann cult classic Manhunter and the results give this catalog favorite an upgrade worthy of its noble cinematic lineage.
This edition of Manhunter features two versions of the film, one on each disc. The first disc has the theatrical version. The second disc has a director’s cut that adds in a few minutes of extra footage from an SD source: much of this stuff is extra plot and character info but fans will be interested to know it also includes a longer, modified version of the ending. Barring the SD footage in the director’s cut, both presentations have a nice depth to the frequent night photography and a rich color palette. 5.1 and 2.0 lossless stereo mixes are included for each: 5.1 is recommended as it does a lot with the almost wall-to-wall synth-rock score that is a huge part of the film’s aesthetic punch.
Both discs also include a bevy of extras, with the first disc including an array of new material and the second carrying over bonus features from a past DVD edition. Here’s a rundown of what you can expect:
Mind Of Madness (18:16): an interview with star William Petersen. He talks about his connection with Mann, which extends all the way back to Thief, and gets into the specificity of Mann’s approach, both with actors and with filmmaking in general. He talks about how the FX were improvised for the finale and also tells a fun story about watching the film with Mann for the first time.
Courting A Killer (15:54): a chat with actress Joan Allen. She gives a very detailed account of her work relationship with Mann then goes on to discuss her castmates and the challenge of doing different scenes. It’s a very actorly discussion that offers nice insight into her process.
Francis Is Gone Forever (23:03): an excellent piece with actor Tom Noonan, who offers a commentary on the filmmaking process that is as witty as it is quirky. He talks about the freedom Mann gave him to develop the role, revealing how he favored character over storyline and emotion over mannerisms. He also talks about the the unused tattoo makeup that resulted in scenes being reshot, offers some nice memories of working with Allen and tells a hilarious story about going on Regis & Kathie Lee to promote the film.
The Eye Of The Storm (35:56): a discussion with cinematographer Dante Spinotti. He reveals how his relationship with Dino De Laurentiis led to his work on this film and then goes into great technical detail on how several different scenes were achieved from the photographic standpoint. Near the end, he talks about Red Dragon, which he also shot, and his take on doing two versions of the same story.
The First Lecktor (40:29): an illuminating chat with actor Brian Cox. He takes on a witty and eloquent tone as he lays out the tale of how he was cast as Hannibal then goes on to discuss the complex array of influences on his performance before getting into detailed appreciations of his castmates and Mann.
The Music Of Manhunter (42:22): the nicest surprise on the set is an extensive featurette devoted to the film’s electronic rock score. Main composer Michel Rubini is included as well as members from all three groups (The Reds, Shriekback, Red 7) used on the soundtrack. You get stories behind the different songs and instrumentals as well as everyone’s impressions of working with Mann. Barry Andrews of Shriekback also has some amusing comments about other Mann productions the group’s work has been used in.
Other Extras: A rock video-ish theatrical trailer and an extensive still gallery packed with one hundred images of promo photos, international poster art and more.
Commentary: this is a solo track by Mann. It can be terse, with periodic gaps of silence, but it is well worth a listen for fans. The writer/director goes deep on his methodology, including what he changed from the novel and why, his research into the pathology of serial killers, analytical detail on his choices as a writer and director and an array of production and casting anecdotes.
The Manhunter Look (10:04): a 2001 chat with Spinotti that offers a thumbnail sketch of the same cinematographic material he covers on disc one. However, there are some interesting bits worth listening for, including an anecdote about how framing was used to comment on the story.
Inside Manhunter (17:17): a tightly-edited piece utilizing interviews with the film’s four leads: Graham, Noonan, Allen and Cox. It quickly moves through multiple sections by theme, covering casting tales, research, the Lecter/Graham relationship, working with Mann and the wild shoot for the film’s finale.
To read Schlockmania’s film review of Manhunter, click here.