The Theatre Bizarre is unique amongst modern independent horror films in that it had a very ambitious release plan. It was effectively previewed via the horror festival circuit (particularly its premiere at FantAsia), debuted as a VOD before its video release and even had a limited distribution theatrical run. That said, it’s likely that the biggest amount of viewers that will see this film will see it on home video – and they can relax because Image has done a nice job with their DVD release of this title.
The disc features a solid anamorphic transfer that does well by the film’s challenging visual style: despite being shot by several different crews with different styles, it does a good job of capturing the varying visual approaches in a crisp fashion. Some of the segments go all-our for wild, neo-Technicolor primary color schemes and they come through with the appropriate boldness on this disc. The one audio option is a Dolby 5.1 stereo mix: dialogue gets a little buried in spots but this seems to be an eccentricity of the mix as music and effects come through fine.
This disc also features a few worthwhile special features. The first is a commentary track that utilizes the participation of five of the six directors plus assorted cast and crew members, with each director and his collaborators discussing their particular segment.
Each filmmaker offers a good nuts and bolts overview of their work on the film. Buddy Giovinazzo’s comments are particularly noteworthy: not only does he break down how using Berlin as a location influenced his film but enthuses about the joy of working with other directors on this film, including an unexpectedly heartwarming bit about how the multi-director setup enhanced the festival experience for him. Udo Kier also pops during the wrap-around bits to offer his thoughts on quickly assembling his performance for a rushed shoot. Douglas Buck is the only director who doesn’t comment on his segment, which is a shame as his segment of the film is the most cerebral and would have a made a worthy subject for discussion (he does appear elsewhere on Karim Hussein’s segment, which he worked on as the editor).
Video extras include a trio of interview segments that pair interviewer Ryan Turek with directors David Gregory, Giovinazzo and Jeremy Kasten. Each is worth hearing but Gregory’s comments are the most illuminating: he came up with the concept and served as a co-producer on the film so he is able to offer a fascinating account of its genesis that supplements the more segment-based discussion on his commentary track. There is also around eight minutes’ worth of behind-the-scenes footage from five of the film’s segments. These bits are too brief to give you an in-depth glimpse into the productions but hey offer intriguing glimpses of how the different makeup effects were achieved. An eventful theatrical trailer rounds the extras program out in a bloody yet darkly humorous style.
All in all, Image’s DVD of The Theatre Bizarre does well by the title attraction and enhances the experience with some thoughtful supplement. If you missed it at the theaters, this is a worthy alternative option.