After a bumpy start with a few bot­tom-rung Franco films, the folks at Severin off­shoot label InterVision Picture Corp. hit onto a nov­el mar­ket­ing hook: they turned their focus to the weird straight-to-video hor­ror films that pro­lif­er­at­ed like vene­re­al dis­eases dur­ing the 1980’s.  Their disc for Sledgehammer got this new approach off to a good start and they con­tin­ue to devel­op upon it with this new disc of Things.  The end result’s val­ue will vary depend­ing on your point of view but they’ve expend­ed a decent amount of effort to assem­ble a fair­ly involved pack­age for this set.

The trans­fer is as good as can be expect­ed for a movie that was shot on 8mm and edit­ed via old-school video edit­ing tech­nol­o­gy.  Detail and col­ors (usu­al­ly red or blue via light­ing) have a faint, smeary look.  That said, it’s not fair to expect bet­ter given the source mate­ri­al — and the bootleg-ish look enhances the film’s ran­cid fever-dream vibe.  As for the sound, you can hear every bit of the awk­ward dub­bing and out­sider-music sound­track clear­ly.

There’s also plen­ti­ful extras for this obscu­ri­ty.  Firstly, two com­men­tary tracks are offered.  The first comes from the pri­vate­ly-pressed edi­tion of Things made by film­mak­ers Andrew Jordan and Barry Gillis.  Said track includes Jordan and Gillis plus co-stars Doug Bunston and Jan Pachul.  Like the film it plays alongside, this track is a chaotic sham­bles that nev­er does what it’s sup­posed to do.  No one involved seemed to under­stand what a com­men­tary track entails, as pre­cious lit­tle triv­ia is offered about the film and they drunk­en­ly ram­ble over it about their reac­tions to what is on screen.

Even worse, Gillis made the mis­take of allow­ing his daugh­ter to sit in on the track.  She hangs in there for about 40 min­utes before abrupt­ly depart­ing and spends most of that time loud­ly repeat­ing the same two or three com­plaints about the film.  When she’s not com­plain­ing, she insults the oth­er par­tic­i­pants of the track.  As a result, the por­tion of the track she dom­i­nates is a real tri­al to lis­ten to.

Simply put, this track is a dis­as­ter but it has a cer­tain amount of worth for Things afi­ciona­dos because it con­firms what they already sus­pect­ed: the peo­ple who made this film are as eccen­tric in reg­u­lar life as they are when mak­ing movies.  You won’t learn much about the how and why of the film but you’ll get a fly-on-the-wall per­spec­tive of their per­son­al­i­ties.  That said, a lit­tle goes a long way here.

The sec­ond com­men­tary track was record­ed for this disc and fea­tures three of the peo­ple who run the Cinefamily reper­to­ry the­ater in Los Angeles.  It’s a bet­ter track, with the group inter­pret­ing the film as they go along and mak­ing some inter­est­ing com­ments about its out­sider-art qual­i­ties (one per­son per­cep­tive­ly describes Things as an “all filler, no killer” propo­si­tion ear­ly on).  The film’s isn’t mes­mer­iz­ing as they try to make it seem but they do offer a solid primer on how to approach the film from a schlock per­spec­tive.

Another key sup­ple­ment here is a ret­ro­spec­tive video fea­turet­te with Jordan, Gillis, Bunston and Pachul.  This piece was also car­ried over from the pri­vate-press DVD.  For rea­sons unknown to any sen­si­ble per­son, said reunion is host­ed by a less-than-skilled ven­tril­o­quist who cracks the occa­sion­al bad joke with his dum­my (it also fea­tures Gillis’s daugh­ter again but she’s less annoy­ing here).  The par­tic­i­pants do a bet­ter job of dis­cussing their film here and view­ers will walk away with the feel­ing that the crew behind Things is essen­tial­ly the Canadian coun­ter­part to the film­mak­ers in American Movie.

Elsewhere, the extras include an orig­i­nal trail­er for Things, a pro­mo trail­er for unpro­duced fol­low-up called Hell Island and some behind-the-sce­nes footage of the shoot for the film’s Amber Lynn sce­nes.  However, the biggest of the remain­ing extras is a series of video tes­ti­mo­ni­als for Things that was assem­bled for this disc.  Sadly, the qual­i­ty of the­se seg­ments are hit and miss: Canuxploitation’s Paul Corupe describes his his­to­ry in the film an inter­est­ing, dry­ly humor­ous way but Hobo With A Shotgun film­mak­ers Jason Eisener and Rob Cotterill have lit­tle to say beyond a basic “wow, this is weird” premise.  That said, a bit where Tobe Hooper is shown the trail­er at a hor­ror con­ven­tion and strug­gles to find nice things to say to the film­mak­ers is price­less.

All in all, this disc offers is an ambi­tious and involved pack­age for a film that no one ever imag­ined would get such an in-depth treat­ment.  Your inter­est lev­el will depend on how fond you are of Things itself but there’s no deny­ing it’s a gen­er­ous­ly-load­ed spe­cial edi­tion.