Monday, July 5

976-EVIL Version Comparison - 1989 VHS vs. 2001 VHS vs. 2001 DVD

Despite not particularly enjoying Robert Englund's first directorial foray, I had a lingering urge to figure out what the hell the deal was with the differences, if there were any, between the supposedly extended VHS and supposedly shorter DVD edition. Is the inserted footage more gore or just filler? Does the DVD have any gore cut? So I sat down last evening and essentially watched 976-EVIL twice on two different formats with pen in hand.

Information on the versions seems non-existent and the IMDB's alternate versions page only states the DVD is the 92 minute theatrical cut. The thing is both VHS releases list a runtime of 105 minutes on their back covers, but the actual cassette labels read 100 minutes. Fast-forwarding through the '89 RCA/Columbia Video tape and actually watching the '01 Columbia Tri-Star tape, both have a time from the first credit to the end of the closing credits of one hour and fourty-three minutes (1:43/103). The second markers are only within a few ticks between them. The '01 Columbia Tri-Star DVD runs exactly one hour, thirty-two minutes, seventeen seconds (1:32/92). Also if you wanna get extremely anal, the 2001 VHS's cover has a bit of blood painted on Hoax's cheek and chin while the 1989 tape and 2001 DVD covers are bloodless. No idea why...

So yep, the DVD that dropped at the same time as its VHS re-issue counterpart is roughly eleven minutes shorter than both tapes (and presumably the Beta and LaserDisc). It's really not a bad situation since all of the added footage is padding with no changes to the meek display of blood and violence. Actually, the added stuff comprised the bulk of my original complaints with 976-EVIL (mostly Sandy Dennis's turgid performance), so I'd say this leaner 92 minute cut is stronger and more enjoyable. Only pick up the tape(s) if you're a completist or die hard fan.

Nonetheless, I tried to break down all of the DVD's omissions for the sake of the film's eighteen fans as follows:
  • After the sky fish fall, Hoax and his Aunt picking up the fish and throwing them in a trash can is gone, as is Spike dialing the phone in the following shot.

  • Aunt Lucy's description of the "miracle" to the magazine writer is trimmed and his following remark about quacks making up stuff is gone.

  • The fish in the fridge, their subsequent spill onto the writer, and the writer in Lucy's nightgown waiting on the laundry are gone.

  • An establishing shot of the school before we see Hoax's head pulled up from the toilet is added.

  • Susie slyly trying to get a date with Spike after school is trimmed of the beginning.

  • The writer interviewing Hoax in his bedroom is gone.

  • The crane shot of the writer pulling up to the diner and his banter with the annoyed waitress is trimmed.

  • The diner conversation between the writer and Spike after the "personless" Vette attack is trimmed.

  • A few frames between the scene of Susie and Spike having sex and Hoax hearing his motorcycle leave are trimmed.

  • Mark Dark using several answering machines to avoid a bill collector is gone.

  • The conversation between the writer and high school principal on their dinner date is trimmed.

  • The glowing blue effects shot of the demon's transference into Hoax through the phone seems cleaned up of some bad black blotches.


ThePersonYouBenefitFromKnowing said...

This was awesome! I am one of those 18 fans and I'm not even this dedicated. You rule Jayson!

Anthony1138 said...

Eyecatcher Movies out of Germany released both versions on DVD. It's full frame, just like the Columbia Tri-Star DVD and the "uncut" version looks to be pulled from VHS.

Buscemi said...

I have the unrated VHS. Good to hear that the theatrical version is actually better.

Also, did you know that this was from the same guy who later wrote L.A. Confidential?

Strange Kid said...

It's funny, I actually saw this for the first time last night having heard about it on the Never Sleep Again documentary. Overall I thought it had some pretty good cinematography, but poor character development. I mean, why were the detective and school principal/counselor even necessary? you dare tread upon the staircase?

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