Lately I've been bracing myself to endure three months of constant, hand-wringing angst. The DVD release of "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" is next Tuesday, but — and this is important — the expanded edition won't be available until November.
If you don't share my addiction, this might not make sense to you. I want . . . no, I need the movie as soon as it hits the shelves, but the fact is that DVD qualifiers such as "expanded," "director's cut," "collector's edition," "2-disc set," "Superbit," and "platinum series" have the same effect on me that the word "uncut" has on heroin users.
Last year, months after I had already bought the first release of "Lord of the Rings," they released an expanded version with hours of extras, on three discs, and all I could do is look at my one-disc version and feel inadequate. I can't let that happen again.
Hi. My name is Chris. I'm an extras junkie.
If a DVD has extra stuff on it, I want it. It doesn't necessarily even have to be for a movie I like. Commentaries, deleted scenes, even the cheesy script treatments and star bios, I want it all.
The only reason I bought a DVD player in the first place was because of the extras on "The Princess Bride (Special Edition)" DVD. "The Princess Bride" was a personal favorite book years before it became a personal favorite movie. The DVD (Special Edition) had a "Making Of" featurette, a "Behind the Scenes" featurette, a photo gallery, the original trailer, and commentaries by director Rob Reiner and writer William Goldman. I had to have this. If the DVD had more stuff about it, I had to have the DVD. Simple as that.
Most videos don't have extras, aside from the occasional soundtrack music video, usually — and inexplicably — by Bryan Adams. So our family got a DVD player. And I picked up a few more movies, and the addiction began.
It didn't even matter if I liked the movie, I still loved hearing about how it got made. I get a kick out of knowing post-production details and behind-the-scenes trivia that I can casually let slip during dinner conversations or pillow talk. The triumphs of the filmmakers are my triumphs, their failures my pain, their bloopers my bloopers. I can listen to commentaries for hours, and do. And "easter eggs" — hidden bonus extras found by clicking on certain secret places, at certain times — are gold that I can't wait to share with loved ones, sometimes by force.
Of late I've noticed people rarely mention cinema around me at all for fear I'll cut loose and lash out indiscriminately with an amusing anecdote or complete cast list. More than once I've heard the phrase "methadone-assisted therapy" bandied about.
But it's not uncontrollable. I've got rules that strictly limit which movies I purchase. First, is it a movie that I absolutely have to have on my shelf right now? Very few meet that lofty criteria, which is why I don't use it very often.
Second, does it have extra stuff? DVDs that offer nothing beyond the actual movie receive only my disdain, like they're not even trying. I'll still buy them anyway, but I won't brag about it.
Every now and then this causes problems, such as with "The Two Towers" and other movies that keep getting re-released with different stuff. "Men in Black" was re-released a couple of times, as was "Charlie's Angels," "X-Men," and "There's Something About Mary." "Terminator 2" has been released, what, six times now? The first time it contained the movie. After that came the "Special Edition," the "Ultimate" edition (with aluminum case), the "We Need More Money Edition (with film cell and actual Schwarzeneggar DNA sample)" and now the "Extreme Edition" which has so much extra stuff they had to leave the movie off. Which one do I buy?
Third, is it cheap? I've bought movies I've never heard of and likely will never watch, just because they were in the $5.88 bin. I had no idea Corey Feldman had such a wide range.
Fortunately there are plenty of other releases to keep me occupied for the next three months. The next "Simpsons" release. The first season of "Smallville." "Animal House (Double-Secret Probation Edition, with "Where Are They Now?" mockumentary)". The Indiana Jones Trilogy. I can wait for the expanded "Two Towers," no sweat.
Really. Probably. Almost certainly. Deep breaths, just don't think about it, deep breaths . . .