Though these articles are usually short but sweet, this one is a little longer due to some info coming to my attention that ultimately triggered a recent purchase that I wanted to share with you.
With Killer Joe currently being shown in limited theaters now, fans of William Friedkin may want to brush up on the director’s past filmography before seeing his new controversial feature. Two of his most famous films are without a doubt The Exorcist and The French Connection. Made back-to-back in ’71 and ’73, the two films are cornerstones in the horror and crime drama genres. Outside of those two, Friedkin has found commercial success with To Live and Die in L.A, moderate critical praise with the under appreciated Bug, and then reviled for such sleazy fare as the misunderstood Cruising; which I admit to being a fan of. The infamous auteur is known for having a career of ups and downs even if he’s made two of the most beloved films in cinema history. Both The Exorcist and The French Connection have seen multiple releases over the years on various home entertainment formats. Most recently The Exorcist was released in a collectible Blu-ray book containing over 20 pages of anecdotes and photos along with the original and director’s cut of the film. The package was met with high praise from fans for including both versions of the film FINALLY all in one convenient set. A notoriously bad remastering of The French Connection hit Blu-ray in 2009 and was immediately met with disapproval over the colors and picture quality of the video transfer. Cinematographer Owen Roizman along with angry fans spoke against the product which apparently was the outcome – depending which story you subscribe too – of a few faulty factories producing the disc or of a “George Lucas-esque” decision by Friedkin himself to change the color palette of the film that has since been denied by the director himself. The Blu-ray and the stories behind it constitute as one of the most controversial releases on the hi-def format. In March 2012, Best Buy released an exclusive Blu-ray of the 1971 film that is a “New High-Definition Master Supervised by Director William Friedkin and Cinematographer Owen Roizman.” The “Filmmakers Signature Series” Blu-ray corrects the color issues found on the previous release. Overly bright whites, purplish hues, and “halos” on characters have all been removed. Some scenes on the revised Blu-ray do jump a bit in terms of how much grain is present in some shots versus others – this is somewhat expected given the type of cameras and film stock the film was shot on – but the majority of the color issues have been fixed. Unfortunately, the atrocious 2009 disc can still be purchased on Amazon for $21.50 while the more accurate and “director and cinematographer approved” disc can only be purchased at Best Buy. Currently you can pick it up there for an everyday price of $24.99. To make sure you pick up the right disc, I have attached a photo of the good cover art above. You can click HERE to order it online as well.
Best Buy also currently has the lowest price on the previous mentioned Blu-ray book of The Exorcist. As of right now it is also at the non-sale price of $24.99. Compared to Amazon’s price of $47.98, that’s indeed a Diabolical Deal for both the Original 1973 classic and the 2000 extended version. A stand alone single disc Blu-ray was also released by Warner Bros. at the same time, but that package only comes with the extended version. In this writer’s opinion, contrary to most horror fans, I actually prefer the original film without the added dialogue scenes and the now famous “spider-walk” sequence. Regardless of which version you prefer, it looks like both the single disc Blu-ray and the Blu-ray book have both been discontinued by Warner Bros. Both can still be found though in limited quantities at Best Buy and on Amazon. Warner Bros. doesn’t list either version of the Blu-ray of the film on their site anymore and only third party sellers on Amazon are selling them (but fulfilled by Amazon).
So if you are interested in catching up with William Friedkin’s classic films before seeing Killer Joe in select theaters (it opens in St. Louis Friday, August 24), you might want to get over to Best Buy to nab these deals while the supplies last. I know I may have come across as a little long winded in this post, but I wanted to inform those who may not have been aware of The French Connection debacle and the possible discontinuing of The Exorcist. Hopefully all of the info was helpful.