Monday, May 21, 2012

Death Scenes - Anthem vs Wavelength

When Anthem Pictures released the Death Scenes trilogy on DVD in 2005, various rumors of the discs being heavily cut started surfacing. We thus decided to compare the original Wavelength Productions VHS releases to the Anthem Pictures DVD reissues. In short, the result of the comparison was that--with only one notable exception, explained below--the DVDs otherwise possess no cuts or edits of any kind aside from alternate opening sequences which generally serve to alter the order of the series. 

The allegations of the DVDs being cut and edited down are likely due to rusty remembrances of the original releases combined with the fact that for some unfathomable reason Anthem Pictures decided to renumber each volume in the series.

The specific reordering of the titles goes like this (with the original Wavelength numbering on the left, the Anthem renumbering on the right):

Death Scenes 1 --> Death Scenes 3: Los Angeles
Death Scenes 2 --> Death Scenes 1: Manson
Death Scenes 3 --> Death Scenes 2: Uncensored Scenes of Death


For example, the film that was titled Death Scenes 2 in the original Wavelength VHS run has been renamed as Death Scenes 1: Manson in the Anthem DVD series, and so on. The Anthem renumbering is made particularly ludicrous by the fact that the Death Scenes refer to the earlier titles in the series, references which are thus rendered nonsensical when the series is viewed in the newly imposed order presented by the Anthem DVDs. For instance, when one starts watching the Death Scenes 1: Manson DVD, one hears the narrator intone that "in our previous presentation, noted author and former crime scene photographer Anton LaVey provided a thoroughly fascinating tour of a massive, personal scrapbook compiled long ago by a Los Angeles crime scene detective..." and is thusly left to wonder precisely where this 'previous presentation' has run off to, seeing as how this is allegedly the first volume in the series! A similar sense of confusion sets in when one then starts watching Death Scenes 2: Uncensored Scenes of Death, only to hear the narrator say "in our two previous entries we examined a wide variety of death related subjects..."

The egregious renumbering aside, however, the films are indeed internally consistent, without any cuts or edits (save for the aforementioned title-screen discrepancies, and one sole cut explained below). The Wavelength Death Scenes 2, for instance, is present in its entirety as the Anthem Death Scenes 1. Likewise, the Wavelength Death Scenes 3 is the same film as the Anthem Death Scenes 2.

The only exception comes at the very end of the Anthem Death Scenes 3. The DVD abruptly cuts out right as some vintage World War II newsreel footage is introduced to wrap up the film. The corresponding Wavelength VHS thus contains about two minutes of additional war footage (showing executions, wounds, and scores of dead casualties), followed by a 30-second outro by LaVey and closing credits. However, the abruptness of the DVD ending, coupled with the relative tameness (when compared to the rest of the film's content) of the excised footage, all seem to point to some sort of DVD authoring or editing error rather than an intentional 'cut'. As mentioned earlier, aside from this one exception, there are no other content cuts or edits in the Anthem DVD discs when compared to the Wavelength VHS tapes. All other footage is intact and presented in the same order within the film (thus there is no reordering of any footage within the films, only a reordering of the films themselves). 

Finally, there are also a couple minor differences between some of the releases with regard to their title screens:

~ The Wavelength Death Scenes 2 shows a corpse beneath its title, whilst the corresponding Anthem Death Scenes 1 shows a simple black background.

~ The Wavelength Death Scenes 3 presents its title amidst a bevy of bones, while the corresponding Anthem Death Scenes 2 once again opts for a plain black background. The Anthem release also includes a Celine quote at the very start--"The Truth of this World is Death"--which was omitted from our copy of the Wavelength Death Scenes 3, though this could be due to the fact that ours was a bootleg copy which may have simply been missing the first few seconds of the film.

~ The Anthem Death Scenes 3 opening title sequence is interestingly enough identical to the corresponding Wavelength Death Scenes 1, complete with the 'Wavelength Productions Presents' message. Perhaps this is yet another oversight, much like the abridged ending.

What's notable about these title screen modifications is of course the fact that they thus signify a conscious effort by the Anthem editor(s) to renumber the titles. The renumbering cannot, therefore, be chalked up to mere accidental confusion but presents a deliberate obfuscation, though we could not deduce any clear reason for the renumbering.

And there you have it. The Anthem Pictures DVDs are not cut or edited (save for the one aforementioned omission of some newsreel war footage); they are simply renumbered.

No comments:

Post a Comment