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Craven Speaks Out on New DVD Releases

19 Sep, 2003 By: Fred Topel

Two of Wes Craven's classic horror films make their DVD debut this month, and one gets a re-release.

A two-disc special edition of Craven's second film, The Hills Have Eyes, streets Sept. 23 from Anchor Bay Entertainment. Also Sept. 23, Universal Studios Home Video re-releases The Serpent and the Rainbow, but with no new features. Then Oct. 7 comes a movie-only edition of The People Under the Stairs from Universal. People and Serpent also will be combined with Craven's Shocker to form a new three-pack.

For the Hills special edition, Craven provided a director's commentary track and interviews for an hourlong documentary on the making of the film.

“The hard thing about doing those kinds of commentaries is that almost every five minutes, you think of something that would take five minutes or 10 minutes to tell,” Craven said. “And obviously, the film is continuing in real time, so you have to be very short in all of your anecdotes. But virtually every scene we shot had an interesting story, or three or four stories told about it. My worst fear is that I just won't be able to remember people's names and everything.”

The Hills Have Eyes tells the story of a family stranded in the desert fighting off a family of cannibals. In addition to the commentary and retrospective documentary, the DVD also includes an hourlong documentary on Craven's career, theatrical trailers and TV spots for Hills, photos, posters, storyboards and an alternate ending. Craven credits producer Peter Locke for preserving the alternate ending.

“I think Peter was pretty thorough about where he put the materials. I think we had a hard time finding legal paperwork and things like that because there was a fire at one point years ago that destroyed a lot of things. But the original materials, Peter had put in a storage facility that was actually, believe it or not, in a salt mine. I think that's used as a storage facility, so it was put in a place that was very temperature-controlled and free from fire and everything. But I didn't know that until Peter proposed that we do this and revealed that he knew where all the stuff was.”

Craven's reasons for changing the ending were simple. “We shot, I think, two or three versions -- some quite short, some longer -- and it was just choosing the one that we thought was the most impactful. I think it was as simple as that.”

Craven did not even know that People and Serpent were being released, because he was never asked to provide any materials for extra features. “I guess it was just kind of a routine ‘Oh, let's put it out' DVD.” Should the studio decide to follow up with special editions in the future, Craven would be open to recording commentary and interviews for those films.

“I would imagine that now that they've produced them as just normal DVD editions that they would not want to go back and redo it again, but I certainly would be available if they wanted to do that.”

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