Director’s/Unrated Cuts: Dark City & Wild Things

Posted: January 23, 2015 in Blogs
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Dark City

Dark City

Back in February of 1998, my dad dropped me off at a movie theater and said he would pick me up in two hours. I had first heard of Dark City on a TV show on E! that introduced movie trailers for a half hour block. I thought it looked strange, with not much light and I don’t recall any dialogue in the trailer. I loved the trailer so much, I checked the TV guide magazine we got in the mail every month to see when the show was re-airing so I could record the trailer onto a VHS (this was way before the days of Youtube).

When the movie came out, no one I knew had heard of it or had any interest in seeing it. I was 11 at the time and convinced my dad to let me see it by myself (he was not a fan of horror movies and saw it as such). I felt scared because I never had sat in a movie theater by myself and the screening I went to was pretty vacant so I stood out to the other five attendees when I went to find my seat.

I don’t remember the trailers that played prior to the film, but I’m sure there were way less than the 30 minutes of previews we get now. The movie started and I was instantly hooked.

Dark City centers on a man who wakes up in the middle of a murder scene, not remembering anything, including his own name. As soon he searches for answers, he becomes the prime suspect in several murders as he chased not only by a police inspector, but several pale men dressed in black called the Strangers. The city is always dark and our lead discovers there is a much larger scheme going on than he ever expected.

Dark City was the first Blu-ray I ever purchased to go along with my PlayStation 3 (which I bought to play Silent Hill Homecoming, not realizing it doubled as a Blu-ray player). I only played the theatrical version at the time, and just recently watched the director’s cut for the first time. Even though I hadn’t seen the movie in a few years, I did notice a couple differences; mainly the opening narration provided by Kiefer Sutherland is omitted in the director’s cut. From my observation, this director’s cut didn’t sway too far from the theatrical cut with a couple minutes thrown here and there for slightly more exposition.

Neve Campbell and Denise Richards in "Wild Things"

Neve Campbell and Denise Richards in “Wild Things”

About a month later, for my 12th birthday, I convinced my mom to take me to see Wild Things. I was a huge fan of the Scream franchise and Neve Campbell was everything I wanted to be. My mom was familiar with Scream, but didn’t know anything about Wild Things. I did, however, but hid any knowledge of a potential three way sex scene that’s been the focus of the film’s marketing. Campbell had a fairly clean image, despite starring in primarily R-rated films so this was a big deal that she might be shedding some skin. Let’s just say by the end of the film, my mom was pretty pissed at me and never trusted me again (for a few months) about how appropriate the movies were I wanted to see.

Of what I did see (she made me leave the theater during some graphic scenes), I loved and was ecstatic to see a foul mouthed Sidney Prescott play a girl with a 90s dye job from the wrong side of the tracks. So naturally I managed to secretly buy a used VHS copy of the movie from a video store that failed to question what a kid my age was doing with a movie like that. Or maybe the cashier thought he was doing me a favor and providing me with masturbating material. What everyone failed to realize was that seeing Denise Richards’ breasts did nothing for me, but more staring at Matt Dillon in tight, extremely short shorts was more my thing. I was able to watch the movie in full, though fast forward the three way sex scene as I was always nervous someone would walk in even if I was home alone. (That scene ended up being way more tame than the soft core porn I had already exposed myself from watching the Red Shoe Diaries).

Wild Things surrounds Sam Lombardo, a high school counselor who is accused of rape by two students. You must know nothing else! The movie goes in so many directions and throws twists in your face so often that it can be exhausting trying to keep up. Not only that, but when the end credits pop up, the movie is not done throwing curve balls at you. If you have never seen this movie, then don’t stop watching until the credits are done. You won’t regret it.

There’s a series of fun characters, including a sleazy lawyer played hilariously by Bill Murray. Denise Richards has her breakthrough role here as the spoiled, yet seductive Kelly Van Ryan and has some probably one of the most famous slow motion rising out of the pool shots. She provides some of the movie’s best lines (“Where’d you get those shoes? Whores For Less?”). Wild Things reminds me of a time when actors chose to take risks by having fun with their roles (versus taking risks by playing ugly or gaining weight to create a tool for marketing purposes)

This past weekend was my first time watching the “unrated version” released on DVD and Blu-ray and, believe it or not, adds even more twists to the already complicated story. There is some extra girl on girl action for a few seconds for those who crave that, but the main extras here belong to more exposition of hidden relationships that are even unbeknownst to the characters themselves.

Both Dark City and Wild Things are completely different movies, but I saw them during a special period in my life and have stood with me since.

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