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Scott Sigler – The Hellboy II DVD Showcases a Well-Spent $82 Million

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What’s big, rock-hard, red and horny? Get your mind out of the gutter, for crying out loud — I’m just talkin’ ’bout Hellboy and the new DVD of Hellboy II: The Golden Army.

Hellboy is a title contender in the Master Monster Hunter Tournament that’s taking place right now here at AMCtv.com. He’s a relative newcomer to the movie world — the first Hellboy only came out in 2004 — but he’s also the current heavyweight champ of the horror box office and therefore, the No. 3 seed in the tournament behind Buffy Summers and The Evil Dead‘s Ash.

Oh, you don’t think he’s the heavyweight champ of the horror box office? Then I guess you haven’t checked the numbers — allow Uncle Scottie to educate you.

One would think that a production budget of $82 million means stepping up to the profitability plate with two strikes against you, but Hellboy II knocked it out of the park. Combine the $76 million U.S. take with an equal number internationally, and Big Red Part Deux has already grossed $152 million. That does not count the DVD that came out November 11. By the time the second part of this franchise stops to take a breather, expect over $200 million in gross revenue.

Where the Money Went
If you’re wondering how Dark Horse Productions blew through $82 million, this isn’t a case of spend for spending’s sake a la Brewster’s Millions . The visuals in Hellboy II
are sensational and worth your time. You could turn off the volume
entirely and still be thoroughly entertained. That’s good, because the
plot is fun and silly and makes little sense. The “Hellboy goes public”
storyline goes absolutely nowhere, and the trite villagers-with-torches
“he just saved us all but he’s ugly, so get him!” angle will make you
absolutely groan.

However, a blank-check budget did create some
interesting excess. The DVD special feature “Troll Market Tour” shows
the insane level of detail the Hellboy II production crew
provided. Giant chunks of this intricate set weren’t even used in the
movie. Artists created an entire “troll language” and other facets you
just don’t pick up the first time through the flick. This special
feature alone is worth the DVD’s purchase price.

The three-disc
set includes the movie, a disc
of special features, and a digital copy disc to play the movie on your
iPod, Mac or PC. Not a bad deal at all. And as for the additional
special
features, you’ve got cool stuff on puppets, the director’s notebook,
the obligatory director’s feature commentary and image galleries. The
production workshop shows you the big opening “puppet set piece
battle,” with explanations of why they did it this way, and then a full
shot of the scene with Mike Mignola’s storyboards running at the same
time. A delightful look behind the process, it gives you a complete
picture from the imagination of the artist to the finished product.

The
“deleted scenes” are worthless, and really aren’t all that deleted —
just skip them. The biggest feature of all, however, is a two-hour,
in-depth look
at the creation of the movie, “Hellboy: In Service of
the Demon.” There is a ton of detail here about the complexity of
Mignola and Guillermo del Toro’s vision. The chapter on the Tooth
Fairies scene is fantastic, and really opens your eyes to the number of
challenges del Toro and his crew faced in making everything look so
stunning.

Since so much of Hellboy II; The Golden Army revolves
around endless eye-candy, these special features really pull back the
curtain and let you see how it’s done. Del Toro is all over the special
features, and you really get a feel for his methodical, hands-on
approach. The DVD made me like him more, and converted me from an admirer to a true fan. Storyline flaws aside, Hellboy II is a good movie, no question, but after you watch the special features, I argue you will think it’s a great movie.

So much attention went into these special features, they
actually
make the movie more enjoyable. So book plenty of time: Watch the movie,
watch all the special features, then watch the movie again. I have to
say this is the best DVD set I’ve ever seen. If you’re a monster-movie
fan or a filmmaker of any stripe, do yourself a favor and get this.

Scott Sigler writes tales of hard-science horror, then gives them away as free audiobooks at www.scottsigler.com. His new novel, Contagious,
hits bookstores on December 30 and is currently available for
pre-order. If you don’t agree with what Scott says in this blog, please
email him scott@scottsigler.com. Please include all relevant personal
information, such as your address and what times you are not home, so
Scott can come visit and show you his world famous “Chicken Scissors.”

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