20 Movies That Are Majorly Improved By Their Extraordinary Special Features

·10 min read

While browsing through HBO Max the other day, I noticed the streamer has been uploading select alternate cuts and special features for the films on their platforms.

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Of course, this experience sent my mind flashing back to the days when DVD and Blu-ray reigned supreme across the home media marketplace, and how one unique special feature could sometimes justify shelling out the extra cash to add a film to your collection. With that in mind, I was inspired to round up 20 movies that became must-own on physical media thanks to their extraordinary and clever special features (most of which have since been preserved on YouTube).

1.Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

"Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby"

Talladega Nights is definitely funny in its own right, but the subsequent home video releases from the film have all delivered an exceptional array of special features. While in-character interviews, deleted scenes, and fake commercials are all funny in their own right, the Talladega Nights commentary tracks truly stand out. This includes a "25 Years Later" Cast and Crew commentary on the rated cut and a truly hysterical commentary from director Adam McKay and co-star/UCB original Ian Roberts that details a faux production that includes massive budget inflation, bizarre wrap party stories, and even "revelations" that the child actors in the film are NASA-grade robots.

Sony Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

2.Thir13en Ghosts

"Thir13en Ghosts"

Thir13en Ghosts is one of the more underrated horror films of the early '00s, but any die-hard fright fan will tell you that the home video releases for this terrifying title are pretty fantastic. Special thanks should be given to the "Ghost Files" feature, which provides significant backstory to each of the film's gruesome ghosts with in-character narration provided by star F. Murray Abraham.

Warner Bros / Courtesy Everett Collection

3.Sin City

"Sin City"

Often considered one of the best Blu-rays of its time, Sin City's original two-disc release is chock-full of exciting extras, chief among them the film's interactive picture-in-picture visual commentary track comparing the source material to on-set principal photography to storyboards and the final product. However, another noteworthy nugget on this release is the "Audience Reaction Track," which provides you with the opportunity to watch the film against the backdrop of one of the film's earliest screenings at Austin, Texas's Paramount Theater, punctuating every shocking and cheer-inducing moment with a rowdy and reactive crowd.

Dimension Films / Courtesy Everett Collection

4.Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

"Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me"

Originally included in the Twin Peaks' "Entire Mystery" Blu-ray collection, the HD release of the divisive Twin Peaks film contains some phenomenal special features that actually enhance the film. This includes more than 90 minutes of deleted scenes that reshape and redefine the film with entirely cut characters and subplot.

New Line Cinema / Courtesy Everett Collection

5.Armageddon

"Armageddon"

Believe it or not, Armageddon initially bowed onto DVD as a part of the Criterion Collection, which included multiple exclusive features that have yet to be released stateside since, including a director's cut, deleted scenes, and more. However, the Holy Grail of Armageddon's Criterion features is a commentary from Michael Bay, Jerry Bruckheimer, Bruce Willis, and Ben Affleck, with the latter lampooning the movie with genuinely funny barbs about logic and stylistic choices throughout.

Touchstone / Courtesy Everett Collection

6.Back to the Future

"Back to the Future"

When Back to the Future finally made its long-anticipated debut on Blu-ray, fans of the franchise were blown away to discover that, among the many interesting behind-the-scenes documentaries and supplemental materials, the trilogy set included the full pre-show and ride footage from Universal Studios' "Back to the Future: The Ride," which was even retrofitted with a D-Box code for those who want to experience a bite-size version of the ride in the comfort of their own home.

Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

7.Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

"Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang"

Audio commentaries can be really hit or miss, with some being boring slogs with the occasional fun fact slipping through, and others can be too scattershot. But some of the best are those when you can feel the fun in the recording booth. While these can be found in the likes of Cannibal!: The Musical and the John Carpenter/Kurt Russell collaborations, perhaps the apex of fun commentary tracks can be found on Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, in which the trio of Val Kilmer, Shane Black, and Robert Downey Jr. turn the recording into an informal hangout, filled with irreverent teasing and stories that make you really feel among friends.

Warner Bros / /Courtesy Everett Collection

8.Dawn of the Dead (2004)

"Dawn of the Dead"

Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead remake's DVD had some cool features for its time, but if the quality of the film itself didn't warrant a day-one pick-up, word spread quickly among collectors that the disc featured a trio of awesome original productions, including a fully produced "special news report" on the zombie outbreak, a meta behind-the-scenes mockumentary about the film casting "real" zombies, and a 15-minute universe-expanding video diary from Andy, the gun shop owner with which the film's protagonists interact from a nearby rooftop.

Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection

9.Tropic Thunder

"Tropic Thunder"

Robert Downey Jr. appeared previously on this list with his laid-back commentary for Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, but the esteemed MCU stalwart might be even funnier for a commentary track that is made of legend, in which director/star Ben Stiller and co-star Jack Black interact with an in-character Downey Jr. (as Kirk Lazarus/Lincoln Osiris) for two hours that serve as a surreal, gut-busting post-script for the legendary comedy.

Dreamworks / Courtesy Everett Collection

10.Sex Drive

"Sex Drive"

Most comedy fans will tell you when a film advertises an "unrated" home video release, chances are you're going to get a minute or two of sexual content and more coarse language that would have prevented a PG-13. However, for the underrated 2009 comedy throwback Sex Drive, director Sean Anders goes for a more satirical, tongue-in-cheek approach to an "unrated" cut, digitally inserting small versions of naked actors into the film at random moments, leaving in extended ab-libbing sessions, and even replacing scenes with bizarre outtakes, including a pivotal moment of the film that replaces a dramatic reveal with actor Josh Zuckerman making fun of co-star James Marsden's tenure in the X-Men franchise.

Summit Distribution / Courtesy Everett Collection

11.The Rules of Attraction

"The Rules of Attraction"

This provocative drama from the minds of American Psycho's Bret Easton Ellis and Pulp Fiction's Roger Avary is noted for one of the most gleefully nonsensical DVD/Blu-ray special features of all time: When Avary dropped out of recording a sole director's commentary, he enlisted in prop comic Carrot Top (who had zero involvement in the film) to fill in for him, watching and reacting to the shocking and risqué film for the first time for all to hear.

Lions Gate / Courtesy Everett Collection

12.Grindhouse

"Grindhouse"

In addition to getting the authentic theatrical presentation of Grindhouse, complete with fake trailers and "missing reels," the film's Blu-ray release has some really outstanding extras on its second disc. This includes "Robert Rodriguez's 10 Minute Film School," "Robert Rodriguez's 10 Minute Cooking School," extended fake trailers for Edgar Wright's Don't and Rob Zombie's Werewolf Women of the S.S., and an hour-long Q&A session with directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez moderated by the New York Times.

Weinstein Company / Courtesy Everett Collection

13.This Is Spinal Tap

"This is Spinal Tap"

Another somewhat legendary special feature among the physical media collecting community, This Is Spinal Tap's Blu-ray debut included an in-character commentary track with the cast of the film that, in essence, serves as a hilarious audio sequel to the movie, which even overshadows the film's other impressive features, such as an hour of deleted scenes and four full-length Spinal Tap music videos.

Embassy Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

14.The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

"Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers"

You don't have to be a physical media fanatic to know that The Lord of the Rings "extended edition" DVD/Blu-rays are often considered as benchmarks of the medium, as you get the most complete vision of the films as well as a treasure trove of amazing special features, including behind-the-scenes documentaries that reveal amazing details and secrets about the film's production, such as footage and animatics of The Return of the King's never-before-seen alternate ending featuring Aragorn fighting Sauron himself.

New Line Cinema / Courtesy Everett Collection

15.Galaxy Quest

"Galaxy Quest"

While the majority of Galaxy Quest's home video special features are somewhat unremarkable, even for superfans, there is one key feature that has a special place in this writer's heart due to the absolute absurdity of its inclusion: a full-length audio track of the film in Thermian, the language of the Thermian alien race from Galaxy Quest.

DreamWorks / Courtesy Everett Collection

16.Vacancy

"Vacancy"

Renowned among horror junkies for having one of the most beyond-the-pale special features of all time, the DVD and Blu-ray for Nimród Antal's superb thriller Vacancy includes the full cuts of the "snuff" films featured in the movie, all of which include preambles describing the universe-building backgrounds and stories of the victims, ranging from creepy and unsettling to somewhat heartbreaking.

Screen Gems / Courtesy Everett Collection

17.Knocked Up

"Knocked Up"

Judd Apatow fans know that the filmmaker's work often includes a wide gamut of cool special features, most of which surround his improv-heavy filmmaking style, but the DVD for Knocked Up featured a masterwork of a special feature titled "Finding Ben Stone," which is a 30-minute faux documentary about the search for the male lead of the film, including hilarious alternate versions of the movie's biggest scenes ruined by the likes of Michael Cera, Danny McBride, Orlando Bloom, Bill Hader, and more.

Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection

18.Freddy Got Fingered

"Freddy Got Fingered"

It may be perverse and polarizing, but Freddy Got Fingered is, at the very least, self-aware, with its sole DVD pressing offering a three and a half minute "PG" version of the nearly NC-17 film. It also includes a "test screening" audience reaction track in which the, gasp, disgust and eruptive laughter of the film's first viewers can be enjoyed appropriately. Sadly, the film has never found its way to HD home video, despite Green publicly campaigning for the release of his "director's cut" for several years now.

20th Century Fox Film Corp. / Courtesy Everett Collection

19.Tales From the Crypt Presents: Bordello of Blood

"Tales from the Crypt Presents: Bordello of Blood"

Sometimes, a film can be improved by a behind-the-scenes documentary or "making of" featurette that showcases just how much movie magic it took to bring a movie to life. However, for Tales From the Crypt Presents: Bordello of Blood, the cast and crew reassemble (with one glaring exception) more than 20 years after its release for "Tainted Blood," a mini-documentary detailing all of the things that went wrong during the film's production, with most of the unbelievably hot tea being spilled about the film's cantankerous and miserable lead, Dennis Miller.

Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection

20.Bubba Ho-Tep

"Bubba Ho-Tep"

A cult sensation (and rightfully so), this writer has to tip his hat to Bruce Campbell for going beyond the call of duty for Don Coscarelli's "elderly Elvis vs. Mummy" picture Bubba Ho-Tep with one of the grooviest special features ever: a full-length commentary in which Campbell reprises the role of "The King," commenting on the film as it happens and expanding upon its backstory, building the film's mythology while simultaneously showcasing a self-referential (and occasionally, self-deprecating) in-character POV on the movie itself.

Vitagraph Films / Courtesy Everett Collection