by Linda Kay

  

    Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey are now finally both available on DVD!  Released by MGM, these releases are definitely most excellent!  Of course, one might have hoped for more special features to be included on the discs, but typically companies will release a movie without the bells and whistles and if the sales do well may consider releasing a “special edition” with more features later on.  This practice is somewhat bogus as true fans often end up buying duplicate copies of the same films, but hey, that’s the way the world spins right now so I guess we need to be content with what we can get.

    Make no mistake, these releases are nothing to scoff at!  Both films *finally* being made available in a widescreen / letterboxed format is MOST triumphant (and if anyone thought letterbox wouldn’t matter for a movie like Bill and Ted, check out Excellent Adventure in particular . . . it’s just so much better when you can actually see both Bill and Ted on the screen at the same time!!!  Even the intro, with Rufus standing to one side of the screen and the hologramatic B&T appearing onscreen from the other side was heinously pan and scanned for television screenings.  And now you can clearly see that Ted is psychic, as he yells out a play for Twister *before* the needle has stopped spinning!).  Of course all dialogue is uncut, unlike the ridiculous overdubbings on the commercial TV airings (am I the only one who cringes when I hear them say “Fool!” after hugging?) and if you are so inclined to listen to Bill and Ted in French, Spanish or Portuguese, that’s an experience in and of itself!  Subtitles are also available, and while I haven’t checked these completely for accuracy what I have seen looks pretty spot on.

    The menus are clever, with the dudes traveling through the Circuits of Time on the Excellent Adventure disc and falling to Hell on the Bogus Journey disc.  While the Special Features are few they are noteworthy, especially on the Bogus Journey disc where both the theatrical trailer and teaser are included in their entirety (although the only notable difference between the trailer and teaser is the inclusion of a release date at the end of the teaser).  Fans will enjoy having the trailer available, especially since it still includes shots from the “I knew a guy who totally got one of those in his bucket of chicken!” scene in Hell.  The Excellent Adventure disc also includes a theatrical trailer which is a real rarity, but there is no footage in that trailer not included in the film, unfortunately.

    Especially noteworthy on the Bogus Journey disc is the inclusion of the promotional video which was sent out to television networks at the time of the movie’s release.  This includes behind the scene shots, interviews with Alex and Keanu plus Bill Sadler (dressed as Death) and director Peter Hewitt.  While fans may have collected bits and pieces of this tape from various television airings it’s nice to have it all in one place and, for the most part, complete.  The long stretches of shots where no narration or voice-over is featured was meant for entertainment television magazine editors to dub in their own narration.

    One thing which seems strange is the Bogus Journey DVD does NOT include the scene of Death accepting a stick of gum from Bill in the Wyld Stallyns van on their way to the Battle of the Bands.  This scene did not appear in the original theatrical release of the movie, but somehow found its way into the film when it reached commercial television!  I had hoped to see it on the DVD release, but alas it was not to be.

    The packaging is quite nice, although no special booklets are enclosed (just an information sheet).  The photos and artwork are original, not previously used for promotion, although many are composite pieces comprising several different photos put together to create an entirely new image.  And as one of our most excellent bulletin board posters pointed out (thanks, Scott!) they used Bill’s image twice on the spine for the Excellent Adventure cover instead of using both Bill and Ted (we understand this has now been corrected . . . that means we have to buy the movie again babes and dudes to get the correct package!  More collectibles!).  One other bone to pick is their labeling them “surfer speaking” dudes when we all know full well the Two Great Ones do NOT use surfer-speak, mall-speak or any other hip or trendy kind of speak . . . their language is unique to themselves and should really only be referred to as “Bill & Ted-speak”.

    So, two great movies on DVD at last.  One subject which I know many DVD enthusiasts prize highly is sound quality.  Not knowing anything about such matters I won’t attempt to rate or judge the sound quality of the films (I don’t have them handy to even see if they were released in any kind of surround sound) so if some of our more audio-oriented readers can offer some insights as to the pros and cons of the DVD’s sound quality that would be most awesome.

   All in all, at a reasonable price (I picked mine up at Suncoast for about $15.00 each and Amazon.com has them for even less, and the most excellent Scott . . . thanks again, dude! . . . found an even better deal at Best Buy!), these are well worth picking up.  And who knows, if the sales are brisk and we show there is a real fan base for these movies maybe MGM will consider releasing a special edition DVD . . . what the fans would most like to see is perhaps a “double-issue” with both movies in one package, behind-the-scenes footage and interviews for both films and perhaps even the promotional videos for Excellent Adventure (I believe they did one for Do You Want to Play? . . . someone correct me if I’m wrong) and for Bogus Journey (Slaughter’s Shout it Out, which was included as a bonus on a previous release of the film . . . the laserdisc I believe).  We wouldn’t turn down a running commentary for both films possibly featuring Alex and Keanu, directors Stephen Herek and Peter Hewitt, and most especially creators and writers Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson!).  But until then, these releases make a most outstanding Christmas gift for your most trusted compatriots and for yourself!!

    More information plus soundbites and trailers available for viewing at MGM’s website (http://www.mgm.com - search under DVD’s for Bill & Ted).