The 2-disc set includes both the theatrical cut of the film and the special edition (featuring 28 minutes of additional footage) in letterboxed widescreen only – non-anamorphic. The release was also a bit controversial because there were TWO Region 1 versions of this release – one with English Dolby Digital 5.1 and English Dolby Surround audio and another with just French and English Dolby Surround.
The extras, of course, were legendary, including the hour-long Under Pressure: Making The Abyss documentary, produced by Ed Marsh in 1993 for the original laserdisc release. Cameron’s screenplay and story treatment were included, along with extensive galleries (including a collection of 773 graphic storyboards) and text-based extras curated for the laserdisc (and ported over to DVD) by our old friend Van Ling. There was a multi-angle sequence. There were even a trio of DVD-ROM games.
Here’s what I said in my review at the time: “...there’s really no denying the fact that Fox’s The Abyss: Special Edition is probably the most complete DVD resource on a particular film yet produced. It’s really an impressive piece of work, and fans of this film should be quite happy. The lack of anamorphic widescreen video and a Cameron audio commentary aside (and anamorphic IS going to be a troublesome issue for many DVD fans and high-end home theater buffs), this is still a must-have set for any serious DVD collection. In baseball terms, I’d call this one a solid home run. It isn’t a grand slam over the wall shot, but it’s close.”
Sadly, this was the last time that The Abyss graced home video (except for later reissues of this very DVD set), however the good news is that it does finally appear that a new Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD release is coming later this year... just in time for the film’s 30th anniversary. (You can see our post here at The Bits on this very subject from a couple weeks ago.) Better late than never.
That’s it for today’s installment of Retro Release Day! Check back on Thursday for the next, and if you share links to this column on social media, be sure to use tag #RetroReleaseDay.