|Review||Detox – Director Jim Gillespie’s never before seen original version (1999)||Director||Jim Gillespie|
|Writer||Ron L. Brinkerhoff (screenplay), Howard Swindle (book)|
|Cast||Sylvester Stallone, Tom Berenger, Kris Kristofferson, Robert Patrick, Stephen Lang, Polly Walker, Christopher Fulford, Jeffrey Wright, Dina Myer, Robert Prosky and Charles S. Dutton|
“Hey doc! The waiting list for this place is getting shorter by the minute” – Noah
FBI agent Jake Malloy (Stallone) is trying to hunt down a vicious cop killer. Tragedy hits home when Malloy’s girlfriend (Myer) is killed and still the killer roams free. Malloy takes to the bottle and attempts suicide. His friend Hendricks (Dutton) enlists Malloy in a rehab centre for cops located in the snowy part of Wyoming (and very isolated). Once there the number of patients and staff starts dwindling and it becomes clear that the killer Malloy had been hunting has infiltrated the rehab centre.
Less than a year ago (27th June to be exact) I posted a review on “D-Tox”, the Sylvester Stallone semi slasher that reportedly went through bad test screenings and re-shoots only to be shelved for three years and receiving limited distribution in Europe and going straight to DVD in the US. Re-titled “Eye See You” in the US but called “D-Tox” elsewhere; the film wasn’t a big success but it has amassed a loyal fanbase over the years among horror buffs especially. In conclusion of my earlier review I mentioned that the film was in serious need of some loving from niche labels (Arrow Video, Scream Factory etc.) and, in a small way, that has happened with MVD Marquee Collection’s Blu-ray release that came out on April 14th. Among the special features is director Jim Gillespie’s original version under the title “Detox”.
I quite like “D-Tox” (or “Eye See You” as it’s called on the HD Blu-ray). Stallone is excellent here, the snowy locales and setting in the rehab centre ensure a moody atmosphere that’s well sustained and some set pieces are terrific; especially in the beginning. But the film has way too many characters and it’s hard to keep track on who’s who and just who got killed. It’s severely underwritten once inside the rehab and feels sort of deflated before a decent finale kicks in. The film has always left me with the impression that it should have been better so I was extra excited to view the original version. So how does it compare?
First of all; it’s not that different. The big difference is in the editing. It starts with the killing of an officer and then goes directly to the rehab in Wyoming showing a weary Malloy being escorted there by his friend Hendricks. As Malloy starts to get settled we get flashbacks as to what lead him there; the killing of the officer who was a friend of his, the killing of his girlfriend, the near capture of the killer and Malloy’s subsequent suicide attempt. Inside the rehab it’s the same flow of scenes with introductions of the characters, the sit down session where a few of them get to assert a bit of personality (Robert Patrick, as Noah, the only one to really register) and the first two deaths that appear to be suicides. These scenes are interspersed with the flashbacks until around the hour mark, then the film has a very similar final act.
When the two versions are watched back to back you’ll notice a number of little differences. Quality actor Stephen Lang plays Jack Bennett; an orderly who’s clearly not all there and is introduced solely to be suspicious. In “Detox” most of his snotty remarks and weird behaviour from “Eye See You” is missing; making a him an even more forgettable character. The introduction of handyman Hank (Berenger) is slightly different and an encounter between Jack and Hank during one night is missing from “Detox”. It’s nothing of any relevance really. I was hoping that some quality scenes with Berenger had been left on the cutting room floor but his role in “Detox” is about as worthless as it is in “Eye See You”. A quality dialogue exchange between Malloy and old timer McKenzie (Prosky) from “Eye See You” is placed elsewhere in the film and the best portion of it is left out of “Detox”. The ending is also slightly different when Malloy and the killer face off. The scene inside the bar early on in “Eye See You” with Stallone and Dutton is completely missing (although a snippet of it is in a brief flashback) and most of the scene with Malloy buying the engagement ring. Then there is the introduction of the killer through an intense conversation he has with Malloy when he’s about to strike his girlfriend. This is so much better handled in “Eye See You” as there is more exchange between them and the killer’s obsession with Malloy registers better. There are a few other little differences here and there; most notably when Malloy finds the killer’s lair and has just missed him.
The re-shoots appear to have resulted in a better film. The flashback editing doesn’t help any as it only diminishes Stallone’s excellent performance. His gradual decline from happy to suicidal is expertly tackled by the actor and gets a better showcase in the theatrical cut. The whole scene in the bar where Hendricks alerts Malloy to the rehab is missing and that’s a quality scene. What I would have liked to have seen make it from “Detox” into “Eye See You” are a few overview shots of the compound and the near surroundings. It’s such a killer locale and it should get more exposure.
In the end; I’m happy to have seen the version that got the axe. It’s understandable that the powers-that-be wanted a few things smoothed out and the end result is a better film. It’s still a bit of a mess overall but better. What’s a little perplexing is the amount of deleted scenes that appear as another extra on the disc. Whether they are from the original shoot or the re-shoot is unclear but a few of them would definitely have helped in defining the secondary characters a little better.
I should point out that there’s a reason why “Detox” is listed as a special feature. The back of the cover says the film is in SD (Standard definition) but this is more like subpar VHS quality. Once you get used to it it doesn’t detract that much but be forewarned; this is not even standard DVD quality.
I suppose that’s all she wrote for “Eye See You”…or “D-Tox”…or “Detox”. As a fan of the film it would be great to get a retrospective with director and cast but what’s here is pretty great.