Bad Santa appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The Blu-ray presented two versions of the film – and two different transfers.
Both looked a lot alike most of the time, with one notable difference: print flaws. While Badder Santa lacked any defects, the Director’s Cut included a mix of small specks. These were minor but they cropped up periodically during the film.
Sharpness was erratic. While much of the film offered good clarity, some shots seemed softer than expected. This meant mostly accurate images with occasional exceptions. Jagged edges and moiré effects caused no problems, and I noticed no edge haloes.
Despite the dark humor of the flick, Bad Santa featured a palette that reflected its Christmas theme, and the disc replicated those tones well. The colors looked clean and distinct, and the hues always remained vibrant and lively. Black levels looked deep and rich, while shadows came across as appropriately heavy but not overly dense. The softness became the biggest issue and left both transfers as less than stellar.
The Uncompressed 5.1 soundtrack of Bad Santa provided a serviceable but unspectacular presentation. Not surprisingly, the soundfield remained heavily oriented toward the front channels.
The surrounds rarely added much, as the audio stayed largely anchored in the front. Music displayed good stereo presence, and effects spread well across the front. The surrounds added moderate reinforcement but that was it, as they didn’t contribute much to the mix.
Sound quality appeared acceptable. Speech was natural and distinct, with no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects sounded clean and accurate, with good fidelity and no signs of distortion.
Music seemed nicely bright and vibrant and also demonstrated decent bass response. Overall, the audio worked fine for the movie, but due to its lack of atmospheric ambition, I felt it merited only a “B-”.
Bad Santa was available in three flavors on DVD: the “R”-rated theatrical edition, an unrated Badder Santa version, and a Director’s Cut. I never saw the theatrical Santa - and given this Blu-ray’s contents, that won’t change now.
The Blu-ray includes both Badder Santa (1:39:16) and the “Director’s Cut” (1:28:31). Badder mostly consists of scenes that extend shots from the theatrical version, though it adds a segment early in the film during which we see Willie pre-Santa mode.
As for the “Director’s Cut”, it runs even shorter than the 91-minute theatrical version. It lacks the other edition’s voiceover, and I think the “DC” seems darker than Badder. It comes across as rougher around the edges without the same form of clear comic relief. Both work well, however, and create an effective movie.
Alongside the “DC”, we find an audio commentary. This offers remarks from director Terry Zwigoff and editor Robert Hoffman. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific chat.
Zwigoff and Hoffman discuss changes made for the “Director’s Cut”, cast and performances, editing, music and sound design, sets and locations, the involvement of the Coen brothers, changes from the original script, and various scene specifics.
Despite a little dead air at times, this usually proves to be an interesting chat. We get a good number of insights into the production and learn a fair amount about the various choices. The commentary never quite threatens to become great, but it adds to our appreciation of the film.
Next comes an interview. Conducted by Roger Ebert, this chat involves Zwigoff and Hoffman and runs 27 minutes, 32 seconds. They discuss story/character areas and conflicts with the studio, alternate curs of the film, cast and performances, editing, and other aspects of Zwigoff’s career. This turns into a fairly informative piece, even though it ends in an oddly abrupt manner.
Three deleted and alternate scenes appear. We find “Santa Trainer” (1:42), “Willie Leaves Department Store” (1:49) and “Screaming Baby” (1:39).
“Santa Trainer” features a cameo from Sarah Silverman and gives us a look at Willie and others in Santa class; it would have followed the end of the opening credits. “Willie Leaves Department Store” shows alternate versions of the confrontation between Willie and the security at the movie’s first location
Finally, “Screaming Baby” cuts from a scene of violence to more of Willie on the job. Some outtakes and additional versions of the same sequences also appear. All seem reasonably entertaining but none offer anything crucial.
Note that “Florida Robbery” appeared as a deleted scene on the Director’s Cut DVD. It doesn’t reappear here because it comes as part of Badder Santa. On the other hand, “Baby” now appears as part of the Director’s Cut, so its presence as a deleted scene makes it redundant.
Next we find a Behind the Scenes Special. This runs nine minutes, 30 seconds and includes comments from Zwigoff, producers Sarah Aubrey and John Cameron, and actors Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Lauren Graham, Brett Kelly and Bernie Mac. We learn about the film’s origins and path to the screen, problems getting a studio to touch the material, finding a director and cast, and some memories of John Ritter.
The program mostly feels promotional, as the show only gives us a rudimentary look at some basics. A few of the behind the scenes bits seem interesting - such as Thornton working with Kelly - but overall, it’s a pretty lackluster show.
A collection of Outtakes appears next. This runs four minutes, one second as it presents the standard assortments of goofs and wackiness.
Finally, we get a Badder Santa Gag Reel. It lasts a mere one minute, 29 second and shows the usual goofs and giggles.
The disc opens with ads for National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. No trailer for Bad Santa appears here.
Destined to become a Christmas classic for folks who hate Christmas, Bad Santa doesn’t consistently fire on all cylinders. Nonetheless, the dark and profane comedy boasts some good performances and lots of winningly crude humor to work well overall. The Blu-ray presents erratic visuals with acceptable audio and a decent complement of supplements. This never becomes a great disc but the movie entertains.
To rate this film visit the original review of BAD SANTA: UNRATED