All three Skulls films in one 2-DVD gift set. Universal has released a not so long awaited two disc collection of The Skulls, The Skulls II and The Skulls III. The films share main themes and plot points, and a few very peripheral characters, but work more as distant cousins than legitimate sequels. Each can easily be viewed in isolation with little lost as far as story integrity or clarity.
The video quality of The Skulls is actually quite good. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation allows an encompassing view of outdoor action and several panoramic night shots. The blacks are rich and dark, but with good contrast that allows us to see what is going on in night scenes. Colors are smooth and deep in most places, though on a few occasions bright whites would wash out completely. The Skulls actually has a significant amount of extras, more than would normally be expected on a film of this kind. Most of them are inconsequential. One or two do add to the overall experience of the disc.Ten scenes deleted from the film or severely cut are offered, with optional commentary from Cohen, who describes why they were removed. There are a few interesting scenes here that add some additional nuance to our understanding of the film. Commentary with Rob Cohen Cohen is gregarious and engaging. He describes the origin of the film, comments on the difficulties he encountered, and reveals inside secrets, such as some shots that I was surprised to learn were almost entirely digitally created. He also passes along a number of personal anecdotes, including a description of having a black roommate in college and how the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.. during that time affected the both of them. This commentary track contributes significantly to the enjoyment of the film, and left me with a greater respect for Cohen and the film in general. Alas, none of the other extras measure up. The Skulls II and The Skulls III are both included on the second disc in the set. The Skulls II is a definite step down in both writing and acting from The Skulls, though the production values are comparable. The ceremonies are sillier, as is the stilted dialogue. The inferior caliber of acting talent cannot pull off the unnatural and forced phrases they are expected to utter in complete seriousness. Craig T. Nelson can bull his way through a silly monologue that the small time cable TV alums here cannot hope to master.Keen observers have doubtless already guessed the surprising twist in The Skulls III. That's right, this time it's a girl! Taylor Brooks, played by Clare Kramer, is the daughter of a congressman, who is himself a Skull. Her brother mysteriously died during his own initiation to the Skulls, and now she is determined to force her way into the group and finally gain respect from dad.