I first saw The Lawnmower Man when it was released in 1992. I was six years old. I was obsessed with video games and desperately wanted a SEGA CD. I also wore overalls very similar to Jobe’s. Like Terminator 2 only a year prior, it seemed like it was made for me. Twenty five years later, I still feel this way, though I no longer wear overalls.
The Lawnmower Man was not received well when it was released, with most critics dismissing it and Stephen King disowning it (to the tune of even getting his name removed from the film), but it found commercial success, earning three times its budget and spawning a (much worse) sequel a few years later. It’s not hard to watch something from the 90s now and be shocked at how drastically things have changed, but The Lawnmower Man feels surprisingly prescient – its once clunky CG effects now feel ethereal and its fusion of sex, technology, religion and murder doesn’t seem far removed from the cyber thrillers of the new millennium, most notably the 1999 trifecta of eXistenZ, The Thirteenth Floor and The Matrix.
The success of The Lawnmower Man also lead to Brett Leonard’s director’s cut being released on home video. First released on VHS and Laserdisc, the director’s cut adds an additional 40 minutes to the runtime. Far from being a mere cash grab or offering added excess, the director’s cut should be seen as the definitive cut of Leonard’s film, featuring much more character material with both Jobe and Dr. Angelo. It’s mostly needed exposition in a film that straddles the line between narrative and spectacle, with the latter carrying more weight in the theatrical cut.
The Lawnmower Man has aged incredibly well and though it may not be the film that Stephen King or the critics wished it were in 1992, it gets a lot of our fears about technology right and with VR becoming more perfected with each passing year, it’s starting to seem eerily prescient. If you’ve never seen it before, the director’s cut is the better version but if it’s admittedly daunting runtime deters you, the theatrical cut is entirely accessible and well worth the trip.
Shout Factory have brought The Lawnmower Man to Blu-ray for the first time in the US, it was previously released in Europe. Both the theatrical cut and the director’s cut get their own respective disc, each with a 4K transfer. The theatrical cut looks great, with plenty of grain and sharp colors. It is a relatively dark movie, so don’t expect something you’re going to want to show off but this is a very organic presentation. The director’s cut seemed to pose some presentation challenges, which some text will alert you to at the start. This text makes mention of jump cuts between added scenes and though they’re noticeable, they’re hardly that problematic. Fans will likely be too happy to have this version to be bothered much, but it’s top notch presentation for SF to tip viewers off beforehand. Audio on both cuts is available as DTS HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 options. As always, I’ll vouch for the latter as it’s the way it was released, but the tracks across both cuts all sound great regardless of what you choose.
If two cuts from new 4K transfers wasn’t enough, SF have absolutely piled on the supplements for this Collector’s Edition release. On disc one we start with a commentary with Brett Leonard and writer/producer Gimel Everett. This is a vintage track but is a great jumping off point for anyone who hasn’t heard it before – hardly a lull in the conversation. Next up is the jewel of the set “Cybergod: Creating The Lawnmower Man”, a brand new hour long making of doc that covers the production up through the theatrical release and includes new interviews with cast and crew. After that, we get about 27 minutes of deleted scenes that are a great inclusion but aren’t remastered. Rounding out disc one, we get four minutes of animated sequences, an EPK, a trailer, a TV spot and an add for the SNES video game. Disc two kicks off with the same commentary but has comments added for the new footage. There’s also three minutes of concept art, a two minute storyboard comparison and a bunch of stills. This is as exhaustive a release for The Lawnmower Man as anyone could hope for.
Fans of The Lawnmower Man rejoice! Your definitive release is here. Shout Factory have pulled out all of the stops with both cuts, new 4K restorations and a ton of supplemental content. If you’ve never seen the film, this is the best way to and if you’re already a fan – this is a no-brainer. Highly Recommended.