If “A History of Violence” seems almost too normal coming from the man who made “Videodrome” and “Scanners,” rest assured the terrific DVD extras are a gore-whore’s delight. Where David Cronenberg’s self-deconstructing thriller exercises a perverse and often hilarious restraint in how much violence it opts to show onscreen, the bonuses here offer a virtual behind-the-scenes parade of bloody prosthetics and broken glass.
Watch as stuntmen fill condoms with blood in the uncommonly rich making-of documentary, brilliantly structured around the individual eruptions of violence that drive the narrative. Look on in amused horror as star Viggo Mortensen stomps repeatedly on some poor guy’s neck, while Cronenberg calmly explains how the spurts of blood in the international version didn’t make it into American theaters (though you’d have to be on the MPAA ratings board to spot the difference). Thrill to the deleted dream sequence, featuring the pic’s most graphically over-the-top set-piece; that the helmer chose to leave it out is a filmmaking lesson in itself.
Cronenberg presides over the whole affair like a mad scientist delighted to show off his goodies, yet in both his feature commentary and his wonderfully poignant video record of the film’s Cannes premiere, the Canuck auteur emerges as the very model of a self-deprecating, crew-uniting genius. He seems almost too normal for words.