Guillermo Del Toro Petitions for Dragonslayer Blu-ray Release

Since its inception twenty-five years ago, the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Tex., has been about convergence. People converge from all points of the globe to Texas for ten days of music, movies and interactive media.

The festival also allows for filmmakers and celebrities to converge on the Texas capitol to promote their films. But beyond shilling their product, there are those who come to Austin just to have a good time.

As was the case Monday evening at Ain’t It Cool News’ 15th Anniversary Screening. The screening was held at the 1200-seat Paramount amphitheater. Hours leading up to the screening people were speculating on what the title could be. Some of the rumors had it being Sucker Punch or Tree of Life or even Super 8. It was none of those.

Instead, it was a 1981 feature called Dragonslayer directed by Matthew Robbins and starring Peter MacNicol, an actor most associate with Ghostbusters II. He played Viggo’s assistant, Janosz.

But why Dragonslayer – a fantasy about the last remaining dragon and sorcerer on Earth. Because it is one of the favorite films of Guillermo Del Toro, director of Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy films. He was a special guest of Harry Knowles, founder of the Ain’t It Cool News Web site, and he helped to introduce the film for those in attendance.

After the screening there was a nearly twenty-minute back-and-forth between Knowles and Del Toro where they discussed the themes of the film as well as spewed sour grapes about how Dragonslayer was screwed over by the Academy during the Oscars.

But aside from reminiscing about the film thirty years after its release, there was a small plead by Guillermo on getting Paramount Pictures to give it a proper release on Blu-ray with a new transfer, enhanced audio and extras.

Every once in a while there are times where studios have to be “blackmailed” (as Del Toro eloquently put it) to give a film in their library a proper release. It happened with Robert Wise’s Star Trek film – like Dragonslayer it is also a Paramount Pictures feature – and the series Night Gallery, distributed by Universal Studios.

I don’t think it is outside the realm of possibility that we will one day see Dragonslayer on Blu-ray. It all depends on if a studio believes the release will be profitable in some way. With the recent release of Excalibur on the HD format, it gives Dragonslayer fans hope. Matthew Robbins’ fantasy film was up for a number of Academy Awards, mostly for technical work, but considering that it is beloved by Del Toro, Knowles, and even Robbins himself, the studio would be foolish to not want to give it a proper release that includes more than just cast and crew filmographies and animated menus as extras.

If I’d have to wager a bet, I think if enough people flood Paramount with e-mails or phone calls, a Dragonslayer Blu-ray will be timed in accordance with the release of The Lord of the Rings extended edition Blu-ray release.

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