The Abyss: Special Edition
20th Century Fox / 1989 / 171 Mins / Rated PG-13

Time has been kind to The Abyss. It never really was a success upon release in August 1989. At that time the hugely successful Batman was released.

Slowly over the years the movie has had success in the video rental market and with the success of other James Cameron movies that were made after The Abyss.

A few years after it's release Cameron went back to the movie and added the scenes he took out of the theatrical cut. This release on LD/VHS, GULP! was very successful.

For those who are not familiar with the story revolves around an underwater oil rigging team is hired by the government to find a missing submarine that has sank and the government need to know why.

Soon they discover an unknown life form which has the power to destroy the world.

Huge in it's scope and well devised, The Abyss is a wonderful movie you can enjoy again and again.

This DVD release of The Abyss includes the original theatrical release of the movie plus the special edition which includes an additional 28 minutes of footage.

This is a transfer with great positives and one huge negative there is no 16:9 enhancement!!!!

On the up side the transfer is nothing short of spectacular. The transfer is sharp as a tack. Colors are well rendered and shadow detail is sensational. There were no MPEG artifacts and only very minimal film artifacts but you could count them on one hand.

The Abyss is framed at 2:35:1 and is NOT 16:9 enhanced. Even though the case says other wise. This is unacceptable.

This is an RSDL disc. There is one layer change on this disc but it occurs at different times depending on the version of the movie your watching. The layer change occurs at 65:04 on the theatrical version and at 82:21 on the special edition version. Both changes are easy to see and the pause the action for a few seconds.


The Abyss is released with 2 sound formats, a Dolby Digital 5.1 and a Dolby Digital 2.0 track. The 5.1 surround track is what I listened to. 

The mix is immersive and well rounded with good effect throughout the entire soundstage. Dialog was always easy to hear. The .1 channel did work occasionally but not all the time.

Oh my gosh, where do I start?? I guess disc one is as good as anything.

Disc One

Extras Include:

Special edition featuring 28 minutes additional footage and the original theatrical cut of the movie.

Text Commentary: As tacky as this sounds it is actually a great way of getting information across. It is very informative and in some respects better than an audio commentary.

Disc Two

The second disc of this set features most of the extras. The disc begins with the same great animated menu as the first disc but it allows you to explore around even further. The menu system is great as it allows you to move down to the Abyss, up to the surface and into the deep core again. Sensational. There are also lots of hidden stuff throughout each page, some are easy to find, others not so easy.

Documentaries Area

Featurette - The Abyss: Really and extended press kit that runs for 10 minutes and is slightly informative. Dolby Digital 2.0 in 4:3 format, non 16:9 enhanced.

Documentary - Making Of The Abyss: A 60 minute making of documentary from the original Laser Disc edition that is very well made. Dolby Digital 2.0, 4:3 format which is not 16:9 enhanced.

Trailers Area

Teaser Trailer: Dolby Digital 2.0, 1:85:1 ratio which is not 16:9 enhanced. Average Trailer.

Theatrical Trailer: Dolby Digital 2.0, 1:85:1 ratio which again is not 16:9 enhanced. Trailer is great though.

Reviews Trailer: Dolby Digital 2.0, 2:35:1 ratio and again it's not 16:9 enhanced. Standard trailer.

True Lies Trailer: Dolby Digital 2.0, 4:3 format not 16:9 enhanced. Fun trailer.

Aliens Trailer: Dolby Digital 2.0, 4:3 format and is again not 16:9 enhanced.

Personnel Lockers Area

This is your standard cast & crew notes section with info on all the main cast and crew. 18 to be exact. Very in depth. Pardon the pun.

Drill Room

This area contains the meat of the special features that contain massive production notes, storyboards, photos and video about the production of various scenes or special effect Entering here will take you to the well head and allow you to check each one of the features in order, (more on that later). 

If you do not wish to look at everything in order you can go to the mission components section which allows you to go outside the deep core from the menus and select from different sections. They are as follows.

The Wave - 1000 Feet Above Sea Level.

Benthic Explorer - 0 Feet About Sea Level.

Writer/Director & Screenplay.

The Production Team.

The Design Team.

The Storyboarding Process.

Character Development.

Cab Three - 300 Feet Below Sea Level.

Deepcore 2 - 1700 Feet Below Sea Level. Also serves as the discs main menu.

Pseudopod - 1800 Feet Below Sea Level.

Cab One - 1850 Feet Belwo Sea Level.

Flatbed - 2100 Feet Below Sea Level.

Little Geek - 2150 Feet Below Sea Level.

U.S.S Montana - 2200 Feet Below Sea Level.

NTI Scout - 3000 Feet Below Sea Level.

NTI Manta - 5500 Feet Below Sea Level.

Deep Suit - 10000 Feet Below Sea Level.

NTI Being - 18050 Feet Below Sea Level.

Big Geek - 18000 Feet Below Sea Level.

NTI Ark - 21000 Feet Below Sea Level.

All up these sections equal 23 chapters and each section gives you info on what they are related to. Very well done and an excellent addition to this disc.

Imaging Station

This section hold quite a lot of video information. It includes the following.

James Cameron's Shooting Script: If you have a lot of time to spare you can read the script in full.

Original Treatment: Ditto for the treatment.

Pseudopod Multi-Angle Sequence: This is a short multi angle sequence of the water worm coming into the deep core. It shows on different angles, 

1. Final Version. 
2. Storyboards.
3. Original Dalies.
4. Temp F/X. 

Quite interesting really and a good use of the multi angle feature. In fact it's a lot like the multi angle feature on Ghostbusters: CE.

Deep core Time lapse: This is one of my favorite parts. It shows how the production build the deep core over the period of several months which is then squeezed in seven minutes. Great stuff.

Videomatics Montage: Some video storyboards where you can toggle the letterboxing on or off. Limited value.

Montana Bridge Flooding: Again a short if boring showing how they hit the set with a lot of water. Limited value.

Most of the other features in this section are the same. These include,

Engine Room Flooding
Surface Shoot Montage
Crane Crash
Visual Effects Reel
Minature Rear Projection
Motion Control Time lapse

Also included are,

773 storyboards 
Production Photos
Short Dolby Digital Rain Trailer

Subtitles Include:
Closed Captioned, Spanish

A wonderful movie on a wonderful disc. The extra's are sensational and it's a disc that should be in everyone's collection. The disc only just misses out on a perfect score due to the lack of 16:9 enhancement. 





Display: 48" Sony RPTV.
DVD Player:
Panasonic A350 Player using S-Video Cables.
Pioneer VSX-D508 Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround.
Accusound speaker system.

Copyright 2000 by [Roger Ward].
Revised: 04 Sep 2000 01:14:46 +1100 .

Region Coding: Region 1
No of Discs: 2
MPAA Rating PG-13
Running Time: 171 Mins
Case Type: Dual Alpha Pak
Release Date: 27/6/2000
Catalog Number: 2000008
List Price: Personal Import
Distributor: Fox
Disc Format: NTSC
Disc Type: Picture Disc
Disc Format: SS-RSDL

Theatrical (45)
Special Edition (54)
Macrovision: Yes
Manufacturer: DVCC
Aspect Ratio: 2:35:1
Anamorphic: Yes
Film Format: 35mm
Dolby Digital:

5.1 Surround
2.0 Surround

DTS: None
PCM Stereo: None
Other: None
Languages: English
Subtitles: Yes
Audio Commentary: Text Commentary
Theatrical Trailer: Yes
Teaser Trailer(s): Yes
TV Spots(s): Yes
Dolby Trailer: Yes
Documentary: Yes
Cast & Crew Bios: Yes
Deleted Scenes: Yes
Music Videos: None
DVD Rom Content: Yes
Collectable Booklet: Yes
Scene Access: Yes
Animated Menus: Yes
Production Notes: Yes