Though I had seen the footage on the original release, I looked on with a mix of sadness and disbelief as Dimebag Darrell Abbott smoked, drank, shredded, blew shit up, and lived his short life to the fullest in the infamous PANTERA home videos contained on "3 Vulgar Videos from Hell". Those precious moments, along with a "Jackass"-style, on the fly, pseudo-documentary of one of the world's most important extreme metal bands makes this two-disc set as debauched and invigorating now as it was when it was originally released in 1997. It is one of the best pure and true American heavy metal DVDs you are ever likely to own. They sure as hell don't make 'em like this anymore.
If you own the 1997 version (the "Cowboys from Hell", "Vulgar Video", and "3 Watch it Go" home videos with bonus footage), the choice to purchase the 2006 version depends on whether the inclusion of chapter navigation and a re-mastering in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound is worth it to you. I will say that the addition of chapters makes navigation through the four hours worth of material a hell of a lot easier; I remember what a pain in the ass it was without it.
Without completely rehashing the hours of substance-abusing insanity, the reams of killer live footage, and the timeless videos, a few things are worthy pointing out. First, in a video-flooded market, I still find the collection of PANTERA videos of songs from "Cowboys from Hell", "Vulgar Display of Power", "Far Beyond Driven", and "The Great Southern Trendkill" to be worthy of watching over and over again, preferably at window-shattering volume. Whether it is "5 Minutes Alone", "Mouth for War", "Drag the Waters", or the (unfortunately) edited video for "Cemetery Gates", there is a level of street credibility and metallic truth in these mostly band performances that is lacking from today's video crop. Maybe it has something to do with the raw conviction demonstrated by the group members, even as they play along to a tape, or the plain fact that PANTERA was such a fantastic people's metal band.
The live footage (crowd shots, backstage shenanigans, performance, etc) from places like Japan and Australia is still exciting as hell, especially when one considers the throngs of fans the world over worshipping such a proudly anti-social form of music. Trend-free and corrosive, the scenes of Dimebag, Phil, Vinnie Paul, and Rex performing with the likes of Rob Halford ("Grinder"), EXODUS, SKID ROW (playing "Cold Gin" in KISS makeup), PRONG, and Kerry King is very cool indeed, regardless of the often shitty bootleg quality. Of course, the live footage from Moscow's Monsters of Rock festival is mind-blowing.
And do I really need to go into detail about the Sodom and Gomorrah scenes from the home videos? Guzzling hot sauce and engaging in full-on gluttony for cash, terrorizing the first to pass out with flame and feces, and more herb-smoking, booze-hounding, and bare boob jiggling than you can shake a stick at. A show of straightedge and vegan solidarity this is not.
What "3 Vulgar Videos from Hell" may lack in production value, it mostly makes up for in raw rock and roll madness. You simply cannot recreate the level of metal psychosis achieved during PANTERA's decade-plus rule of the roost. This collection is as close as you'll ever get…unless you were fortunate enough to be there.