Saturday, August 29

When "A Version" Becomes "The Version"


Anyone who has known me probably knows of my past rants over Anchor Bay's mistreatment of The Evil Dead series on disc, especially Parts 1 and 2, with the release of their Necronomicon-styled "Book of the Dead" DVDs. To make a long story short, the studio made massive, damaging changes to what was already near perfection on DVD. The Evil Dead was cropped to a widescreen aspect ratio that cramped the shooting composition, suffered gross color alterations, and was noticeably darkened compared to their and Elite Entertainment's prior fantastic-looking DVDs. Evil Dead 2 was very digitally noise reduced and brightened, giving an ugly plastic appearance, compared to the (honesty) reference quality transfer on their previous THX-certified DVD.

THX DVD Top / BotD DVD (and Blu-ray) Bottom

^What the hell happened to the shadows and sweat and...detail?!?

Concerning EDII, these two DVDs preceded Anchor Bay's Blu-ray of the second in the series, which proven to be the same poor BotD transfer, only weaker being in 1080p HD. Optimum Releasing then unleashed the film in the U.K. on Blu, and again it looked liked shit from all the digital molestation. Optimum actually released the same Anchor Bay BotD transfer.

This whole mess is symptomatic of a potentially big problem in the continuing transition from DVD to Blu-ray. Anchor Bay's shoddy BotD hackjob has jumped across the Atlantic, essentially becoming the new standard for the film's "look" in High Definition, despite the old THX DVD beating the shit outta it.

This Blu-ray might be the only hope for the film, presumably for some years to come, to be properly presented in HD. It's Studio Canal's French BD set for release on September 22nd. I have the studio's French 2-DVD Édition collector set and it retains the wonderfully film-like THX transfer. So one can only hope their Blu-ray will present the film this way and if so, the picture quality will absolutely embarrass the terrible efforts of Anchor Bay and Optimum. Fingers are firmly crossed.


Anonymous said...

good article. im years from being able to jump to blu-ray..i really couldnt be bothered upgrading my tv which is top of the range german SD.. i hope by the time im buying Blu this stuff is sorted out.

B-Movie Becky said...

What a shame! It's too bad filmmakers can't be more involved in transfers so that films look like they had intended.

Jayson Kennedy said...

Well, in the case of Evil Dead discs, multiple DVD editions say their transfers were approved by Raimi, Campbell, or both. I don't think it means much usually. Like the color alterations made to the newest DVD/Blu-ray of Bram Stoker's Dracula. The transfer was supposedly approved by Coppola, but later it was revealed he never was involved in the process, an associate of his was present to carry out the numerous changes. you dare tread upon the staircase?

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