Blu Review 1 - Dawn of the Dead
Dawn of the dead blu ray review
Distributor : Arrow video, UK
With this set I was hoping it would be the last time that I would have to buy this film, having previously owned umpteen videos, laser discs, dvds and even the US blu ray release. I thought finally, this will be the ultimate release and the last word on the film.
All 3 versions of the film and a great deal of extras are provided here so I have only quickly skipped through the blu ray but will include my thoughts on the set incase anyone is considering a purchase.
First off, the print on the theatrical release was excellent considering the age of the film and in some ways it was like seeing the film for the first time. The extended cut and Dario Argento cut are included but only on standard dvds, due apparently to the print quality costing too much to remaster to HD blu ray quality. This is a slight disappointment, however the print on both of these (dvd) versons is very good and with the theatrical print being so good in HD, it really helps to make up for this.
The extras are excellent, with only one problem which unfortunately for me was a major issue. The set contains 2 of the commentary tracks from the Anchor Bay release. The George A Romero commentary which is excellent and a commentary with Richard Rubinstein, which I found myself continuously fighting to stay awake for.
The major issue for me, was the missing audio commentary by the 4 main stars of the film which had previously been found on the Dario Argento cut on the Anchor Bay Ultimate Edition dvd release. Assuming the decision to leave this one out was due to rights issues or something similar, this omission almost killed the set for me. Granted if commentaries aren't your thing, then that's fine, however it was actually one of the best commentary tracks I've ever heard and the way the actors bounce off each other and remember the good times provided a truly a fun experience listening along with them.
What helps to bring this set back up for me, is the inclusion of the Fan of the Dead documentary, where a “mad fan” goes in search of all of the locations from Night, Dawn and Day of the Dead and even finds his way into the original cellar from the first movie (which by the way hasn't changed a bit). This documentary has been on Youtube but for filming locations fans such as myself this is a real treat to have it included in the set.
With other feature length making of documentaries and even the Document of the Dead and Tom Savini Scream Greats for extras, this release overall has to be the best ever release of this film so far.
The set also comes with a reproduction poster from the original UK theatrical release (and pre-cert cover art) and a choice of up to 4 different covers for your blu ray.
I would have hoped this release would be the last version I would ever need to buy of this movie, however the lack of the cast commentary track I previously mentioned is reason enough to warrant another purchase if/when Anchor Bay release their ultimate edition on Blu Ray and I wouldn't be too surprised to see Anchor Bay include the extended and Dario Argento cuts also on blu ray discs rather than on standard dvd.
Ultimately for Dawn of the Dead fans, this is an essential purchase, If you can live without the cast commentary track and are not bothered about the other cuts being in SD this probably will be the last time you buy the film. For anyone else (myself included) it is still an excellent purchase, which will suffice, until the inevitable Anchor Bay ultimate edition blu ray set is released.
Overall, a quality release from a distributor who really seems to care for fans of the films which they are supplying.
Blu Review 2 - Faces of Death blu ray
Faces Of Death Blu Ray Review – 01.05.10
Distributor : Gorgon Video, US.
Well what can I possibly say about this film that hasn't already been stated somewhere else?
Probably not very much, so I think I will just stick to the facts regarding the blu ray release.
This is the US blu ray release put out by Gorgon Video. First off, the disc is not region locked so great news for those who have to worry about these sort of things as it will play on any blu ray player worldwide.
The film is presented in a 1080p 1.85:1 Anamorphic transfer which looks unbelievably good for this type of documentary film. Some print damage remains throughout, however I got the impression that this is supposed to be present in certain scenes and is also present in the original elements of stock footage used in the film.
The blu ray master is taken from a Japanese theatre print so is a little different to the regular version people have grown up with. The print being from a Japanese source, contains a fogging effect to some shots of genitalia present throughout the film. This should come as no surprise, as the Japanese seem always to have a problem with this type of thing. In addition, a seen involving a prison inmate being executed in a gas chamber is not present in the film. Apparently the explanation for this, is that the particular scene was not present in the original theatrical versions and was later added into the home video prints. The scene in question is however presented on the disc as a deleted scene.
The audio on the disc has 5.1 and 2.0 English options. The sound does seem a little tinny in parts but again I'm sure it is how the film was originally made.
As far as extras are concerned, there are a couple of featurettes; one involving creating the FX, another titled Choice Cuts which interviews the films editor. There is also an out-take real, theatrical trailer and the before mentioned deleted scene. The best extra without question, has to be the excellent commentary track by the films director Conan LeCilaire. During this extensive commentary he talks about which scenes are real and which are re-enacted. He also talks about how they made the effects on the re-enacted scenes and also points out various actors he knows playing the parts in the film. He even plays about 5 or 6 different parts himself. Along with all of this information, other topics discussed include; obtaining various stock footage, the sequels to Faces of Death and the other films that later copied the Faces of Death series. This commentary really is one of the best I have heard for a film and the amount of information on offer is incredible.
Although it will always remain a controversial film, it somehow seems a must have for horror collections and I honestly took a lot from watching the film with the commentary track playing and it has reignited my interest in the film itself.
With the excellent extras on offer here and the fact that the film itself has never looked as good, I highly doubt a better version could ever be released, so this blu ray should be the last word on the film.
Love or hate the film, this blu ray is an excellent release.
Blu Review 3 - Payback -d/cut & theatrical
Payback : Blu Ray Review. 01.05.10
Distributor : Warner home video, UK
This blu ray disc came as something of a surprise to me. It is actually a far better release than the US version.
Firstly there are 2 versions of the film here, the theatrical cut and the directors cut which has been advertised as a harder version. On watching the directors cut for the first time, I noticed that this is in fact quite a different film from the theatrical release. New scenes begin and end the film, a lot of footage has been taken out with altogether new footage replacing it and the ending and outcome of the film is significantly different. The character of “Porter” played by Mel Gibson, does seem a lot more intense in this version and comes across a lot more menacing.
As well as alternate scenes, the look of the film is also a substantial variant on the theatrical release as it has lost it's previous “blue tint” effect that was throughout the original release.
If directors cuts are generally not your cup of tea, or for people that prefer the original lighter theatrical cut, it is also present here and to have the 2 versions on one disc is a real treat as they should really be treated as separate films due to the substantial difference between them.
The best thing about this release is having the option of both cuts on one disc unlike the US blu ray, which only includes the new directors cut.
The film is presented in a 16x9 1080p transfer for both versions, which looks really very good, although due to the way this was filmed, don't go expecting to see reference quality material here.
The English 5.1 true hd soundtrack is excellent and seemed a lot stronger and clearer than I thought it would have.
As far as extras for this release go, Warner Home Video have not been slack. Probably just having the 2 versions of the film here could have been enough to justify a purchase which would have excused a potential lack of extras, however we are also offered, an informative directors cut commentary track, interviews with cast members including Mel Gibson and James Coburn and in addition, a feature on creating the new directors cut. Rounding things up, there is on location footage from both LA and Chicago.
Overall this release provides a very neat package and for completists or fans of the film, an altogether worthy purchase.
Blu Review 4 - A Nightmare on Elm Street blu ray
A Nightmare on Elm Street blu ray review. 08.05.10
Distributor : New line cinema, US
The original and best Nightmare on Elm Street movie finally makes it's way to US blu ray. Probably released to tie in with the remake I had forgotten just how good this original film was.
I have seen this film over the years on virtually every home media version available, from video tape, to laser disc, to DVD and now finally on blu ray.
New Line have given us a 1080p transfer which looks excellent in quality. This transfer really drew me back into the film and I noticed things I had not seen previously, despite the number of earlier viewings. The atmosphere throughout the film and sheer nastiness of Fred Krueger himself is amplified ten fold and it's great to see Freddy back to his creepy and terrifying original horror icon status, unlike the wise cracking anti-hero he became in the original sequels.
Lately there seems to be a selection of blu ray releases which by providing an excellent transfer or audio soundtrack actually appear to improve or enhance the film itself and this is certainly another release in that category.
Considering how many times I have seen the film and after just recently watching the remake, I had expected to perhaps become a little distracted while viewing this film again, but that was not the case and I am positive this was all down to the presentation.
Anyway moving on, as previously stated the transfer is excellent and the audio is also strong throughout.
Extras wise there appears to be a lot on offer. We have two commentaries one with the director and various cast members which includes John Saxon (although once he introduces himself, then seems to disappear from the commentary.) Unless I somehow missed his contribution I can't remember him having a great deal to say at all and appears to be more in the background. The second commentary features the director again along with Robert Englund, and other cast and crew members. Aside from commentaries, we also have alternate endings which are unfortunately all too similar with just one or two small changes between them, plus some featurettes that include the making of the film. There is also an interactive trivia track if you like that sort of thing.
The only minor complaint I can really make with this release, is that again we are given the R rated theatrical cut of the film, which unlike the early video or laser releases, cuts the seen of the blood splash when one of Freddy's victims drops onto the bed. This is not really surprising as it was the same in all worldwide DVD releases and the cut is probably only one or two seconds anyway so although not enough to spoil an otherwise great presentation, may concern some completeists.
Summing up, the blu ray is an altogether excellent release. The film was previously released on blu ray in Canada but this US release puts the Canadian transfer to shame. Also unlike the Canadian release this blu ray is not region locked, so is therefore suitable for all blu ray players worldwide.
For long time fans of the film who have not seen it in a while, you are in for a real treat
Go and seek out Freddy Krueger as he was meant to be seen.......
and remember whatever you do, don't fall asleep!
Excellent reviews Sam.Though it would be a good idea to put them into one blu-ray review thread.Hopefully we can get a hefty bunch of reviews for the blu-ray boys (and girls) in the forum.
Thanks for the assistance, as I'm new here I was not sure how you would like them listed, I am hoping to do a good few of these as I also review blu rays for other forums as well.
Hopefully someone will find them of use here.
No worries.They're a great read and I'm sure everyone will find them useful.Always nice to see other people opinions of discs,picture and audio quality etc,before buying.
Fantastic reviews, Sam - very helpful. I was a bit unsure as to whether to pick up the UK Blu of Payback, but since you've shown that it's a superior release to its US counterpart (having both versions on one disc) I will definitely snag a copy of this now. It's still not as good a film as the one that inspired it, Point Blank, but it's still a decent film and one I don't mind having on my shelf.
Cheers, Sam - keep 'em coming. They're a great point of reference for people on this forum and I always prefer reading the thoughts of film fans rather than paid (off) professional reviewers. Nice one.
Sent from my Hoover using the power of Uri Gellar
Oh yes,the UK/European blu-ray of Payback wins hands down by including both cuts of the film.My only gripe with the DC is the new music score.I much prefer the music from the theatrical cut,including The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three inspired main theme.
Blu Review 5 - Prison Break complete series (France)
Prison Break complete series blu ray review – 30/05/10
Distributor - 20th Century Fox - France
This will be the first “Blu Review” for a television series release.
First things first then, this set contains each and every episode from every season of Prison Break. From the pilot episode, through season 1-4 and the Final Break epilogue episode, it's all included here in this set which is available as an import from France.
The set comes together in a square cardboard box which then lifts up to find a total of 10 blu ray cases housed inside. Season 1 is presented in the thicker type case which contains 6 discs inside and the rest of the series and final break episode are contained in the thinner type blu ray cases which hold approx 2 discs each.
As for the episodes themselves although this is a French release, the episodes start from the main menu instantly playing with English audio soundtrack and with no subtitles on display. This is a welcome surprise for UK buyers, as a lot of French releases come with burned in French subtitles so it was pleasing to see that this is not the case here.
Anyway, the episodes look fantastic, presented in a quality 16x9 1080p anamorphic transfer, there is no print damage on display and they really look brand new, which seeing as how the series is only a few years old, should really be expected.
The audio offered here is English 5.1 and DTS and also a French 5.1 audio option. The English 5.1 audio track sounds crisp and clear and is of a very high quality.
For extra features we are given various commentaries,documentaries and making of features throughout the set.
As far as region coding is concerned Seasons 2 - 4 and the Final Break are all listed as region A,B & C while strangely Season 1 is listed as B only. I did try Season 1 in my locked US blu ray player and it played without a problem, so make of that what you will.
Ultimately the best about this release is not actually the picture, audio or extras, quite honestly it has to be the price. Up until now only Seasons 1, 3 and the Final Break have been released on blu ray in the United States or in the UK and they are not the cheapest of releases. This box set which in addition contains 2 more full seasons than the separate releases, cost a total of £81 delivered from Amazon France, costing a fraction of the price on the separate releases and not having to wait for the eventual separate release of Seasons 2 and 4.
Admittedly Season 1 is the main one to own in this series, however for the price here, it is worth having the complete box set which is all the Prison Break you will ever need and really is the last word on this show.
I cannot see this set ever being bettered and even if a similar box set is eventually released in the UK or US, it will be a while before it is this cheap.
For the Prison Break fan, this set is an essential purchase, for fans of television series in general, you can do a lot worse than this series with the first (and best) season, being some of the best television drama for many years.
Ok, so the follow up seasons were not in the same league as the first and at certain times did tend to stray a little over the top, however do yourself a favour revisit this series and remember how good it all was when it began. At this price for a complete series which is excellently presented and with decent extras, you really can't go wrong.
Get ready to return once again to Fox River Penitentiary for a quality TV drama, which will keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat from the very first episode.
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