Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Of Death, Of Love, of Interpositives

What with the new Hollywood "adaptation of Tiziano Sclavi's cult smash hit DYLAN DOG upon us, it should come as no surprise that CineKult, the Italian distributor of the Sclavi penned psuedo-spinoff DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE, has re-released the 1994 film as a shameless cash-in. Particulars of why we're getting it now out of the way, considering how great Michele Soavi's surreal "zombie" film is, and especially how rotten the old Anchor Bay DVD was, I can't say that getting a chance to own the flick in High Definition is a bad thing.

First, the bad news: Fucking thing is "Region B" only. So if you've only got a US made player, don't bother importing - it's not going to play, ever. If you have a BD-ROM and some copy protection scrambling magic, however, you should be good to go. Not to condone this sort of thing or whatever, but the main movie is just under 25GB, so if you're the clever sort you could probably just rip the feature and burn it for easy playback on US players.

Now for some good news: Despite the distributor's website claiming that the release was Italian-only, the BD includes the original English dialog in an uncompressed PCM stereo mix and subtitles, should you feel the need to watch it dubbed in Italian. There's evidently a pretty major dropout on the English dub during a non-dialog scene, but with the odds stacked against this release including the English dub in the first place you don't hear me bitching too hard.

The release is also stuffed to the gills with exclusive special features, including a 30 minute interview with the staff about the experience making the movie, a 35 minute look behind the technical aspects, an 11 minute discussion of the Dellamorte Dellamore novel, a 40 minute discussion of the Dylan Dog comics, a 30 minute discussion on Italian horror comics in general, a vintage 18 minute EPK, the original trailer, and a TWO HOUR long panel about the Dylan Dog movie! There's even the Michele Soavi commentary from the prior DVD - and I know I've already forgotten a couple of things in here. It's a lot of stuff to chew on... assuming you're up on your Italian, I mean. If not, it's mostly useless talking heads. Oh yeah, there's also more trailers for Italian genre DVDs than I can even keep track of. As is the norm, the Italian disc may not be cheap, but at least they sure give you your money's worth.

So here's the REAL question... how's it look?

Mwa-hahahahaa!! 1080p, bitches!

As you can see in the second screenshot, there's black damage on the print itself, implying that a positive print was used rather than the original negative - that's certainly unfortunate, but also more or less expected for a film of this vintage and perceived "value". Print damage is present but not particularly rampant, though I suppose anyone expecting a totally clean transfer might be slightly disappointed that they didn't go in and remove each and every bit of dung stuck to the print. The transfer is also quite dark, though that seems to match with the vintage trailers and Italian DVD releases, so I can only assume that's the 'look' Soavi wanted for the feature. The film is simply starting to look its age, but I don't tend to think of that as a terrible thing; it's a unique product of the 90s anyway, so preserving the film the way it looked theatrically is far from the worst thing CineKult could have done with it. I'm almost just satisfied knowing it's not a screaming noise-fest or a pasty DVNR nightmare.

I see a little bit of aliasing, too, that I can't quite finger the source of - maybe this is an older 1440x1080i telecine, and upscaling that to 1920x1080p is to blame? Certainly looks scaling-related, and I don't think it'd be a problem on my end... I'll make it a point to look into this later.

There's some of those minor "combing" looking oddities I talked about when I reviewed Alien 2: On Earth, and extremely minor scratch repair niggles I could bitch about if I wanted to, but for a low budget cult film made after the fall of the Roman Cinematic Empire, I'm quite satisfied with the results. I imagine fans who have suffered through the DVNR riddled and contrast boosted Anchor Bay DVD for years (as I myself did) will see it as nothing short of a revelation. It's entirely possible that there's a scene with heinous DVNR or contrast boosting oddities I've yet to stumble across, but if the rest of the disc looks anything like the above, I have no major complaints.

Unfortunately, I can't take more time and watch the disc from end to end just yet. I'm still busy, still leaving for the weekend, and still up to my armpits in crap I should be doing that has nothing to do with Michele Soavi. I just wanted to be sure I had this all posted before I left so y'all could take a peek.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'd suggest doing a direct compare with the Italian DVD during the first scene in the ossuary. It's the point at which "this looks a little dark" becomes "I can't see Anna Falchi's face, just a black blob, and there's no shadow detail." All is visible in the DVD. When Falchi's character rushes out, she splashes through a puddle that is heard but not seen; this is of course fully visible on DVD.