Friday, July 01, 2011

Now I'm not SAYING Zombi Holocaust is an upscale...

Original 1080p Screenshots
(Courtesy of WTF-Film)

1080p > 480p > 1080p

...I'm just saying there's zero real-world resolution that can't be resolved beyond 720x480p NTSC standard resolution in any of the above screenshots made directly from the disc at 1080p. Which is the sort of thing you should only expect from an SD upscale. That doesn't mean it is an upscale, but it sure doesn't help the case for this being a new 1080p scan, either.

The only loss from cutting the resolution to one-sixth its' source is that the sharpening artifacts on the grain is blurred out - notice that there's no detail in Colli's hair, and if anything her teeth are easier to make out in SD! Hmmm... that couldn't be because they're buried under High Frequency sharpening, now could it? Geez, a little dithering and some smart-sharpening on top, forget about it - you could pass a VHS tape off as "1080p" with the right filter chain and low enough expectations.

But let's cut through the hyperbole: Wither this is from an SD source or not (and I really, really think it might be)... honestly, who cares? It looks like shit either way! No, I doubt the film ever looked great, but there's no excuse for a film to be thus blurry and this grainy. It just isn't how 35mm works when it's properly transferred at high resolution. The fact that the contrast and framing is nigh-on identical to the DVD raises a red flag in and of itself, since it wasn't ideal to start with... but hey, I'm trying to be fair and assume the best here.At best it's an incredibly shitty HD transfer, and more likely than not, it's an equally shitty Digibeta with a heavy dose of digital tinkering on top.

Special thanks to Kevin over at WTF-Films for taking this one for the team by posting screenshots, and personally saving me about $20 in the process. His review goes into much more detail than I ever plan to, so if you're still interested in what this set has to offer, go give it a look. He's been very fair and even handed - perhaps more than MB deserves on this one, but hey, I certainly can't write him off as a hater.

Honestly, I never really "got" this flick... the US trailer's awesome and it's gory as all hell, but it's also such a weak and hollow ripoff of ZOMBIE and JUNGLE HOLOCAUST that I'd much rather just watch a double-feature of those two films than try to watch a hack like Girolami try his best to squeeze both of them into the same film with half the budget and a third of the talent. Then again my wife laughed her figurative balls off watching this dump pile with me, so maybe there's a certain kind of magic I just don't see here?

UPDATE: Just to establish what a joke this transfer is, here's the 1080p vs 480p title cards for ZOMBI HOLOCAUST and BUIO OMEGA...

1080p Original

1080p > 480p > 1080p

Notice that while the 480p title card for Buio Omega show substantial degradation on the text resulting in blurring and aliasing, Zombi Holocaust looks absolutely fucking identical. For all the major, frustrating problems that Buio Omega may have had on Blu, at LEAST I never doubted that the transfer I was looking at was mastered in High Definition. The above comparison basically clenches any shadow of a doubt I might have had for Zombi Holocaust.

The only other possibility is that the opening titles were sourced from SD video and the film proper is sourced from an extremely poor HD source. Neither is a particularly appealing thought, but if it's the former, why the fuck would they bother? Just leave the damned credits in Italian!

What's especially rotten is that John Sirabella, CEO and public voice of Media Blasters, went out of his way to say the following about the very first upscale he released on Blu-ray - remember, this is straight from his own handle via the forum:

I agree Ichi the Killer sucked! When I screw up I can fess up. But I will fix it. I went back to Hong Kong and told them to do a new transfer. They supplied us HD masters and we had it done out of house as we did not have the equipment. Now we do. I will get a new supervised transfer as I am trying to use Bey Logan out there to work with them. I will do a trade-in.

So how 'bout it, Mr. Sirabella? Have anything to "fess up" to on Zombie Holocaust?

THE PLOT THICKENS: As has been pointed out by 'Greasyfries',  the LVR website says their telecine device is a Cintel DSX, a product first introduced nearly 10 years ago and which he notes is considered an inferior machine when compared to even older telecine devices built by companies like Spirit. If this hardware is as bad as he says, and if LVR is one of the most prominent film labs in Rome working with foreign licensors (Media Blasters, Arrow, Blue Underground and so on)... well, this could explain why virtually every single Italian horror transfer up to this point has looked like ass.

Frustratingly, that still doesn't explain why 16mm-sourced Buio Omega's titles look substantially sharper than Zombi Holocausts' native 35mm credits (unless, as I said before, they were culled from a separate SD source). There's something uniquely rotten with this particular transfer, but this could go a long way in understanding what the hell is wrong with every other title LVR has gotten their hands on in the last few years.


Kevin P. said...

I'll not be arguing against you this go around - quite the contrary. After taking a gander at the print damage on display I'm very tempted to agree. My review has been updated with a pair of samples, so readers can judge for themselves.

The really sad thing about this is how much better your downscale --> upscale images look compared to the disc itself. Minus the jaggy noise/grain the image is almost passable. Almost.

LoBo said...

I don`t believe it`s upscaled. Look at this DVD vs Blu-ray comparison i found:

Kentai 拳態 said...

LoBo: I should have added somewhere in there that I don't think the new Blu-ray and the 2002 DVD are from the same source materials. The title sequences are indeed slightly different, as is an optically printed shot through a pair of binoculars for one reason or another. The old transfer was likely made on janky, mostly analog equipment, and if they'd upscaled that source there would be no discussion at all.

A Digibeta made in 2001 and a Digibeta made in 2011 won't necessarily look anything alike due to the generally positive leaps we've made in technology.

Regardless of the source, however, this release looks like a pile of crap. If MB did pay for a new HD master and this is what they got in return, they've been severely boned. BEYOND THE DARKNESS is substantially sharper, and that was shot with soft-focus filters on 16mm film.

Now, if Zombi Holocaust is an HD master sourced from 35mm elements, then MB needs to switch labs in Rome ASAP. LVR either upscaled an older source, or managed to process a new one so badly it still looks like they upscaled an old source. I'm not sure which would be more inexcusable, honestly...