ELITE MILLENNIUM DVD
That uh... that just doesn't seem right, does it. Was this an optical shot maybe?
Hey there's an idea, let's check out an optical shot! With all it's print damage and--
...are you fucking serious, Image?! No, maybe I just picked a few bad examples...
...okay? That's a little better, I guess. Obviously the overly red push and boosted saturation on the Elite DVD has never done the skin tones in this film any favors, but there's a shocking lack of, for lack of a better term, difference between the 2002 DVD master and this new Blu-ray. There's slightly more info on the bottom of the frame, but less on the other three sides, and if there's an instance where the Blu-ray has even slightly better shadow detail, I can't find it in any of the caps floating around. It literally looks almost exactly the same except with exponentially better compression and a completely different application of grain-removal.
I might post more on this later if I have the time/energy/pitchforks, but here's the short version: Image used a less-sloppily processed version of the Millennium Edition master. From 2002. There's simply no other explanation, or even excuse. It sickens me to say this, but if I had anything positive to say, it's that it's still less embarrassing than their THE HILLS HAVE EYES upscale last year because that bargain-binned motherfucker was literally identical to the DVD. When given high quality materials, Image has produced some phenomenal looking Blu-rays. Too bad this clearly isn't one of them...
Let's not kid ourselves on this one; It'd almost be impossible not to improve upon a 10 year old DVD with syrupy DVNR artifacts and a bitrate of about 5.5 Mb/s. But mark my words, the general lack of fidelity looks like an SD transfer, and based on how much nicer Digibetas tend to look when compared to their DVD counterparts... yeah, I'm pretty goddamn sure we're looking at an upscale. I've been wrong in the past, certainly, but I've been right more times than I'd like to remind anyone. It's also possible that Elite Entertainment spent the extra money to do an HD restoration ten years ago, never once mentioned it in the marketing materials, and this now aged HD master just... isn't very good? It's not impossible, but it's doubtful as all hell, on a number of levels.
The other possibility is that Image managed to get Brian Yuzna to approve an HD transfer that happens to share virtually every hallmark as the SD master minted a decade ago, and I just ain't buying that for a second. Image Entertainment claims that this is a brand new 1080p source... but they also claim in the same press release that this is the R-rated cut of the film. So, make of that what you will.
Whatever the source was, let it be known that the Image Blu-ray of Stuart Gordon's RE-ANIMATOR, arguably the finest film in that fantastic director's canon... really sucks. Resolution is stilted for one reason or another, print damage seems just as rampant as it did on the DVD, and I just... don't want to talk about it any more right now.
Thanks to Ian Jane, who unknowingly triggered my rage-button with his initial review and screenshots. He probably doesn't know it, but his early review screenshots of bullshit like this give me enough pure spite to get through every day, so all I can do is thank him.
*Do keep in mind that the aliasing/blurred appearance you see on the wine glass in the above "Downscale/Upscale" sample is a side-effect of the process itself; the DVD does NOT have blatant aliasing issues. My goal with that is to establish that 480p is more than enough to convey the resolution of the pin-stripes missing on the Blu-ray which, I can only assume, was a casualty of the rather brutal and primitive noise reduction Elite used on their "THX Approved" Digital Transfer.
What's that? You want MORE?! Eh, sure, why not. Just to keep it a bit kinky this time we're stealing lossless caps from the HIGH DEF DISC NEWS site. Thanks guys!
I'll give credit where credit's due; that little "No Admittance" sign in the last comparison was an ugly smear on the DVD, but perfectly readable on the Blu-ray. It's also odd that there's ringing on the optical forced-narrative subtitles on the BD but not the DVD... could this have been a less than optimal HD master that was low-pass filtered to the breaking point, robbing it of anything resembling fine detail and filmic texture? Honestly, it's hard to say. The Blu-ray is still rubbish if we have to look this goddamn hard for a difference between the BD and the DVD, regardless of what resolution their master was.
My advice is to wait and see what comes out of Second Sight in the UK: with any luck, they'll trounce this Image release. If nothing else it'll come in a steelbook, and we know that SOMEBODY was obviously recording new material with Barbara Crampton.
Hey, Second Sight, now is the perfect (and only) time to consider enlisting Don May Jr's help on getting a proper 2K restoration of this film done! Hah, as if they don't already have a master ready for replication...