Monday, February 04, 2013
Like the lot of you, I recently* heard that Synapse Films had walked away with the rights to Lamberto Bava's DEMONS and DEMONS 2, and Dario Argento's TENEBRAE (or is it "Tenebre"? Tenebres? Unsane? Shadow? Whatever...) and PHENOMENA. True, all of these have been given an uncut release in the United Kingdom by Arrow Video, but I've had my fair share of honest, at times scathing criticism towards the lot of 'em. Doubtless the label will continue to have its defenders, even for this quartet of deeply flawed released, but I'm nothing if not honest when I talk about this stuff: When a disc looks or sounds like crap, I notice, and then I tend to show up here long enough to vomit out my feelings about it.
It all usually leads to anonymous forum users calling me an assclown fuckfart who doesn't know a film reel from a banjo shoved up a donkey's ass, but whatever. I calls 'em as I sees 'em.
Curious, I contacted Don May Jr. and ask him for any details he could share with me about the materials he expected to receive. There's a lot of good news to be had, and one point that I'm deeply frustrated by, but this is what I know...
DEMONS will, as I had suspected, be based on the 2K master Arrow Video created with Ciniteca di Bologna using the original negative, but they're going back to the initial, "raw" scan to create an entirely new master with proper color grading. Not only will we no longer have to deal with elevated black levels, but the day-for-night shots in the beginning of the film will be dealt with properly, which was something so far down on the list of big problems I had with Arrow's BD that it wasn't even in the Top Five. Still, awesome that Don May and company are being pro-active and fixing everything instead of just the stuff that made me blow a personal gasket.
Synapse is also tracking down the best materials they can for the "USA" Mono dub as featured on the various New World Pictures VHS and the Arrow Blu-ray, the "UK" Stereo dub as has always been included on pretty much every other DVD release ever, and the original Italian mix. In short, we're looking at the definitive DEMONS, and as much as the thought of double dipping on a Lamberto Bava Blu-ray makes me wince, it'll still be nice to see how thoroughly Synapse mops the floor with Arrow's sloppy attempt.
DEMONS 2 will, again, be based on the Arrow Video/Ciniteca di Bologna 2K master, but they're going to see what can be done to improve it. One needs only compare it to the Anchor Bay DVD to see that something went awry here.
The materials for the cheaper, crumbier sequel have never been all that good to start with, so honestly, if we can walk away with a new encode that's got the proper day-for-night timing and doesn't suck low bitrate balls, I'll be happy enough. The only downside here is the thought of actually watching Demons 2 again...
TENEBRAE will, indeed, be based on the same master as Wild Side's French release. The French disc is mostly gorgeous (a handful of scratch repair artifacts aside) and sounds fine, so there's nothing more to say; it'll be great barring some bizarre authoring glitch of Titanic proportions, and if you want a copy of this excellent transfer without forced subtitles, sell the Wild Side disc now and get this once it comes out. Done deal.
PHENOMENA is going to be based on a new scan created by Wild Side as well, and with Tenebre above being any measure, I'm sure it'll look and sound... well, phenomenal. Supposedly Dario Argento and Romano Albani participated in the creation of this new master, which is interesting, if nothing else. The bad news is that Wild Side made a new HD master of the 110 minute "International" version, not the 116 minute "Integral" version that appears on the Arrow Video Blu-ray and pretty much all German and Japanese prints. The reason behind this is, interestingly enough, because Dario Argento says the 110 minute version is his preferred cut of the film.
Synapse is getting access to both Wild Side and Arrow Video's materials, but point out that the audio issues involved in re-creating the 'Integral' version have left so many audio issues that they aren't sure how to proceed yet. Having spoken to a friend who tried to re-create a "Perfect" version of Phenomena on DVD, I can confirm that short of creating a brand new mix with archival three-track elements, there's never going to be a "seamless" Integral version in any language but Italian.
What this means for the Synapse Blu-ray of Phenomena, I don't know, but I'm expecting us to get the 110 minute version in higher quality than ever before, with a number of deleted scenes in Italian. Maybe if we're lucky we'll get the 116 minute version as a bonus feature? Who knows. These releases are very high up on my radar, though, so if I get any more info before they're actually out "in the wild", I'll let you know, friends.
UPDATE: The missing Day-For-Night shot occurs at 09:38 on the Arrow BD, which cuts from the low shot of the girls looking up at the theater to a close-up of the neon sign and then slowly pans down to people walking in the main doors. I've included a pair of caps showing the Arrow BD (top) and the Remastered Austrian DVD (bottom).
*Yeah, that was like... a week ago? Whatever, I have the flu. Bite my infectious, zombified ass.