.Just a quick note that I finally snagged Alliance's Canadian Blu-ray of Robert Rodriguez's pre-Grindhouse grindhouse flick From Dusk Till Dawn and the A/V quality passes muster. Alliance has a dodgy track record with the format, despite releasing several Canuck exclusives. Their Blu-ray of Fincher's Se7en is unmatted to 1.78:1 from its original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio. Good Will Hunting and The English Patient feature 1080i interlaced transfers (along with Se7en). Sin City exhibits a strange blocky pattern on large displays and projectors. A Nightmare on Elm Street was waxed to hell with digital noise reduction until New Line saved the day. So I was very weary about the chances of this title, but found it over the weekend at a local music shop and what can I say? It stuck to my hand right out the door.
I'm happy to report this time Alliance's 1080p MPEG-4 AVC-encoded transfer looks consistently decent. Grain and image clarity isn't stunning at all, but certainly blow away Dimension's ancient non-anamorphic DVD. The standard def presentation had a hazy, ruddy red appearance while the Blu-ray features a more natural sandy tan color cast. Fine detail is lacking, Alliance probably utilized an older high definition master, but considering its budget and shooting conditions its doubtful it'll look tremendously better than seen here. I guess unless Rodriguez wanted to go back and re-colorgrade the entire picture. The quality probably won't be as acceptable at very large screen sizes, but I'm pleased at my 50". Alliance also opened the matte bars a bit from 1.85:1 to the "HDTV ratio" of 1.78:1 without much impact to composition at all. Rodriguez seemed like a better editor than director for From Dusk...
The audio is similarly "okay". Despite a listing of standard "DTS" on the back cover, a fully lossless English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that hovers around 4 megabytes per second is included. Compared to other DTS-HD MA tracks, the dialogue here sounds noticably mixed too low, but the mix comes alive when the soundtrack queues up. A lossless French 5.1 dub, standard Dolby 5.1 English/French tracks, and English/French subtitles are also included.
The real bite with Alliance discs is zero extra material and From Dusk Till Dawn is no different. There isn't even a main menu; however, there's a scene selection and audio option pop-up that can be called upon during playback. Also annoyingly both sides of the cover are English/French bilingual with an ugly dual title spine. This is the R-rated version of the film; not the unrated cut on the U.S. Laserdisc with twenty-one seconds of restored violence.
In other Blu news, be sure to check out Blu-ray.com's review of Blue Underground's City of the Living Dead. DVDBeaver also reviewed Arrow Video's region free Blu-ray SE today as well. My first impression is that both transfers are identical except Arrow might have ran the image several times through a low pass filter to smooth the grain somewhat. The Blue Undeground captures don't appear to have this, but it could be that DVDBeaver's pictures are of poorer quality than Blu-ray.com's pictures.