Sunday, April 3

One Fine Mess: Miramax/Echo Bridge Distribution Switch: Early From Dusk Till Dawn & Hellraiser 3/4 DVD Report...

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Talk about shit and fall back in it. As you may or may not know, the ever-ailing Miramax recently struck a distro deal with Echo Bridge Entertainment for the upstart to distribute 251 titles in Miramax's catalog on DVD and Blu-ray. Upon hearing this, flags immediately went up in my head. If you're ever browsed the DVD section at Wal Mart; or more over the $5 bargain bin, you're probably already aware of Echo Bridge. They're essentially the new mainstream cheapskate distributor pushing mostly mediocre SOV numbers at cheap prices. There's nothing wrong with this, but I couldn't shake the feeling they'd screw up and penny-pinch. I was unfortunately right. If these releases are indicative of what to expect from Echo Bridge, thank you Miramax for selling out to the lowest common denominator.

Domestically, Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Till Dawn has never been given its proper due on home video. Released by Miramax in the stone age of DVD, the studio never saw fit to make their releases anamorphic for 16x9 displays. At least their 2-disc Collector's Edition had a wealth of supplements. Commentary from Rodriguez and Tarantino, making-of featurettes (some w/ commentary), deleted scenes (w/ commentary), music videos, TV spots/trailers, and the second disc devoted to the feature-length documentary Full Tilt Boogie. True to the phrase, special edition treatment...

Besides the inclusion of Full Tilt, there's absolutely ZERO supplements on Echo Bridge's DVD. They even crammed both features onto one disc. That's 209 minutes of video on one dual-layer DVD. If it couldn't get any worse, we get compression artifacts--tons of 'em. Granted, both widescreen features are 16x9-enhanced this time and from colorful new masters (without the reddish hue of the Miramax discs), but the MPEG-2 blocking is ridiculous. We're talking garbage expected over a decade ago from bargain basement fly-by-nighters.

To compound this mess, they opened the presentation up from its theatrical 2.35:1 framing to 1.78:1. Now, Rodriguez has stated he prefers the "full frame" HD ratio, he even opened the scope Once Upon a Time In Mexico to 1.78:1 for home video. Although I seriously doubt the filmmaker had any input on this re-release. Basically Echo Bridge took the master of the recent Canadian Alliance Blu-ray, also framed at 1.78:1, and ported it to a shitty DVD...oh yeah, not to mention the only audio track--glorious Dolby Stereo. What is this, 1997? No wait, the LaserDisc had uncompressed DTS 5.1 audio. You can't even attempt to compete with a LaserDisc, Echo Bridge?!? 

The pain continues with the Hellraiser 3 & 4 double feature. Same deal with the transfer/sound/no supplement options, but here's where things get strange. Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth has always been released by Paramount Pictures on VHS, LD, and DVD. There was a dubious full screen bootleg DVD from "Top Ten Media" released before Paramount's solid disc...but guess what? Echo Bridge utilized that bootleg's garbage transfer (taken from a poor-looking LaserDisc) and horizontally stretched the image to fit into a 1.78:1 frame. The film is the R-Rated version just like the out-of-print Paramount DVD--just vastly worse looking with no extras. On the brighter side, Hellraiser: Bloodline's transfer is quite serviceable and anamorphic for the first time ever. Still the butchered Alan Smithee/Dimension fuckjob version though. Despite being cheap, avoid these Echo Bridge discs at all costs. Like Jacob Fuller said, "Don't be a fool." Keep the old Miramax From Dusk CE (or buy the Canadian Blu-ray or import one of the 16x9 DTS 5.1 discs), Paramount HR:III, and Miramax HR:IV DVDs. Well, only recommended if you're a fan of Bloodline, that is...

(direct disc captures, two for each flick, saved as uncompressed .pngs, click for full size, fuckin' hell...)
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10 comments:

Jayson said...

...and yes, I bought these with my own cash to be a guinea pig so I can rightfully bitch all I damn well please.

Jayson said...

Now I can't wait for Pulp Fiction on Blu-ray!

Jayson said...

Sorry, I was incorrect about the aspect ratio, I'm unsure why I always think FDtD is 2.35:1...

Buscemi said...

Luckily, Lionsgate got Pulp Fiction so you can sleep well tonight.

I got the Echo Bridge Dolph Lundgren set yesterday for $5. All I really expect are ports of the Dimension DVD's so it's no big deal.

Anthony1138 said...

So the FDtD home video cluster fuck continues. I was afraid of this. I'm hoping when Echo Bridge releases the Blu-Ray it's better. I guess in the mean time I'll be sticking with the good 'ol SE LD.

Jayson said...

It appears Echo Bridge is also releasing a From Dusk-only DVD along with this From Dusk/Full Tilt double feature. Remains to be seen how that disc turns out. I imagine it will have much less artifacting.

I'm figuring the EB Blu-ray will be identical to the Canadian Blu-ray. EB seems to have company ties to Alliance. The Canadian Blu is easily found in the States. I've seen it at mall shops like FYE and Suncoast for under $10.

Jayson said...

Hmmmmm, wow. Upon finally popping the From Dusk disc into both my Oppo 971 and 980, the film has a odd choppy "lag" that throws off the audio and makes motion jerky. Full Tilt Boogie doesn't have this lag.

Jayson said...

Also others have been finding their DVDs and Blu-rays early. Their BDs of The Crow: City of Angels, Halloween: H20, and From Dusk Till Dawn have been confirmed to only have DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo audio. No word yet on PQ or extras, but it looks like at least the Crow sequel has no extras based on the back cover.

Jayson said...

Okay, it's now being reported while EB's From Dusk Blu-ray states 2.0 audio on the back cover, the track on the disc is actually DTS-HD MA 5.1. Clusterfuck indeed!

Joey said...

I picked this one up as it was packaged with a 4-movie horror set at Food Lion for $5. I'm not thrilled with the choppy laggy quality either. (Halloween H20 on the other set packaged with this has the same choppy lag.) I truly wish Mill Creek Entertainment had gotten these titles instead of Echo Bridge. I've gotten two of their DVD's licensed from Disney and the quality was excellent, and they may not crush two films onto a single-layer DVD or 4 films onto a dual-layer DVD like Echo Bridge does. (I know they do for their 20 and 50 movie packs, but those are often taken from shitty copies anyway and compression really doesn't matter in those cases.)

Regardless, I've previewed everything and it's all watchable, just not the quality it might have been had Mill Creek gotten these titles instead of Echo Bridge.

...do you dare tread upon the staircase?
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