Tuesday, November 29

So Two Evil Dead 2s walk into a bar...

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After casually checking several different sold out Wal Marts since its release, I finally found a (single) copy of Lionsgate's 25th Anniversary Evil Dead 2 Blu-ray and I'm pleased to report the six year long curse has been lifted. Yes, Anchor Bay's ruination of this sequel by way of godawful picture manipulation is as dead as decapitated Henrietta.

It all started with The Book of the Dead edition in 2005 when the video distributor saw fit to released its third EDII disc in a limited edition replica of the Necronomicon designed by Tom Sullivan. Despite this ambitious packaging and new featurette, something insidious was lurking on the disc. Chiefly an enormous amount of digital noise reduction that made a smeary mess of the film. In their stupidity, Anchor Bay apparently listened to fans who complained about the signs of grain on their prior, and still excellent, THX DVD. Not only was the picture wiped of any trace of standard def fine detail; but color, brightness, and contrast were thrown grossly off. Instead of the more neutral blue and deep blacks of the THX, the BoGD's yellow-leaning colors are best described as "pastel" with overly bright, gray black levels. This pig was only dressed up when Anchor Bay hastily released a Blu-ray in the early days of the format using the same trashed master.

I realized this immediately and refused to buy both discs out of principle (the Blu-ray ended up a gift). I can also vividly remember chatting with other fans with the process akin to talking to a brickwall whenever I voiced my correct opinion of the crap treatment Evil Dead 2 received. Thankfully, all that is old news, Lionsgate has nearly righted the ship with their new Blu-ray transfer supposedly taken from the original negative fot the first time ever. Interestingly, while Anchor Bay trashed the sequel, their recent Blu-ray of The Evil Dead is par excellence. We're talking in league as one of the top five transfers on the entire format worldwide. Needless to say such perfection has set the bar sky high for the rest of the series.

Does the new Blu-ray reached this superlative level? Not quite, about 95% there. The picture has been subjected to a little noise reduction, but not enough to produce smearing or destroy too much fine detail. The 1080p AVC-encoded transfer frequently has that expected dimensional pop, even in darker sequences, completely lacking in the previous Blu-ray. Color, brightness, and contrast has also been placed back to the proper levels we enjoyed before the Book of the Dead debacle. Eerie blue/gray hues and inky blacks dominate the transfer. It's not quite end-all reference Blu-ray quality; however, I'm not complaining since I along with most everyone figured we'd be stuck until Anchor Bay cleaned up their own trainwreck with another Blu-ray...maybe. The cheap asking price and excellent, format-exclusive 98 minute documentary from Red Shirt Pictures are only icing on the cake. I know this is already getting old for this series, but this one is definitely worth the upgrade considering the last two releases were unquestionably a step back. Evil Dead 2 is back, baby.
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5 comments:

Knarf Black XIV said...

I imagine somewhere in the circles of Hell, there is a miserable mastering technician forced to endlessly apply DNR to a modern, HD, faux-grindhouse film that a little demon is constantly adding fake grain to.

I f*cking love film grain. Sometimes it's more fun to watch than the movie.

Erik (Drunketh) said...

I just bought this the other day. Luckily for me it only took a trip to two different Wal-Mart.

Kev D. said...

Good to know this one gets the stamp of approval...

Anthony1138 said...

Still waiting for my copy from DeepDiscount, but everything I've read about it points to excellence. Now we just need someone to release a Blu-Ray of AoD using the transfer from the MGM R3 DVD.

A hero never dies said...

Great news, not least because I've ordered it already but also I can finally retire my Anchor Bay tin.

...do you dare tread upon the staircase?
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