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.
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.