Yet lately I find myself not caring as nearly as much about the format. It's gotten to the point that it's tough to fathom paying even twenty bucks for a single movie on disc. It's not a cash or Netflix issue, it's more a "why pay that much nowadays" issue. And I can hear it now, "Dude, do you realize how much DVDs were when they first came out?" Of course, remember all those Anchor Bay horror multi-packs of previously released individual titles a couple years ago? Yep, I bought all those when new when they averaged twenty-five to thirty a pop. That might be a big part of the reason. There comes a certain point where you start wondering about weird abstracts like how and when a given film was shot versus the benefit of seeing it in 1080p or simply whether it's worth upgrading to the Blu-ray over the good ol' DVD. Even with brand new titles, if the movie was shot to look dull as dish water, I'll gladly opt for the standard def coaster and save a couple bucks.
Then there's dealing with the marketplace reality of the format compared to its technical potential. As time has passed, Blu-ray has become less a means providing a truly premium viewing experience to being another home video medium to move product. Naturally, that's what it always has been, but there's been this ongoing "settling effect" between what purists want and what the general public accepts as enough quality to warrant buying Blu-rays. So more-and-more I find myself disappointed in new titles with regards to their video quality. Good but not great is the new mantra...
Not to pick on Scream Factory, they have some great titles, but their output so far has exhibited this phenomena. Much like the U.K.'s Arrow Video, SF seem to place more focus on cranking out titles and getting the presentation surrounding the movie itself perfect. The problem is that they don't appear to be concentrating on providing definitive video transfers and as far as I can tell all of their titles have utilized licensor-provided HD masters (like Universal and MGM). In other words, they haven't created any new masters from fresh telecines, only pre-existing ones of varying quality and age.
Take their They Live Blu-ray for example, the same pasty transfer wouldn't have received such high marks by most BD review sites if weren't for the extras, the nifty cover, and attractive slipcover. It would be another wishy-washy BD effort from Universal if they had handled it instead. That's the thing, most can't seem to resist the thrill of "Wow, [insert cult classic] is coming to Blu-ray!" while heaping praise upon Scream Factory for the simple fact they're releasing favorites to get to the heart of the matter.
Better than DVD but mediocre for Blu-ray simply isn't good enough. I'm tired of the whole inevitably double or triple-dip game, if the quality isn't there from a master created years ago, it doesn't matter how cool the cover or extras are. I'll wait until the film's treated right and that goes for all Blu-ray releases. I'm not expecting something shot decades ago to look like 2011 material, but I want the best approximation currently possible of what the film material actually looks like represented on Blu-ray. No digital tampering or filtering.
I've already mostly covered this in this old entry about Twilight Time's limited edition BD of Fright Night (1985). This exclusivity deal still pisses me off especially considering their trumped up "limited" runs, inflated price points, and the aftermarket driving the prices far into the rarefied air of "go fuck yourself with the disc". Sorry, it's garbage like this that sucks the fun out of the format to such an extent that I had to mention it.
What makes this even more irritating is how Mill Creek Entertainment, known for their recent cheap DVD/BD collections at Wal Mart, has also acquired some licenses from Sony. What do they do with them? Pair them up onto double feature Blu-rays with decent transfers at a fraction of the cost of Twilight Time's holier-than-thou releases, like Mr. Sardonicus (1961)/The Brotherhood of Satan (1971) with a list price of only $9.98. That's what it should have been all along instead of giving elitist collectors another reason to be pricks with Twilight's faux-valuable releases.
As you tell, I don't ascribe to those who purport that we should "thankful" distributors care at all to release these catalog titles onto Blu-ray. Steaming video has altered the home video landscape, but given how cutthroat the niche market has been, that's a weak excuse. Yet compared to streaming, I'll pick physical media any day even if I've gotten bored with Blu-ray. It's just the wavering commitments to quality and annoyance of history repeating itself that personally hamper the enjoyment I once found. Not to mention the sheer nostalgia and "discovery" factor of owning vintage VHS certainly beats the pants off ordering a brand new Blu-ray off a pallet of thousands, no matter how hipster that might sound...