Distributed by Anchor Bay Home Entertainment
Welcome to the next generation of video horror! Anchor Bay has just released 4 classic horror films and the first two volumes of Masters of Horror on the relatively new Blu-ray disc format, and we couldn’t be happier. Why? Who doesn’t want to see blood, tits and violence in crisp 1080p?!
Let’s start with the classic George Romero zombie flicks Dawn of the Dead (buy here) and Day of the Dead (buy here). The first thing you’ll notice when checking out the interactive menu is that both of these have trimmed down special features, though the ones found on these new releases match those that have appeared on the most recent standard def versions of the films. This is the case with all these Blu-rays we’ll be looking at today. No explanation was given as to why some supplements were cut, but these are far from bare bones. A list of remaining features is below, but we won’t discuss them in detail due to the fact they’ve been covered in previous reviews.
Dawn and Day are clearly the two best looking of this hi-def lot. All the tiny details of Savini’s make-up effects and down to the wrinkles on Fly Boy’s zombie face are clearly visible this time out. The night scenes, or any other shots containing a lot of dark or black colors come out perfectly with no pixelating, unlike standard def video. Not bad for films shot decades ago!
Halloween (buy here) is in the same boat as the zombie pics, but just not as crisp. Again the black levels make each night scene look excellent, but the level of detail expected just never makes itself known. It is a little bit of give and take with that one, much like with Evil Dead II (buy here).
Evil Dead’s sequel has a fine layer of grain that runs constantly throughout the movie. While this is not as bad as the type of grit that can be seen on new Blu-ray releases like Casino Royale, it is still very noticeable. Luckily all the the vibrant colors shine through more so than on the DVD. Don’t forget, ED2 wasn’t exactly a big budget production in the first place … so these improvements are much needed.
Speaking of grain, it is very, very present in Masters of Horror Season 1, Vol. 1 (buy here) and Vol. 2 (buy here). Being a pretty recent show a much better video quality was expected. Levels of detail and colors seem to just be a tiny bit better than their DVD counterparts. Perhaps there was a compression issue with trying to get three episodes plus commentary tracks onto each disc?
As far as special features go, there are plenty for all the releases. The classics come with a bonus called “Fast Film Facts.” A small window will pop up as the movie plays to inform the viewer about various bits of trivia regarding the film. These are great substitutes if you don’t like listening to commentaries because the film’s audio track is not muted and you still get a fair amount of background/behind-the-scenes information. However, if audio commentaries are more to your liking each Blu-ray contains the exact same audio tracks that were found on the previous releases.
Some featurettes have made the transition to the Blu-ray versions of their respected pics, but the bummer is that all of them run in 480p instead of the hi-def 1080p. If you need a reminder as to how much better the video quality is just check out those vids and go back to the movie. It isn’t exactly a negative, but after watching 1080p, it is kind of an eyesore to have to downgrade just to watch a few behind-the-scenes clips. I may be wrong, but Halloween has an odd featurette that may not have appeared before. Too bad it isn’t as informative as other videos we’ve seen on Carpenter’s masterpiece.
In the end, if you’ve picked up a PS3 and are looking to expand your Blu-ray library, these are a great start. There is a degree of balancing to do between missing bonus material and video quality but it all evens out in the end for most of these. Also, having three Masters episodes on one disc is pretty damn handy!
Dawn of the DeadSpecial Features
Day of the DeadSpecial Features
Evil Dead IISpecial Features
Masters of HorrorSpecial Features
4 1/2 out of 5
3 1/2 out of 5