Blu-ray Review HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Poltergeist

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Cameron Yee, Oct 7, 2008.

  1. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Poltergeist

    Release Date: October 14, 2008
    Studio: Warner Home Video
    Packaging/Materials: Digipack case with attached collectible booklet
    Year: 1982
    Rating: PG
    Running Time: 1h54m
    MSRP: $34.99

    MAIN FEATURESPECIAL FEATURES
    Video1080p high definition 16x9 2.40:1May be in standard definition
    AudioDolby TrueHD: English 5.1, Dolby Digital: English 5.1, English 2.0, French 2.0, Spanish 2.0 (both Castillian and Latin), German 2.0, Italian 1.0Audio standards may vary
    SubtitlesEnglish, French, Spanish, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, and Swedish (movie and select bonus material)


    The Feature: 4/5
    Owning a home - it's the American dream. Unless that dream is built on top of a bunch of dead people. Unfortunately that's the nightmare Steve and Diane Freeling (Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams) are faced with when they move into the Cuesta Verde housing development. Before long the most vulnerable member of their family is making connections with what lies beneath and what starts out mischievous soon turns malevolent when she gets paranormally abducted. Getting her back won't be easy, but a mother's love and a father's determination are powerful forces too.

    Looking over the packaging I was a little surprised to see "Poltergeist" rated PG. I distinctly recall it being R-rated in its fright factor, but then I did the math and realized I was only nine at the time it came out. For my impressionable mind back then, a PG basically amounted to an R. Being less impressionable now as an adult I see the ingenuity of the whole thing. Why should only teenagers and adults experience horror films? Why not make one the whole family can enjoy? And who better to put together this family frightfest than Steven "Close Encounters" Spielberg (who wrote and produced) and Tobe "Texas Chainsaw" Hooper (who directed)? That the peanut-butter-and-chocolate style combination didn't generate more family-horror films is a surprise, but maybe that's because "Poltergeist" was actually scary and suspenseful, making the PG rating a bit of an underestimation in hindsight. Still, it goes to show that something doesn't have to be all gore and violence to be frightening, something the current slate of modern horror films could do with understanding.


    Video Quality: 4/5
    Accurately framed at 2.40:1 the picture is generally free of physical blemishes and signs of edge enhancement. Black levels are deep and stable, though shadow detail and delineation can be a little lacking. The transfer keeps grain structure intact with no indications of noise reduction, though there are a handful of moments where minor noise is evident. The color palette is pretty unremarkable, but color rendition and flesh tones appear accurate.


    Audio Quality: 3/5
    Though the release includes a lossless Dolby TrueHD track, I actually prefer the stereo option, the surround treatment being too disjointed for my taste. Most of the activity in the surround mix is in the front soundstage, with some support in the surrounds for the film score, but the whole thing doesn't sound sufficiently balanced or seamless. While the stereo track is lossy and only 192 kbps, it's surprisingly expansive. I also found the dialogue - particularly in the scene where there's a lot of whispering - more intelligible in the stereo track. If only the lossless track had been in stereo!


    Special Features: 1/5

    Just as with the 25th anniversary edition DVD, the sole feature on disc is a meager documentary about the paranormal. Though this release doesn't raise expectations the same way an anniversary release does, it still amounts to a lame show of support. The booklet, while nicely printed and containing some decent information, doesn't really make up for it.

    "They Are Here: The Real World of Poltergeists Revealed" Documentary (31m05s): Ghost hunters and other paranormal experts talk about their area of expertise and its correlation to the film.

    Collectible Booklet: Forty-six-page booklet attached to the packaging profiles cast and crew and includes a brief history of the production.


    Recap

    The Feature: 4/5
    Video Quality: 4/5
    Audio Quality: 3/5
    Special Features: 1/5
    Overall Score (not an average): 2.5/5

    A spirited "family horror" film gets very good video, less than ideal audio options and a poor set of special features. The film really deserves better and fans will be wise to hold off until it gets a proper release.
     
  2. Joseph J.D

    Joseph J.D Cinematographer

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    It's a shame that the special features are so lacking for this film.....it deserves so much more. Still plan on getting this one sometime as I haven't seen this since the 80's (I grew weary of watching it over and over on Pay TV during that time.....it seemed to be on constantly). I think I'm ready to watch this one once again. [​IMG]
     
  3. Jeff Swindoll

    Jeff Swindoll Supporting Actor

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    Sounds like the same folks in charge of this edition handled the middling Beetlejuice edition. Sigh.
     
  4. Matt Butler

    Matt Butler Screenwriter

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    In all fairness to WB for the lack of extras. We all know Speilberg and Hooper wont speak of the production controversies or allow anyone else to.
     
  5. WillG

    WillG Producer

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  6. Matt Butler

    Matt Butler Screenwriter

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    Oh crap; I forgot about that. I never saw it but I heard about it. Anyone got a copy? [​IMG]
    Regardless I did read that Speilberg didnt want WB to release or do a doc on the current Poltergeist release.
     
  7. Scott D S

    Scott D S Supporting Actor

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    I saw this documentary one night after I got home from the movies. I had just seen The Ring and I swear this piece was scarier!
    Matt Butler - There's a chance E! might re-air it around Halloween so check your listings.
     
  8. Matt Butler

    Matt Butler Screenwriter

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    Thanks Scott! Will do. I want to see this
     
  9. Travis Brashear

    Travis Brashear Screenwriter

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    If they had to drop the documentary featurette from the LaserDisc, I guess I can live with that but, dammit, what's with dropping the trailers??? Hell, one of them was even on the original bare-bones DVD!
     
  10. Todd Erwin

    Todd Erwin Cinematographer
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    Poltergeist was one of the films that contributed to the creation of the PG-13 rating, along with Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
     
  11. WillG

    WillG Producer

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  12. Dave Moritz

    Dave Moritz Producer
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    This is one of my classic favorites that I will be buying for the first time on Blu-ray! [​IMG] I can not wait to own this title this will be cool!
     
  13. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Yeah, too bad about the lack of extras. Think I'll finally pick this classic up to own.

    _Man_
     
  14. cafink

    cafink Producer

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    I'm generally not big on supplements, but I join Travis in bemoaning the lack of a trailer on this release, especially given its inclusion on the old DVD release.
     
  15. Scott McGillivray

    Scott McGillivray Supporting Actor

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    Does this still have that unusual edit in the film. Been a long time since I watched it, but there was that one scene where the Craig Nelson and his wife are suddenly at their neighbors front door. It seemed like a broken reel sort of splice edit.
    I hope you brilliant bunch know what I am talking about. Just curious if that was intended (it sure did not look like it!) or if was fixed in this version.
     
  16. Travis Brashear

    Travis Brashear Screenwriter

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    From Literary Illusions Review's website:

    "Note: For those who have never seen this movie, be prepared for an editing glitch in the scene where they are talking about going to Pizza Hut and Carol Ann is in the football helmet. This glitch has been in the film since nearly the beginning. You can thank Pizza Hut for it, since they complained about a line in which Steve mentions he hates Pizza Hut. Instead of redoing the scene, it has been cut in parts and there is no transition before Steve and Diane are standing on the front porch of their next door neighbor’s house. This is intentional. This is not your DVD player skipping!"
     
  17. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Thanks for that info.
    So I guess we can expect that "long lost, almost-never-seen-before, restored footage(s)" version in the gazillionth-dip release on Super-duper UltraX-D some day when Pizza Hut's no longer in business? [​IMG] [​IMG]
    _Man_
     
  18. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    I believe all audio tracks, from 7.1 surround to 1.0 mono should be lossless.
     
  19. EnricoE

    EnricoE Supporting Actor

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    i remember i having nightmares as a kid after watching this film. the maggots in the steak and the living tree was too much for me then [​IMG]
     
  20. Douglas Monce

    Douglas Monce Producer

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    That cut was in the film when I saw it the summer of 82, about 1 week into the release.
    Doug
     

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