1. Guest,
    If you need help getting to know Xenforo, please see our guide here. If you have feedback or questions, please post those here.
    Dismiss Notice

DVD Review HTF DVD REVIEW: The Evil Dead: Ultimate Edition

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Osadciw, Dec 16, 2007.

Tags:
  1. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2003
    Messages:
    1,329
    Likes Received:
    1
    Real Name:
    Michael Osadciw
    [​IMG]

    THE EVIL DEAD
    ULTIMATE EDITION

    [​IMG]
    Distributor: Starz/Anchor Bay Entertainment
    Release: 1981
    Run Time: 85 min
    Genre: Horror

    Disc 1 Aspect Ratio
    1.85:1 widescreen enhanced

    Disc 2 Aspect Ratio
    1.33:1 full frame

    Colour/B&W: Colour

    Disc 1 Audio Formats
    English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
    English DTS 6.1 ES
    English Dolby 2.0 Surround

    Disc 2 Audio Formats
    English Dolby 2.0 Surround
    French Dolby 2.0 Surround

    Subtitles: none
    Rating: unrated

    [​IMG] [​IMG]




    Release Date: December 18, 2007.


    Film Rating:

    Scare Factor

    Starring: Bruce Campbell (Ash), Ellen Sandweiss (Cheryl), Richard DeManincor (Scott), Betsy Baker (Linda), Theresa Tilly (Shelly)

    Written by: Sam Raimi
    Directed by: Sam Raimi



    The Ultimate Experience in Gruelling Terror


    Join us.

    Join us.

    Join us pitiful fans who have watched this gruesome film over and over again. When I first saw this film in the ‘80s it scared me shitless. The Evil Dead had its share of jumps and showed shocking terror I never imagined I’d see on film. But The Evil Dead doesn’t play for shock; it is a gruesome film but it’s different in the sense that it wants to torture the main character to the point of insanity. Put the blame on director/writer Sam Raimi who had his best friend Bruce Campbell be the star of it. And this film, made on a modest budget, has become a relic of the ‘80s video nasties club.

    Set in a remote cabin in Tennessee, five college friends look for a weekend getaway with each other. But when they uncover some artefacts and a tape recording of the archaeologist who last stayed there, they resurrect the unseen evil which causes each of them, one by one, to become evil demons and murder the others. It’s a fight for survival but there is no way out as the evil surrounds them in the woods. It will be one long night for the lone survivor whose only way to stay alive is to destroy his once-friends by dismemberment before they take him too.

    Since I can’t count how many times I’ve watched this movie and shown it to countless others, watching it today is enjoyable, but not as much as it was in the past. I’m desensitized to the violence and I know the scares. I’m also 18 years older than when I first saw it so it doesn’t creep me out anymore. I also find the beginning excruciatingly slow – it takes almost 40 minutes for anything to really happen. After that, it’s a slaughterfest. First time watchers won’t mind the build-up and all, but for the rest of us we just want to get to the gore. Thank goodness for chapter stops!

    This Ultimate Edition is enclosed in a heavy-duty DVD box that’s larger than the typical case. Its paper case is impressively solid and folds out five times in the manner of the Alien Quadrilogy set. Inside you’ll find the three discs as well as a double-sided poster. One side has the original theatrical poster and the other is the 2002 DVD remaster poster. When all flaps are folded up, it’s all tucked in an outer slipcase. The only thing disappointing is the cover. Those living in the U.S.A. won’t have a problem, but us English Canadians must deal with the bilingual packaging which clutters up the artwork and the back side. I’m sorry, but I hate it.


    [​IMG]
    VIDEO QUALITY: 2/5


    The Evil Dead has had many DVD releases over the years. Anchor Bay released a bare-bones edition in 1999 followed by a now-discontinued special edition from Elite Entertainment. This special edition with a transfer approved by Sam Raimi before he got “busy” with bigger projects has always served as my reference for the film. It was shot on 16mm film and has been presented 1.33:1 for almost its whole life. It wasn’t until The Book of the Dead release in 2002 did we see a recomposition to 1.85:1 to support widescreen televisions. It was said that Sam Raimi asked for a 1.85:1 but was unable to help with framing due to his deep involvement in directing Spiderman. Bruce Campbell was asked to approve of it in his place.

    When I first viewed it, I didn’t like it from the get-go for many reasons. The framing felt too cramped and claustrophobic compared to what I was used to seeing in 1.33:1. There had been talk around the net about how Sam Raimi may have intended the ratio for 1.85:1, but I just can’t see that possible given the much too tight image. On a big screen it’s almost nauseating. Secondly, the image quality also caused me to lift an eyebrow. The image quality on any release has never been fantastic due to the original photography. It’s soft and hazy, has many print artefacts and wobbles once in a while. While brighter than my Elite Entertainment reference copy, the image Anchor Bay provided had too much brown and red in it. The overall colour temperature also veered towards pink in many instances. Even though some colours have a bit more pop than what is on the Elite disc, it’s not my preferred image. Disc 1 in this Ultimate Edition has this 1.85:1 version sans THX approval. It looks identical to the one in 2002.

    I don’t own the original 1999 Anchor Bay full-frame DVD so I can’t compare it to that; but if disc 2 is any representation of that (and given Anchor Bay’s track record for re-releasing films consistently without updating image quality, it probably is), I’d have to say that the full-frame version looks quite similar to the 1.85:1 version in terms of image quality. The heavy browns, pink tint, bright image, etc. So it’s quite possible that the 2002 widescreen edition was just a reframing of the available 1.33:1 edition that Anchor Bay has access to and very little, if much was done about colour timing and the like. This may have been discussed long ago elsewhere, but these are just my observations. Both discs are very different from Elite Entertainment’s, my preferred version, and the one approved by Sam Raimi.


    [​IMG]
    AUDIO QUALITY: 2/5

    For those who cry foul about 5.1 remixes, you are out of luck because like past releases, the original mono soundtrack is nowhere to be found. The widescreen version has both DTS-ES 6.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 EX encodings, as well as Dolby 2.0 surround. The full frame version on disc 2 features a Dolby 2.0 surround option only, which is strange considering all other full frame releases of the past have been 5.1 as well. The repurposing of the mono soundtrack is interesting. There is some good spread among the front channels but it’s much too pinpoint rather than blended across the screen. When sounds spread to multi-channel, it doesn’t take long to collapse back to the center speaker.

    The sound is limited in range; deep bass is never present and midrange can appear lacking in refinement because of the original recording mix. I must warn you, if your playback system tilts to the bright side, this soundtrack isn’t very pleasant at loud levels. Listeners of metal tweeters and horn speakers be warned. Again, like the image quality, the audio is nothing great to speak of but it would hardly detract a fan from watching this film.

    TACTILE FUN!!
    TACTILE TRANSDUCER ON/OFF?: OFF

    There is limited LFE on this 5.1 repurposing effort; not much excitement for a bass shaker.



    What we get is a lot of new features from convention events that happened in 2005. Much emphasis has been placed on The Ladies of Evil Dead, which is also the name of disc three where most of the content is placed. But let’s start with disc one, shall we?

    Disc 1:

    audio commentary by director Sam Raimi and producer Robert Tapert. This is the same one that’s on the Book of the Dead and Elite disc.

    One by One We Will Take You: The Untold Saga of The Evil Dead – features relatively new interviews from the cast and crew and they discuss (and praise) Raimi for his work on this film. It’s interesting to see the personalities of the actresses, especially Ellen Sandweiss who comes across as a bit bitter towards life in general.

    Disc 2:

    audio commentary from actor Bruce Campbell. Again, same funny one as in previous releases. Bruce’s humour and sarcasm really comes out here and is worth the listen.

    Treasures from the Cutting Room Floor - the highlight of this set for me is this 59 minute assembly of cut scenes and alternate takes in film-chronological order. This is essentially the raw footage with clapboard and all and presented much like the 20 minute assembly on the Elite disc, but just with all new stuff. It has all been “restored” and reframed for 1.85:1 for this release. Very scary stuff…!

    Disc 3:

    All features, with the exception of the TV spots are 16:9.

    Life After Death: The Ladies of the Evil Dead (15min) - this featurette tells of how the three ladies in this film decided to get together and learn about horror conventions and how to (make money and) be guest stars signing autographs just as Bruce Campbell has over the past million years. This feature wasn’t done yesterday, but sometime between the Book of the Dead release and 2005. Since it’s just the three of them in chairs talking about the past, it’s a nice feature to watch the interaction of ladies off screen if studying the culture of actresses.

    The Ladies of The Evil Dead Meet Bruce Campbell (29min) - this time Campbell is added to the group of girls. Either he puts on an act well, or he’s just naturally a sarcastically funny guy. I guess that is why the girls don’t seem to mind Bruce dominating the topics during this half hour conversation.

    Unconventional (20min) - the three ladies, Campbell, Richard DeManincor, Tom Sullivan, and Ted Raimi discuss horror conventions and the fanbase.

    At the Drive-In (13min) – the above mentioned hand out The Evil Dead DVD in 2005 to a group of hardcore fans that are camping out in a parking lot at Chicago’s O’Hara International Airport with a big screen ready to watch the film. This time it’s not the fans asking the questions, it’s the cast!

    Reunion Panel (31min) - Chicago’s Flashback Weekend in 2005 hosted the actors and actresses of The Evil Dead. This is a recording of the panel fans don’t want to miss.

    The Palace Boys Meet The Evil Dead (13min) – in association with Blue Underground, this featurette is a look at one British company’s finding of the film (considered a “Video Nasty” back in the day) and getting the rights to it.

    Make-up test (1.05, 4:3)

    Trailer
    and four TV Spots that were aired in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

    Still Gallery and Poster & Memorabilia Gallery

    Look close for easter eggs, a few exist!


    IN THE END...

    I never thought another release of The Evil Dead would make it to DVD after The Book of the Dead release. Anchor Bay surprised me again. It’s a nice set for those who don’t own it. It gives you both full frame and widescreen editions of the film and a third disc full of new stuff. Like many other special editions…well, you’ll have to hang on to the old releases because all features but the commentary are release-specific. Regarding the sound and image quality, I wasn’t expecting anything new. But despite the limitations of the source, I’m looking forward to an HD release that would rid the image of DVD-related artefacts from compression and get the added benefit of a cleaner output for the Blu-ray players. My hopes is that Starz Entertainment does justice to this title. The title was announced and then postponed for a BD release. Even though unlikely, I’m hoping to see a three disc set with all features included here as well as features from the past. And even though this disc features a Campbell-approved image, I much prefer the Raimi approved transfer from Elite and would like Starz to attempt to acquire it or have Raimi revisit it again.

    Michael Osadciw
    December 16, 2007.

    Review System
     
  2. Bill GrandPre

    Bill GrandPre Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2001
    Messages:
    2,068
    Likes Received:
    1

    I've always thought the 1.85:1 framing was fine but there were always a few undeniable errors in it, such as the band-aid box being obscured by the framing.

    I've read on another forum that the handful of awkward-framing instances in the widescreen version have been re-framed for this release. The band-aid gag was specifically cited.

    Can you confirm that some reframing has occurred?
     
  3. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2003
    Messages:
    1,329
    Likes Received:
    1
    Real Name:
    Michael Osadciw
    Bill

    Can you give me a time count to reference? I'm not sure where the band-aid point is.

    Thanks.
     
  4. Bill GrandPre

    Bill GrandPre Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2001
    Messages:
    2,068
    Likes Received:
    1
    At 1:11:25 (based on the Book of the Dead edition) Ash is in the basement and he steps into a puddle of blood.

    There is a visual gag here as a tin Band-Aid box is literally floating in the blood. In the Book of the Dead edition this is almost completely obscured by the widescreen framing.

    Another thing that might be worth checking out is if the fullscreen version includes the lightning bolt animation. This is not present in any of the fullscreen releases on DVD. On the widescreen "Book of the Dead" edition it occurs at 16:16.
     
  5. Robbie^Blackmon

    Robbie^Blackmon Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2003
    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    1

    The Band-Aid shot box is still obscured in the widescreen version. The elusive lightning shot is present in the full-frame and the widescreen version. When Cheryl first becomes posessed (at the window) there is no quick zoom to her face, a la the Elite version.

    And, all of the outtakes and trims are matted to 1.85:1, anamorphic.

    Hope that answers some of the inevitable questions.
     
  6. Bill GrandPre

    Bill GrandPre Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2001
    Messages:
    2,068
    Likes Received:
    1
    That's cool that the fullframe version is actually uncut and unmodified for the first time in the history of the format.
     
  7. Robbie^Blackmon

    Robbie^Blackmon Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2003
    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    1

    Visually, that does seem to hold true. However, the original, single-channel sound mix is not present. So, technically, one might say the feature has still been diddled with!
     
  8. SD_Brian

    SD_Brian Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2007
    Messages:
    595
    Likes Received:
    16

    Strange how it seems like Anchor Bay releases a new version of The Evil Dead every six months but, in reality, it has actually been almost 6 years since The Book of the Dead came out. To my knowledge, they haven't released another version since then--unless you count releases of the same disc with multiple covers as a new version. Then again, IMHO, if you're dumb enough to buy multiple copies of the same disc just for new cover art, you deserve to be double-dipped.
     
  9. Bill GrandPre

    Bill GrandPre Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2001
    Messages:
    2,068
    Likes Received:
    1

    From what I could tell this is all-new footage with none of the old outtake footage from the Elite and Book of the Dead editions.

    It's been a few years since I watched it so there could be some overlap but there is a very obvious omission: the older outtakes featured a scene of Ash standing outside the cabin on the porch crying (I believe it's after the Shelly scene). I just got my copy for a Christmas gift and that outtake always stood out among the last selection because it was the closest thing to a full-blown deleted scene, and it's not in the new selection of outtakes.

    The cool packaging on the Book of the Dead edition was enough to get me to keep it, and the fact that "Fanalysis" wasn't carried over from that edition was another reason why the Book of the Dead is a keeper but that was an omission I could understand as "Fanalysis" isn't really specifically about "The Evil Dead", but it is irritating to me that not all that outtake footage was carried over.
     
  10. Charlie O.

    Charlie O. Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2003
    Messages:
    509
    Likes Received:
    0
    Does any one know if The Evil Dead was shown as 1.33:1 or 1.85.1 when it was first in theaters?
     

Share This Page