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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF Blu-ray Review: Halloween (1978)



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#1 of 76 Michael Osadciw

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Posted September 23 2007 - 03:38 AM



Blu-ray Disc REVIEW




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HALLOWEEN

Posted Image
Distributor: Anchor Bay/Starz Entertainment
Original Release: 1978
Length: 91 min
Genre: Horror

Resolution: 1080p
Video Codec: AVC MPEG-4
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Colour/B&W: Colour
Disc Size: BD-50

Audio:
  • Uncompressed PCM 5.1 (16/48)
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

    Subtitles: English
    U.S. Film Rating: R

    Posted Image Posted Image





  • Release Date: October 03, 2007

    Rating: Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image


    It was only a month and a half ago that I was sitting at my desk writing about my second review of Halloween on Home Theater Forum. I wrote a rather gloomy review of a DVD that was created from an old transfer and wasn’t as polished looking as the 25th Anniversary Edition released by Anchor Bay 2003. It gave fans another chance to experience Halloween on DVD “as intended” with correct colour timing (I won’t get into the differences between old releases in this review) although the source was less refined and lacking the polished look of the 2003 release. Given this, I was a bit frightened that the Blu-ray disc would suffer a problem of some sort. Would it be a high definition release of this old source with correct colour or would it be from the virtually artefact-free release of 2003? If you want to skip right to the answer, scroll to the video quality segment of the review.

    Halloween was different from other horror films of the day because it brought something fresh to the horror genre that wasn’t there before. Several other films in the 1970s shared a similar response because they brought surprises and advancements to cinema. Star Wars amazed people with its good pacing and special effects that were unlike any other Sci-Fi film. The film Alien used a small cast whose scares relied on the premise that seeing ‘less is more’ claustrophobia, hopelessness and horror to the big screen. It was unlike any creature film at the time that had a simple story and equalled big fear. Halloween was developed in the same manner only a year before and with just a fraction of the budget. Using his knowledge of what made a great horror film, writer/director John Carpenter’s Halloween is the film that spawned many sequels and rip-offs and revitalized the genre of horror films.

    Michael Myers, the ultimate evil behind the mask, escapes from a mental institution fifteen years after he committed the murder of his sister at the ripe young age of six years old. Sporting a clown suit and a Halloween clown mask, Carpenter’s use of the then-new Panavision steady cam lets us look through Michael’s eyes as he puts in that sharp steely knife on Halloween, 1963. Because of this night, this little town of Haddonfield, Illinois will always have a story and an empty haunted house of where the murder took place.

    The film jumps to 1978 and its Halloween night again. The town now has an unexpected visitor and a few local teenage girls have a new admirer. One of the girls, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) sees this ‘shape’ appearing and disappearing before her eyes, but ignores it and insists that this boogieman isn’t real. Dr. Loomis, the doctor on pursuit, knows Michael very well. He is the only one who knows the horror behind his black eyes.

    For Laurie, the plan for the night is to do some babysitting while her friends do some loving. Myers on the other hand has another plan in mind to let us experience his terror once again - on Halloween night. This is a true horror classic without the blood, guts, and ultra-violence.


    Posted ImageVIDEO QUALITY: 4/5 Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

    My dreams have come true. This is the BEST I’ve ever seen Halloween in my home. What I see here is the clean and pristine image quality of the 25th Anniversary Edition with the colour timing very close to the previous DVDs. The result is nothing short of spectacular. You will be amazed at the opening titles – the black level is deep and noise free, titles are defined sharply against the background without any artificial enhancement. As the film progresses to the steady cam view of Michael’s murder of his sister, you will notice ample depth to the image with outside views of the house, and details in the interiors through the window. It’s quite amazing.

    Forwarding through the movie (and comparing it to the DVDs), when viewing Laurie and Annie walking home from school, you’ll notice the image is a bit brighter, colour resolution is more pronounced, and image contrast is better. The sense of 3-D is rather good for this film considering all of the horrific releases we’ve seen of this title in the past. Later in the film, when Laurie is babysitting and sitting on the sofa with Tommy, there are so many shots that literally made me feel like I was sitting right there with them. It gave me a whole new perspective of the living room and the scenes when watching this Blu-ray high def release. For the first time watching an HD title (possibly because of the less glitzy and steady cinematography), it felt more intimate with the characters.

    Any drawbacks? Nothing I can claim as being true. There was a moment when I saw some stair stepping along the diagonal trim of Laurie’s father’s car just before her walk to drop off a key at the Myer’s house, but that was probably due to my current equipment set up rather than source related. I didn’t notice anything else of the same sort that was obvious. Conclusion: a home run!


    Posted ImageAUDIO QUALITY: 3.5/5 Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

    This Blu-ray disc has the same wonderful 5.1 remix as previous editions. Available in its full uncompressed PCM 5.1 glory, Halloween has never sounded better! (a lossy Dolby Digital encode is here too, but who wants to listen to that?). The PCM option clearly delivers more ambiance around each tap of the piano key making John Carpenter’s score that much more chilling. The sense of space with the music is stunning with great soundstage depth.

    Dialogue and sounds are steered with direction on screen moving from right channel to center when there is movement on screen. The soundstage and music is primarily up front but there is a nice bit of ambience in the background, usually crawling with night insects, and again, it sounds more coherent and prominent in PCM. Bass is limited in the LFE, but there is nothing really in this soundtrack to give it much to work with. Bass is prominent in the main channels with the music and is blended nicely. The mono soundtrack is included for nostalgic purposes, but after you listen to the 5.1 remaster, it’s hard to go back to the dirty mono track.

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

    Even though LFE isn’t that prominent in this film, I still think bass shakers are fun to use for horror films.


    Posted ImageSPECIAL FEATURES: 2/5 Posted Image Posted Image

    This BD-50 release dumped the 30-minute featurette, Halloween: Unmasked 2000, that was featured on past DVD releases. While it talked about the success of the film on the horror movie industry, it’s overshadowed and made redundant by the hour and a half feature Halloween: A Cut Above the Rest. This feature digs extensively into the making of the film and is the preferred feature on this Blu-ray release.

    Exclusive to this Blu-ray release are Fast Film Facts. They are pop-up subtitles seen on other Blu-ray releases and I enjoy reading them on movies I’ve seen many times.

    The remaining of the features we’ve seen and heard over the past ten years on other releases: an audio commentary by writer/director John Carpenter, actress Jamie Lee Curtis, and Producer Debra Hill. You’ll also find trailers and TV Spots as well as radio spots - although the talent bios and photo galleries are gone. All special features are 4:3 and 480i.


    IN THE END...

    If there was one title that will convert people to Blu-ray this year, I believe Halloween is the one. With Starz Entertainment delivering sought after Anchor Bay releases on Blu-ray, I believe these titles are “sleeping giants” for the format. It’s a strong October release for this company with such classics as Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead and the Masters of Horror: Season 1 titles, high def fans are rejoicing with these titles. Michael Myers fans can now be laid to rest as this Blu-ray disc IS the definitive release of Halloween.

    Michael Osadciw
    September 23, 2007.

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    #2 of 76 RobertR

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    Posted September 23 2007 - 03:49 AM

    Quote:
    Michael Myers fans can now be laid to rest as this Blu-ray disc IS the definitive release of Halloween.


    If you read this thread you'll know that's not the case.

    #3 of 76 Michael Osadciw

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    Posted September 23 2007 - 04:16 AM

    OK...so before I get beat up to hell over this statement I WILL stand behind it. My reasoning is that the colour timing of this release is very close to the old discs - and compared to today's standard on DVD - those discs look like hell - full of compression artefacts, dirt, grain, and overpumped with red/orange and blue. This Blu-ray edition has the warmth of the old DVD, but it's not overdone. It has the night blue of the old DVD, but it's more subtle and not as white as the 2003 Divimax.

    This is a spectacular Blu-ray disc of this movie. Now the pickiest people can cry all they want about this technicality and abandon the BD while the rest of us enjoy Halloween in high def without thinking twice. The question I put to you is: how do you know that the so-called Cundey version released years back wasn't botched and kept "hush hush?" Do you really know his true intentions?

    I prefer the look of this disc. It seems middle ground and much more enjoyable, and for all you know it could be the way as intended. Some discs are released and should be avoided because they are messed up and should have never passed QC. But this isn't one of them. I think you'd be foolish to cry foul on Starz and abandon this release. You aren't doing yourself any favours.

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    #4 of 76 CRyan

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    Posted September 23 2007 - 04:23 AM

    Well, I am EXCITED! Thanks for the review!

    #5 of 76 Michael Elliott

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    Posted September 23 2007 - 07:59 AM

    My friend got a review copy of this so I checked out a few scenes at his house and I think it looks great but it's worse than P&S due to the color issues. Having seen the film from a real 35mm print, this color issue might not bother some but it's certainly not the way the film was meant to look. This color issue is a lot worse and kills the atmosphere and mood of the film IMO.

    There have been countless interviews with Carpenter in countless magazines over the past thirty years and the color of this film is something that gets talked about quite often because, as many think, the color helps add to the film. Every comment he has made on the matter makes it clear that it should look like the mid-West in the fall and not CA in the summer. These scenes didn't bother me too much but the ending IMO is ruined by this lighter color. The scene with Laurie trying to break the glass to exit the house is way too light/bright and even Myers' white mask against the dark backdrop doesn't look right.

    I don't think it's as bad as the second SD release but I have to wonder why they did such a half and half job on it compared to those two SD releases. AB's quality has been slipping the past three or four years so it's really no shock this disc has been released, IMO, with mistakes.

    #6 of 76 TravisR

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    Posted September 23 2007 - 08:37 AM

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Michael Osadciw
    The question I put to you is: how do you know that the so-called Cundey version released years back wasn't botched and kept "hush hush?" Do you really know his true intentions?
    Botched? So he gave the thumbs on the transfer (without any of the blues) and after that apporval, someone at AB just decided that his view on the look of the movie was wrong and added blue without his consent? That seems pretty unlikely.

    As Michael said, the color has been talked about by Carpenter and Cundey over the years and the Cundey approved release is the one that matches what they've talked about for three decades. I'm not militant enough to boycott the release (from all the reviews, there's certainly good things about it) but that doesn't make the color correct either.

    #7 of 76 Jim_K

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    Posted September 23 2007 - 10:31 AM

    Quote:
    OK...so before I get beat up to hell over this statement I WILL stand behind it. My reasoning is that the colour timing of this release is very close to the old discs - and compared to today's standard on DVD - those discs look like hell - full of compression artefacts, dirt, grain, and overpumped with red/orange and blue. This Blu-ray edition has the warmth of the old DVD, but it's not overdone. It has the night blue of the old DVD, but it's more subtle and not as white as the 2003 Divimax.

    thanks for the review and for having the balls to stand up to the more rabid "Halloween" folks. Posted Image

    Haven't seen it yet so I can't agree or disagree with you but I've seen and read nothing on the internet to sway me from purchasing it. I do own both the Diximax and the 99' "juiced up color" versions so your description sounds fine to me, I'm not really that militant over the color thing anyway.

    BTW I do agree with the quality of the old DVD, the 99' version is practically unwatchable on anything larger than a 27" screen so anyone sticking with that as the only way they'll watch Halloween has my sympathies. Posted Image This is really a no-brainer for me.

    I'm still really looking forward to this.

    Quote:
    My friend got a review copy of this so I checked out a few scenes at his house and I think it looks great but it's worse than P&S due to the color issues.

    I'm sorry but I stopped reading at that point. How do you expect anyone to take you seriously when you say the color timing issue is worse than pan & scan?
    Death before Streaming!


    #8 of 76 Michael Osadciw

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    Posted September 23 2007 - 11:06 AM

    Thanks Jim for the support. This release is just fine - it's a nice half way point. Think about it - Cundey supervised and colour timed old uncleaned print at a digital workstation.

    For 2003 Anchor Bay probably went right back to some other print and cleaned it up to death (as it has obviously been done) much better than whatever Cundy worked with, because that transfer in my opinion looks like shit and I don't care if the colours are "more correct." Any work Cundey did on a DI off the old print is non-applicable now to this new cleaned-up job for the 25th Anniversay release. They'd have to get Cundey in to do it all over again. So now, with this HD transfer of that cleaned up print, it appears some alteration has been done as a half way point. Heck, for all we know that original Cundey job could have been done in standard def and would never get a chance to be on HD (and given the amount of line twitter, that's highly likely - and it's not like Anchor Bay was rolling in dough to do HD transfers for everything - wasn't that the point of their Divimax in later years? To transfer the DVD from an HD source?)

    ...and regarding how it is "pretty unlikely" that the old Cundey transfer could have been botched - you are right, it's probably unlikely, but never say never - for all we know Cundey could have played with it to his vision and then after he went home from the job someone could have screwed it up as it went to DVD. When it comes down to it, we just don't know anything!
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    #9 of 76 Dave Mack

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    Posted September 23 2007 - 11:34 AM

    Ok, tripod. Canon camera in FULL manual mode. Same exposure setting, same time, same iris, EVERYTHING identical, raw, untweaked pics.


    Posted Image
    Cundey THX transfer....



    Posted Image
    Blu ray version.....



    another....



    Posted Image
    Cundey THX version....



    Posted Image
    BD version


    another....



    Posted Image
    Cundey THX version



    Posted Image
    BD version


    another...



    Posted Image
    Cundey THX version



    Posted Image
    BD version


    one more


    Posted Image
    Dean Cundey THX dvd



    Posted Image
    Blu Ray




    Same input on PJ using HDMI splitter. camera in manual mode with identical settings for both.

    It's not me, boys.... And at least in these night shots, seems like the DVDtalk guy doesn't know what he's DVDtalking about!


    Gonna load up more in a sec. The daytime scenes were definitely tweaked. Much closer to the Cundey but still not exact. Kind of in the middle.

    give me a sec...



    The, "Hey jerk! Speed KILLS!" scene....


    Posted Image
    Dean Cundey THX



    Posted Image
    BD version (NICE additional detail!)



    and last but not least, the divimax DVD



    Posted Image


    So it looks like the new BD is somewhere in between the GREEN of the divimax and the more fall-like Cundey at least in the day scenes.
    But the night ones, especially the scene in question above, to me look like the divimax. Now, the divimax was NOT totally devoid of blues. In many scenes at nite like when the shape is watching Annie through the kitchen window, the blues outside are identical to the cundey transfer. It's just some scenes in question.

    #10 of 76 Michael Elliott

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    Posted September 23 2007 - 12:02 PM

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jim_K
    I'm sorry but I stopped reading at that point. How do you expect anyone to take you seriously when you say the color timing issue is worse than pan & scan?

    I don't put one evil over another one but this color issue is just as bad as colorization to me. If people are going to worry about info being missing on a 1.85 or 2.35 then they should be just as worried that the entire color is drained from a film that gains a lot of its power from the beautiful use of color. A big deal has been made about Warner and their color issues with THE SEARCHERS, WIZARD OF OZ and various others and this here is in the same boat.

    However, we all know this isn't going to be the last release for this title so perhaps they'll get it right the next time.

    #11 of 76 Vincent_P

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    Posted September 23 2007 - 12:23 PM

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Michael Osadciw
    ...
    For 2003 Anchor Bay probably went right back to some other print and cleaned it up to death (as it has obviously been done) much better than whatever Cundy worked with, because that transfer in my opinion looks like shit and I don't care if the colours are "more correct." Any work Cundey did on a DI off the old print is non-applicable now to this new cleaned-up job for the 25th Anniversay release. They'd have to get Cundey in to do it all over again...

    Robert Harris was able to work from existing HD master tapes with improper color timing on both SPARTACUS and LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and do tape-to-tape color corrections on them so they had the correct color timing on their respective DVD releases (the Criterion release of SPARTACUS, and the SuperBit version of LAWRENCE). Cundy need not have been personally involved with this BD version of HALLOWEEN directly at all- all Anchor Bay/Starz had to do was make a tape-to-tape color-correction pass in HD using the admittedly superior (in terms of detail, image clean-up, etc.) "DiviMax" master, but re-timing the colors to match the 1999 Cundy approved standard definition version from 1999. Then we'd have the best of both worlds- the cleaned-up and detailed DiviMax transfer in full HD glory but with the same color values that Cundy approved and personally supervised back in 1999.

    Vincent

    #12 of 76 Michael Osadciw

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    Posted September 23 2007 - 01:27 PM

    Vince...yes, but, that still wouldn't be Cundey's hands doing the tweaking! It's some other guy/girl trying to match it and s/he might by off by two shades of red/blue! Isn't this what everyone is griping about??!!

    I'm done now. I'll enjoy my high def release of Halloween too. Posted Image

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    #13 of 76 Dave Mack

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    Posted September 23 2007 - 02:51 PM

    I do agree that the transfer is indeed stunning and the daytime scenes all seem pretty close to the Cundey release. It's just CERTAIN night scenes in question. But knowing AB, now Starz, there will be a double dip SOMEWHERE down the line.

    Posted Image

    #14 of 76 Vincent_P

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    Posted September 23 2007 - 05:19 PM

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Michael Osadciw
    Vince...yes, but, that still wouldn't be Cundey's hands doing the tweaking! It's some other guy/girl trying to match it and s/he might by off by two shades of red/blue! Isn't this what everyone is griping about??!!

    I'm done now. I'll enjoy my high def release of Halloween too. Posted Image

    Mike

    Oh, you're really stretching it, Michael.

    The point is, and always has been, that the 1999 THX DVD transfer was personally supervised by Dean Cundy and he took a hands-on role in the color timing. If Dean was busy and not able to actually supervise the color timing of the BD release, then the 1999 master could have- and should have- been used as a reference for what his intended color timings were. People are not "griping" that he wasn't personally at the controls, they're griping that the folks who were at the controls ignored his intentions.

    I'm sure the BD looks detailed and stunning, but it clearly doesn't look the way Dean Cundy intended it to look. And not for nothing, but your dismissive comments re: the original mono sound mix in your review speak volumes for where you're coming from.

    Vincent

    #15 of 76 Dave Mack

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    Posted September 23 2007 - 05:44 PM

    The newer remixes also had really synthesized, cheesy sounding, (like keyboard sound FX level quality that would be embarassing for a one dollar Target sound FX cd) additional lightning sound FX put in during the drive to the clinic scene. Stands WAY out from the original old school sound FX from the original track.

    #16 of 76 Michael Osadciw

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    Posted September 23 2007 - 06:25 PM

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Vincent_P
    And not for nothing, but your dismissive comments re: the original mono sound mix in your review speak volumes for where you're coming from.

    Nice cheap shot, Vince...but I totally don't feel insulted.

    Why are you even here in this forum that embraces new technologies if you are just going to crap on the thread, and on me for that matter? Go and watch an old mono pan & scan VHS tape of the film and you'll be much happier.
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    #17 of 76 Ronald Epstein

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    Posted September 23 2007 - 08:59 PM

    Gents,

    Let's remain objective and polite to each other, please.

    Ronald J Epstein
    Home Theater Forum co-owner

     

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    #18 of 76 Robert Crawford

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    Posted September 23 2007 - 09:51 PM

    Yes, let's remain calm here.

    As far as the BRD, I'm buying it despite some misgivings about color timing.





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    #19 of 76 Jim_K

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    Posted September 24 2007 - 12:12 AM

    Quote:
    Thanks Jim for the support. This release is just fine - it's a nice half way point. Think about it - Cundey supervised and colour timed old uncleaned print at a digital workstation.

    For 2003 Anchor Bay probably went right back to some other print and cleaned it up to death (as it has obviously been done) much better than whatever Cundy worked with, because that transfer in my opinion looks like shit and I don't care if the colours are "more correct." Any work Cundey did on a DI off the old print is non-applicable now to this new cleaned-up job for the 25th Anniversay release. They'd have to get Cundey in to do it all over again. So now, with this HD transfer of that cleaned up print, it appears some alteration has been done as a half way point. Heck, for all we know that original Cundey job could have been done in standard def and would never get a chance to be on HD (and given the amount of line twitter, that's highly likely - and it's not like Anchor Bay was rolling in dough to do HD transfers for everything - wasn't that the point of their Divimax in later years? To transfer the DVD from an HD source?)

    ...and regarding how it is "pretty unlikely" that the old Cundey transfer could have been botched - you are right, it's probably unlikely, but never say never - for all we know Cundey could have played with it to his vision and then after he went home from the job someone could have screwed it up as it went to DVD. When it comes down to it, we just don't know anything!

    My pleasure Michael. I don't know that the 99' version was screwed up but it wouldn't surprise me if Cundey did some revisionism by jacking up the color timing. The only real experts on this film are Carpenter and Cundey and who's to say they'd fess up to any tinkering anyway.

    As for the dubious claims I've read around the net from moviegoers who remember the level of blue tint way back in 1978.............well I just don't put much stock in someones 30 year old memories. Not to say they're outright lying but peoples memories (especially this old) tend to be the most unreliable sourse of evidence there is.
    Death before Streaming!


    #20 of 76 Dave Mack

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    Posted September 24 2007 - 12:20 AM

    True. Remember when so many people clearly "remembered" seeing Star Wars "episode IV A NEW HOPE" back in 1977 and swore that that was ALWAYS there in the title...?





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