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For Anyone Who's Seen or Who Owns Vinegar Syndrome's AMITYVILLE HORROR UHD... (1 Viewer)

Kaskade1309

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I rented this from an online company that offers Blu-rays and 4K Blu-rays this past week, figuring I'd view it before committing to a purchase being that I have been more than satisfied with the remastered DVD from MGM's Amityville Horror Collection box from 2005. The disc in the DVD box boasts a film transfer struck from a high definition master, and, to my eyes (and after seeing the film a million times because I'm a massive fan of the franchise), the title never looked better -- now, I never saw the 1080p Blu-ray from MGM or the subsequent release from Scream Factory in their three-disc Blu-ray set, but I assume they were both based on the DVD master from the box set I own. Still, I think the remastered DVD in that 2005 set looks absolutely gorgeous, and I never had any issues with it.

Upon watching Vinegar Syndrome's 4K UHD version, I was immediately struck by how similar the prints looked, save for some added brightness on the 4K disc due to the HDR pass. Sure, some of the sequences came off punchier with more saturated primaries and such, but for the most part, it didn't look that much more detailed and engaging than MGM's remastered DVD to me (in fact, there was a weird skin tone color shift that occurred on some actors' faces, namely Brolin's, and this happened throughout the presentation, further noted in some reviews I read). What's more, I was put off a little by the overt sometimes unnatural brightness of the presentation, with some scenes like when they're getting ready to leave for the wedding coming off as too illuminated, especially given the time period and "mood" of this classic haunted house flick (in this particular scene, it seemed like bright overhead lights were on in the living room, which was never the goal or vibe here).

All that aside, it was the audio mix that really bothered me, and I was hoping that someone who has seen this 4K version of Amityville Horror (or who may happen to own it) can confirm some things for me...

I am assuming that all subsequent releases of this title since MGM's box set release in 2005 (in terms of audio) are based on the Dolby Digital 5.1 remix found on the remastered DVD of that collection -- I know that MGM's first DVD release in the States (I owned that one too) contained only the 2.0 mono audio, but this was remixed for 5.1 in the aforementioned Amityville Horror Collection (that DVD also contains the mono option). When Scream Factory released their Blu-ray set, the first film received a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 option, and I, again, assumed this was based on the MGM remix.

Let me preface this by saying I think MGM did the film justice by respecting its mono roots and not making the Dolby Digital surround remix too gimmicky or aggressive, most of the track still coming from the center -- some nice foley effects were added to the surrounds, spreading out certain elements like thunder cracks during rainstorms and such, and the mix just seemed respectful of the audio origins. There were some gimmicky moments, sure, but the additions of sound cues like George chopping wood off into the right surround channel and flies buzzing behind the listener were real treats to anyone who has watched this film over the years with the simple mono track.

Vinegar Syndrome's UHD release of this film offered two audio tracks, per usual, in 2.0 or 5.1 flavors, with the 5.1 mix encoded in DTS-HD Master Audio and supposedly boasting true theatrical sound elements. I went with the 5.1 track, as I normally do, but the experience was weird, to say the least -- right from the get-go, this didn't sound like the mix engineered by MGM on the DVD, at all. The thunder cracks in the opening shooting scene, as well as the gunshots, just didn't resonate like they did on the DVD's Dolby Digital track, nor did the cues make their way into the surrounds as on that disc.

This got weirder as the film went on, with a very strange "reverberation echo" that spilled into the surrounds during certain key sequences -- further, my system played this track back with a somewhat nasty, edgy distortion in certain moments, notably in the surrounds, whenever a "stinger" moment popped up. A good example of this was when Greg's hand is injured by the falling window -- in the 4K version, this is accompanied by a LOUD spread to the rears when the window slams shut and Greg screams from the pain. On the MGM DVD, this entire scene is kept in the front center, where I think it belongs.

In the famous (or infamous) "GET OUT" sequence towards the beginning, the demonic voice bellowing at Stieger seemed to exhibit that weird aforementioned "echo" effect, with the voice splitting towards the rear channels in a reverberating manner -- I didn't care for it. Again, on the DVD, this is kept to the front center position, which I believe is more accurate; the mix on the UHD Blu-ray came off as being really forced and gimmicky.

This went on throughout the feature to the point that I said to my wife, "this isn't the way I remember experiencing Amityville Horror, at all." From what I understand, another company put out this title on 4K, 88 Films, but there are (supposedly) additional alternate audio mixes (at least one that is described as a "4.1-encoded-as-5.1" track, almost like the "4.1" mix on Scream Factory's The Thing Blu-ray) that I'd be curious to hear (If just to compare to the Vinegar Syndrome version). I am unsure if 88 Films used the same 4K master for their UHD transfer of The Amityville Horror, nor do I know if the audio mixes sound any different, but I was just wondering if anyone here took note of any of the details I mentioned concerning the 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio track on Vinegar's UHD release.

Anyone experience something similar?
 

JimJasper

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Enjoyed your careful observations. A fun film in so many ways. I can't get over the fact that I think Lalo Schifrin's (Oscar Nominated) music is some of the best ♫♪ of any horror film I've ever seen. While I haven't seen this 4K version, evidently Vinegars 4K release is supposed to be

* "Presented for the first time on home video in its original unaltered theatrical surround mix with an optional stereo mix"

With the video..... Interestingly, highdefdigest.com's 4K review of Amityville shows 3 different screen shots, (George and Kath (lol); Priest and flies; George at entrance) between the Blu-ray vs. the 4K....that look very similar. The 4K simply seems to have somewhat increased brightness via HDR pass, as you said as well. Strange about the color changes with George's skin.

digitalbits.com gives a more technical review (of Vinegar's 4K release) that's more aligned with what you are generally saying regarding the video quality: at best a "subtle improvement over previous home video versions."

The audio remix....supposedly "unaltered"...this seems to be a mystery. Maybe you are getting a more shrill version of how it originally was, and perhaps Vinegar said, "the hell with it, give them the raw, 1979 version with none of our post production 'clean up'." Then laughed at fans' forthcoming frustrations:
1716350281853.png
Accounting for the wonky surrounds, echoes, and misplaced directionals. (At this point, I vote for a careful remix!)

However, Digitalbits.com seems to give another interesting review of the audio - looks like there are legitimately 2 different audio tracks with the theatrical releases, given the limitations of theaters in 1979....although even he is bewildered about them exactly, but still a good observation. However, what digitalbits missed was comparing this version to the prior versions like you did, which I wished they would have. Anyway, just for convenience I'll paste here:


"Audio is offered in English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio, with optional English SDH subtitles. Vinegar Syndrome describes the 5.1 track as the “original and unaltered theatrical surround mix,” and the 2.0 as an “alternate stereo mix.” The Amityville Horror was released widely in optical mono, but there were also a few 35 mm prints that had a 4-track magnetic soundtrack, so that’s the only theatrical surround mix that could have been used for this 5.1 track. The 2.0 track is more of a mystery, as Dolby Stereo was the only game in town in 1979 for optical stereo surround sound, but The Amityville Horror wasn’t released in Dolby. It may be a fold-down of the discrete 4.0 channels from the mag soundtrack, with or without encoded surrounds, but that’s difficult to determine as there’s very little surround activity even in the 5.1 version. (It doesn’t help that Vinegar Syndrome always refers to 2.0 tracks as “stereo” even if they’re surround encoded, so the description can’t be taken at face value.)

In any event, the 5.1 audio here does offer the original 4-track mag soundtrack in relatively unaltered form, with the mono surround channel simply split into L/R, so it’s the most accurate to the theatrical experience—at least for theatres that were equipped to run the mag striped prints. It’s also the best choice from a sonic perspective, although the differences between it and the 2.0 are relatively minor. Most of the stereo spread comes from Lalo Schifrin’s score...."

....audio seems to still be a mystery.

88 films 4K release has.....what I guess is another audio track (???), perhaps what digitalbits was discovering? "derived from the limited run LCRS Soundtrack" ...Per Google, that means a "LCRS stands for left, center, right, and surround channel. This is the original Dolby Pro Logic format. The surround channel (placed directly behind the listener) is a bandwidth-limited (the treble content is reduced) monophonic channel."
1716349901684.png



 

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Kaskade1309

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Enjoyed your careful observations. A fun film in so many ways. I can't get over the fact that I think Lalo Schifrin's (Oscar Nominated) music is some of the best ♫♪ of any horror film I've ever seen. While I haven't seen this 4K version, evidently Vinegars 4K release is supposed to be

* "Presented for the first time on home video in its original unaltered theatrical surround mix with an optional stereo mix"
First of all, thanks SO much, Jim, as always, for your reply and intricate feedback/insight. It's greatly appreciated. I guess no one else saw this or bought it here, as we seem to be the only ones discussing it; maybe someone else will chime in over time.

Yes -- I saw Vinegar's rhetoric regarding the audio mix, which seems to be puzzling every reviewer and fan who reads it. Some say they're referring to the STEREO MIX itself as being the "original unaltered theatrical sound" but then their marketing claims there's an "optional stereo" track, so I simply don't get it...
With the video..... Interestingly, highdefdigest.com's 4K review of Amityville shows 3 different screen shots, (George and Kath (lol); Priest and flies; George at entrance) between the Blu-ray vs. the 4K....that look very similar. The 4K simply seems to have somewhat increased brightness via HDR pass, as you said as well. Strange about the color changes with George's skin.
Not sure if I saw this review in my research, but I'll look at it again -- indeed, even watching the DVD from 2005 (from the Amityville Horror Collection set), I can tell that the 4K wasn't a massive improvement in any appreciable way. Very weird, but I suppose that's how good of a high definition restoration MGM did on the DVD.

As an aside, I wasn't the only one who saw the weird color shifts on Brolin's face; there was another review that mentioned this. It wasn't super distracting, but I did note it.
digitalbits.com gives a more technical review (of Vinegar's 4K release) that's more aligned with what you are generally saying regarding the video quality: at best a "subtle improvement over previous home video versions."
Thanks; I'll check this out...
The audio remix....supposedly "unaltered"...this seems to be a mystery. Maybe you are getting a more shrill version of how it originally was, and perhaps Vinegar said, "the hell with it, give them the raw, 1979 version with none of our post production 'clean up'." Then laughed at fans' forthcoming frustrations: View attachment 222443 Accounting for the wonky surrounds, echoes, and misplaced directionals. (At this point, I vote for a careful remix!)
:biggrin::biggrin::biggrin:

Yeah, I simply don't know what was going on here...there were moments, as I reported, when the audio was ridiculously distorted on my system, especially during "stinger" scenes (like when, as I pointed out, Greg's hand has the window slammed shut on it). The most off-putting thing, though, was that weird echo/reverberation that spread to the surrounds at somewhat odd moments; when the demonic voice bellows "GET OUUUUUUUUTTTTT!" to Stieger, the effect spread to the surrounds with a strange reverb - honestly, it sounded better just coming loudly from the center position, as it does on the MGM DVD's Dolby 5.1 remix.

However, Digitalbits.com seems to give another interesting review of the audio - looks like there are legitimately 2 different audio tracks with the theatrical releases, given the limitations of theaters in 1979....although even he is bewildered about them exactly, but still a good observation. However, what digitalbits missed was comparing this version to the prior versions like you did, which I wished they would have. Anyway, just for convenience I'll paste here:

"Audio is offered in English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio, with optional English SDH subtitles. Vinegar Syndrome describes the 5.1 track as the “original and unaltered theatrical surround mix,” and the 2.0 as an “alternate stereo mix.” The Amityville Horror was released widely in optical mono, but there were also a few 35 mm prints that had a 4-track magnetic soundtrack, so that’s the only theatrical surround mix that could have been used for this 5.1 track. The 2.0 track is more of a mystery, as Dolby Stereo was the only game in town in 1979 for optical stereo surround sound, but The Amityville Horror wasn’t released in Dolby. It may be a fold-down of the discrete 4.0 channels from the mag soundtrack, with or without encoded surrounds, but that’s difficult to determine as there’s very little surround activity even in the 5.1 version. (It doesn’t help that Vinegar Syndrome always refers to 2.0 tracks as “stereo” even if they’re surround encoded, so the description can’t be taken at face value.)
I believe I saw this -- oddly, I didn't find the 5.1 track to contain "very little surround activity." To the contrary, I found it to exhibit much more gimmicky effects than what was given to the 2005 DVD's Dolby Digital remix. I believe that they're right about the film being widely released with optical mono -- MGM's first DVD from around 2000 or so (I owned it) contained only the theatrical mono track (encoded as Dolby Digital 2.0).

All I know is that the DTS-HD MA 5.1 track on the 4K disc sounded weird...
In any event, the 5.1 audio here does offer the original 4-track mag soundtrack in relatively unaltered form, with the mono surround channel simply split into L/R, so it’s the most accurate to the theatrical experience—at least for theatres that were equipped to run the mag striped prints. It’s also the best choice from a sonic perspective, although the differences between it and the 2.0 are relatively minor. Most of the stereo spread comes from Lalo Schifrin’s score...."
....audio seems to still be a mystery.
It could be that I am hearing what the results of the four-track-into-five-channel alteration has yielded; perhaps that is why the audio sounds so strange. Something may have gone wrong with the encoding into DTS Master Audio on the disc, but I'm just speculating....

Reminds me of the debacle when Scream Factory included the so-called four-channel track on The Thing Blu-ray...
88 films 4K release has.....what I guess is another audio track (???), perhaps what digitalbits was discovering? "derived from the limited run LCRS Soundtrack" ...Per Google, that means a "LCRS stands for left, center, right, and surround channel. This is the original Dolby Pro Logic format. The surround channel (placed directly behind the listener) is a bandwidth-limited (the treble content is reduced) monophonic channel."
View attachment 222440


Yes -- there's an additional audio mix on the 88 Films release, which makes the situation even STRANGER. I wonder what the "DTS-HD MA 5.1 English Remix" is referring to...whether it's the track Scream used when they released it in their box set of Blu-rays, or if it's the track I listened to on the Vinegar Syndrome release. The whole thing is a friggin' head-scratcher.

Cool shot of 112 Ocean Avenue (regardless of what address it is today) -- that's the way the house basically looked the last time I saw it (early 2000s, before I moved from Long Island).

Appreciate all your input and thoughts here, my friend -- it was very gracious of you. I look forward to continuing the discussion with you and possibly others!
 

JSLasher

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I recall Lalo telling me how much he enjoyed working on the film, stating that there was no interference from the studio’s music department. He said that he thought of Messiaen and Penderecki when composing the score.
 

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