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|Category||Horror||Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Biography - David Lynch
|Running Time||85:07 Minutes|
The AV Channel
Judith Anna Roberts
|Case||Transparent Soft Brackley|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Pan & Scan||English (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||
|Subtitles||None||Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No, thankfully|
Henry Spencer (John Nance) is a worker in a desolate, run-down city where there are endless rows of deserted buildings and puddles to step in. His rather beautiful girlfriend, Mary X (Charlotte Stewart) invites him around to dinner with her parents, simply known as Mr. X (Allen Joseph) and Mrs. X (Jeanne Bates). The dinner menu consists of miniature chickens that wiggle their legs and ooze black goo in a manner that I'm sure meant something to the director at the time. After Mrs. X comes onto Henry in a rather disturbing manner, we learn that Mary has given birth to a premature baby, which turns out to be a mutation that cries constantly. Mary begins to stress out at the baby's constant crying, then she packs her bags and heads home, leaving Henry with only the baby and his neighbours for company.
Consider, if you will, the entire sequence when we first see Henry and Mary's baby. After being treated to endless repetitive shots of the zombie-like Henry, the spastic Mary, and their truly hideous offspring, the only dialogue we hear is as follows: Mary asks "Is there any mail?" and Henry answers with a curt "No". The only really entertaining aspect of the film is the radiator in Henry's apartment, which eventually opens to reveal a dancing girl on a stage, who is simply known as Lady In The Radiator (Laurel Near), who sings "In Heaven, everything is fine! You've got your good things, and I've got mine", although neither of them have the benefit of a good script. I'm not sure that this film really even had a script when Lynch began creating it in bits and pieces over a period of almost five years, during which time Nance kept his hair in that ridiculous style.
In all honestly, I cannot believe that David Lynch had any intentions other than laughing his butt off at the idea that film students would try to dissect any sort of meaning out of this film. It is without a doubt one of the slowest and most agonizingly dull movies I have ever sat down to watch, although I am sure that fans of David Lynch will want to own it for the sake of completism. However, the transfer leads me to recommend that one wait for a more definitive version of the film to arrive.
The sharpness of this transfer is good, but not great, with the salient details of the picture being quite clear while much of the rest of the picture is a little washed out. The shadow detail is uniformly poor, with the large black sections of the picture being nothing more than black, with little to no apparent detail to be found. There is no low-level noise in the picture. The picture is generally extremely dark, so I strongly advise watching it under strictly controlled lighting conditions.
The colour saturation of the transfer is good, with plenty of subtle steps between the detail-barren blacks and the shades of grey that make up the rest of the picture. The use of black and white seems to have been a deliberate artistic choice on the part of the director to give the film as dismal a look as is possible. This choice was a very effective one, giving the film a much more surreal edge than would be the case were the picture presented in colour.
MPEG artefacts were not a problem in this transfer, what with the rather short length of the film and the general darkness of the picture. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some minor aliasing and the very occasional burst of telecine wobble, but these were generally quite well-controlled. The worst example was found on the edge of the X-Family's dinner table at 23:06. Film artefacts consisted of a great many nicks and scratches on the negative, with two rather large ones at 6:45 and 7:09, to name the biggest examples. All in all, this is a perfectly serviceable transfer of rather old source material.
The dialogue, what little there actually is of it, is always clear and easy to understand in spite of being somewhat recessed in the mix. It isn't terribly important to understand the dialogue in order to follow the film, anyway, so there isn't much to worry about here. The sound of air blowing through tunnels is a prominent, and rather irritating, feature of the soundtrack. Because the subwoofer was often adding its own indistinct rumble to this hissing, it became quite punishing to listen to this sound. There were no discernible problems with audio sync, although the ADR is somewhat marginal at times. Crackles, identical to the ones you hear on vinyl platters, can be heard throughout the end credits, although I suspect that this was a deliberate effect.
The music in this film consists of songs by Peter Ivers, an original score by David Lynch, and some non-original music by Fats Waller. The only time I really noticed the music was when the song In Heaven, Everything Is Fine began, and the only reason I haven't forgotten it as yet is its rather disturbing sound. Much like the rest of the film, the music here is easy to forget about.
The surround channels were not used at all by this soundtrack, although it is hard to imagine exactly what the surround channels could have been used for, given that most of the sound consists of rather annoying hissing and whining. The subwoofer, however, was used constantly to support these annoying sound effects, although it produced little more than an indistinct rumble most of the time. This is why I would have preferred the option of listening to the film with the original mono mix, since a Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack rarely makes any serious use of the subwoofer.
The video transfer is good, considering the limitations of the source material.
The audio transfer is a good reproduction of source material that seems to be designed to annoy.
The extras are limited.
|DVD||Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm) in 16:9 and 4:3 modes, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built In (Amplifier)|
|Amplification||Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NS-C120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer|