Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
|Year Of Production||2001|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Ed Raymond|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Mary Page Keller
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||No|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The opening of the film immediately puts you on guard in this direct-to-video/DVD effort. Two terrorists infiltrate a top secret biological research facility where genetic experimentation is taking place and manage to blow it up with little or no effort. This allows genetically modified rattlesnakes, whose venom is totally lethal to humans, to escape into the wild.
Go forward some years later and an old man living outside the town of Santa Mira is licked by his dog, who has just been bitten by one of these snakes now happily making its home in the country. The old man gets into his truck to drive to town but on the way there collapses and runs off the road. Dying, he is taken to the local hospital where Dr David Henning (Treat Williams) and his associate Dr Santos (Hannes Jaenicke) can't save him. After an autopsy, Henning sends a blood sample to his ex-wife Dr Christine Henning (Mary Page Keller) and asks for her to do some tests to identify what killed the old man. Christine is working for a military unit that specialises in biological warfare and agrees to help out.
Meantime other cases begin to appear, all with the same symptoms and Henning realises this could be the start of an epidemic. Back at the military establishment General Manchek (Geoffrey Pierson) realises the significance of the reports, and under orders from his superior switches vital samples to show an e-coli outbreak only and puts into action a cover up plan. In Santa Mira the number of cases has slowed down, so Santos and Henning begin looking for a link between the outbreaks, hoping they are contained, not realising that the military has already begun to seal off the area and is inventing a cover story so they can annihilate everyone in the town and keep the discovery of the venomous snakes to themselves.
The movie is a mixture of half decent acting, very laughable scripting with plot holes you could drive a bus through, and some obvious references to other great biological disaster movies like The Andromeda Strain (Major Manchek of Scoop - we have a fire/Directive 712 - a nuclear strike to remove the threat of an unknown organism). To be fair, the movie is nicely paced, but it lacks any real tension. A movie like Outbreak was far more believable. Having rattlesnakes spearing out of the ground like a jack-in-the-box was just plain silly. Overall it was nothing more than an hour and a half's diversion. Nothing to get excited about. Fred Olen Ray, the director, has made a string of this type of movie, all much the same.
Typical of most budget movies that have gone straight to video without a theatrical release, this one comes with a very decent video transfer with minimal problems which does the job quite nicely.
The movie is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.
There is some grain at the beginning of the movie, but for the most part it is under control and not an issue. Slight edge enhancement is visible but it is so minor as to be unobtrusive. Shadow detail is excellent, with lots of depth and fine detail visible even in the less well-lit scenes. Low level noise is not an issue on this disc.
Apart from a little too much brightness, giving a slightly bleached look, the colour is fine. Saturation levels are excellent but no over-saturation or colour bleed were noticeable and chroma noise was not detected. Skin tones look good and there is a good palette in use for a lot of variation.
Apart from the odd fleck here and there (7:50, 59:29, 60:19, 83:50) film artefacts were well under control and offered no degradation to the picture quality. Nothing else really sprung to the attention during the rest of the movie. Aliasing and moiré artefacts were blissfully absent and no pixelisation was seen. Generally the quality is very good, within the limits of the budget used in making the movie.
Subtitles for the Hard of Hearing are available and make good use of separation to allow you to see who is talking (split screen/slightly indented/placed beneath the speaker/etc). Although slightly obtrusive, since they often change position to about 1/4 of the way up the screen, they are easy to read with a very nice font used and nearly a perfect rendering of the spoken word.
There was no layer change on this disc.
This is a pretty decent audio effort, all things considered. A single Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack at 448 kilobits per second is on offer and does the job nicely. There is some good separation across the fronts especially trucks driving past, the sound of helicopters flying overhead, and the usual background noises. Some immersiveness is derived from the rears for a much better soundtrack than at first expected.
No problem with the dialogue or syncing that I could determine.
The music is by Neal Acree, whose name isn't well known to me, but this is a competent job, if unspectacular. The usual rules apply: the music grows in intensity when the action hots up, but otherwise stays pretty much unnoticed in the background. I've heard a lot worse and it certainly wasn't strident or obtrusive.
There is some good rear work on this disc. Although overall it doesn't rate that highly, the sounds of passing helicopters and other sound effects do make their presence noticed in the surrounds. Mostly restricted to adding some immersive element to the music, they only occasionally pop into life, but something is better than nothing.
The .1 channel doesn't get much chance to shine but it is at least active throughout with plenty of bass redirection. The only time the subwoofer comes into its own is during the earth tremors that occur during the movie. Here the woofer gets a chance to shake the foundations, if only for a very brief time.
|Surround Channel Use|
Standard fare, running time of 1:26 and in 4x3 Full Frame format.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Details on the Region 1 release are a bit sketchy, but it looks to be the same as the local release, with possibly the R4 getting a theatrical trailer as a bonus. If so, then I'd give the R4 release the thumbs up due to the superior PAL encoding.
Another fairly average direct-to-video movie that's now available in the video stores. Slightly better storyline than your usual B-grader though and the actors make a decent fist of what's on offer. No Academy Award stuff here, but a pleasant enough diversion, even if the sight of snakes catapulting out of the ground was about as scary as a wet blanket.
The video is slightly over bright but very watchable. No major dramas with the transfer at all.
The audio is more spritely than normal with a good Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (which was pleasantly surprising)
As usual the extras were lamentable, but then this is a rental version only at this time.
|DVD||Toshiba SD5300, using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Xelos (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Rotel RSP-976. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Rotel RB 985 MkII|
|Speakers||JBL TLX16s Front Speakers, Polk Audio LS fx di/bipole Rear Speakers, Polk Audio CS350-LS Centre Speaker, M&KV-75 Subwoofer|