Dead Calm (1988)

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Released 14-Jul-2000

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 92:20
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Phillip Noyce

Warner Home Video
Starring Sam Neill
Nicole Kidman
Billy Zane
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $24.95 Music Graeme Revell

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    After their son is killed in a terrible car accident, John Ingram (Sam Neill) decides to take his wife, Rae (Nicole Kidman) away on their yacht for a couple of weeks, to help her recover from the trauma of losing their son.

    Whilst at sea, they come across a black schooner that at first appears to be abandoned. While John is below on the radio trying to raise the schooner, Rae spots something. They soon discover that it is a man, rowing furiously from the schooner towards them. When he comes aboard, he immediately goes below. Rae and John find him huddled in a corner. He introduces himself as Hughie Warriner (Billy Zane), and tells them the story of how he came to be alone on the schooner.

    John is suspicious of Hughie's story. While Hughie is sleeping, John locks the cabin in which he is sleeping, and goes to check out the schooner. Rae starts to get nervous, so she starts up the yacht's motors and heads towards the schooner. Hughie wakes up on hearing the engines and goes to join them on deck. He finds that his cabin door has been locked, so he looks through a window and sees that they are headed back to the schooner. This puts him into a frenzy. He breaks out of the cabin and starts to steer the yacht away from the schooner. Rae tries to stop him, but in the ensuing struggle she is knocked out.

    Hughie sails off, leaving John on a sinking vessel. The rest of the movie deals with John's struggle to keep the schooner afloat and Rae's attempts to save John from a watery grave.

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Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The foreground sharpness was magnificent throughout, with buckets of detail, however the background detail appeared to be lacking on a couple of occasions. This may have been due to deliberate de-focussing of the background during filming. The worst examples of this can be found at around 3:30 and 84:47. The shadow detail was excellent, being natural and well-balanced. No low level noise was noticed.

    The colour is perfect. No edge bleeding or excessive edge enhancement was noticed.

    There is some distracting and unacceptable grain present during a couple of the darker scenes, such as at the train station and the hospital. Thankfully, almost the entire movie is brightly lit, so these couple of instances become more tolerable. As usual, this graininess is basically invisible when viewed on a TV set using composite input.

    No MPEG artefacts were noted, apart from some trivial posterization at 57:56, 58:53 and 76:13. Aliasing is a problem with this transfer, especially from 10:16 - 19:47, but generally it is not too bad. There were three instances where the water seemed to shimmer unnaturally. One of these occurrences (13:02 - 13:10), was severe, and looked awful. I paused and then stepped through this section in an attempt to find the cause, but it looked completely natural, so I can only conclude that this shimmering was caused by aliasing. The other two minor instances of shimmer can be found at 10:35 and 77:57. A couple of trivial moiré effects were seen, but these were mostly induced by the aliasing. There was also some trivial telecine wobble present during the opening credits, but this disappeared as soon as they finished. There were quite a few small film artefacts present, but there is enough time between them so that they do not become bothersome.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are three audio tracks present. I listened to the default English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack. The other soundtracks are; a French Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded and an Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack.

    The dialogue was mostly clear and easy to understand. However, quite a few scenes sounded muffled. Fortunately, none became unintelligible. No audio sync problems were noticed with this transfer.

    Graeme Revell's musical score suited the movie and added to the on-screen tension.

    The surround channel usage was good. Some of the more enveloping scenes can be found at 1:50, 2:30, 67:37, 73:19 and 78:30. The soundstage was very good, with no discernible problems.

    The subwoofer was only lightly used throughout the movie.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Virtually none at all, not even Cast & Crew biographies/filmographies.


    The Menu is not 16x9 enhanced, with a still picture and some ominous music. I felt that the music was a nice touch. The menu selections are; Play Movie, Scene Selections (37) and Languages.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     The reviews of the R1 transfer quality also seem to be very good, with the same audio and visual limitations mentioned. Taking this into consideration along with the innate superiority of PAL over NTSC, I would recommend the R4 version.


    Overall the picture quality is excellent, but due to a couple of instances of severe aliasing and shimmering, it only receives a good rating.

    The audio is good with no problems - it is basically as good as the original soundtrack.

    There are essentially no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Paul Williams (read Paul's biography)
Saturday, July 01, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-725, using Component output
DisplaySony Projector VPH-G70 (No Line Doubler), Technics Da-Lite matt screen with gain of 1.0 (229cm). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SV919THX
SpeakersFronts: Energy RVS-1 (3), Rears: Energy RVSS-1 (2), Subwoofer: Energy EPS-150 (1)

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