Amazon Women on the Moon (Universal) (1987)
|Year Of Production||1987|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||
Universal Pictures Home Video
Ed Begley Jr.
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||Yes|
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, You have to watch the credits, and after as well!|
As the directors of this film are a veritable Who's Who of filmmaking, so it is with this film's stars. Just about anyone who's anyone is in this film. Most only on screen for a short time, this film features everyone from Michelle Pfeiffer to Joe Pantoliano to Rosanna Arquette to B.B. King. And that's just a taste. Almost 20 years since its release, this film still works well, although it will probably not be to everyone's taste. Most of my efforts to show this film to those of the fairer sex have come to no good end. Maybe it really is a guy film, but I have to believe that this great comedy should transcend gender (am I expecting too much?). Perhaps it's just me and in fact this film isn't all that funny. One of my favourite film critics, Roger Ebert, gave this film just 1 1/2 stars in his 1987 review. This will stand in complete contrast with my view, as I not only find it unbelievably funny, but to the film's credit I still find it just as funny 15 years after I first saw it. I generally won't laugh out loud when I'm watching comedy, but this film is one that really does the trick. Again, not to everyone's taste, but if you have that silly sense of humour and were a fan of shows like Fast Forward and Police Squad! then this'll probably be right up your alley.
If you haven't seen this film in a long while, then here's the opportunity to get reacquainted. All the great skits are here: Pethouse Video, Blacks Without Soul, featuring Don 'No Soul' Simmons, B****** or Not, Son of the Invisible Man, Titan Man, Reckless Youth, the 1950s classic Amazon Women on the Moon (you'd remember that, right?) and of course everyone's favourite, Video Date featuring Ray. Just reading these titles makes me laugh and I'm glad to see that Universal Pictures Home Video have seen fit to release the Collector's Edition of this film, complete with the deleted segments that many (including myself) have longed to see. Have a look at the Extras section of this review, but I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at some of the things that we get in this package. A classic spoof comedy finally makes its way to Region 4 DVD. Required viewing.
This film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement. There is a short time at the start of the film, through the credit sequence and up until Arsenio Hall enters his apartment, where the image is matted at the sides so that the image is more like 1.66:1. This might have to do with the stock footage used during the credits. This film was filmed in 35 mm using the Spherical process. This is frequently used for film intended to be matted into 1.85:1, but often many of these films are released in an open matte full frame manner, not panned and scanned like films shot in 2.35:1. Therefore, when watching this feature on the original 1998 Region 1 DVD release (and presumably the VHS version released in Australia in the late 80s) you see a fair bit more on screen that you get with this new edition. Here's where the purists lock horns with those who want to see the most image without anything being lost. Widescreen is not always a win for how much you see on the screen and full frame isn't always pan & scan. The debate with this one will probably be similar to that encountered by those looking for the best version of Evil Dead. The theatrical aspect ratio was 1.85:1, but everyone who's seen it has grown up with the full frame transfer. So, which is right? I'll leave this up to you, the viewer. I'm just pointing out all this to make you aware of what's on offer. The image seen on this new Region 4 disc is much clearer that that of the full frame Region 1 initial release, but the image of this new version is cropped not only top and bottom in quite a dramatic way, but also at the sides as well. When watching this feature for the first time, I got the impression that the framing was a bit tight at times and I preferred the open matte / full frame version to the new 1.85:1 16x9 enhanced image. That said, I was watching this film on a 16x9 display and it is nice to have that extra resolution put to some use. But if I had a 4x3 television, I'd much rather have the full frame version to the 16x9 transfer. I'm lucky enough to have both and if you, like me, bought the initial release in the early days of DVD from Region 1, you may still wish to hang on to your old copy whilst taking advantage of the goodies available on this new release.
The transfer on this disc is reasonably sharp in the context of the film's age, production values and budget. We do get some grain which varies quite a bit from segment to segment and also from filmed footage to stock footage. The film is made up of a variety of elements, but taken as a whole, the image is reasonably sharp. In contrast to the initial Region 1 release, the image here is much improved in terms of clarity. Shadow detail varies between the different segments of the show, but as a whole I found the level of detail during darker scenes to be adequate. I had no problems with low level noise.
Colour use here varies from segment to segment. Some, such as the Two IDs segment feature the typical slightly faded colour use that we frequently see during productions of the 80s. This is either due to the age of the print or an aesthetic choice on the part of the show's producers. Segments like Amazon Women on the Moon feature a more exaggerated colour scheme and this colour overkill is transferred well to this disc.
Both the initial Region 1 release and this new Region 4 release feature an average bitrate of 5.50 to 6.00 Mb/s which is fairly consistent throughout. I never had any major problems in regards to MPEG artefacts on this release and the compression job is quite reasonable and good enough to show up some of the limitations of the film stock and stock footage used during the programme. As stated before, there is a bit of film grain present during most of this programme, and this varies from segment to segment. For the most part it's completely acceptable and doesn't distract from the enjoyment of the film. There are numerous nicks, flecks and blotches that crop up on screen from time to time. Some of these are placed on screen on purpose as an effect used in the film while at other times they are there because of the age and condition of the print used for the transfer. There is the odd frame jump (such as that seen at 21:55) from time to time, but it isn't a real problem.
There is only one subtitle option here, that being English Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired. This is adequate to convey the general meaning of the film, but nothing is a substitute for the audio here. Much of the film's mood and tone comes from the audio sound effects as well as the score and incidental music. Subtitles are a poor second.
This disc is formatted single layer and as such, a layer change is not an issue.
The only audio option is an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track running at a very basic rate of 192 Kb/s, which is more than adequate for this film and its original soundtrack.
I had no problems with the dialogue quality and the spoken word is clearly understandable throughout the programme. Audio sync is also acceptable.
Music for this feature comes from Ira Newborn, who has worked with John Landis on this film as well as Into the Night and Innocent Blood. The music for this feature is an integral part of the film and Ira's score suits it to a T. Additional music comes from Geoff Levin who has worked on many popular television programmes as well as some children's shows.
As this is a mono mix, surround activity and LFE are a non-starter here. Let your surround sound processor do its thing if it's able.
|Surround Channel Use|
On selecting the Bonus icon, you are presented with the following options:
The Deleted Scenes Menu offers up the following:
Original Opening to Amazon Women on the Moon - Directed by Robert K. Weiss - 1:03
This is an old style 50s science fiction film opening featuring an elderly 'scientist-looking' type gazing into a large telescope and then telling us about what might transpire in the future. An interesting opening that might have worked had it made it into the film.
The Unknown Soldier - Directed by Peter Horton - 8:54
This segment features a group of army generals (including one played by Robert Loggia) attempting to talk an army private into becoming the Unknown Soldier to support the war effort. It is interesting to see this, but I can understand why it was dropped from the film as it isn't anywhere near as funny as what was included in the final cut.
Deleted Scene from 'Roast Your Loved One' - Directed by Joe Dante - 2:43
This is a lead-in to the funeral / roast for Harvey Pitnic and features Robert Picardo and Belinda Balaski talking about how the roast for Harvey will be set up. This was deleted as it ruins the spontaneity that we get without it. Again, interesting but in the end expendable.
The French Ventriloquist's Dummy - Directed by Joe Dante - 4:17
In this sketch, American and French ventriloquists accidentally switch dummies on their respective ways to gigs, only to discover their problem while on stage. A simple gag that doesn't work as well as it might have on paper. Still, nice to see here.
Peter Pan Theatre - Directed by Carl Gottlieb - 1:28
A silly segment on the director of a Broadway play of Peter Pan who takes his style to other literary works such as Antony and Cleopatra and Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, complete with the wirework!. Again silly, but not up to scratch compared to what we seen in the main film.
Deleted Love Scene From Amazon Women on the Moon - Directed by Robert K. Weiss - 1:52
Just an extension of the Amazon storyline with some interaction between Steve Forrest and Sybil Danning before their flight from the moon. Doesn't add all that much to the film, but still interesting to see here.
All of these deleted scenes are presented full frame with audio in English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.
Outtakes - 5:56
This is a series of outtakes from the production of the film. Nothing major, but interesting for those who've seen this film a million times (such as myself) and who'd like to see just that little bit more from the production. Presented full frame with audio in English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.
This disc has been released in Region 1 twice. The first time was in September 8th, 1998 in a bare-bones package that many fans of this film would have picked up upon its release. I was one of those and this disc was one of the first that I ever purchased. It was a very simple disc with audio presented in LPCM 48/16 only. No Dolby Digital of any description! This shows just how early in the DVD game this disc was released. As for features, there were none. The playback went from distributor's logos to copyright warnings to the feature itself. Selecting the menu key presented a static Scene Selection menu with static images and Chapter numbers, but no titles. This initial release featured a full frame open matte transfer that looks to be the origin of this new release as it features some of the same faults (such as the frame jump at 21:35 and the hair on the frame at 65:03). Still, the new version features a much clearer image than the initial Region 1 release. The second Region 1 release came in August 26th, 2003 with a Collector's Edition that is basically the same as the release we have here. The Region 1 Collector's Edition features a Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio dub as well as Spanish and French subtitles. Whilst we miss out on the Spanish audio option as well as the Spanish and French subtitles, we get English subtitles on ours which makes it a bit more usable for those English speakers that could be hard of hearing. This would be pretty much a draw with the nod going to the Region 4 version for local affordability and availability along with a PAL transfer. Should you require the Spanish dub or the Spanish or French subtitles then the Region 1 disc would be your best pick. For me, Region 4 gets the win. Thanks, Universal.
The second Region 1 release came in August 26th, 2003 with a Collector's Edition that is basically the same as the release we have here. The Region 1 Collector's Edition features a Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio dub as well as Spanish and French subtitles. Whilst we miss out on the Spanish audio option as well as the Spanish and French subtitles, we get English subtitles on ours which makes it a bit more usable for those English speakers that could be hard of hearing. This would be pretty much a draw with the nod going to the Region 4 version for local affordability and availability along with a PAL transfer. Should you require the Spanish dub or the Spanish or French subtitles then the Region 1 disc would be your best pick. For me, Region 4 gets the win. Thanks, Universal.
The video is good with an accurate 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced image that'll be a bit different to the full frame presentation that most will have grown up with.
The audio is basic with only an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack on offer.
There are some bonus skits and deleted scenes that will be of interest to fans of this film.
|DVD||Panasonic DVD RP-82 with DVD-Audio on board, using S-Video output|
|Display||Beko TRW 325 / 32 SFT 10 76cm (32") 16x9. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Yamaha RX-V2300 Dolby Digital and dts. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).|
|Amplification||Yamaha RX-V2300 110w X 6 connected via optical cable and shielded RCA (gold plated) connects for DVD-Audio|
|Speakers||VAF DC-X Fronts (bi-wired), VAF DC-6 Center, VAF DC-2 Rears, VAF LFE-07 Sub (Dual Amp. 80w x 2)|