Dark Ride (Blu-ray) (2006)
Trailer-The Descent 2
|Year Of Production||2006|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Craig Singer|
David Clayton Rogers
Jim Cody Williams
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (2304Kb/s)
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (1536Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
"Will You Survive The Ride Of Your Life?"
Dark Ride is another horror flick from the Lions Gate "B" movie stable that's almost good - but not quite. This flick starts with twin girls who take a ride on the boardwalk "ghost train" (also known as "dark ride") and come to a bloody end. Their deranged killer is a deformed carnie called Jonah who has committed many murders and fashioned the victims to grotesquely mimic his train ride models. On capture the killer is locked away in a mental asylum and the boardwalk attraction permanently closed down in deference to the murder victims. Around fifteen years later we find our band of obnoxious teens - Cathy (Jamie-Lynn Sigler), Bill (Patrick Renna), Steve (David Rogers), Jim (Alex Solowitz), and Liz (Jennifer Tisdale) who are saddling up for a Spring holiday road trip. After loading up the van with all the essentials for teen travelling - that is booze, condoms, and attitude - they set off, each taking turns to drive. So far so boring. Along the way they pick up a hitchhiker Jen (Andrea Bogart) who is a stunningly attractive psycho hippy-type who endears herself to the boys and dismays the girls. Her stash of weed however wins over the semi-reluctant group and they continue onwards in a haze of gunga smoke. Along the way the travellers decide to save some cash by staying at a deserted "dark ride" on the boardwalk – yes, the very same one that had been closed down fifteen years earlier but is now due to be reopened. Unbeknownst to them however there has been an escape at the local loony bin and, you wouldn't believe it, but our carnie murderer has made his escape in quite spectacular fashion. All aficionados of slasher films will know what happens next but needless to say our group of friends are in for quite a ride on the ghost train.
Director Craig Singer fails to focus on what makes a good horror movie in Dark Ride with irrelevant and uninteresting sub plots, cheap and predictable scares, and a cast which you wish would die - quickly and gruesomely. Nevertheless there are things to like with Dark Ride including the seriously strange Jen (a character who I imagine many would simply loathe, but who I found rather amusing and far more interesting than the others), and the setting itself. Most of the dispatching is done with some style although, oddly enough, it's not so much the fatal blows that we see but the aftermath. The male viewers will get their requisite titillation in a quite extended sex scene where the term "head job" gets a new twist. This scene was totally unbelievable but I got a kick out of it (so call me sick). Anyone looking for a believable plot should not be here so suffice to say your brain should be switched off when the opening credits start. The first thing that occurred to me as the film progressed was why should five teens who seem to dislike each other go off on a road trip in the first place? We never find out why our killer is deformed or wears a Friday the 13th type mask, and the plot twist at the end also raises more questions than answers - nevertheless the boardwalk horror house premise is a good one and perhaps most of us have fond memories of those cheap "ghost rides" that were quite scary as a child. Despite the many flaws there was enough here for me to like as a once-off viewing so this ninety minutes or so were not totally wasted.
Dark Ride is the second movie included as a double-header disc along with XII.
This film is presented in 1.78:1 aspect which seems to be the original aspect ratio. This is quite a nice looking transfer but is, in common it seems with many B grade movies, not a great example of high definition video. There are no glaring faults in the video presentation however it was really no better than what you would expect in a good quality DVD. Blacks and colours were good with the predominant dark scenes well defined. Flesh tones were sometimes a bit clay-faced but the blood and gore looked realistic. There was some digital noise throughout although it was not particularly annoying. I did notice some white flecks during the very dark scenes, for example at 62:00 and 73:07. After looking at the frames a number of times I couldn't be sure if they were flaws or just light flashes or reflections. Either way they are unobtrusive and most would not notice.
Overall the video quality is rated as good. The picture detail was quite grainy and not up to high definition standards. There were no minimal artefacts.
This audio track overall is quite good. The default DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 at around 2,300Kb/s delivers a good soundstage with directional effects used effectively. The alternative Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 at around 1,500Kb/s is very similar to the DTS offering although there is slightly less depth - especially for the LFE track. For this reason I preferred the DTS-HD offering.
There were no audio synchronisation issues however I thought the voices were often a bit thin and lacked clarity. A few times I had to rewind and concentrate to understand what was said. This seemed to improve however in the carnival settings so I assume it was a recording aberration rather than a production mastering fault. There were no clicks or dropouts or any other audio problems that I noticed. The front sound stage was good with main voices coming from the centre channel and effects used appropriately from all directions. Surround channel use was used successfully to complement the action. The subwoofer was also used to good effect when crashes and bangs were required. The mandatory thunderstorm was suitably menacing with a low growling background in effect much of the time. The musical backing score complemented the on screen action well and was not intrusive.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu featured static background with movie choice shown.
Trailers for Icon Entertainment distributed films The Descent 2, Infestation, Pandorum, Triangle.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This Blu-ray twin movie offering does not seem to be duplicated elsewhere however there are Dark Ride movie only versions available on Region 4 and Region 1 DVD. The Region 4 DVD has no extras. The Region 1 DVD version contains deleted scenes, storyboards, feature commentary, behind the scenes featurette, and a "making of" documentary. These are useful additions if you liked the movie so importing from the US might be worth it.
Dark Ride is not a bad attempt in the slasher genre but doesn't deliver anything new or noteworthy. The characters are all whiney and annoying, the acting is adequate at best, the plot drifts and wallows, and the gore is not as graphic as it could be. Nevertheless it is a quite enjoyable romp overall once the mayhem starts, with the boardwalk surroundings nicely done and the sets suitably atmospheric. Maybe those childhood memories of "ghost trains" at the carnival helped add to the romance, but either way I quite enjoyed it. Oh - and Andrea Bogart aroused this viewer's attention favourably at least. There are no extras as such and I'd rate this movie as good for a rental only.
The video quality is good. The audio quality is good. Extras are confined to the "bonus" movie XII and some trailers.
|DVD||Denon DVD-3910 and Panasonic BD-35, using HDMI output|
|Display||Panasonic TH-58PZ850A. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).|
|Amplification||denon AVR-4311 pre-out to Elektra Theatron 7 channel amp|
|Speakers||B&W LCR600 centre and 603s3 mains, Niles in ceiling surrounds, SVS PC-Ultra Sub, Definitive Technology Supercube II Sub|