Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer-1.33:1, Full Frame
Featurette-The Making Of Stone
Featurette-Director's Slide Show
|Year Of Production||1974|
|Running Time||94:58 (Case: 98)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Sandy Harbutt|
Magna Home Entertainment
James H. Bowles
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||None||Smoking||Yes, lots of drug usage takes place|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The 1970s were a halcyon time for Australian movies. The resurgence during this period brought a life back to an industry that had languished since the mid 1930s with seemingly nothing more notable to show than a few Chips Rafferty movies for the intervening years.
Sandy Harbutt's slightly esoteric movie may seem a tad trite and dated today, but during the period it was released, with the conservative element in this country in the ascendancy, this movie was seen by many as the antithesis of all things virtuous. In retrospect, Stone is one of those movies designed to cause controversy. Its showing of drug use, frequent profanity plus the fact that it was all about a bikie gang which is seen as the antithesis of law and order even today, ensured it of the notoriety that it so obviously sought.
The Gravediggers, a bikie gang lead by the Undertaker (Sandy Harbutt, who also co-wrote and directed the movie), do drugs, worship Satan, and are your general rebel-rousers. They stop off at an ecological rally (Save the Environment) for a bit of stirring (a good Aussie pastime!). Whilst there, one of the members, Toad, spaced out on drugs, wanders off and witnesses the speaker of the rally being assassinated by a lone gunman.
Next, we see members of the gang being being killed off by a variety of methods, obviously to prevent them disclosing what they know about the murder .... enter Stone.
Stone (Ken Shorter) is an undercover cop, a member of the drug squad, and he's been assigned to find out who is killing off the gang members. He tries to do this by attempting to become one of them. At first, the Gravediggers aren't convinced, but when Stone stops another attempted murder, they relent and Stone is initiated into the gang...but can he stop the killings and solve the case or will the Gravediggers turn on him for being a 'pig'?
I am not going to spoil the plot too much. That's the beauty of this movie - you don't need to think too hard to enjoy it. Okay, it's dated, it's full of ridiculous jargon and verbiage and the script isn't brilliant, but it's Aussie and you'll probably recognise many of the actors, some of them with minor cameos to be sure. There are a couple of amusing fight scenes (I don't think the art of the long punch was too practised at the time), some gratuitous nudity (yay Rebecca Gilling) and copious amounts of dope smoking, but as John Laws says in the trailer, "Stone is different, take the trip".
Reviewers Note: The logo for Stone, the skull with the slouch hat, is a classic.
One of the funniest parts of watching this movie was to notice the blue fire coming from the muzzles of the firing guns. Obviously, they were using caps and they really stood out on this disc.
This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, Full Frame, and is not 16x9 enhanced.
Variable degrees of sharpness are exhibited in this transfer. Some of the scenes offer good fine detail, but occasionally there is a deliberate blurriness introduced, especially when the director was trying to depict the 'stoned' state that a gang member was in. Shadow detail is only fair, possibly more due to source material degradation than anything else. The transfer lacked a lot of depth for the most part, in addition to which many scenes seemed overly bright. Grain started off being heavy but dropped to a much more tolerable level during the many indoors scenes. As usual, the outdoor shots with lots of blue skies offered more grain. Low level noise was thankfully not a problem.
The colour was fairly washed out, possibly due to the source material. The palette in use was obviously fairly drab but at least there was no colour bleed nor oversaturation.
There were many film artefacts on offer in this transfer. The normal flecks of missing emulsion were pretty persistent throughout. Some minor shimmering can be observed during the opening sequences of the movie and occasionally during the movie itself but it was mercifully light. There was a huge interlacing effect at 4:05 during a 'pull away and up' shot that goes out of focus for a few seconds. The entire picture seems to split in two for a second as the shot shudders. There are multiple incidences of telecine wobble. During the opening minute of the movie, there is persistent wobbliness and this also occurs at 6:35, 11:07, 34:30, and finally at 92:30 during the ending credits. There were reel change marks noted at 51:34 and 94:49. A patched tear in the film stock can be seen at 26:50 and what looked like a missing couple of frames at 53:14.
There were no subtitles available on this disc.
Although listed as an RSDL disc, no layer change was noted. It is possible that the layer change was placed in the extras section which would have made it fairly undetectable.
In general, the soundtrack on this disc is a little tinny at times, since it is totally located in the centre speaker. There is no real spatial quality to the audio at all which was disappointing with the amount of rock and roll on offer.
The listed soundtracks for this disc are English Dolby Digital Mono 1.0 at a low 96kb/s ... and that's it. I guess they didn't think that a movie like this would sell too well overseas so we are stuck with this singular option, which naturally I listened to.
The dialogue was pretty consistent over the course of the movie, but some of the Aussie accents were a bit thick at times. Some of the jargon used was very American which stood out like a sore thumb at times, but the audio sync wasn't an issue, although there did seem to be some ADR used to augment some of the scenes with noisier backgrounds.
The initial six minutes of music was quite strident, consisting of some weird electronic effects, synthesizers and didgeridoos. There were plenty of similar effects peppered throughout the movie as well. The incidental music, often accompanying the many bike sequences have rock and roll tracks woven into the action for variety which I thought worked quite well. The soundtrack is strictly mono, making it a very 70s experience.
There was no surround or LFE channel usage in this movie.
|Surround Channel Use|
Overall, this is a nice selection of extras for a reasonably old movie with some excellent viewing value.
This is a surprisingly good addition with a slight problem with the menu. Basically it consists of 24 separate chapters with interspersed movie snippets, outtakes, setup shots and interviews with various actors, the director and the stunt co-ordinator.
John Laws does a nice job of the commentary. His laid-back, laconic style admirably suits the material and a little overview of the bikie culture of the time makes this a decent extra.
If you attempt to access Chapters 21-24 from the menu, the lower eighth of the screen fails to render correctly and the DVD player shuts down. The same thing happened on three different DVD players. It isn't a major crisis since you can still get to the last 4 chapters by accessing the featurette from Chapter 20 and letting it run through.
This is accompanied by a commentary from Sandy Harbutt on various aspects of the movie, and is split into various sections. Some of the commentary on casting the actors sounded a bit pretentious but the sections on Location and Bikes were both interesting and amusing.
There is no Region 1 DVD of this movie, so the choice is obvious.
Stone is a piece of our movie history. Love it or hate it, if you were around when it was first released you'll probably have at least heard of it, which is more than can be said for a lot of movies of its time.
The video is lacklustre with a lot of problems, but watchable. At least we know it won't degenerate any further.
The audio is a little less than TV standard to be honest. It's barely sufficient to do the job and little more.
The extras were a welcome addition. Unlike other extras I've seen on DVD in the past, these were of sufficient length to be a value-added option.
|DVD||Loewe Xemix 5006DD, 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|