This review is sponsored by
|Category||Thriller||Main Menu Audio
Scene Selection Animation
Charles Bronson Filmography
Howling III Trailer
Pterodactyl Woman From Beverly Hills Trailer
(Not 93 Minutes as per packaging)
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Pan & Scan||English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1?||
|Subtitles||None||Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Anthony Perkins gives a performance in this film that you could put your drink, or your feet, on top of. You can forgive Charles Bronson's acting because he is Charles Bronson and he's actually meant to be acting like he doesn't know what he's doing here. Everyone else in the film may as well be a prop, and this arrangement does work reasonably well until the last couple of reels.
Any more discussion of this film's plot is really pointless where this review is concerned, because this video transfer really gets in the way of the film. Regardless of how hard I tried to concentrate on the dialogue or the cinematography or something other than how bad the picture looks, I just couldn't get the picture out of my mind. It's enough to remind me of the first time I saw a VHS cassette that had languished on the shelves for ten years.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced. Information on what ratio this transfer has been cropped down from is hard to come by, but the position of reel change markings in this transfer leads me to believe it is either 1.66:1 or 1.85:1, although I can't say for certain what ratio this film is supposed to be in.
You can forget about sharpness in this transfer, because it reminds me of an old video capture that has been stretched to twice its normal size. Shadow detail is almost non-existent here, too, although it would probably be the best aspect of the transfer. Low-level noise is a serious problem for this transfer, and plagues the picture to an extent that leads me to believe that this is merely an upconverted VHS master.
The colours are almost always completely washed out, with little to no variance between one shade and another. At 9:11, the colours fade into darkness and the entire picture almost turns grey with noise. You could be forgiven for thinking you were watching an old print of a 1950s film, the colours looked that bad through most of the feature.
MPEG artefacts were not really a problem in this transfer, since the whole picture looks dull and washed out before the effects of the compression become noticeable. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some aliasing at 6:44, and some mis-aligned frames at 19:54. Film artefacts consisted of a vertical scratch at 19:51, and some reel change markings at 18:28 and 73:22, which appear in the extreme right of the picture. They appear to have been cut in half by the Pan & Scan cropping, but their solid black appearance, as much as the low-level noise will allow, and yellow outline make them hard to confuse with any other type of artefact. Overall, this is quite honestly the worst video transfer I have ever seen, and it would make an excellent two-pack with Howling III to demonstrate all the things that go wrong when DVD is done the wrong way.
The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, a real credit to whomever produced this soundtrack, considering how heavily reliant upon dialogue the feature is. There are no perceptible problems with audio sync. Some hiss is present in the soundtrack from time to time, but this is a relatively minor problem that didn't distract too much from the film.
The score music is credited to Georges Garvarentz, and sounds rather non-descript when it is present, which is not very often. I could only remember the music being present for a small portion of the film, which could very well be the same with or without this score, it contributes so little to the overall experience. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that the score music was added as an afterthought.
As with other Avenue One DVDs of this generation, there are no split surround or split stereo effects in this soundtrack, even of the limited kind that one might expect from a matrixed mix. This is largely because Avenue One have seen fit to take two 2.0 mono soundtracks and combine them into a singular 2.0 surround encoded mix, which seems to yield the effect of placing the output from the left and right channels into the centre channel and the monaural rear channel provided for by this format. Once again, it sounds like the soundtrack is coming from each channel in its entirety, rather than effectively separated between the channels, making the mix about as effective as a straight monaural soundtrack. The subwoofer was occasionally present to support something that was present in the soundtrack, but it didn't seem to have that much integration into the mix, merely producing an intermittent rumble.
The video quality is bad enough to make your eyes water.
The audio quality is distinctly ordinary.
The extras are minimal.
|DVD||Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm) in 16:9 and 4:3 modes, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built In (Amplifier)|
|Amplification||Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NS-C120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer|