Monday, October 7, 2013

Evil Dead Blu-ray SteelBook (Single Disc) (1983)

Evil Dead Blu-ray SteelBookEven though it's been more than 20 years since its original release, 1982's THE EVIL DEAD is still an impressive marvel of low-budget filmmaking. It does have its palpable flaws, but this first feature-length directorial effort from SPIDERMAN's (2002) Sam Raimi, produced on a shoestring budget of circa $350,000, offers clever special FX, interesting make-up work, relentless shocks, and brilliant direction and camera work. And of considerable note to genre fans, it highlights Raimi's knack for pushing violence and gore to such an extreme that it becomes comic or farcical, a characteristic that is enhanced by the slapstick talents of actor Bruce Campbell (who would himself become a cult hero due to his work in this and other Raimi films).

The story involves a group of college students who, during a weekend getaway, find a Sumerian Book of the Dead in an old wilderness cabin they've rented. When they unwittingly unleash evil spirits and demons while reading incantations from the book, that's when the real havoc--and the real fun for the audience--begins. As each of the kids, one by one, are possessed by the demons they've loosed, body parts and bodily fluids go a-flying until only one young man is left to face down the Evil Dead. A simple plot with a simple set up, but Raimi and Campbell effectively milk it for all the scares and all the laughs they can get.

There are several editions of THE EVIL DEAD available on DVD, most of which come from the wonderful folks at Anchor Bay. Most are of great quality and offer beautifully restored digital transfers of this cult classic. The best discs also include feature commentaries from Raimi and Campbell.

A couple of months ago it was announced that Evil Dead was coming out on Blu-Ray. I confess that I was not very excited due to the fact that I had a copy of the HDTV broadcast of Evil Dead and didn't expect much of an improvement. Yet I decided to pick up a copy at my local DVD shop. With little excitement, I nonchalantly put the disc in my Blu-Ray player and sat back. Unlike some other Blu-Rays, this one had didn't have to take time loading and immediately went to previews of horror movies. I skipped through these and went to the menu. When the menu started playing, my spirits immediately were uplifted. The menu had the same music as the one in the Ultimate Edition over a nice collection of suspenseful moments in the film with a sepia filter over them. I decided to watch the full screen version.

The moment the movie started I was shocked. The once blurry and pink Renaissance logo and Evil Dead title were now sharp red. I was intrigued. As the movie proceeded, I was thoroughly amazed, this is and probably will always be THE BEST PICTURE QUALITY THAT EVIL DEAD WILL BE PRESENTED IN. I highly doubt that a film shot on 16mm can be up-converted beyond this; however, don't get me wrong, this isn't reference quality Blu-Ray, it's very far from it. There is plenty of grain that is inherent to 16mm film. Apparently Sam Raimi really did supervise this transfer well. It no longer suffers from the problems evidenced in the widescreen Anchor Bay releases and surpasses even the Elite DVD in sharpness. The color timing is spot on and is probably what was intended. For example, at the end, the sky is white rather than pinkish like in the Elite DVD. Additionally, reds do not bloom as in the Ultimate Edition transfer and HDTV broadcast. In case you are wondering, I did compare this with the aforementioned HDTV broadcast, and the difference is like night and day. It reminds me of the difference between the original Anchor Bay DVD release with the vastly superior Elite DVD. Finally, I am pleased to say that this transfer does not use HEAVY DNR (grain reducer) unlike the Evil Dead 2 transfer (which makes me hope that Anchor Bay will re-release Evil Dead 2 on Blu-Ray with a new transfer by Sam Raimi. The Dolby True HD sound mix was immersive and very impressive; although, I am disappointed that the mono mix was not included for purists' sakes.

After finishing the movie, I watched it again in widescreen with the commentary. The widescreen video is exactly the same as the full screen video quality, so I suspect Sam Raimi supervised both of them. The commentary was informative and had it's moments. Although I enjoyed it thoroughly, it is nowhere near as good as the Evil Dead 2 commentary, which is in my opinion the best commentary ever.

The Evil Dead is a horror masterpiece. Though lacking in acting, it makes Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street look like the comedies they really are. It showed that horror should have no boundaries through the very raw talent of Sam Raimi. This rawness resembles the similar rawness Stephen King (who incidentally endorsed this movie) used in his (in my opinion) best novel Carrie. It gets to our horror tolerance limits then breaks them. Bruce Campbell brings a certain charm and innocence to the role of Ash that makes his character the best male horror protagonist.

With that, I am glad to say that Evil Dead has finally gotten the release it deserves. Now, JOIN US!!!

Buy Evil Dead Blu-ray SteelBook (Single Disc) (1983) Now

First off, anyone who loves this film knows, that the now out of print, "Elite" edition, has the best over all picture quality (just compare the scene where Ash gives Linda the necklace, between the two versions, and you'll see that the Anchor Bay version is soft, almost to the point of being out of focus, where as the Elite version is much sharper) and it seems that no matter how many times Anchor Bay, "Remasters" their print of, The Evil Dead, they just can't seem to make it look any better.

So what we have in this new, "Ultimate" edition, is the same old tired transfer of the film, this time in both wide and full screen formats (of which the major consensus is that the full screen version is the director's preferred aspect ratio, which is made even more evident during the commentaries for Anchor Bay's previous, "Evil Dead" edition (the one cropped to widescreen, but with both commentaries on the same disc) during the scenes where things in the picture are referred to, even though the widescreen matting on the top and bottom has covered them up, case in point, white rocks placed at the bottom of the cabin's front porch, which one of the commentaries refer to as looking like teeth, making the cabin look like a skull, are cropped out, in order to get the full shot of the large moon in the top of the frame (we where obviously meant to see both).

And as for the, "New" material, it consists mainly of a 59 minute retrospective, with no Bruce or Raimi participation (although Rob Tapert and the, "Ladies of the Evil Dead", along With the, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz director and the Cabin Fever, Hostel director, to name a few, pipe in through out) which doesn't really tell you any more info then you already know, and also a couple of, "Ladies of the Evil Dead" talk sessions, which although interesting, aren't really all that worthy of an upgrade.

Of Note: one of the, "Ladies of the Evil Dead" mentions at some point, having been at a commentary session with the other two girls, and since this commentary doesn't appear on this, "Ultimate Edition", DVD set, then it can only lead one to believe that another edition is in the works (probably, "The Ladies of the Evil Dead", Edition).

There's also a, "From the Cutting Room Floor" feature, which is really just a cleaned up version of the deleted /alternate scenes, which already appear in both the last Anchor Bay and Elite editions.

So, unless you can't get your hands on the, Elite DVD, to get the full screen version, want to see the, "Soccer Moms of the Evil Dead", are a completest (my particular affliction... lol) or just want to fork over more hard earned cash to the people at Anchor Bay, then this edition can be skipped, and you can begin to save up for the next edition.

Hope this helps :)

Read Best Reviews of Evil Dead Blu-ray SteelBook (Single Disc) (1983) Here

After so many reincarnations (Book of the Dead, THX release, etc), this is the Ultimate Experience in what is known as the Evil Dead.

My review is not about the movie. There are plenty of those already. This is a review on the latest release called The Ultimate Edition. With this edition, you get three DVDs chock full of movies and special features that should whet the appetite of any possessing demon that should come your way.

DVD 1:

This DVD contains the widescreen version of the movie in Dolby Surround 2.0, Digital EX and 6.1 DTS-ES. It contains audio commentary from Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert. Also included is a 50+ minute documentary called "One By One We Will Take You: The Untold Saga of THE EVIL DEAD". This new special from Anchor Bay interviews the cast and crew of the movie and goes into such in-depth detail of how this movie was made. Do you think you know everything that happened? You may and you may not, but you'll definitely learn more with interviews with Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker and Theresa Tilly and others from behind the scenes. The picture itself of the movie is as pristine as you can get it to be.

DVD 2:

This contains the full screen version in Dolby 2.0 and contains the commentary from Bruce Campbell. Again, wonderful, pristine picture and it also contains a 59 minute feature of deleted scenes and outtakes entitled "THE EVIL DEAD: Treasures From The Cutting Room Floor". There is no commentary with it, but still, it's a wonderful introspective into the making of this film.

DVD 3:

Wow. What can be said. This is just chock full of Evil Dead treasures that should keep you possessed. You have numerous features concerning the "Ladies of the Evil Dead". There are plenty of videos from conferences with the cast and crew, including a reunion panel, make-up test, trailers, TV spots, still gallery and more. Also included is a two-side poster containing the original "touched up" Evil Dead poster and on the other side is the original photograph before it was touched up. There is also an Easter Egg on the 3rd DVD that has a panel discussion after the movie was released in 2001 by Anchor Bay to a capacity crowd at the American Cinematheque in Hollywood.

Overall, this tops them all as far as what it contains. It is well worth the price to own this Ultimate Experience in Grueling Terror. It has swallowed my soul!

Want Evil Dead Blu-ray SteelBook (Single Disc) (1983) Discount?

I spent some time trying to find this edition. You can find the Anchor Bay copy all over, but it is VERY lacking in features.

This DVD cost me as much as the collectors edition of The Thing, but it is SO worth it.

The bonus features include roughly 20 minutes of RAW behind the scenes footage. You can see the markings on the film go past the projector, no music, very basic. But it's very interesting to watch. In fact, many of the actors comments are left in.

Also, they include dozens and dozens of pictures. Some are just ok, others are pretty interesting. The theatrical trailer is a little different too. I've never seen that one before.

First, my biggest complaint is there is no wide screen version. Maybe wide screen versions didn't exist in 1982, I have no idea.

You can select two types of commentary. Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert, or Bruce Campbell. Let me just say that I was very, very disappointed with Sam and Robert. They might as well have not even bothered. During the ENTIRE movie, you could just about fit BOTH of their feedback on a single sheet of paper. Worthless. At times they would go over 5 minutes with no comments. Doesn't that totally defeat the purpose? Both men are very quiet. I wish Elite would have just scrapped them altogether. I am very glad I didn't buy it for their commentary.

Bruce, on the other hand, gave EXCELLENT commentary. Just about every single scene he gives detail. He shows you mistakes, tells you how scenes were filmed, how far apart they were, and so much more information. In fact, I learned more about Evil Dead from his commentary than from ALL the fan sites combined. He did an outstanding job telling us how they filmed it.

On with the DVD, I can't imagine someone reading these reviews who hasn't seen it. My guess is that most readers will just want to know what the DVD has to offer. If you want selection, get the Elite version. The Anchor Bay version has virtually nothing on it.

The special effects look a little more fake on DVD, but I think just about everyone knows they were very low budget. Still, the blood and guts hit home. This is an excellent late night, weekend or whatever horror flick. Not for the weak, even with the low budget special effects.

As most readers will know, Evil Dead set a standard for its extreme use of blood and guts, bodily dismemberment, acts of killing, and demonic disfigurement.

The Elite version costs more than the Anchor Bay version, but if you are a TRUE Evil Dead fan, get the Elite copy. It is far superior. You will be VERY glad you did.

Did you know they shot in at least 3 different locations? Hal and Sarah (actors) were not their real names? Betsy Bakers character had several stand ins? That there was no cellar in the actual cabin? That many of the back to back scenes were actually filmed 6 month (or years) apart? Well, you'll find out.

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