PictureWell, folks, I'm sorry to say that Arrow's disc is a visual mess from the get-go. Not only have they released this little gem of a movie with a cropped 1.78:1 image instead of the original Techniscope ratio of 2.35:1 - compounding the issue by having the image close in to its correct aspect for the titles and then pan back out again for the film itself - but the print they have used is woeful, to say the least. I know it is a relatively minor genre flick from the 70's but the sheer level of print damage on display here is shocking. We have scratches galore, frame-judders and image-flicker, a veritable fog of grain and a terrible halo-shaped scorch mark appearing top right all-too frequently. We can always accept a certain level of damage on older movies but really this is unforgivable.
Whatever colour there is in the admittedly bleak landscapes is washed-out and muted and submerged in a muddy swirl of grain. Detail has suffered so considerably that edges often appear blurred and indistinct and the appalling black levels destroy any sense of shadow in the scenes set below ground. The final act, set in the garish, Committee-controlled society that ensnares Vic, should be uncomfortably colourful and bizarre in a complete contrast to the world above, but the whole escape sequence is so murky that it becomes distracting. Sadly, an already low-budget movie appears all the more downtrodden and ill-treated. In all, a pitiful transfer.
SoundAnd, as if the shoddy picture transfer wasn't enough to dissuade you, Arrow's disc then maximises its unwantability with what has to be the worst audio mix I have ever heard on DVD. Seriously. Offering only a Dolby Digital 2-channel mono track that struggles to maintain itself, the viewer is treated to a vast array of pops and crackles, hums and drop-out that will only serve to infuriate even more than the picture quality. I'm afraid that no amount of tweaking your sound system will alleviate the sheer annoyance caused by such an abysmal mix. The discordant electro-scoring in the few action scenes barely registers and the dialogue, while still discernable, is often muffled and, particularly in some early sequences, seems to emanate from anywhere other than the actors' mouths. There is also a really irritating buzz that surfaces several times like radio static. Very poor indeed.
ExtrasAbsolutely nothing. The Region 1 version has a commentary track and the original theatrical trailer, though.
VerdictSo, in summary, what can we say? Well, the film is a gem. Quirky, irreverent and morally dubious. It forever appears be on the brink of trying to say something important about the human condition, yet, perhaps inevitably, remains content to just quietly plod along beside our two main characters, giving us a brief snapshot of one possible future. It is a post-apocalypse wasteland we have all seen before, populated with familiar rogues and anti-heroes, even the underground supposed utopia is the kind of conceited, bogus society that was a 70's genre staple from the Logan's Run school of sci-fi, but it is the clever and unique relationship forged by Vic and Blood that propels the tale into uncharted territory. And that ending is a corker.
But the downside, folks, is the terrible transfer from Arrow. Although I recommend the movie wholeheartedly, I'm afraid that the disc is just worthless. With no attempt made to restore the print - in fact, it looks like they went out of their way to find the worst copy they could - and no extras whatsoever, my advice would be to look to Region 1. Go west, young man ... and take your dog with you.
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.