Oh dear. From Dusk Till Dawn comes to Blu ray on a Canadian import that is region free, and has a 1080P transfer. The film always looked reasonably good on DVD, so I had decent hopes for the Blu ray
It is with great regret therefore, that I have to report that this is one terrible Blu-ray - not the worst transfer I have seen but certainly towards the lower end. The funny thing is, that whilst watching it, generally I found myself shocked at how poor it was, but just occasionally the quality would suddenly shine through, like the sun through the clouds, before descending back into a mire of mediocrity.
Comparing against the existing Region one special edition DVD both running on a standard player and then upscaled, it is clear that whilst this Blu-ray IS an improvement, it is not, in my opinion, worth ditching your standard DVD and upgrading, especially if you have decent upscaling equipment. In the few outdoor scenes, this transfer does show some improvement, but these scenes are few and far between. The opening scene outside the store, the scenes outside the motel, and the final five minutes all show great improvements over the DVD. The level of detail in the background is superb, with mountains and desert looking spectacular. The detail on vehicles and faces is a revelation after so many years watching the SD version, and the sheer depth of colour in the sky is beautiful to behold.
Sadly, the interior scenes (which make up the vast bulk of the film) are quite simply horrendous. Detail here is very poor, and in the Titty Twister, where you would expect the detail of the superbly designed sets to shine through, there is no significant improvement at all. The background shows no depth, and detail is simply no different. There is some grain, but this is no worse or better than the SD disc.
Colour levels on the interior scenes are similarly muted. Now, it is true that the original film does use a muted colour palette, but I am sure that the transfer here is not bringing the absolute best out of the film. Just look at the flames when Santanico does her dance. They just don't seem to jump off the screen as they should, and the Neon is not as bright, or as colourful as it should be.
The bottom line is, whereas the exterior scenes do show the potential for this transfer, the rest is just too much of a murky, soft mess. There is nothing here that makes you feel you are watching a next generation format - and I would go so far as to say that you would be better off upscaling the standard DVD
Despite what you might have read, From Dusk Till Dawn comes to Blu-ray with a DTS HD 5.1 soundtrack - even against the evidence of the back of the box. This certainly seemed promising, and I was quite keen to compare this with the DTS mix on the standard DVD. Sadly, though, there is a major flaw with this Blu-ray soundtrack. However, we will get to that a bit later
Firstly, the good. The track is nothing if not dynamic. All speakers are used extensively from the get go, and the soundfield is wide and expansive. Sadly, however, that is about all that I have to say that is positive. the designers of this mix seem to think that loudness is more important than subtlety. Sadly, they have only applied this to the action scenes. These scenes seem to have the volume ramped up, and the end result is that either you have to keep manually adjusting the volume between the talk scenes and the action scenes, or you are going to end up deafened. I do not say this lightly, but the contrast in these volumes is by far the worst I have heard on ANY disc release, and this goes back to the early days of DVD.
There is very little subtlety here, very little directionality. The SD disc has a great DTS mix that perfectly matches the action on screen. The Blu-ray mix quite simply attempts to batter the audience into submission with a barrage of noise from all five speakers (including the sub) without attempting to place any discreet effects within the sound stage.
Dialogue in the talk scenes is clear, but only if you keep the volume at a level which will mean the action will deafen you. Adjust the volume accordingly, and you will find the dialogue very difficult to hear. The music is an essential part of the film, and it has one of the coolest, bluesy soundtracks possible. Sadly, these music tracks also have the volume turned up, meaning they drown out any action or dialogue that may be occurring at the time.
Loud does not mean better, and this is quite frankly one of the poorest soundtracks I have heard in terms of balance. There is no subtlety here, and the need to constantly manually adjust the levels is unforgiveable. Very poor.
There is a fascinating behind the scenes documentary called Full Tilt Boogie and hours of extra footage and documentaries which are fascinating. But none of them are included here. We get nothing.
From Dusk Till Dawn comes to Blu-ray on a region free Canadian import at a budget price. The film is as good as ever, a non-stop thrill ride that gleefully defies cinematic convention and has an amazing kinetic energy backed up with great performances from the actors.
Sadly, though, the quality of the film is not matched by the AV quality. The sound mix is absolutely terrible, and the video is little better. Add to this the fact that the hours of bonus features in the public domain are completely missing, and you get a disc that is simply not worth picking up. And as it is one of my favourite cult films of all the time, the disappointment when viewing this disc was palpable. Sadly, there can only be a one word verdict. Avoid.
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.