The Entity Blu-ray Review
Despite the packaging claiming it to be 1.85:1. we have a 2.35:1 frame, whose image has been encoded via AVC.
Some people have said that they have not been impressed with the results, but I actually thought that The Entity scrubbed up very well on Blu-ray. It is true that the superb photography from Stephen J. Burum, an anamorphic product of the times, and something of which I am a confirmed fan, can be flat on occasion and yield some soft-looking peripheral objectivity, but the upgrade is definitely worth it as far as I am concerned in terms of detail, colour and, perhaps most importantly, depth and stability of those all-essential shadows.
Grain structure is reassuringly authentic, providing a very pleasing and film-like texture. Noise reduction, if applied, which I doubt, has been respectfully administered and is not an issue. Damage to the print is minimal, mostly tiny pops and flecks that appear throughout, and some very minute frame-wobbling, though nothing to any detrimental level. There is a weird fuzzy halo seen around the phone as Dr. Weber puts it down, but this may well be part and parcel of the source.
As I have already implied, depth isn’t terrific. Although the superb photography makes great efforts to create fabulous and interesting compositions, there can be a bluntness to the sense of spatiality. We see doors leading off into other rooms and hallways stretching away, and lots of foreground characters are flanked by observers in the background, but the image rarely presents us with any sort of three-dimensionality – which is, again, accurate to how the film should look.
Contrast is very good and consistent. Whites are never blown-out, the relatively few exterior daytime shots are clean and fresh and never hazy, and transitions are smooth and natural. The blacks are wonderful, folks. I’m on record as stating that I don’t mind a touch of crushing going on now and again so long as the atmosphere is suitably energised by profound shadow-play, and not too much has been lost in the process. And The Entity has a great many scenes in which the shadows are vigorously presented. Now, just to clarify, I don’t believe that there are any details being crushed within the blacks we see here, but they are supremely thick and solid at times. And, as such, I loved them. There is no grey infiltration of dilution. And the image caters for some fine midnight blues as well, often lending it the appearance of a primetime John Carpenter movie. Colour fidelity is fine and reliable. The film isn’t a particularly colourful one – too much of it occurs in the dark for it to pulsate – but primaries are natural-looking, if a little swarthy and bruised. Some viewers might even say muddy but I think this is the intentional scheme and, once again, something of a regular look for genre flicks of the time. In my opinion, skin-tones are good and they don’t fluctuate. The hellish green glow of one manifestation and the bizarre energy bolts that blast across the room are handled well – a suddenly Spielbergian touch. The more satanic red hue that bathes Carla during the big confrontation, and the electric blue lightning crackles that spider-web certain scenes also look crisp and bright. There is no banding, or smearing taking place during these or any other moments.
I thought that detail, on the whole, was surprisingly rewarding. There is great facial texture on offer, even in the mid-ground we can see spots and shaving rashes, stubble and crags. Close-ups certainly deliver. Hair separation, little bits in teeth, eye-clarity – it’s all there. Material and patterns in clothes, book-spines and buttons and switches on paranormal equipemtn have gained from the increased resolution. As I’ve said, there are certain elements that become fuzzy and indistinct in the background, and especially off to the sides of the frame, such as ornaments and pictures on the walls, but this is inherent to the source photography. One particular effect, seen during the climactic capture sequence, has always looked god-awful, and this hi-def image doesn’t help matters one iota. But there is definitely more clarity to the picture than I’ve ever seen before, and this gives the film a very satisfying clout over every other home video incarnation.
Finally, there is no edge enhancement to mar things, and only a slight trace of aliasing. This is a good, strong transfer in my opinion.
The Entity is given some vigour by virtue of a lossless makeover. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix makes the most out of the source material which, in this case, seems to derive from what was a reasonably dynamic 70mm 6-track Dolby soundscape that had been designed to throw the audience a few crafty wobblers back in 1982.
Given that most of the mix flutters about across the front, the general eeriness of the pre-attack build-ups is appreciably palpable. Charles Bernstein’s inordinately creepy score commences with sustained glacial synth pitches that genuinely glisten and seem to fold around you, forming a spine-tingling aural cocoon that floats, ghostlike, around the room. Little sound effects then rattle and rustle, thud and scrape from both front speakers, but the depth and fair-to-moderate detail of the approach makes this seem all the more spooky. Sudden stingers are frequent and they are awarded all the necessary oomph they require, and the sort of abrupt clarity that suddenly pinches the nerves. The attack-motif on the score – that symbolic bash-bash-bash - has some abrasive detail within it that comes over well.
Bass elements can be quite emphatic. Some impacts boast a fair degree of weight and severity, and there is a freakish wail to the liquid helium nozzle that gets accompanied by a suitably deep booming thump from Bernstein’s score. The rattling of pipes and the whirling supernatural tempest that decimates an apartment are also handled with reasonable dexterity and violence.
Despite the allure of what was probably quite an alarming experience back in selected theatres in 1982, surround activity isn’t spectacular. Naturally, there is plenty of ambient backup, and the rears do thrum and throb with spectral bleed during most of the more suspenseful sequences. The infernal energy bolts that the entity flings out at the paranormal team certainly zap dynamically across the soundscape, but there is a marked lack of precision to their steerage. They blast very pleasingly at the front, but the rear echo they elicit in-lieu of an actual room-panning flyby, is a bit wimpish, to be honest. But then the sound-design works best when creating a resonant atmosphere of slow-burn dread, and those frosted scalpel-sharp synth chords and little discordant effects are splendidly presented.
There shouldn’t be any problems with the dialogue, but there are times when it becomes slightly sunken within the fuller mix. It is always clearly discernable. That final quote from the entity, itself, is still quite shattering and grimly enunciated with some wicked depth and weight.
Solid transfer, again. Dated source, but moments of power.
The spooks have been at work here. Whatever extras could be found on the DVD have been spirited away. Not even a trailer accompanies this release, I’m afraid. Very poor show indeed.
Even saddled with a disturbingly absurd scenario The Entity still packs a punch today. We may have had an ectoplasmic deluge of supernatural nasties since Furie’s film, which debuted pretty much alongside the superior Poltergeist, gave the phenomena such graphic exposure. Finally reaching Blu-ray, it remains a shocker that works surprisingly well, thanks to the staggering performance from Barbara Hershey as the struggling single-mum with a lover from hell, and Ron Silver as the determinedly scientific sceptic who wouldn’t spot a spook if it popped out of his shorts and said “Boo!” There will always be an element that finds the subject matter less than horrifying – mainly because the targeted nature of the attacks inevitably means that we don’t necessarily feel at risk alongside the protagonist – but I still find the film a gruelling experience that does some damage with its relentless sexual torture.
Some people haven’t been all that impressed with the image that Anchor Bay have supplied for the 1982 film, but I was quite enamoured by it. The softer anamorphic palette of the era is in full effect, but there is appreciable detail on offer, far and above any home video version that I’ve seen before, and the substantial black levels add dollops of demonic mood, accentuating the already unsettling atmosphere no end. The audio track makes sure that the wacky supernatural attack-mix is appropriately full-throttle, with some startling power to drive on the fury of the ghostly groping. But this isn’t a wildly dynamic, all channel experience, although I’m sure it pretty much captures the 70mm 6-track Dolby mix that some audiences heard back when it debuted theatrically.
The lack of extras, however, is undeniably shameful. There have been documentaries and featurettes about the film and about the real story behind it. How come nothing was supplied for this hi-def release? It makes no sense.
However, The Entity is certainly one of those movies that hit at a crucial time and then enjoyed cult infamy courtesy of home video. Its hi-def release is worthwhile even without the extras. So, if you fancy anything but a quiet night in … then this could well be for you. Sweet dreams afterwards are highly unlikely.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £11.15
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