Well, the film may well not be up to scratch but if you are a fan then you are going to be absolutely bowled over by this gem of a transfer. Admittedly, it is not up to the standard of a modern blockbuster but considering the age and budget of the film what Anchor Bay have achieved here is fantastic.
Obviously, the film is presented in the original theatrical ratio which is in this case 1.85:1 and it is a 1080p transfer. What I wasn't prepared for was just how gorgeous this generally looks.
The transfer for this presentation really enhances the film in a good way. Whilst it may lack the 3D pop that we are used to in more modern films, the clarity of the picture and the resolution is most surprising. There is a level of grain present here, but it is not distracting - enhancing the filmic quality of the print. What is particularly surprising, and pleasing, is that there is very little digital processing added to the image. This means that all the way through, the quality of the image is pleasing and natural.
The other pleasantly surprising thing is the quality of the source print. Yes, there is the odd scratch here and there but generally the source is surprisingly pristine for a film of this age and quality.
The colours are wonderfully rendered, deep and vibrant. The colour palette is mainly red, green and blue, and these colours come through with a depth that is revelatory. Whether it be the green of the corn, the red hues on the clothes, or the deep blue of the Nebraska sky - all stand out beautifully with no bleed. Facial detail is also excellent, and fleshtones are never waxy.
Blacks are also deep, inky, and well realised. If there is a problem with the transfer, however, it is in the consistency. There are several occasions where there is visible degradation between one scene and the next. This manifests itself with a notable softness in certain scenes. This is not a problem that occurs throughout the whole film, but it is present occasionally.
Overall this is one of the most impressive back catalogue transfers I have seen in terms of enhancement over the original. Those who are expecting a transfer up there with modern blockbusters are likely to be disappointed but realistically they are unlikely to be buying this disc. Fans of the film (there must be some) will find the picture improvement well worth the price of entry.
Anchor Bay provides Children of the Corn with a new lossless DolbyTrueHD soundtrack, and although it is rather limited by the source - it is still a noteable upgrade.
The first thing that one should note is that if you are expecting a fully enveloping soundtrack full of accurate pans and placement then you will be very disappointed. The mix is very front heavy, with little rear action. The soundstage as presented is surprisingly wide however, with nice use of incidental effects from the left and right.
Dialogue is also clear and well balanced within the mix, although it can sound a little harsh at times. There is very little use of the sub which means there is not much bass at all throughout the film - this can lead to a slightly tinny sound.
The rears do get a slight workout during the final scenes, where the action is ramped up - but there is very little directionality employed here. It is more used for the score for ambience and the odd effect.
Despite the limitation, which are likely caused by the source, a good job has been done here and although not as much as a step up as the video is, this is still an upgrade over any previous versions.
For such a minor back catalogue release, Anchor Bay have really gone to town on the extras package here, providing all previously available extras and throwing in a few exclusive goodies as well for good measure.
We start with an audio commentary featuring the director, producer, and actors John Franklin and Courtney Gaines. The track is not the most in depth of commentaries, but it does feature some technical insight and it is also interesting when it is talking about the film's legacy. It is not a track that would stand up to repeated listenings, but it is certainly worth a spin.
The 36 minute documentary Children of the Corn : Harvesting Horror is ported over from previous DVD releases and provides an interesting look at the making of the film, and it's impact on the horror genre. Featuring interviews with the key particpants this is a worthwhile watch. Still Galleries and the original Trailer are also ported over from previous releases.
There are quite a few Blu exclusives though. There is a pop up trivia track, and three more featurettes - It was the Eighties, Stephen King on a shoestring, and Welcome to Gatlin. These featurettes give much more background to the film and contain lengthy contributions from those who weren't featured in the original documentaries including Linda Hamilton. Taken together, they may only add another 40 minutes but they do flesh out the behind the scenes story well.
As a movie Children of the Corn has definitely been a success over the years, judging by the market for it on the various home formats, and the number of sequels it has spawned. There is even a new remake due within the next month on American TV. However, to this reviewer (a confirmed Stephen King fan) the film has never been one of my favourites. To me, too much of the subtext from the original short story is lost in translation - and is not even replaced by action or horror, leaving a very anaemic screen version of a potentially brutal source story.
However, if you are a fan of the film then upgrading is a necessity. For such an old, low budget film - the picture quality here is outstanding and although the sound is limited by the source, this is still an upgrade over previous versions. Add to this an extensive extras package containing many exclusives and you have an excellent disc of a poor movie.
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