This MPEG-AVC transfer is in 24FPS and on the whole looks quite good. Unusually for a recent transfer, I detected a couple of substantial dust marks on the picture as well as some quite prominent film grain. The problems – minor as they are, don’t stop there unfortunately, with a few scenes looking most un-film like with a tinge of video about the picture. It looks a little like the generation of sit-coms made on film and converted to video in a few places, but to be fair, the majority of the movie looks very good. The colour palette leans towards browns and greens – a good trick amongst the snow, and it feels very small town America. The cinematography is creative and technically to a high standard and this really helps to define the film.
Detail in the dark bits is a little lacking, as there has been quite a lot of smoothing – and then edge enhancement, to my mind the reason why some shots don’t look too hot. In all honesty, I am being quite picky here, but films of this pedigree deserve top quality transfers and I feel this one dips a point below where it should be, given its age and original production quality. To be fair in all other respects, the transfer is very good and the end result is very watchable. I have slated films before for not being cleaned up enough, but this one has just gone slightly over the top on occasions.
Horror films don’t work without an atmospheric and creepy soundtrack and this one is no exception. From the subtlety of some of the sound effects to the full on gothic score, we get atmosphere by the box full. The DTS-HD MA stream is dynamic for the film’s vintage and the old school surround track works quite well. There are a few moments to warm up the sub, but on the whole things are pretty quiet at either end of the spectrum. Every line of dialogue is sharp, even in the low, threatening and even whispered passages, just as it should be.
Marc Shaiman’s score perfectly fits the movie, with a mixture of a few contemporary tracks mixed in with a classical score, favouring heavy strings in true horror style. This does feature quite heavily in the surround mix, but on this occasion it kind of adds to the whole experience.
There are a few minor issues to try to ignore though. There is audible wow and flutter, both in the opening credits – thus attuning your ear to it, and on occasions during the film. There are also some slightly compressed sounding vocal peaks. Both I think are probably on the original master, so are not the fault of the transfer and would have been quite expensive and invasive to fix. Neither spoils the film to any extent either.
Zippo, zilch, nothing! Just a main menu and pointless pop up menu with scene selection and language support. This is very disappointing for such an iconic movie and I am sure something could have been put together. It leaves a bad taste and makes the disc feel like a cheap, giveaway disc better suited to the supermarket bargain bin.
An iconic movie, creepy, claustrophobic and containing one of the most famous scenes of the genre. What more could you want? Kathy Bates gives her all and a strong supporting cast all add up to make this a must see psychological thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Technically, this disc is pretty good for the age of the initial movie, but there are better ones out there. The lack of any extras is a major disappointment to me and not good enough for a release of this stature. The good news is, the minor imperfections do not spoil the enjoyment the film one jot and do not dilute my recommendation to add this film to your collection.
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