The Machine Girl comes to US Blu-ray courtesy of Tokyo Shock with a 1080p resolution encoded using the
Now this has never been a looker of a movie, given its low budget roots and the clear spending of 99p in the pound on fake blood, but when the HMV exclusive UK Blu-ray came out last year it looked pretty abysmal. The
The most noticeable of these, as was the case with the UK release, is the aliasing. This is either a terrible master/upscale or the world's greatest Etch-A-Sketch. It is less a case of which shots exhibit this blight but more which don't, and the latter category is more likely to occur to viewers because of acclimatisation to the horrible stair-stepped effect, than any lack of their presence overall. Dark objects against light backgrounds show the worst examples of these jagged edges you'll likely find on the format to date (other than the HMV disc). Hair, far from displaying the beauty of a format able to highlight individual strands in perfect clarity, has that obtuse wiry Shredded Wheat look of a Steven Seagal 'do.
The palette is intentionally washed out, but still manages to drain any ounce of contrast that may have been found in the image and noise is like an old friend invited to stay by this disc. Fade to black shots are one giant staggering of banding and close ups with any delicacy to them show signs of posterization. There is no fine detail, no natural delineation that hasn't been marred by sharpening and bar a couple of exterior shots in bright light that don't look absolutely terrible there isn't much positive to say about the image quality. In a way this is almost reference material, only the reference in question is that of abysmal quality, even a poor upscale should look significantly better than this travesty.
Audio choices are fourfold; Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0/5.1 and English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0/5.1. I focussed on the original language surround sound option.
Faring somewhat better than the image, though by how much is hard to fathom as one could argue any success in this department is skewed by the comparison. For a sound design that was clearly flat stereo to start with, the move to six channels is less jarring that might be assumed. The centre speaker is pretty naturalistic, with dialogue well realised and no obvious wavers in level or tinniness. It doesn't integrate perfectly with the fronts but that seems to be more attributable to the occasionally light front speakers themselves than the centre. Considering the stereo roots, the front soundstage is actually a bit lighter than would have been advisable, pulling back from being outright tinny but lacking any great dynamic range or gusto, though a couple of the more rock-oriented musical numbers exhibit a wider soundstage that was hiding all along.
It's a pity that the LFE channel doesn't appear intent on lending a hand at any stage in the proceedings, being noticeably weak or even downright mute. Thankfully the rears keep a fairly steady stream of the score and a few background noises piping through and adding a reasonable amount to the immersion factor. Considering the primitive sound design there is a fair amount of directionality and discreet noises, particularly nifty in shifting from in front to behind the viewer during a couple of scenes.
This is far from a decent track by the standards of the medium as a whole, being too light in places and lacking any great complexity, but in terms of the material there was to work with and the likely quality of the original recordings this isn't a bad effort.
Making of Machine Girl – 480p – 10:03
The usual array of cast members discussing their characters, how it was being in an action movie and how they prepared. Of more interest are the behind-the-scenes shots of the construction of some of the more notable special effects such as the drill bra, finger sushi, tempura arm and others.
Original Trailer – 480p – 1:35
Machine Girl Lite – 480p – 22:21
Asami Suguira (Miki) introduces us to Noboru Iguchi's spin off in which logic is finally bent to the point of breaking and dead characters from the film are reprised. Ami is missing, her (deceased) friend is stitched back together to take on the besuited devils of this world and the gangster with nails in his face has put them back in as a fashion statement. The effects of this wink-to-the-viewer handycam style shoot hit a new level of lo-fi kitsch, and once you see the weaponry the new machine girl uses your jaw will hit the floor.
The Machine Girl is a film that will no doubt find an audience, but many like myself will find it hard to warm to. It deviates from true hamminess enough to make it a light-hearted gore piece yet has enough absurdities to differentiate itself from the straight-laced-but-camp lo-fi splatter schlock flicks. For those with a strong stomach, a jet black sense of humour and an appetite for something different it will doubtless prove an oddity to seek out. Either way it's certainly not for the faint hearted.
The Region Free disc has some of, if not the worst aliasing you may see on the format and perhaps heralds the era, as was the case with
If you can look past the deficiencies of the film, well that's a matter of taste and perhaps you see the glass as being half full. If you can find anything positive to say about the image then I question whether you can see the glass at all.....
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