Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

I'm looking at getting a Blu-ray Player for Halloween,
here's a list of some of the best Horror movies for your player for this holiday! (As posted on

1. Evil Dead II. OK, how the heck did they make this old movie look so good? It was just Sam Raimi and his buddies out in the woods! Anchor Bay's Blu-ray has such clarity that it looks like Bruce Campbell is backflipping right in your living room. There are a few shots that look like mere film stock, but since 90 percent of this restoration shows off gritty cabin debris and bright red and green blood (depending on human or demon victim), it is an amazing hi-def achievement.

2. Dawn of the Dead. George Romero's original also falls into the category of how the heck did they get a movie this old to look so good? The setting and fashions are definitely of the '70s, but it's so clear it's like looking through a time portal into the era of plaid shirts and moustaches. The colors are bit more muted, since the main setting is a drab mall, but the details are sharp: everything from scuff marks on the floor to chewed-up human flesh between the zombies' teeth.

3. Beetlejuice. Warner Brothers has been doing a fantastic job of remastering their catalog titles to make them look superior to even new releases. Even though Tim Burton's ghostly comedy was shot on simple 35mm film more than 20 years ago, they've brought the colors of his surreal afterlife vividly to life. Check out the colors in the desert outside the front door or in the afterlife waiting room. All the hand-crafted details of the prosthetic makeup work is highlighted in this new release.

4. John Carpenter's The Thing. Here's another case of the wows for a nearly 30-year-old film, which looks so clear, you might actually believe Kurt Russell is still that young. The snowbound setting of this alien fright fest are especially tasty: Marvel at the details in the white powder, as well as the science station and its day-to-day wear and tear. Because so much of the film is dimly lit, The Thing also exemplifies Blu-ray's ability to show clarity in low light.

5. Alien vs. Predator: Requiem. Not a terrific movie, it may nevertheless be the shiniest movie on Blu-ray so far. Between the alien scales, Predator armor and metallic industrial settings of the film, everything just shines light off the screen. The original Predator is already available in a substandard Blu-ray version. Let's hope that this AVP:R release augurs a remastered Blu-ray Alien quadrilogy.

6. The Fly. David Cronenberg's classic 1980s SF movie is stunning in this restoration. Every detail of Jeff Goldbum's mutating Brundlefly comes through sharply, and those big '80s hairdos are equally scary. Also dimly lit, this film benefits from Blu-ray's ability to distinguish the subtle gradations of dark and light often found in the best horror movies.

7. I Am Legend. This vision of the apocalypse is so clear that you believe New York will really look like this a few years after everyone dies. The lush colors of greenery penetrate the cold, crisp cityscape. There's plenty of detail visible in all the crumbling buildings. And Robert Neville's (Will Smith) bright red car radiates as it rips through the solitary city.

8. The Mist. Frank Darabont's visualization of Stephen King's scary novella features striking visuals, considering its mundane supermarket setting. When the monsters creep in, they add a gory dash of color, but even the shelves scattered with colorful cereal boxes add vibrant highlights. The film's action lights up other scattered action scenes with bursts of orange flame.

9. Pan's Labyrinth. Guillermo Del Toro's intense vision of childhood fantasy is a prime candidate for home-theater demos. Set in the lush Spanish countryside, the real world scenes provide lots of detail. But it is the fantasy that shines brightest: Blu-ray brings to vivid life the movie's glowing fairies and slimy toads. You'll want to freeze the frames of Doug Jones' Faun and Pale Man to study every detail of the fantastical makeup.
10. Cloverfield. Blu-ray adds even more realism to this SF monster movie's faux handheld video camera. The disc doesn't push the colors to surreal levels or amp the clarity beyond that of a typical consumer camcorder. When the Statue of Liberty's head flies into frame, it looks like a tourist camera shot it. When the monster rips through the background, it looks like some dude just got it as he was running away. Since that was the artist's intent, the Blu-ray delivers completely. --Fred Topel

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