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A view from the Blu (-ray) on DVDBeaver by Leonard Norwitz


A Little Background     Openers     


    Modus Operandi     The Scorecard:     

Emotive Connection      Audio     Operations    Extras     The Movie     Equipment




Hell Ride [Blu-ray]

(aka "Quentin Tarantino Presents Hell Ride")


(Larry Bishop, 2008)






Review by Leonard Norwitz



Theatrical: The Weinstein Company

Blu-ray: Genius Products/Dimension Extreme



Region: A

Runtime: 1:23:49

Chapters: 24

Size: 25 GB,  Feature 18.9 Gig

Case: Standard Amaray Blu-ray case

Release date: October 28, 2008



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: VC-1



English D5.1 Dolby TrueHD. English DD 5.1



English SDH & Spanish (feature film only)



• Commentary by Writer/Director/Producer Larry Bishop and Director of Photography Scott Kevan

• Featurette: The Making of Hell Ride

• Featurette: The Babes of Hell Ride

• Featurette: The Guys of Hell Ride

• Featurette: The Choppers of Hell Ride

• Michael Madsen's Video Diary

• Theatrical Trailer



The Film: 2
An "Official Selection" of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, Hell Ride has its first theatrical release at your home theatre, should you choose to buy your Blu-ray copy before the street date of October 28. . . Or, not.

Here's a sampling from the nation's critics:
Roger Ebert From the Chicago Sun Times HERE :
In between searching for a killer, he [Pistolero] leads a gang whose members are sort of hard to tell apart, except for The Gent (Michael Madsen), so-called because instead of leathers, he wears a ruffled formal shirt under a tux jacket, with his gang colors stitched on the back. Why does he do that? The answer to that question would require Character Development, and none of the cast members develop at all. They spring into being fully created and never change, like Greek gods. . . All these guys do is shoot one another and roll around in bars with naked girls with silicone breasts -- who don't seem to object to the biker's smelly grime.

Keith Phipps (The Onion A.V. Club HERE) :
Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's Grindhouse was a daring experiment that failed to catch on, an attempt to drag the down-market stuff they grew up on into the 21st century without dislodging a molecule of grit. But Grindhouse's commercial failure wasn't such a bad thing. Had it been a hit, we might be seeing more movies like the Tarantino-produced Hell Ride, a witless reprise of '60s and '70s biker movies written, directed by, and starring Larry Bishop.

Rachel Saltz (N.Y. Times HERE) :
A jumble of influences, “Hell Ride” borrows its jump-around-in-time structure and absurdist wordplay from Quentin Tarantino (who apparently doesn’t hold a grudge; he’s credited as executive producer) and its sense of empty spaces and hovering doom from Sergio Leone. All that’s missing is those directors’ talent.

Leonard Norwitz (DVDBeaver.com)
Just because a movie uses noir elements, doesn't guarantee an art film; just because a movie has a small budget or no stars doesn't mean it's ready for the scrap heap. Just because the 1955 Volkswagon wasn't pretty or fashionable didn't mean it had nothing to offer the smart buyer. The grindhouse movies of the late 1960s and 70s are a curious case; the recent resurgence (that's probably too strong a word at this point) even stranger: for in one's attempt at deliberately making an exploitation movie, one runs the risk of simply making a bad one. All I need are a couple of fascinating characters, a witty script and a photographer and editor who know what they're doing. For all its visual, posturing and musical hommages, pseudo- and otherwise to Sergio Leone, Tarantino and Rodriguez, perhaps the best and worst that can be said of Hell Ride is that it feels like a porn movie with all the explicit bits edited out.



Image: 8/8    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

Mimicking Tarentino and Oliver Stone, Larry Bishop moves between film stocks, or the look of different film stocks, like alternating current. Aside from questions of narrative integrity, it sure makes a critique of the transfer difficult. Most of the time, the movie is very high contrast, which could conceivably wreak havoc with edges, but I don't see much to trouble me there. Color is often pumped up with orangey flesh tones, but that is likely intentional. The image is clean, blemish-free, with lots of healthy grain. But it is entirely possible that this Blu-ray is a near perfect rendering of the original film, as the awesomely gritty close-ups of David Carradine suggest.
















Audio & Music: 6/7
Here we are graced with a Dolby TrueHD uncompressed audio mix that's a good example of pearls before swine. If nothing else, a modern biker movie grindhouse or not - ought to have rip-roaring engine revs. Nope. OK, it ought to have some cool surround effects as the bikes pass the camera's point of view. Not so much, though there is an immersive quality during the gunfire and music swells. Dialogue is dull. The soundtrack music fares much better.



Operations: 7
Like other Genius Products Blu-rays I've seen, the menu is pretty easy to use – easier, in fact, than Rob Zombie's Halloween, which required clicking onto new windows for what was never an exceedingly long list of extra features. This one's done right, though without taking advantage of the possibilities of the medium.

Extras: 5
The four featurettes, in standard definition, total a little more than half an hour, which is probably enough, given the material. Madsen's Video Diary makes European Dogma look positively contrived. I sampled the commentary. Definitely more interesting than the movie. Nothing too deep, which is a good thing. Identical to the simultaneously released DVD.



Bottom line: 3
The material is sufficiently repulsive to gratify certain baser instincts, but there's no real movie here. The Blu-ray yields a good rendering of a peculiar image and an audio mix that never hits me in the gut, so I don't see a purchase here.

Leonard Norwitz
October 22nd, 2008







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