H D - S E N S E I

A view on Hi-def DVDs by Gary W. Tooze


Introduction: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded)

Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (firmware upgraded)
Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze







The Amityville Horror [Blu-ray]


(Stuart Rosenberg, 1979)



Review by Gary Tooze



Video: 20th Century Fox / MGM



Region: 'A'

Feature Runtime: 1:58:47

Chapters: 34

Feature film disc size: 21.0 Gig

One single-layered Blu-ray

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 7th, 2008



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC


English: DTS HD Master 5.1 (lossless), English (5.1), English (mono), DUBs: French (5.1), Spanish (5.1)

Feature: English, Spanish, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Korean and none


trailer in HD


Product Description: There's no place like home...for bloodcurdling horror! James Brolin, Margot Kidder and Academy Award winner Rod Steiger fall prey to the powers of darkness in this spine-tingling tale of a house possessed by unspeakable evil. One of the most talked-about haunted-house stories of all time The Amityville Horror will hit you where you live. For George and Kathy Lutz the colonial home on the river's edge seemed ideal: quaint spacious and amazingly affordable. Of course six brutal murders had taken place there just a year before but houses don't have memories...or do they? Soon the Lutz dream house becomes a hellish nightmare as walls begin to drip blood and satanic forces threaten to destroy them. Now the Lutzes must try to escape or forfeit their lives and their souls!...




The Film:

For most of the film, one thing that Rosenberg does right is to leave most of the odd happenings surrounding the home open to wide interpretation. Not that I'm opposed to balls-to-the-wall effects and overt supernatural occurrences in film--hell, I absolutely loved the 1999 remake of House on Haunted Hill--but I think Rosenberg's style here is suited to the reality of the Amityville case. Is George Lutz just going a bit wacky, or is there something alien going on? Either way, at its best The Amityville Horror is pretty creepy, whether we have to watch out for spirits with glowing red eyes popping up when we least expect them or hope that George keeps his cool while he's holding that axe.



Rosenberg excels at subtly suggesting the increasing disturbances. On the other hand, most of them are from the "how to make a haunted house film" manual, especially the subsection dealing with demonic possessions. We get the inexplicable infestations of flies, bleeding walls, bleeding catholic icons, cold drafts, illusory aging when a character gazes at themselves in the mirror, etc. If done right, this stock material can work well--it's never bad in my opinion just because it is stock--but The Amityville Horror tends to lack atmosphere, passion, and commitment. As often or perhaps even more often than you'll feel chills or become deeply engaged with the story, you're likely to feel that Rosenberg is going through his bulleted list like a proofreader....

Excerpt from Classic-Horror.com located HERE


Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

One of the many scary films from the 70's - overshadowed by the likes of The Exorcist and The Omen which both precede it. But on Blu-ray The Amityville Horror image quality isn't going to take a backseat... right now anyway. The transfer is very strong and the Blu-ray  gives a super presentation with excellent detail. Consider too that it is, remarkably, almost 30 years old now. There is some minor softness at times more a factor of the original elements than the transfer. Background noise is quite minimal. Technically it is single-layered with the feature size being a reasonable 20.1 Gig. I don't see evidence of DNR or edge enhancements. The MPEG-4 AVC encode does a great job and produces an encapsulating image that fans will appreciate.

















Audio & Music:  
The films tack includes an unusual score by Lalo Schifrin that seems to come right out of nowhere at times... which perhaps is the point to enhance the creepy suspense-driven aura.
The lossless DTS HD Master option can come to life during these sequences and the audio of this film is part-and-parcel of its success as a horror. I was moderately impressed with the high-end track mix and there are options for mono 5.1 as well. There are optional subtitles offered in English, Spanish, Chinese (traditional and simplified) or Korean.


Bare bones with only an HD trailer worth mentioning. Come on Fox/MGM! No featurettes or commentary. No unique
Blu-ray accoutrements. Jeeez... Well, c'est la vie...


Bottom line:
As I interpret the horror genre - it's goal is simply to scare you. Does The Amityville Horror achieve this? Well it sure did with me - even after all these years - half-way through I didn't even want to be alone in our house to watch it. Criticism as a 'film' might be considered secondary to many of the genre's following. I've always liked Rosenberg as a director - he is very sure-handed and covers his bases well. The weakness might be Steiger who tends to ham-it-up a bit. Brolin and Kidder are strong.  I understand the book as a 'truism' was eventually debunked but that knowledge didn't assuage my fear during my viewing. The
image is close to pristine with its minor softness being indicative of the age of the production standards more than anything else. The bare-bones, single-layered status is a black-mark if you consider the upper echelon price but those who want to be creeped-out to the max - this presentation will surely give you the most shivers.

Gary Tooze

October 2nd, 2008





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