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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness" )

 

directed by John Carpenter
USA 1987

 

When the guardian priest of a derelict Los Angeles church dies before his meeting with the local bishop, Father Loomis (Donald Pleasance, HALLOWEEN) comes across a diary and a key that lead to the discovery of an eons-old cannister in the church's basement. Horrified by the revelations in the diary and an ancient, previously-unknown scripture, he appeals to physicist Howard Birack (Victor Wong, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA) to investigate the canister. He assembles a team of physicists and top graduate students who arrive at the church under the watchful eyes of the sinister street people (lead by rocker Alice Cooper). As student Brian (Jamison Parker, TV's SIMON & SIMON) discovers evidence that the liquid inside the canister may be sentient and possess psychokinetic capabilities, Catherine (Lisa Blount, NEEDFUL THINGS) tries to interpret quadratic equations conceived thousands of years before their invention, and translator Lisa (Ann Yen, LOVE OR MONEY) discovers that the canister discovers that Jesus was an alien and the canister contains the son of Satan (and the container can only be opened from the inside). Those that have fallen asleep all experience a shared dream vision from the future of a dark figure emerging from the church out into the world. The liquid from the canister takes possession of radiologist Susan (Anne Howard, THE WEATHERMAN) who proceeds to infect others in the group in a Cronenbergian fashion. Meanwhile, ants, worms, and beetles start answering to a sinister higher power and the street people turn murderous and seal the surviving members of the team inside the church (already filled with zombified team members) as the canister decides to open itself. Dennis Dun (BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA) and Peter Jason (IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS) also star. Visual effects artist Robert Grasmere (PREDATOR 2) and casting director Joanna Merlin (THE LAST EMPEROR) have prominent supporting roles.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: October 23rd, 1987

Reviews                                   More Reviews                                DVD Reviews

Comparison:

Universal Pictures - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Studio Canal (Collection Un Maxx de Frissons) - Region 2 - PAL vs. Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for all the DVD Screen Caps!

1) Universal Pictures - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Studio Canal (Collection Un Maxx de Frissons) - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Universal Pictures

Region 1 - NTSC

Studio Canal
Region 2 - PAL
Image Entertainment
Region 1 - NTSC
Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:41:27 1:37:40 (4% PAL speedup) 1:41:30 1:41:37.091
Video

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.83 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.73 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

2.47:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.55 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,182,027,246 bytes

Feature: 30,540,779,520 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 30.00 Mbps

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

Universal Pictures

 

Bitrate:

 

Studio Canal (Collection Un Maxx de Frissons)

 

Bitrate:

 

Image Entertainment

 

Bitrate:

Shout! Factory Blu-ray

 

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround

English Dolby Digital 5.1; English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround; French Dolby Digital 5.1; French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3569 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3569 kbps / 24-bit (DTS
Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2058 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2058 kbps / 24-bit (DTS
Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary: DTS-HD Master Audio English 1989 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1989 kbps / 24-bit (DTS
Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Subtitles English HoH, Spanish, French, none French, none none English HoH, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Universal Pictures

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Theatrical Trailer (4:3; 1:51)
• Recommendations

DVD Release Date: 7 October 2003
Amaray

Chapters 18
 

Release Information:
Studio: Studio Canal

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary with director John Carpenter and actor Peter Jason
• Introduction by John Carpenter (4:3; 7:13)
• Scene Analysis with John Carpenter (4:3; 2:49)
• Photo Gallery
• U.S. Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 1:56)
• Filmographies
• Internet Links

 

DVD Release Date:
Amaray

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Image Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.47:1

Edition Details:
• none

 

DVD Release Date: 29 April 1998
Snapper Case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Shout! Factory

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,182,027,246 bytes

Feature: 30,540,779,520 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 30.00 Mbps

Edition Details:

• Audio Commentary with John Carpenter
• Sympathy For The Devil: An all-new Interview with Writer/Director John Carpenter (10:28)
• Alice at the Apocalypse: An all-new interview with Actor & Rock Legend Alice Cooper (9:27)
• The Messenger: All-new interview with Actor & Special Visual Effects Supervisor Robert Grasmere (12:41)
• Hell On Earth: A look at the film’s score with Co-Composer Alan Howarth (10:16)
• Horror’s Hallowed Grounds with host Sean Clark (13:44)
• Alternate Opening from TV Version (6:56)

• Trailer and TV Spots (2:48)

• Still Gallery

Blu-ray Release Date: September 24th, 201
3
Standard Blu-ray Case inside cardboard slipcase
Chapters: 8

 

Comments

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

ADDITION: Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - September 13': Quite a significant increase in quality - the package is labeled "Collector's Edition" and it wins in every measurable category over the SD counterparts. The image is much crisper, brighter (at times), color shifts seem normal now (greens and earthy browns) - and contrast is notably superior. Even the kinescope-looking dream sequences improve. Really this dual-layered video transfer is strikingly better. Some visuals give a sense of depth and there isn't a hint of noise in all the darkness. The bitrate is high and this is easily the definitive release.

John Carpenter and Alan Howarth's creepy pulsating score exports rich bass via the lossless rendering. There are some jumpy separations in the surround and there are optional English subtitles.

Supplements offer a Carpenter commentary and a handful of new featurettes including new "Red Shirt Production' interviews with Writer/Director John Carpenter, Alice Cooper, Special Visual Effects Supervisor Robert Grasmere, composer Alan Howarth and more.

This is one memorable film. I saw it with a bunch of buddies as we drank excessive beers an there wasn't much conversation. The film had us mesmerized. One of my favorite Carpenter flics... absolutely recommended!  

***

ON THE DVDs: The Universal and Studio Canal DVDs sport dual-layer transfers with the Ultra Stereo mix encoded as Dolby 2.0 Surround, while the Image DVD encodes it in 2.0 stereo (there is little difference and it is a strong mix on all three discs). The French DVD also features okay 5.1 remixes of the original English surround and French mono tracks. The French disc image appears a tad softer than the Universal (of course, it sacrifices some of its bitrate to 5 audio tracks and more extras). The Image DVD (which I thought was amazing when it first came out) is brighter than the newer transfers, but that occasionally causes highlights to blow out. I suspect the newer transfers may be more accurate in terms of color (retaining the candlelit warmth of the basement scenes - Carpenter acknowledges that the actors were also lit with gold gels so their skin tones should look warmer during these scenes). On the other hand, the 2.47:1 Image DVD reveals more info on the right side of the screen, while at other times it reveals more info on both sides of the frame than the newer transfers. The wider framing does accentuate the bowing of the straight lines caused by the wide-angle anamorphic lenses (but this is also apparent in the newer transfers). The Universal DVD is also marred by some interlaced passages (most notably the opening few minutes and a sequence in the middle of the film) but it features the original trailer.

The Studio Canal release features an audio commentary by John Carpenter and actor Peter Jason, which is entertaining but not always as informative as one would wish (Carpenter describes how some of the effects were achieved, but does not note their cinematic antecedents - for instance, ORPHEUS for the mirror effects using mercury [which he tells us was siphoned from the inside of one of the production's Chapman cranes and then returned afterward]). At times, Jason seems to recall more about the story than Carpenter, and he also relates a lot of cast anecdotes.

 - Eric Cotenas

 



DVD Menus
(
Universal Pictures - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Studio Canal (Collection Un Maxx de Frissons) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE vs. Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT)
 

 

 

 

   

 

Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 


 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

Subtitle Sample Blu-ray Captures

 

 

 

1) Universal Pictures - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Studio Canal (Collection Un Maxx de Frissons) - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Universal Pictures - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Studio Canal (Collection Un Maxx de Frissons) - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Universal Pictures - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Studio Canal (Collection Un Maxx de Frissons) - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Universal Pictures - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Studio Canal (Collection Un Maxx de Frissons) - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Universal Pictures - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Studio Canal (Collection Un Maxx de Frissons) - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Universal Pictures - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Studio Canal (Collection Un Maxx de Frissons) - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Universal Pictures - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Studio Canal (Collection Un Maxx de Frissons) - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: Blu-ray

 
Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Universal Pictures

Region 1 - NTSC

Studio Canal
Region 2 - PAL
Image Entertainment
Region 1 - NTSC
Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 


 




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