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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

directed by Michael Gornick
US 1987

 

Laurel Entertainment and cinematographer Michael Gornick (DAWN OF THE DEAD) follows up George Romero's CREEPSHOW, a Stephen King-scripted anthology homage to EC Comics with Romero-scripted New World Pictures quickie sequel consisting of three stories in order of worst to best. "Old Chief Wood'nhead" is the cigar store Indian statue outside economically depressed ghost town Dead River's general store run by the kindly Spruces (DEATH SHIP's George Kennedy and THE HURRICANE's Dorothy Lamour). While tribal elder Benjamin Whitemoon (Frank Salsedo, THE GHOST DANCE) has gifted the couple turquoise jewelry towards the tribe's debts, his nephew Sam (Holt McCallany, JADE) and two local troublemakers (GIRLS NIGHT OUT's David Holbrook and THE RELIC's Don Harvey) have decided to rob the store to fund their getaway to Hollywood where vain Sam hopes to become a star. When the trio kill the elderly couple and take off with their spoils, bow- and tomahawk-wielding Old Chief Wood'nhead steps off his tree stump pedestal to avenge them. While seemingly an idea scenario for an EC Comic tale of supernatural revenge, the pacing of the episode is seriously off with an inordinate amount of time spent establishing the two innocent victims before rushing through the comeuppances of the three killers (all intercut with a TV broadcast of a stereotypical black and white cowboys vs Indians western). A step up from the first tale is "The Raft" (from King's anthology Skeleton Crew and seemingly a homage to Joseph Payne Brennan's "Slime") in which high school grads Deke (GENERAL HOSPITAL's Paul Satterfield), Laverne (Jeremy Green), Randy (Daniel Beer, POINT BREAK), and Rachel (Page Hannah, SHAG) party at a desolate desert lake. Swimming out to a raft in the middle of the water, they soon find themselves trapped by a flesh-eating oil slick. While the effects are suitably grisly, the character dynamics of the King source story are barely explored (they were to better effect in Larry Fessenden's otherwise forgettable BENEATH in which five teenagers were trapped in a stalled boat in the middle of a lake by a giant prehistoric fish). The best of the lot is saved for last, a variation on the Twilight Zone episode "The Hitchhiker" as unfaithful wife Anne Lansing (Lois Chiles, MOONRAKER) oversleeps after a tryst with an escort (David Beecroft, SHADOWZONE) and rushes home to avoid suspicion from her husband. Distracted, she accidentally runs down a hitcher (Tom Wright, BARBERSHOP) but speeds off when she realizes there were no witnesses only to encounter the same hitcher along every turn of the road. No matter how many times she runs him down, he refuses to stay dead ("Thanks for the ride, lady!"). The question of whether the hitcher is a manifestation of her guilty conscience is moot; this episode is simply a blast thanks to an engaging performance by Chiles in a virtual one woman show ("You're seeing things, bitch"), going from terrorized to furious as the hitcher pops up as an increasingly ragged K.N.B. Efx Group animatronic. Viewers more familiar with the film from its television airings (the New World titles were in heavy rotation on television in the nineties) will be pleasantly surprised at the added gore but it does not result in a better film.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 1 May 1987 (USA)

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Comparison:

Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC vs. 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray vs. Arrow - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Anchor Bay Screen Caps!

1) Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT

2) 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Arrow Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

 

 

 

 

Also available in Region 'A' Blu-ray from Image Entertainment:

 

Distribution

Anchor Bay

Region 1 - NTSC

88 Films
Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Arrow Films
Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:29:20 1:29:29.405 1:29:38.372
Video

1.80:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.5 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Disc Size: 37,633,670,024 bytes

Feature Size: 29,520,500,736 bytes

Total Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 42,635,660,527 bytes

Feature: 26,316,951,552 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:

 

Anchor Bay

 

Bitrate:

88 Films Blu-ray

 

Bitrate:

Arrow Films Blu-ray

 

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
LPCM Audio English 4608 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4608 kbps / 16-bit

LPCM Audio English 768 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1891 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1891 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Commentary:

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

Subtitles none none English or none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Anchor Bay

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.80:1

Edition Details:
•  Behind the Scenes Gallery (16:9; 2:55)
•  Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 1:12)

DVD Release Date: 26 March 2001
Amaray

Chapters 23
 

Release Information:
Studio: 88 Films

 

Disc Size: 37,633,670,024 bytes

Feature Size: 29,520,500,736 bytes

Total Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

 

Edition Details:
• INCLUDES A LIMITED EDITION O-CARD ON THE FIRST 2000 UNITS
• Screenplay For A Sequel - An Interview with Screenwriter George A. Romero (10:45)
• Tales From The Creep - An Interview with Actor Tom Savini (7:53)
• Behind-The-Scenes Footage with Tom Savini as “The Creep” (5:50)
• Theatrical Trailers (1:38 / 1:05)
• TV Spot (:34)
• Still Gallery (3:33)
• 88 Films Trailer Reel (18:05)
 

Blu-ray Release Date: April 11th, 2016
Blu-ray case (thick - UK)

Chapters

Release Information:
Studio: Arrow

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.85:1

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 42,635,660,527 bytes

Feature: 26,316,951,552 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 30.00 Mbps

 

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary with director Michael Gornick, moderated by Perry Martin
• Poncho's Last Ride a brand new interview with actor Daniel Beer (14:44)
• The Road to Dover a brand new interview with actor Tom Wright (13:51)
• Screenplay for a Sequel an interview with screenwriter George A. Romero (10:45)
• Tales from the Creep an interview with actor and make-up artist Tom Savini (7:59)
• Nightmares in Foam Rubber featurette with special make-up effects artists Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero (32:03)
• My Friend Rick Berger on working with make-up legend Rick Baker (2:43)
• Behind-the-Scenes Footage (5:50)

• Image Gallery (3:34)
• Trailers and TV Spots (1:38. 1:12, 0:34)
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Mike Saputo
• FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Michael Blyth

Blu-ray Release Date: December 13th, 2016
Transparent
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 12

 

 

 

Comments

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

ADDITION: Arrow - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - November 16': Wow - there are some big differences in the Arrow 1080P visuals as compared to the 88 Films Blu-ray transfer. Most notably the Arrow is much brighter, with much warmer skin tones and shows significantly more information in their 1.85:1 frame - mostly on the left and top edges. I have no idea which is more authentic to the theatrical roots but the 88 Films is severely cropped beside the Arrow. The Arrow has a lower bitrate but the grain textures are still well-supported and it looks consistent in-motion.

David told us on FB: "As someone who used to do a lot of telecine work - I suspect that the 88 Films Blu ray is the correct framing (even though it shows less image).

Standard 35mm camera lenses (but not Super35) would be housed on the camera in a way that left room on the left side of frame for the optical sound track to be added later. Even though that area of the negative would get exposed - it was never meant to be seen by the audience.
" (Thanks David!)

Michael Brooke responds: "The Arrow restoration was sourced from a 35mm interpositive, and the same framing was maintained throughout the entire length (I've confirmed this directly with someone who worked on it) - and I attach a grab of one of the titles so you can see that it's perfectly centred.


The Arrow version is framed precisely as it would have been projected, because there is no other way of projecting it at the then universal US cinema ratio of 1.85:1. The only explanation that supports the "Arrow's framing is off-centre" hypothesis is that ALL of the film's onscreen titles must have been deliberately intended to be projected off-centre - including the end credits and the New World opening logo, the latter being recreated off-centre specifically for the purpose of this release (see the grab posted below this comment). I know which scenario I find easier to believe!

As for the two older releases, while I obviously have to speculate about their provenance, we know beyond doubt that they're not presented at the theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, so I suggest that the most likely explanation is that they were sourced from TV masters that were contractually required to be reframed to 16:9. In such situations, titles are generally treated separately from the main body of the film, to ensure that the text conforms to title-safe requirements, and it looks as though the bulk of the film was zoomed in to eliminate the black bars at the top and bottom. Why this zooming is slightly off-centre, I have no idea, but all the evidence suggests that this is the case.
" (Thanks Michael!)

Quite the difference in the audio transfers as well - leaning to the 88 Films with a more robust transfer (24-bit). Arrow offer linear PCM mono, 2.0 channel and a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround option (all 16-bit) with a few pleasing separations in the latter. The, occasionally boisterous, score by Les Reed (The Girl on a Motorcycle, Columbo) sounds decent and all dialogue clean and audible. Arrow add the option of English (SDH) subtitles on their Region 'A' Blu-ray.

Arrow, as their penchant, stack the disc with supplements. There is an audio commentary with director Michael Gornick, moderated by Perry Martin and it has some fun and educational moments. We get the same 11-minute Screenplay for a Sequel interview with screenwriter George A. Romero and 8-minute Tales from the Creep interview with actor and make-up artist Tom Savini, plus the six minutes of Behind-the-Scenes Footage, trailers and TV Spots - all found on the 88 Films edition. Arrow add the 1/2 hour Nightmares in Foam Rubber featurette with special make-up effects artists Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero plus new interviews with actor Daniel Beer (14:44) entitled Poncho's Last Ride and a second with with actor Tom Wright (13:51) entitled The Road to Dover. My Friend Rick Berger is a few minutes on working with make-up legend Rick Baker. The package has a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Mike Saputo and for the first pressing only a collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Michael Blyth.

The Arrow certainly offers the best in many aspects of the two Blu-ray releases. We always appreciate having options and we can certainly give a strong recommendation to the US Arrow!  

***

ADDITION: 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray (May 2016): Lots of fun, the 88 Films 1080P is obviously betters the SD - dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate, more information in the frame, uncompressed audio (linear PCM) option of both 2.0 channel (24-bit) and 5.1 (16-bit). 88 Films add some solid extras and which includes a LE 'O-Card' for the first 2,000 units. RedShirt and 88 Films produced featurettes; Screenplay For A Sequel - an 11-minute Interview with Screenwriter George A. Romero, Tales From The Creep - is an 8-minute Interview with Actor Tom Savini. There are some behind-the-scenes footage with Tom Savini as “The Creep”, 2 theatrical trailers, TV Spot and Still Gallery as well as 18-minutes of an 88 Films Trailer Reel. Some re-watchable value here if you are in the mood on a late Friday night...

 - Gary + Eric

 


Menus
(
Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - RIGHT)


 

 
 

 

Arrow Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 


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

 

Subtitle Sample - Arrow Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

1) Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Arrow Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Arrow Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Arrow Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Arrow Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Arrow Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Arrow Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

1) 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Arrow Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Arrow Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Arrow Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Arrow Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Arrow Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Arrow Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Arrow Blu-ray?

Sound:

88 Films Blu-ray (24-bit)

Extras: Arrow Blu-ray
 
Box Covers

 

 

 

 

Also available in Region 'A' Blu-ray from Image Entertainment:

 

Distribution

Anchor Bay

Region 1 - NTSC

88 Films
Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Arrow Films
Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 




 

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