Well, until that non-existent restored version of Within the Woods is included, right? As much as it probably pained Anchor Bay, the ushering in of high definition home video with Blu-ray and Sam Raimi’s direct supervision of another “new” transfer of 1981’s The Evil Dead has resulted in what appears to be definitive picture quality. The first review copies of Anchor Bay’s upcoming Blu-ray have been sent out and Do Blu.com has minted the first review ahead of its August 31st bow.
Most fans of the trilogy are aware of the quality control hardships all three have endured. The idiotic idea of matting The Evil Dead for Anchor Bay’s Book of the Dead edition. The extremely clumpy noise reduction and pastel-like coloration brought to bear upon Evil Dead 2‘s own Book of the Dead edition (and subsequent Blu-ray). Army of Darkness‘s superior director’s cut still not receiving a proper presentation in North America. The third (final?) entry now suffers doubly with the rights lapsing back to Universal who seem even more uninterested in the title despite their half-hearted budget Blu-ray.
Yet, almost amazingly; judging by the generous 1920×1080 captures on Do Blu’s review, we finally have one installment done right in high definition. To say The Evil Dead looks merely great is an understatement. Those captures have zero evidence of tampering in the way of fine detail eradicating noise reduction or artificial sharpening. Simply an excellent, reference level of 16mm image quality that makes this release the last word for a long time. It’s striking appearance is tantamount to not just getting an idea of what the negative might look like, but having a private screening of it in your own home. Hell, even the widescreen version doesn’t seem as bad as before with such high detail (also it looks opened to 1.78:1 over the DVD’s cramped 1.85:1 ratio). Truly awesome and something to praise Anchor Bay highly for. And no, no one has paid me to say that.
Perhaps Raimi finally put his foot down after all the bull his seminal horror films have suffered on DVD? Of course, Anchor Bay will undoubtedly continue to milk the franchise (hence the “limited edition supplemental DVD”), but at least this Blu-ray won’t leave those who care about what really matters in the cold. Hopefully the studio will soon revisit their underwhelming Blu-ray treatment of Evil Dead 2 and fix that abomination of their own creation.
Anchor Bay’s inaugural The Evil Dead Blu-ray arrives August 31st for $29.97 (MSRP). The 50GB Blu-ray will include 1080p/24fps transfers of the original 1.33:1 full frame version and “enhanced” 1.78:1 widescreen version with lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio tracks. Also an all new audio commentary with Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert, and Bruce Campbell. The “limited edition” bonus DVD includes the featurettes One By One We Will Take You: The Untold Saga Of THE EVIL DEAD, THE EVIL DEAD: Treasures From The Cutting Room Floor, Discovering THE EVIL DEAD, and Theatrical Trailer/TV Spots. Pre-order this one now, finally!