Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Blood Splattered Blood: Army of Darkness: One Blu to rule them all?

Title: Army of Darkness
Release Date: 10/27/15
Company: Shout Factory (Scream Factory)

Most fans were really really excited when Scream Factory announced they were going to do a deluxe edition of the cult horror favorite "Army of Darkness" It also comes hot on the heals of the new series "Ash Vs the Evil Dead" on Starz. Some fans however were less than thrilled, wondering if this blu would be the one edition to own. Seeing how I held off on buying a blu of AOD i was more than just alittle happy when I received my copy. I`m going to break down all three discs.

*Please note* Not going to list the differences in footage however this website breaks it down nicely.


Disc One: Theatrical Cut : 81 Minutes

Picture:Aside from a slight issue with a 2 or 3 seconds of footage missing (followed by a slight syn problem. SF already addressed this and is issuing replacement discs this month) the picture is amazing. Done using a 4k scan the picture is crisp and clear with faces looking natural and thankfully not looking either too dark or washed out. Its also an vast improvement from the previous "Screwhead Edition"

Sound: Theatrical Cut features a 2.0 and a wonderful 5.1 track. With a movie that has so many great sound effects (swords clashing, bones breaking etc) the 5.1 mix really brings the movie alive. It also greatly enhances the wonderful score.

Special Features: The real gem on disc one (indeed the entire boxset) is Medieval Times: The Making of Army of Darkness a feature length documentary produced for this set. The interviewees are lively with great stories and of course there is a loads of  material such as behind the scenes footage,stills and story boards. Sadly Sam Raimi was missing but his brother Ted was on hand instead. Its wonderfully made and a must watch. Also included is the alternative ending and deleted scenes not featured in this or the directors cut which includes commentary. Rounding out this disc is trailers, tv spots and U.S video promos.

Disc Two: Directors Cut Runtime 96 minutes
I had first seen the directors cut from "Anchor Bay" VHS which featured alternative artwork in a clamshell box. This was my early collecting days and the packaging and the idea of seeing a totally new cut of the film was pretty exciting.The release was flawed however with the new footage looking terrible. I also learned this  edition omits one scene (Bad Ash ripping off Shelia's dress) totally.

Picture: The additional scenes are nicely restored and fits in perfectly with the rest of the footage, and as much as I love Anchor Bay (mainly oldschool AB)  its a huge improvement over there release.

Sound: As in the first disc the 5.1 audio track is very nice with crisp clear dialogue and effects.

Special Features: This cut of the film is the only one with a feature length audio commentary. Fans hoping for a new commentary will be disappointed as its from a previous release. I`m perfectly ok with that because its such a well done commentary with wonderful back and forth with star Bruce Campbell and director Sam Raimi as well as brother Ivan. In fact i`d even go as far as to say this is in my top commentary tracks period. Rounding out this disc is some behind the scenes footage (some seen in the documentary) as well as vintage featurette. Sadly nothing new on this disc.

Disc Three: International Cut and TV Cut

Picture: As with the first two discs the International cut looks great,using a 4k scan. Its great to finally have this rarely seen cut of the film and in my opinion the real gem in this release. The TV cut is presented in its standard pan and scan tv format.

Sound: As with the first two discs the film sounds great in a newly mixed 5.1 track.

Special Features: The third and final disc features more tv spots as well as some great rarely seen stills. I was disappointed with the lack of content but as i said above just having this cut of the film is great.

Overall: Army of Darkness fans get out your boomsticks and celebrate because this release is the one you`ve been waiting for. Not only is there a wealth of material it features four different cuts, newly restored. Its great to have them in one sweet package. Complaints are lack of any new content aside from the documentary. A cast commentary would have been nice. Even a new interview with Sam R. Picture and Audio across the board are great with only some minor flaws. Is it the one blu to rule them all? I`d say without a doubt yes. So shop smart, dont be a primitive screw head and buy this release. Its most certainly going to make my best blu release of 2015.

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