Topic: PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE on Blu-ray
At first thought, I wasn't going to review this here. I figure if it says "Outer Space" in the title then it's sci-fi and not horror.
But I also remembered that the original title for this movie was GRAVE ROBBERS FROM OUTER SPACE! In fact, the film's opening monologue by Criswell use that term "grave robbers from outer space". And it's about reanimating the dead. It also "sort of" has Bela Lugosi.
So: grave robbers, reanimated dead and Bela Lugosi? That's close enough to horror in my book.
Lovers of "B" movie schlock caught a break a couple of decades ago when somebody decided to crown this film as the worst movie of all time. Well, it certainly isn't. As a film production, it is largely without any merit. However, it has one important redeeming factor: it's entertaining. Had this not received the dubious and misplaced honor of being the worst film of all time, it would probably have languised largely unnoticed and forgotten as have scores of other 50's drive-in films like TEENAGERS FROM OUTER SPACE, THE COSMIC MAN or PHANTOM PLANET. The gift of notoriety has given us the gift of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE on Blu-ray.
I got mine yesterday and just finished watching it.
I have to say that I was surprisingly impressed.
I really would not have expected this to be an upgrade of the old Wade Williams print DVD released through Image. In it's day, I thought the Image DVD was pretty neat stuff. Wade Williams usually had the best prints of 1950's "B" movies (which are sort of my specialty). Some of them are quite amazing (with a few misfires like FLIGHT TO MARS and INVADERS FROM MARS). So I watched the new Legend Blu-ray then immediately put in the Image DVD to compare a few key scenes (I regret that my aging computer can't do Blu-ray screen shots).
For the record, I'm watching on 60" Sharp Quattron LED/LCD set from a distance of 8'.
This clearly should be seen 1.85:1. After about 15 minutes of watching it at 1.33:1, I zoomed it to get the proper (more or less) aspect ratio. This is obviously NOT the preferred way of doing things since zooming causes some loss of effective resolution. This should have been transferred at 1.85:1. But that's a battle that's lost so I worked with the BD as it was. Fortunately, the higher resolution of BD allowed me to zoom with very little degradation to the image.
The print is in very good shape. Dirt and debris is very minimal. The most obvious print damage appears in the form of vertical scratching. There are occasional odd stains and blemishes as well as slightly bizarre artifacts that look like they may be tell-tale signs of repair or digital restoration but none of these problems are pervasive...they are momentary and transient.
DNR (Digital Noise Redution) is not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, it's presence is barely noticed. While obviously used, the DNR is not used to a level of distraction and would likely go unnoticed by most. Most pleasantly surprisingly to me was the almost total absence of visible Edge Enhancement. I'm sensitive to EE and I really couldn't notice any here. The image was nicely detailed and I didn't sense that over-processing short-changed my viewing experience.
Contrast and black levels were also a pleasant surprise. Some of Legend's colorized home videos feature B&W that is a bit washed out (as in MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS). I didn't check out the colorized nonsense But I thought the tonal balance of the original B&W was excellent.
All in all, I was impressed. The next test was to put in the well-respected Image DVD and compare some key scenes.
The first thing that made itself obvious is that the Image DVD is very contrasty and pushes the blacks into crush territory. The next thing to catch my eye was Edge Enhancement...not too heavy for a DVD but still very noticeable. The DVD has significantly more dirt and debris present. As with the BD, I watched part of the disc at 1.33:1 and then zoomed it to the near correct AR of 1.78:1. The DVD just couldn't handle the zoom. When enlarged, the picture took on a disctinctly soft, electronic appearance.
For all it faults (especially the aspect ratio), this Blu-ray is unquestionably a measurable jump in quality over the best DVD I've ever seen of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE.