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Toolbox Murders Blue Underground Blu-Ray,
This review is from: Toolbox Murders [Blu-ray]  [US Import] (Blu-ray)
In the early 2000's I set myself a task to see as many if not all of the DPPs final 39 list of video nasties I could, not for any other reason than just to say I had seen them all. Some were watched and put to the back of my DVD cupboard never to see the light of day again while others were straight back on Amazon marketplace and resold but there are a rare few have become firm favourites and although I feel slightly embarrassed to say it-favourite films I return to again and again. Well The Toolbox Murders falls into the latter category and despite its low budget, odd pacing and draggy middle I love the atmosphere and dare I say it, the gore not to mention the sight of Cameron Mitchell who played Buck Cannon from The High Chaparral chasing girls around an apartment block whilst wearing a ski mask and brandishing an array of DIY tools.
I won't go into detail of the plot of The Toolbow Murders though as if your reading this review there is a good chance you are already fully aware of what this particular slice of low budget American exploitation has to offer so I will get down to the nitty-gritty and head straight to how this new Blu-Ray release from film restoration experts Blue Underground compares to their already fantastic standard definintion DVD from way back in 2003.
Simply put the picture transfer is superb. The standard def release was always a stunner even back in 2003 and improved 100% on the cut fullframe DVD available here in the UK, but this new 1080p high definition release takes this a step further. The contrast and level of detail are greatly improved with certain scenes popping out at the viewer and background details that were slightly obscured on the DVD now sharp and clear. Just check out the vase of flowers and the badly fitting carpet in the opening scenes to see what I mean. Other scenes have that all important viewing through a window feel that you get from Blu-Ray such as the close up of one of the victims and the initial car crash scene. As to be expected from a low budget 1977 picture there is an amount of natural film grain but it doesent affect the image and if anything is important to remind the viewer of what they are actually watching. Colours are rich and vibrant too and print damage is pretty much non existant. The image is presented in its original and correct ratio of 1.66:1 with slight window boxing on the left side of the screen and is completely uncut and uncensored. A fantastic job by Blue Underground.
When I first read the technical specs of this release I was very suprised and a little excited to see Blue Underground had given this a Lossless DTS HD-Master remix in 7.1!!! After slipping this into my Panasonic BD-80 I was a little disappointed with how this sounded. I wasent expecting a surround experience comparable to Terminator Salvation but after hearing Blue Undergrounds 7.1 remix of The New York Ripper which although played very front and centre had instances of jump out your seat descrete action and lots of ambient effects,especially in the busy New York streets. For The Toolbox Murders though the action starts in the centre channel and pretty much stays there for the whole duration of the film. I did count on two fingers instances where the sound broke free from the front namely the music in a busy bar and the score on the end credits but this plays out pretty much as mono. Thats not to say its a bad mix and compared to the DVD the sound is a lot fuller with a better dynamic range in lossless with the music in particlar sounding far more textured but don't expect the .1 channel to add much punch. I did notice a couple of moments of distortion during the music passages namely on the vocals during the bathtub scene but this is more than likely a fault with the original recording. Overall not bad but I'm still not sure as to why Blue Underground have encoded this with a 7.1 mix as most viewers will hardly notice any change from the original mono. Included on the disc is a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1EX mix and the original mono track. All in all not bad but not the same kind of upgrade the picture has had.
As far as extras go you don't get anything different to the DVD release, infact you get less as for some strange reason as a poster gallery and Mitchell bio have been removed. But what is left is the good stuff. The feature length commentary with producer Tony Didio, DOP Gary Graver and actress Pamelyn Ferdin is very chatty and entertaining plus you get an interview the 'nail gunned girl' Marianne Walter and both a theatrical trailer and TV/radio spots.
The bottom line is if your a fan of this movie the new 1080p transfer is definatly worth the upgrade even if there is nothing new in the extras department. The Blu Ray is region free the same as the DVD and will play on all players worldwide.
Thanks to Blue Underground for this great release and heres to hoping they release more of their back catalogue to Blu-Ray. How I would love to Zombie 2 and Mountain Of The Cannibal God in hi-def!!!
Ratings are out of five.