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Initially underwhelming transfer but still perfectly watchable
on 24 July 2014
Hammer horror blu-rays always seem to divide opinion. A significant number of releases now have attracted a wide range of responses from "unwatchable" to "Outstanding". This release itself is now causing significant controversy and ironically this time its not because of the aspect ratio or whether it is 1080i or 1080p. The casual viewer or less "techy" of Hammer fans would perhaps not be as concerned so much with this, but rather whether it was decent PQ. So I will come at this release from that angle.....
Hammer's Phantom Of the Opera has not had the best history on home physical release with previous region 1 and 2 dvds looking a bit rough around the edges. Personally I was looking forward to this on Blu-ray and I had high hopes for a more colourful and sharper presentation as one would expect from a HD release at this stage. Is this that release? sadly no.
Initially my exact thoughts were Underwhelming and disappointing, and I still maintain that. The image is quite soft and not that well defined for HD and the colours remain dull (possibly down to the original cinematography, I don't know). There is some print damage, and some would argue higher levels of grain to one is accustomed to.
This all sound s negative, but you have to put this into perspective. The dvd was never that great and the negative or print must be in poorer shape now than it was a few years ago. I would assume a lot of money would have to be spent in order to restore this, and sadly I don't think that will ever happen.
All these things considering, It really isn't as bad as some are making out. On my second viewing I came to appreciate the Blu-ray more, because my expectations were adjusted. Its perfectly watchable and for those that owned the dvd prior I don't think its in any poorer state than that, if anything is a little more defined but only just. Would I recommend this to those that already own the dvd? probably not, but for first time buyers of this film then I cant see a reason why you shouldn't buy the Blu-ray. If you are a fan of hammer horror and haven't seen Phantom, then I would certainly recommend it, light on scares but is still one of Hammer's great gothics.