3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Like hearing it for the first time!,
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This review is from: White Zombie [DVD]  [NTSC] (DVD)
There's something weird about 'White Zombie' (1932),...it seems to exert a strange fascination on some people. And having now bought four different WZ DVD's, and also the rather expensive, 360 page hardcover, trivia filled book 'White Zombie: Anatomy of a Horror Film' I think I can safely say I'm most definitely one of them! I wanted this one (the 'Screen Edge') because I really like the cover artwork, but I was fully expecting it to be yet another barely watchable 'public domain' print, like most of the other WZ DVD's released to date. However, on comparing the 'Screen Edge' with the 'Roan' release (which is the benchmark 'restored' version), the SE compares really quite favourably....And in some respects it's actually superior:
The 'Screen Edge' DVD features an on-screen menu with a nine chapter scene selection and a three page (six paragraphs) WZ film synopsis and short history. There are also three movie stills.
The print is quite soft, and this 'Vaseline smeared on the lens effect' seems more apparent in the movie's long distance shots. However, I wouldn't say it was overly excessive or too blurry: for instance, the copyright 'small print' text that appears at the bottom of the opening credits screen is quite legible, which is more than you can say for some WZ transfers. Film damage, dirt, marks and scratches are evident in certain sections of the movie, but again, not too excessive or distracting. It has decent contrast too; not too dark, which is a criticism sometimes levelled at the 'Roan' transfer. All in all, a very watchable print, which, image-wise kinda reminds me of Carl Dreyer's Vampyr. I'd score it a '6' or maybe '6.5' out of '10' (I'd give the 'Roan' an '8.5').
This is where the 'Screen Edge' really has the 'Roan' (and probably all other versions) beat all ends up....Aurally, this print is positively hi-fi in comparison! I honestly think it has the cleanest, clearest soundtrack of any WZ released to date: Background hiss, rumbles and pops are absolutely minimal, and it has none of the 'listening to it underwater' effect that so blights the 'Roan' version....You can even hear the crickets chirping during the dialogue!
Cuts, splices & running time:
Strange this....According to the timer on my Sony blu-ray player, the 'Roan' clocks in with a running time of 1: 06: 52, while the 'Screen Edge' runs for 1: 04: 37. Yet I can't find evidence of any cuts in the SE whatsoever. In fact, it seems to be more complete: for instance, a dialogue scene with Beaumont and his butler, Silver, which has a couple of nasty jump-cuts in the Roan transfer, is complete in the SE. It also has the final note of music from the movie's end that's totally missing in the 'Roan'. I suppose the only really accurate way to compare running times would be to run both films from start to finish and timing them from an outside source, but I'm trying hard not to become THAT obsessed.
IMHO, Although the 'Roan' is a definite must have for its outstanding picture quality and DVD extras,...the SE's very acceptable transfer, put together with its most excellent sound quality, gives the 'Roan' a serious run for its money in terms of overall viewing pleasure.
Why not become yet another WZ nutter, and buy both?
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Initial post: 18 Jun 2012, 00:33:24 BST
Is this an NTSC or PAL DVD?
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