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I'm not a huge fan of Canadian DVDs. I have nothing against Canada, but in my experience those guys tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to their DVD releases. To me the bilingual covers look messy (seriously, it's not hard, have one language on each side), and a number of the titles I've previously imported have been inferior to their US counterparts. One of the distributors I've had negative experiences with in the past is Alliance Atlantis, but when I discovered that they had released a 'region free' From Dusk Till Dawn Blu-ray at a bargain basement price, I just had to take a look.

 From Dusk Till Dawn

Feature


The Gecko brothers, Seth and Ritchie, are on the run from the law after committing a series of bloody robberies. Their goal is to hop the boarder to Mexico and retire on their ill-gotten gains, but Richie’s murderous tendencies are putting a severe dent in Seth’s best-laid plans. So, in order to make it across they hijack a motor home being driven by an ex-pastor named Jacob Fuller and his two children, Scott and Kate. Although he doesn’t take too kindly to being kidnapped, Jacob decides to go along with things to ensure his kids’ well-being, especially when Richie takes a shine to Kate.

After a close-call at boarder control, the fugitives and their hostages eventually make it into Mexico and head to the rendezvous point specified by Seth’s criminal contacts: the Titty Twister bar. This wild joint is frequented by truckers, bikers and assorted lowlifes attracted by the plentiful booze and exotic strippers. Unfortunately for the Geckos and the Fullers, this particular bar just happens to be run by a coven of bloodthirsty vampires who feed on the patrons! Surrounded on all sides, the gang must put aside their differences if they are to make it through the night alive.

 From Dusk Till Dawn

Video


From Dusk Till Dawn arrives with a 1.78:1 widescreen transfer (AVC 1080p/24), the quality of which is superior to any version I've previously owned. I always remember the film as having a dull, muted look with lots of browns and golds, and this is retained for the Blu-ray release. Colour rendition looks to be fairly accurate, although somewhat different to the DVD release. The DVD had slightly unnatural skin tones and appeared oversaturated in places, but the BD is better in these respects. Reds aren't quite as deep as the DVD in certain places, but from what I can ascertain from various still photographs the BD offers a more accurate representation of the true colours. Probably the best example of this is the neon behind Santanico Pandemonium when she makes her grand entrance, which is a deep red on the DVD, but slightly lighter on the BD and in the still images I found while Googling.

Black levels are fairly solid, if not as inky as most modern productions, while contrast appears consistent. The level of detail is reasonable for a Blu-ray release but some way off of the format's best offerings. Many of the close-ups are quite revealing (you can see the pores on the actors' faces), but most of the wide shots lack the kind of definition I was hoping for. Having said that, comparisons with the DVD proved highly enlightening, with the latter looking like a blurry mess compared to the BD image. Simply put, the Blu-ray blew the upscaled PAL anamorphic disc out of the water in this department.

 From Dusk Till Dawn
I didn't spot any particularly nasty artefacts under normal viewing conditions, aside from the odd white speck on the print (which is otherwise in pretty good shape), and although I was initially concerned by the amount of telecine wobble on display when the opening Dimension logo appeared, things improved once the film proper began. There's quite a lot of grain in the image, which I initially took for low-level noise, but closer inspection changed my mind as it looked different to the blockiness found in the DVD image. I have to assume that it is most likely down to the source material rather than a compression issue. Although presented on a single-layered BD the actual encode is slightly over 20GB, which is comparable to many films of two hours and under.

All things considered this appears to be an accurate rendition of the source material, but From Dusk Till Dawn's gritty style was never going to make it a candidate for 'Best Video of the Year'. I'm sure those with huge screens and people who sit two inches away from the screen will pick out more flaws in the image, but from a viewing position of around ten feet from a 42" set, it wasn't half bad.

 From Dusk Till Dawn

Audio


The back of the case erroneously lists a standard DTS 5.1 soundtrack, when in fact the disc contains a full DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. For once that's a mistake I can live with! As to the quality, well it's a bit of a mixed bag. Things are very lively from the outset, with good directionality, clear dialogue and some incredibly powerful bass. However, the difference between the quietest and loudest parts of the track is very extreme, so I was quite taken aback when the quiet, dialogue-driven opening scene in Benny's World of Liquor did indeed turn into 'the fucking Wild Bunch'. Once the opening credits kicked in and 'Dark Night' started playing, I almost reached for the volume control (almost).

There are some benefits to having such an aggressive track. The aforementioned Benny's World of Liquor scene produces some nice moments, with powerful gunshots and the amusing sound of popping in the rear channels when the flaming store clerk crashes into the popcorn stand. The rumbles that accompany Richie's numerous bouts of psychosis are deeper than ever, and when the action moves to the Titty Twister the track really comes alive with the sounds of mayhem and destruction. Surprisingly the track also handles the subtleties fairly well, which is especially noticeable during the quieter moments of the Twister scenes. Various howls and screams can be heard as the gang stake vamps off-screen, while the ever-present sound of bats is actually quite eerie.

 From Dusk Till Dawn
Comparisons with the DVD indicate that the track might be slightly overcooked in the bass department, but that's more than compensated for by the improved clarity and more immersive sound. Some people could be put off by the extremely bassy track, but if you like your effects big and ballsy you'll love it. As with the video the audio isn't a perfect effort, but it is more than competent.

Extras


Zilch, I'm afraid. Okay, so this is a little disappointing given the wealth of material available, but it can almost be forgiven at this price-point. With that said, I'm lucky enough to own the feature packed DVD editions so the lack of extras wasn't a huge concern for me, but those buying the film for the first time might feel a little short-changed.

 From Dusk Till Dawn

Overall


On the whole this is a pretty decent 'no frills' presentation of a great B movie. When it comes to DVD and Blu-ray I'm of the opinion that the quality of the main feature is paramount, so I'm not too concerned with the lack of extras. A lot of that is down to the price (you can import it for as little as £12.99), which I think represents great value for a high-def release. Although the audio-visual elements aren't perfect they do represent a significant upgrade from the standard-definition DVD releases, so if you can live with the lack of extras it's probably worth checking this one out.

* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.


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