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There's an urban legend circulating involving a possessed videocassette, and if viewed by human eyes, that person will die exactly one week later.  And no, they don't suffer any ordinary death; the victim apparently dies in a frozen state of intense fear – the only indication of a death from the tape.

Ring
Movie
Reiko is a reporter for a Japanese TV channel and has become exceedingly interested in this very legend. So much so that she decides to create a documentary on the subject. Rumour has it, the tape is currently doing the rounds in Tokyo's schools. She therefore concentrates her efforts on interviewing the kids from such schools, to see if she can obtain common threads from the stories and somehow derive facts.

It just so happens that approximately a week prior, a group of Japanese school kids end up at a cabin in a holiday resort, where they watch the mysterious video. Only to receive a weird telephone call minutes later, it is then that they realise they may be cursed and have just one week to live.

As Reiko investigates she notices reports of deaths and is astounded to learn that one of the victims is a close relative. Somehow she manages to track down a copy of the cassette and for some unknown reason she decides to watch it and show it to her ex- husband the following day. As you’d imagine, she and her ex get the call and are certifiably cursed! From here on in, her investigation takes on some urgency…

Ring is more of a psychological horror than a typical gore-feast - that said, if you like the odd gory scene then you shouldn't be too disappointed. Ring is probably the most gory of all three of the Ring films, and for that reason the viewing public seem to prefer it. And yes there are two other films in the series. Timing is almost perfect, so the story rarely drags – in fact, that's probably why they made a prequel to Ring, as it may not fully explain itself to those interested in the story. It's the type of movie that you'll watch whilst trying to hide behind something practically all the way through but then wonder why things were the way they were the following day.

This movie is actually quite old; it was made in 1996 – it was recently shown on Channel 4 with it's sequel a week later. It was opened with universal acclaim with a mass of hype that followed that. Don't get me wrong, this isn't your usually crappy summer blockbuster – it does actually live up to the hype! Expect to jump, especially in one scene towards the end.

Ring
Video
The transfer is Anamorphic - which is nice, but the transfer is not...

Expect a cinema-like feel, and when I say that, I mean going to the cinema a couple of months after the movie has been released. You'll have to put up with scratches, spots, and the odd blemish; in fact the transfer is pretty poor.  The subtitles are of the burnt on variety – that is, you cannot turn them off as they have been physically burnt onto the film, which suggests the source may in fact have been from a cinematic reel. An additional side effect of having burnt on white subtitles (without black borders) is that on white backgrounds (fairly common in this film) it can be very difficult trying to figure out what is going on – something that doesn't happen with DVD player subtitles.

Tartan really hasn't given this movie the justice it deserves – probably because it’s one of those discs that won't attract a large audience and therefore they only had a small budget. To be honest, it's okay. Your average buyer probably won't notice the poor quality, it's only those that have spent way too much money on their DVD kit or are viewing it on a computer – like I tend to do, that will notice. It's nowhere near as bad as VHS quality, but it's heading in that direction.

Audio
Nothing much to say here, bog standard stereo. Not the worst I have heard and definitely not the best. Again, this shouldn't matter on a budget set-up.

Extras
I don't normally comment about the menus but I thought I would give them a quick mention.  Tartan have done a good job on these – they have obviously given it some good thought and have actually used the same sort of theme on all of the Ring DVDs.  That said, try not to look at them beforehand or it'll spoil your enjoyment of the movie.

There are several extras available on this disc including: three trailers, the video, reviews, gallery, press quotes and filmographies. The trailers feature Ring, Ring 2 and Audition. They aren't the best of quality but they do serve their purpose as marketing tools – they worked on me at least. The video is a good idea but not implemented that well. I did find the reviews slightly interesting, but the rest of the extras weren't up to much.

In recent months I've become less and less interested in the extra features on a DVD, in fact about the only thing I watch these days are the trailers. So releases like these don't particularly bother me like the used too.

Ring
Overall
I guess there are only two downsides to buying this disc. The first is that it is subtitled; but to be honest this shouldn't be a problem, if you want to watch a film as good as this then you should be prepared to either learn Japanese or read the subtitles (the latter is probably easier). I'm glad Tartan didn't provide a dubbed version because it wouldn't have given the film justice – it would have been distracting, taking your attention away from what is a serious story line. The second issue is that of the quality of the release not being that good – which would be a problem if it weren't difficult to source an alternative English language release.

If you like movies that make you jump and keep you on the edge of your seat all the way through, then I highly recommend that you get this DVD. It should be the prize disc in every horror buff's collection. Just make sure you watch it late at night - without distraction - and you will get the full effect of the movie. In fact, I'm almost certain that if you watch this movie in full as described above, you'll be too scared to play the video (as featured in the movie) that Tartan Terror have so kindly provided!

Excellent film, unfortunately a poor but watchable DVD release...


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