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Twilight Time's Enemy Mine on Blu-ray
Enemy Mine
One of my favorite movies growing up was Byron Haskins' Robinson Crusoe On Mars, a 1964 science fiction based retelling of Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe and staple of late night television throughout my formative years. It's no small wonder then that with its at the time state-of-the-art special effects Wolfgang Peterson's Enemy Mine became a quick favorite on home video shortly after its 1985 theatrical release. Having seen it many times over the past 25 or so years it's still a movie I enjoy seeing very much, but as I've gotten older it's the performances that draw me back rather than ILM's visuals (which incidentally still hold up pretty well).

For those familiar, the connections to Robinson Crusoe on Mars and John Boorman's Hell in the Pacific here are easy to see. Set during events of an intergalactic war, Enemy Mine is the story of hotshot human pilot Willis Davidge and the equally skilled Drac pilot Jeriba 'Jerry' Shigan, who become stranded on a desolate planet after an outer space dogfight claims both their ships. Starting out as bitter enemies, the two must overcome their hatred and prejudices if they're to survive the harsh reality that a rescue from their unforgiving new home may never come. The movie's real strength is that amongst all the sci-fi trappings, big sets and larger than life special effects it's the relationship that forms between Davage and Jerry that drive things forward, even if there are few surprises in how things unfold. Quaid sells his character's desperation and frustration quite well, but the the real standout here--and credit goes to both the actor and the effects team--is Gossett's performance from underneath all the make-up and prosthetics. I'd hate to have seen what would have become of this two man show had lesser actors been cast in the roles.

Video, Audio & Extras
Twilight Time's Blu-ray presentation of Enemy Mine features a very good 1080p, AVC encoded video transfer at the picture's 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio. The source used is largely free of any dirt or other debris that might pop up on an older catalog title, with the only instances I could find being during some of the optical effects shots which is to be expected. Blacks are deep and dark, which is especially essential for many portions of this particular movie, and the many colors of the alien landscape are handled quite well. I also didn't notice any sort of aliasing, banding, artifacting or edge enhancement going on that might be a distraction. The transfer's standout aspect, however, is the level of sharpness on display which really allows for a greater appreciation of the intricate make-up effects and set design. Lastly, I didn't get the sense that an over abundance of digital noise reduction was used as the picture maintains a nice film like appearance with a slight layer of grain. Overall this is what you should expect from a quality, catalog Blu-ray transfer.

The disc's main DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0 track doesn't disappoint either in that it faithfully recreates the theatrical experience. Dialogue is always clear and consistent, and even though it's largely a front loaded affair the surround effects are quite good when used. Maurice Jarre’s wonderful score is also well represented in the mix. The extras on the disc are Twilight Time's standard, but very much appreciated, isolated score track which allows Jarre's contributions to shine alone and the film's theatrical trailer presented in standard definition. Also included is a booklet featuring some nice production stills and notes from writer and film historian Julie Kirgo.

Overall
Though it seems to have become forgotten amongst the many sci-fi releases of the '80s, Enemy Mine remains one of my favorites of such movies from that period. Industrial Light & Magic's effects work may have been what brought audiences to it back in 1985, but it's clearly Quaid and Gossett Jr.'s show. Twilight Time's Blu-ray release is quite good, featuring excellent video and audio along with the added treat of Maurice Jarre's score on an isolated audio track. Would I have liked to have seen a few more features focusing on the production and maybe a commentary track? Sure, but I'm fairly happy with the disc as is. The $29.95 retail price might seem excessive to most, and for the majority of people I really can't argue against picking up the much more affordable DVD instead, but if you count yourself amongst its fans you can't go wrong with this disc.

* Note: The images below 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.

 Enemy Mine - Blu-ray
 Enemy Mine - Blu-ray
 Enemy Mine - Blu-ray
 Enemy Mine - Blu-ray
 Enemy Mine - Blu-ray
 Enemy Mine - Blu-ray



Twilight Time's Night of the Living Dead (1990) on Blu-ray
Night of the Living Dead (1990)
It may have become a popular Hollywood industry unto itself over the last decade, but as a fan of the genre I can't say I care much for the majority of horror remakes. That being said the late '70s to late '80s produced some quality ones, and films such as Philip Kauffman's Invasion of the Body Snatchers, John Carpenter's The Thing, David Cronenberg's The Fly and Chuck Russell's The Blob are all decent to great genre films in their own right. Hell, some might even call one or two of them "classics" that surpass their predecessors. Tom Savini's 1990 released remake of George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead seems to fly under most people's radars though, and it's a shame since it easily deserves to be included in any conversation about "the good horror remakes of the 1980s".

The movie sticks pretty close to the original screenplay wherein several strangers fortify an empty farmhouse against an onslaught of ghouls, but changes a few things just enough to make it interesting. It especially plays nicely for those who've lived and breathed the '68 version, subverting any preconceptions one might have about it based on familiarity with Romero's classic. It also helps that the performances from leads Tony Todd and Patricia Tallman are pretty great, and Tom Towles is a hoot as the ill-mannered Harry Cooper. Surprisingly, Night of the Living Dead is Tom Savini's only feature film credit as director, and it's a shame because based on his work here I think he could have helmed some interesting projects if he'd wanted to. I'd also be remiss if I didn't make special mention of the make-up effects, which remains some of the best work of its type. If there's a weakness to be found it's really with some of the other acting in the feature which at times can come off as stilted or over exaggerated, but these instances can really be forgiven seeing as it's a movie about flesh eating zombies.

Video, Audio & Extras
On to the technical stuff, and I might as well get it out of the way now before diving into what's good about the disc--a lot of you aren't going to be happy with the 1.85:1, AVC encoded video presentation of Twilight Time's Blu-ray. It's been recently revealed that Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's Mastering Department--with the approval of the director of photography--made the decision to re-color time the movie for it's 20th anniversary, but there's a problem in that their alterations change it so much that it really isn't the same movie that you've been watching for the past 20 plus years. Besides the fact that the transfer is a bit darker overall when compared to all previous releases, from what I can tell there have been three major changes made to the video presentation, with the most noticeable being the new day-for-dusk color timing of the first 20 odd minutes of the running time. There already exits within the film a short montage that transitions things from sundown to moon rise which explains the shift from day to night, so the new color timing is not only unnecessary and clumsily applied, but is quite frankly just stupid since it doesn't make sense chronologically (the montage occurs at 18:08, a couple of minutes after the screen capture below of Tony Todd's Ben cursing towards the Heavens). The second change you'll notice from the below screen captures is that the color has been desaturated, which makes things look much more "doom & gloom", and I'm guessing that was the intent. Lastly, there's a blue tint that's been applied to nighttime exterior shots, which is again an unnecessary change that only manages to make a lot of the shots appear much darker than they used to be.

Other than that the transfer is quite good--detail is sharp throughout, black levels are strong and consistent and I couldn't detect any defects such as aliasing, banding or artifacting. The source used for the video transfer is also largely free of any dirt or debris that might crop up on an older film and there's a fine layer of grain that's presents a very film like appearance. You'll also notice from a quick comparison between the Blu-ray and DVD screen captures that the Blu-ray is framed slightly different, resulting in a bit more information being made available. As for the audio, you won't find any complaints here. Even though the movie's sound design never really stands out, the supplied DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is strong without any defects to be found, featuring clear dialogue from the center channel. As with all Twilight Time releases, the extras include a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 isolated score track, and even though the minimalist score by Paul McCollough isn't a favorite of mine it's inclusion is a welcome addition to the package. Director Tom Savini's audio commentary has been carried over from the Sony DVD release and it's a very relaxed, informative track that's a pleasure to listen to. Rounding out the extras is the film's theatrical trailer in high definition, as well as a booklet featuring some nice production stills and notes from writer and film historian Julie Kirgo.

Overall
Overall you really have to ask yourself if the changes to the video presentation of Night of the Living Dead are enough to keep you away from the title on Blu-ray, especially since the title sold out during pre-order and you're likely to pay a much higher price than the $29.95 plus shipping retail price from Blu-ray scalping vultures on e-bay or Amazon if you really, really want it. The changes to the video presentation smacks of an attempt to make the movie look like a more modern, expensive horror production rather than the lower budget, 20-year old film that it really is. They do not however make the film unwatchable, just different, and to be honest I don't have as much of a problem with them as a lot of people seem to, even though I detest revisions such as this. I can live with it. The problem is though that for the premium price placed on a title for which the DVD can be easily had for under $10, I or anyone else shouldn't have to settle for "I can live with it". Whether or not you can justify a purchase is strictly up to you.

I'll leave this section of the review with a message from Twilight Time posted on their Facebook page in regards to the release:

"As promised, we have discussed NOTLD at the studio and are able to verify via SPE's Mastering Department, that our Blu-ray is indeed the approved transfer from 2010, generated for the film's 20th anniversary, and done in consultation with the film's director of photography. As you will have also seen on this page and elsewhere on the internet, director Tom Savini has now had a chance to view the end product and declared it "fantastic." As we are aware that some fans of the film will remain disappointed, our offer of a full refund still stands if you wish to return your copy. However, we would caution you with this thought: this is a limited edition run of 3,000 copies, and the title is sold out. Right or wrong, it is a collector's item, and there are no guarantees this title will ever be repressed. Going forward, if TT encounters another situation where the new transfer differs greatly from the old, we will bring that to collectors' attention prior to the disc being offered so that you may know of the changes beforehand. Thanks for all your support."

* Note: The images below 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.

Blu-ray images are followed immediately by the corresponding image from the Sony Pictures Home Entertainment R1 DVD.

 Night of the Living Dead (1990) - Blu-ray
 Night of the Living Dead (1990) - DVD
 Night of the Living Dead (1990) - Blu-ray
 Night of the Living Dead (1990) - DVD
 Night of the Living Dead (1990) - Blu-ray
 Night of the Living Dead (1990) - DVD
 Night of the Living Dead (1990) - Blu-ray
 Night of the Living Dead (1990) - DVD
 Night of the Living Dead (1990) - Blu-ray
 Night of the Living Dead (1990) - DVD
 Night of the Living Dead (1990) - Blu-ray
 Night of the Living Dead (1990) - DVD


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