Army of Darkness DVD

Army of Darkness (AOD) is my favorite film and I must own about 7 different copies of AOD and the Evil Dead series on LD or DVD. Like I said, I am a fan.

I thought the laser disc of AOD was great, that was until I compared it to the new DVD. The LD's colors are oversaturated and a new film to tape transfer must of been done for the DVD. This new DVD really makes the LD look bad. Also the DVD has a nice crisp picture, the details on Ash's face during the close ups are downright scary. The scars, the mud, it only looked better when I saw it in the theatre on opening day with 400 other crazy Evil Dead fans.

Good MPEG encoding too. I haven't noticed any artifacting in AOD yet. As a side note the smoke on Anchor Bay's Evil Dead2 DVD does have some mild artifacting but nothing like Highlander or Conan.

Now for the bad. The DVD audio was 2 channel AC3 at 192kbps which I've stated my opinion about before (like with the Blade Runner comparision). Granted 2 channel AC3 at 192kbps vs. LD's PCM stereo is a subtle thing which most "common folk" won't be opposed to. So lets ignore the 192kbps issue for now.

I was disappointed that the 4.0 masters couldn't be found or used or whatever the excuse was. Maybe Elite will do an AOD special edition with Raimi and give it a 5.1 remix like they did with ED 1? Maybe not.

Anyway the sound on the DVD is disappointing when compared to the LD's PCM track. For example when Ash runs into the windmill and the evil is pounding on the door, the bass on the DVD is weak. It lacks the visceral impact the LD had. Also the shotgun blasts have lost a lot of there lowend ohmmmmf. I'm a bass fanatic so maybe you won't care.

The disc is basically a no frills disc, no anamorphic since AOD was about 1.66:1 theatrically, but it does have some text blurbs on the making of. Also the disc has the AOD theatrical trailer, I hadn't seen this in years, and I knew I wasn't crazy remembering there was some basis for thinking Metallica was going to be involved in the soundtrack.

So while the AOD DVD does have a minor sound problem I still would recommend that every AOD fan get the DVD. The picture is just that much better.

[Update 2006: A special edition directors cut of Army of Darkness was released a couple years ago, 2003?. It had two versions of the film. A 5.1 AC3 encoded THX certified disc of the original theatrical version, and a 2.0 disc which has the extended cut version with about 10 minutes of extra footage. This special edition DVD is the currently the ultimate AOD collection. The extended cut version is worth seeing but the original version flows much better. I can't wait till they release the HDTV version, maybe in 2007.]

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