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Old 05-01-05, 12:19 PM   #1
baracine
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Roman Polanski's "Repulsion" (1965) on dismal US DVD

It's on the American Entertainment Programs International (EPI) label and has been available since February 8, 2005 from major outlets. It's a bare bones edition and not a good one at all but this film is too important not to own. Still...



Even though the packaging says digitally remastered, the picture is so murky and blotchy, it looks like it was transferred from video. The 2.0 mono sound is congealed and gelatinous and has a noticeable hiss. It's in the original English language with no subtitles or extras. The picture has a thin black bar on top in about half the scenes, which sort of confirms that's it's from video elements.

This film was shot on 35 mmm but was meant to be shown in an 1.85:1 ratio, which is the way I saw it when it came out in theatres. Cropping it on a widescreen TV to 1.77:1 makes it look like every frame is too crowded, so it's hard to tell if we're getting the original 35 mm 4:3 print or if it's meant to feel so claustrophobic.

The period pinkish cover art is dismal and yellowed and the back cover liner notes are at least 30 years old, complete with spelling mistakes.

On the plus side, this edition certainly makes the viewer feel like he's watching the film in some dingy, dank cellar of a cinema art house in the Latin Quarter... The only thing missing is the smell of fresh urine.

Last edited by baracine; 05-01-05 at 12:29 PM.
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Old 05-01-05, 12:24 PM   #2
William Fuld
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no smell of fresh urine = NO SALE!
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Old 05-01-05, 12:26 PM   #3
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I'll import the U.K Anchor Bay edition ASAP...
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Old 05-01-05, 12:35 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baracine
Even though the packaging says digitally remastered, the picture is so murky and blotchy, it looks like it was transferred from video.
It probably WAS taken from a VHS master. From what I remember back when CDs first came out, they used to put "digitally remastered" on the labels. All it meant then (and I'm assuming in this case) is that all analog sources have to be "digitally remastered" to put it in a digital medium (CD, DVD). This is not to be confused with digital clean-up/restoration.

Anyhow, that's a shame this release wasn't treated right. I'd like to get it but it just saddens me that this gets such a shoddy release.
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Old 05-01-05, 12:37 PM   #5
baracine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William Fuld
no smell of fresh urine = NO SALE!
I don't know if it makes any difference, but the first thing I noticed when I opened the snap case was the smell of burning tires...
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Old 05-01-05, 01:18 PM   #6
baracine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomOpus
It probably WAS taken from a VHS master.
I suspect the video original was already, if not exactly pan-and-scan, at least a blow-up of the central part of the 1.85:1 image - which would explain the black bar on top, which means that what we're looking at in 4:3 is only part of the total picture missing its sides, and that if we crop it top and bottom, we see even less of it. Brrr... I can feel the walls starting to close in...
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Old 05-01-05, 01:28 PM   #7
marty888
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This has moved very high on my NOT TO BUY list.

Region 2, here I come.
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Old 05-01-05, 01:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
It's on the American Entertainment Programs International (EPI) label and has been available since February 8, 2005 from major outlets.
Actually, it has been available since late 2002/ early 2003, since I bought it during that time at a Borders Bookstore. It's one of the worst DVD releases I have ever seen. There is another R1 release that is equally bad. I'm just hoping for a Criterion release of this Polanski film.
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Old 05-01-05, 01:51 PM   #9
chente
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I'm pretty sure the R2 has the commentary track from the Criterion LD. I've been meaning to pick it up but haven't gotten around to it.
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Old 05-01-05, 02:58 PM   #10
bdots48
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This is one of the main reasons to go region-free. Amazon.uk has it for under $20 shipped. Includes an excellent commentary from Polanski with Deneuve.
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Old 05-01-05, 03:31 PM   #11
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Ah, the wonders of multiregion choice
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Old 05-01-05, 09:06 PM   #12
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I'm still trying to watch this DVD. Half-way through, I decided my viewing "enjoyment" would be tremendously increased by turning off the colour on my TV as the churning video grain was creating colour artifacts all over the black and white. Two thirds into the movie, the black bar mysteriously shifted to the right of the picture. By that time, Catherine Deneuve had decided to not use the electric lighting in her apartment anymore and the image greatly suffered as a consequence. Nothing much but her blonde hair was visible.

This is when I decided to call it quits. This is officially the first DVD I will use as a frisbee since Moulin Rouge.

Last edited by baracine; 05-01-05 at 09:09 PM.
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Old 05-02-05, 01:54 AM   #13
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I'm really glad that I read this. Everytime I am in Borders, I wrestle with the decision to purchase it or not. Each time, I end up buying something else and holding off on "Repulsion" until the next time. I know for a fact now, that I won't be making a purchase of it.

I don't have a region free player either, so I guess no Amazon.uk for me either. I guess I'll hold out in hopes that one day a decent R1 disc is produced.
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Old 05-02-05, 03:53 AM   #14
RevKarl
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Quote:
Originally Posted by l_xtopher_l
I'm really glad that I read this. Everytime I am in Borders, I wrestle with the decision to purchase it or not. Each time, I end up buying something else and holding off on "Repulsion" until the next time. I know for a fact now, that I won't be making a purchase of it...
Same story here. With various "Buy 3, Get 1 Free" promotions and/or 15-25% off coupons, I've picked up this DVD at Borders numerous times over the last year or so. I even emailed EPI to ask about the DVD's aspect ratio, but didn't get a response. Fortunately, I read a customer's review at Amazon of EPI's Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow disc, which offered a similar critique of it to baracine's thoughts on their Repulsion DVD, and decided to wait for a "quality" studio release. Since NoShame just did it for the aforementioned Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, I live in hope that someone in R1 will do the same for Repulsion.
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Old 05-02-05, 09:33 AM   #15
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What I'm really looking forward to, besides a good Repulsion transfer, is a decent transfer of the Italian sex-farce anthology Le Bambole (The Dolls, 1965) (http://imdb.com/title/tt0058938/combined), which really churned my hormones at the time. The Koch Vision DVD transfer is supposed to be abysmal. It is also available on this video transfer twofer, also by EPI (gulp!):
.

Congratulations, once again, to Criterion, on its absolutely fabulous Divorce Italian Style in widescreen. One minor quibble: We Frenchies are still very attached to the French-language dubs we first saw these films in. Most of them were at least interesting reinterpretations of the humour of the Italian originals and sometimes even interesting national commentaries on the action.

Last edited by baracine; 05-02-05 at 09:45 AM.
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Old 05-02-05, 09:53 AM   #16
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Another shout for the Anchor Bay R2 of Repulsion. Excellent disc.
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Old 05-02-05, 10:56 AM   #17
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At least it doesn't have this cover:




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Old 05-02-05, 11:29 AM   #18
chente
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Numanoid
At least it doesn't have this cover:




That's one hell of a misleading cover.
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Old 05-02-05, 12:07 PM   #19
baracine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chente
That's one hell of a misleading cover.
Yeah, you'd think it was colourized or something.

Last edited by baracine; 05-02-05 at 12:43 PM.
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