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July 31, 2004
Do not disturb
[Posted 06:26 PM by Whiggles]

From tomorrow evening until some point on Tuesday, I'm going to be away, so this will probably be my last update for the time being. One of my cousins has foolishly decided to get married, and so tomorrow we will all be trooping off to Ayr for the ridiculously overblown money-burning ritual that is the £18,000 wedding. My parents, seeking to cause further mental anguish, have got it into their heads that we must spend three days in the dead sink that is Ayr, having a whale of a time in a grotty little country cottage rented by my grandparents. Fun times.

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Torso
[Posted 06:22 PM by Whiggles]

Torso (R0 USA) arrived this morning. This was Sergio Martino's last giallo, and while it doesn't have the style of some of his earlier work, such as All the Colors of the Dark, it's still an effectively plotted thriller with some nice photography. It's getting more into the "generic teen slasher" sub-genre though, featuring a lot of lengthy stalk sequences and screaming girls whose shirts tend to conveniently become unbuttoned whenever they are on the run. Not bad overall, but fairly unexceptional. 7/10.

The transfer is not very good. Presented anamorphically in its original 1.85:1 ratio, is has an overly digitized look, a lot like a number of Medusa's releases of Dario Argento's work. There is also some rather ugly banding on gradients at times. 5/10.

The only extras are two trailers, one US, one international.

I also got the score CD for The Butterfly Effect from Amazon, for which I had been waiting for the last two weeks.

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Email
[Posted 06:14 PM by Whiggles]

My email is currently borked... yet again. As such, I won't receive or be able to reply to anything in the near future. Hopefully this will be sorted out in a couple of days, but a similar thing happened last year and it took forever for it to be completely fixed.

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The Bird with the Crystal Plumage -- coming 2005 from Blue Underground
[Posted 03:45 PM by Whiggles]

I just noticed this on the Mobius boards. It's a Q&A with Bill Lustig about Blue Underground's upcoming (2004 and 2005) releases.

http://www.mhvf.net/forum/euro/posts/49022.html

Oh, we also have - we're also releasing next year - BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE with a brand new high-definition transfer from the camera original negative supervised by Vittorio Storaro, the DP. That's in the works right now.

Hell yeah!

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July 30, 2004
I hate...
[Posted 12:16 AM by Whiggles]

Find out why I hate people who try to imitate Gollum's voice.

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July 29, 2004
The perfect solution
[Posted 11:13 PM by Whiggles]

Why didn't I think of it before? Best of both worlds.

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Treasure Planet IMAX
[Posted 10:30 PM by Whiggles]

We went to the IMAX theatre to see Treasure Planet today. Impressions? Was I wowed. Well, not really. You see, there were a number of things that let down the presentation for me. First of all, we were sitting very close to the front (we overheard the usher telling a family that they'd get a better experience the closer they sat to the screen), and as a result we not only had to look up at the screen to see it, the lighting of the screen was very uneven, probably due to where we were sitting. Essentially, the bottom of the screen seemed a lot brighter than the top. There was also a hell of a lot of ghosting, to the extent that trying to focus on the actual details of the animation gave me a head-ache. Thirdly, the moment the closing credits began to run, the lights came on, the sound was dimmed, and a nasal Glaswegian voice began thanking us for coming to the IMAX, and to please get out. Just like watching a movie on ITV1!

I should also point out that, while the image quality was most impressive, the large size of the screen showed up a number of flaws in the animation itself, namely the low resolution of the line-art (it looked very blocky) and some very badly cut-out outlines. Not really IMAX's fault, but I think Disney should have used a higher resolution than they did.

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July 28, 2004
New DVD image comparison
[Posted 07:28 PM by Whiggles]

I've updated my Phenomena DVD Image Comparison to include the new Japanese R2 release.

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Dario Argento DVD-Box
[Posted 05:32 PM by Whiggles]

My Japanese Argento DVD box set arrived this afternoon.

First, the bad news:
- The transfers of The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and The Cat O' Nine Tails appear to be standards conversions of the Medusa discs, meaning that they are interlaced with some ghosting, and the transfers therefore look slightly weaker than their Medusa counterparts.
- In Phenomena, some of the audio on the English track is in Italian, despite the fact that English audio does exist for these scenes (and is present on other releases).
- There are some colour grading errors in Tenebre. From the scene in which Peter Neal supposedly commits suicide onwards, everything is tinted very blue... apart from the brief flashbacks to Eva Robbins. This suggests, to me, that the tint is INTENTIONAL -- to make it look more like night. Perhaps this was done by the distributor -- I doubt it was authorized by Dario Argento.

Now, the good news:
- All four films come with both English and Italian audio (subtitles are Japanese).
- The Tenebre transfer, while seeming a bit too bright, is easily the sharpest I've seen. It probably isn't as good as the recent Dutch release (which I will probably also pick up at some point), because as I said it seems a bit too bright and it also has a fairly blue tint, but its sharpness is much better than any other release I've owned, and there is much less "bleaching out" of brighter objects.
- The Phenomena transfer is similar to the Tenebre one: a bit too bright (blacks look grey), blue-tinted, but with good sharpness. I am also happy to report that it is the INTEGRAL cut, meaning that we finally can watch the full-length film, mostly in English, with good image quality (the integral additions are in Italian, unsurprisingly).

Extras on each disc are limited to the theatrical trailer, and a small art gallery. There are also production notes and cast and crew bios in Japanese.

Here are some pictures of the set.

And here are some screenshots from each film demonstrating the image quality.

Tenebre:
Example 1
Example 2

Phenomena:
Example 1
Example 2

You can follow an extended discussion about this set over at Dark Discussion.

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Ren & Stimpy: Adult Party Cartoon returns!
[Posted 04:56 PM by Whiggles]

On August 20th, Ren & Stimpy: Adult Party Cartoon will begin airing new episodes on Spike TV at midnight Pacific Time (US). Unfortunately, it looks like the chance of the show getting a second season is questionable at the moment, so we need to get the word out to people to watch the show. I don't live in the US, so I don't get Spike TV, but if you do, please watch the show. A whole bunch of images and clips from two of the new shows, Naked Beach Frenzy and Stimpy's Pregnant, have been put up here. The look of the show is quite something, and although I wasn't to enamoured by the the overly clean, vectorized lines visible in the static shots, once you see it in motion it is quite eye-popping. I challenge anyone to find another piece of made-for-TV animation with motion as fluid and wild as Stimpy's Pregnant. We're talking full, 24fps animation for much of the footage.

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July 27, 2004
DVI problems -- the conspiracy deepens
[Posted 02:12 PM by Whiggles]

You're probably all too aware of my DVI problem -- I know I am. For a brief recap, any signal sent out of the DVI output on my video card is messed up: depending on the TFT it goes to, there is either no signal at all, or else it comes up either blue or red. The culprit is not the video card, the monitor, or the DVI cable. What, then, is it? I wish I knew.

Today, for a cheap thrill, I decided to plug my hulking great CRT into the DVI output, using the DVI-to-VGA adapter so kindly supplied with my video card. "Which colours will it show?" I wondered. "Perhaps I'll get green this time." (I should also point out that I've tried using the DVI-to-VGA adapter to connect TFT screens through the DVI output with a VGA cable, and the problems are still present.)

To my surprise, the image displayed perfectly on the CRT! All the colours of the rainbow showing up properly. I'm not completely baffled. It doesn't like TFTs, but it doesn't mind the CRT. What the hell is going on?

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Another giant customs charge
[Posted 12:24 PM by Whiggles]

This morning I got a letter from Parcel Force, announcing that they are holding my Japanese Argento box set to ransom and demanding a fee of £27.41. I don't like to deal with terrorists or kidnappers, but there seemed to be no option, so after phoning them up several times (they didn't actually put me in a queue, they just told me they were busy and cut the connection each time), I finally managed to leave them my credit card details and arrange for the parcel to be delivered to me tomorrow.

The basic run-down of the payment is this:
VAT - £13.91
Clearance fee - £13.50

That's right, for the privelege of them stealing my package, I have to pay them a sum of money that actually comes to almost as much as the VAT (import tax) itself. In all honesty, I have much less of a problem paying the VAT than I do with the clearance fee, which is clearly scaled depending on the value of the item itself. This is clearly a crock of shit. How can they possibly justify charging a higher clearance fee for a more expensive item? It makes no difference to them what the package costs. At the end of the day they're doing the same thing with it whether it costs £18 or £18,000.

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July 26, 2004
Karetní Hráč
[Posted 01:48 PM by Whiggles]

My first ever (and probably only!) Czech DVD arrived this morning: Karetní Hráč, better known as Dario Argento's The Card Player. This is a surprisingly good DVD, much better than I was expecting. (Generally if a DVD comes out in an obscure country long before it goes on general release elsewhere, it runs the risk of being a bit of a botch job.) It is a very nice transfer -- not perfect, but it's better than the transfers Medusa usually gives to Argento's films, and it's almost on par with Anchor Bay's work on stuff like Profondo Rosso. The real dish, however, is the full bit-rate DTS track. Only a handful of DVDs have these (most just have half bit-rate tracks), and the result is that the film sounds superb. Great work from "Hollywood Classic Entertainment" -- unless you need English subtitles I see no reason to wait for the UK release.

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July 25, 2004
Whiggles.tk helpful hint of the day
[Posted 11:55 PM by Whiggles]

A helpful tip for TFT users: when watching DVDs, especially in low light conditions, it is a very good idea to set your brightness or backlight to zero. While this ends up making games, windows, etc. look a bit murky, it greatly deepens the blacks and makes DVDs, especially those with a lot of night scenes, look a hell of a lot better. With the backlight at zero I'm able to achieve a level of blackness that, while not as good as my CRT, is certainly a step up from the dull greyness of full-strength backlighting.

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Network problems
[Posted 04:35 PM by Whiggles]

As you may or may not know, Lyris and I share an internet connection, with him as the server and me as the recipient. Up until now we were using a Linksys network hub to connect our two computers together, but such a situation is less than ideal. Recently, we've been having terrible problems, or to be more accurate, I've been having terrible problems. Intermittently, when loading web pages, I've been getting huge lage spikes where my CPU usage jumps to nearly 100%, and everything slows to a crawl, including the mouse and keyboard. This tends to last anywhere between 1 and 3 minutes. The problem, it would seem, is due to the fact that Linksys network hubs are only half-duplex. In layman's terms, they can send and receive data, but not both at once. This leads to collisions as the data gets clogged in the network.

So, today, we decided to kill two birds with one stone and get the train to Finnieston, so we could see Treasure Planet at the IMAX theatre, and then visit the nearby PC World to find a replacement hub. As it turns out, there were technical problems with the IMAX theatre, so the screening of Treasure Planet was cancelled. (We'll catch it some other day, I expect.) The trip was not wasted, however, as we came away from PC World with a Belkin router. Routers are superior to hubs for various reasons, not only because they act as an internet server, removing the prospect of collisions, but also because they (or this one, at any rate) have built-in hardware firewalls. We've been using this setup all afternoon (it was much easier to install than we were expecting), and so far, although when accessing web sites I still get the same occasional >1 second freezes that I've had ever since we got Windows XP, I have not suffered a single instance of the major slowdowns I described above. An extremely useful purchase, then, it would seem.

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Afterglow
[Posted 03:06 PM by Whiggles]

I've added an entry for Afterglow to the CD Collection page.

Afterglow

This is an unusually short CD (only 10 tracks with a total running time of 40 minutes), and to be honest the songs aren't as good, or the performances as energetic, as the ones on Mirrorball. Mirrorball was, I suppose, probably a "best of", whereas Afterglow, which is Sarah McLachlan's first completely new CD for a number of years, seems a bit generic. Most of the songs tend to run into each other, with only a couple really standing out. Still, she has the kind of voice that is fine to listen to, even if it's not singing anything particularly interesting -- this was certainly true of her song on Toy Story 2. The version I bought comes with a bonus disc featuring 4 live recordings. 3 are of songs that are to be found on disc 1, the other is Building a Mystery.

Standout moment: Track 8 (Time). It's one of the few that really stands out, and it has a decent chorus.

I still need to get around to listening to the eXistenZ score.

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July 24, 2004
The Silver Ring Thing
[Posted 11:12 PM by Whiggles]



Above: two recently-saved young ladies.
It breaks my heart to think that, if I want a piece of this hot action, I will have to commit to marriage.

Back by popular demand, Whiggles.tk is proud to announce the relaunch its insanely popular on-off column, Whiggles vs. the Christian Nutters! I was thinking the other day that I hadn't launched into an offensive diatribe against Christian fundamentalists for something like two years. In fact, I took down my old Whiggles vs. the Christian Nutters columns because I thought they were crude and not particularly well-written. However, today Lyris directed me to a web site for an organization known as The Silver Ring Thing, and the old fires of fury, long untended, began to rage once more. I politely suggested that Lyris write an article about the lunatics who run this campaign, but he declared that he feared to cause offence, so I have taken on this dubious honour myself.

The Silver Ring Thing is an organization which, and I quote, "uses sketch comedy and music videos to make the abstinence point". In other words, they use flashing lights and fancy words to try and stop teenagers from having sex. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm as well aware of the dangers of unsafe sex as the next person. But to deal with these problems, you need to have a sensible system in place to educate children as to how the reproductive system works (some kids, believe it or not, don't understand that putting your peepee in a ladyfriend's secret garden will result in an undesired little sprog), the dangers of STDs, and above all, to have a well-stocked and easy-to-access supply of contraceptive devices and morning-after pills.

None of this applies to The Silver Ring Thing, or so they seem to think. Instead, they make their members sign an "Abstinence Vow", and in return they are sold a special Silver Ring. This, to me, is tantamount to stupidity. People have been having sex since the beginning of time, many of them teenagers. It happens. Live with it. The Silver Ring Thing's motley crew, instead, choose to bury their heads in the sand and, instead of making sex safer, try to tell people to just not do it. Not going to work, I'm afraid. When people realized that cars ran the risk of crashing, they didn't start a campaign telling people not to drive them: they took precautions to make them safer, like introducing seatbelts and airbags, as well as putting place speed limits in place.

As if this wasn't bad enough, the sneaky weasels at The Silver Ring Thing have seen fit to sneak in a dodgy religious message. Endorsed and funded by George W. Bush, the foulest of the foul people, the whole aim behind this cult and their bizarre get-togethers it to persuade people to commit their lives to God -- something that sounds incredibly dodgy to me, since these people preach in schools, and to the best of my knowledge the American education system is always careful to remain independent of religion.

Afternote:
Recently, the Krazy Krew flew over to to the island of Great Britain to promote their message of insanity. Invading and occupying my home town of Glasgow, they attracted a whopping crowd of 115 people, 2 of whom "committed their lives to the Lord". This, to them, was clearly something of a phenomenal victory. Well, since Glasgow has a population of around 1,099,400, a total of two people being won over to their cause gives them a grand result of 0.0009999982%. Go team!

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High definition DVD -- the future is now!
[Posted 06:33 PM by Whiggles]

Think DVD looks good? Then wait till you see high definition. Microsoft has a bunch of high-def Windows Media 9 trailers up for download, including 720p versions of the trailers for Dawn of the Dead (remake) and Terminator 2. They need a 2 GHz CPU to maintain a constant 24 fps frame rate though. If you're a real glutton for punishment, you can check out some of the 1080p trailers, which need a 3 GHz CPU and a minimum resolution of 1920 x 1440!

Some shots from the Dawn of the Dead trailer (CAUTION: images VERY large):

http://whiggles.landofwhimsy.com/funbag/dawn-hidef1.jpg (153 KB)
http://whiggles.landofwhimsy.com/funbag/dawn-hidef2.jpg (145 KB)
http://whiggles.landofwhimsy.com/funbag/dawn-hidef3.jpg (229 KB)
http://whiggles.landofwhimsy.com/funbag/dawn-hidef4.jpg (172 KB)

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Ren & Stimpy uncut DVD
[Posted 03:12 PM by Whiggles]

Source: The Drawing Board

Over at the Drawing Board, Spumco artist Luke Cormican has posted a picture of the cover art for the upcoming uncut Ren & Stimpy Season 1/2 DVD from Paramount. Naturally, I've pre-ordered it (only £16.76 at DVD Pacific.

Me and Katie helped compile and scan rare Ren and Stimpy production art for the gallery and documentary on this DVD set. Hopefully all of the stuff we found will make it on to the DVDs, because we uncovered some great stuff. There should be pencil tests, storyboards of alternate episode endings, super early drawings of Ren and Stimpy, some crew gag drawings, and much more. We were also present during the recording of the commentary, which was hilarious. Plus, when they say "Uncut" I think they really mean it this time, as there are supposed to be scenes in this that didn't even make it into the first airing of Ren and Stimpy. So this should be a really cool box set that will make the fans happy.

Sounds really great. October 12th can't come soon enough! This is definitely going to be the must-have DVD of 2004.

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Seven Blood Stained Orchids
[Posted 12:35 PM by Whiggles]

I've reviewed Seven Blood Stained Orchids (R1 USA) at DVD Times.

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July 23, 2004
Marvelous but monotonous monitor mayhem
[Posted 02:11 PM by Whiggles]

Third time lucky. My Philips 170B4BS arrived this morning, broken box and all. At the risk of jumping the gun I'd say that this is the best of the three TFTs I've owned over the course of the past two months. The black level, while not as good as the Iiyama, is a bit better than the Sony, and the backlighting seems to be more or less even, barring a slight blooming along the top edge that I was able to more or less obscure by lowering the brightness. TFT-purchasing is quite clearly a lottery, and as such I wouldn't recommend that anyone who is a perfectionist buys one unless they are willing to either take pot luck or be willing to fight tooth and nail for the right to return a faulty model.

At times I really miss my CRT, but there are benefits to TFTs that can't be disputed. Smaller, sharper, less power consumed, and if you get a really good TFT, I think their black level and uniform backlighting could make them as good as any CRT. The thing is, judging by my experience, "perfect" (hypothetically, at least) TFTs seem to be as rare as gold-dust.

In the ideal world, I would have loved to take the the best parts of each of the three monitors and combine them into one super-screen.

Iiyama:
+ Size (19" vs. 17")
+ Rich black level
+ Excellent uniform backlighting quality
+ TV tuner
- Terrible ghosting
- Buzzing on dense text
- Poor VGA quality (of course, in an ideal world I would be able to use DVI)

Sony:
+ Very good scaling quality
+ Lack of buzzing and trailing
+ Excellent VGA quality
- Very uneven backlighting
- Below average black level
- Faint "diamond" pattern visible on screen

Philips:
+ Lack of buzzing and trailing
+ Very good to excellent VGA quality
+ Backlighting fairly even
+ Reasonably good black level
- Brightness, contrast, backlighting etc. less customizable than the other two

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July 22, 2004
Monitor
[Posted 06:43 PM by Whiggles]

My second monitor, the Philips 170B4BS, has finally been dispatched and should reach me tomorrow. Amazon were dragging their feet with it, and after 2 weeks it became clear that they weren't going to get it in stock any time soon (I believe this particularly model is no longer manufactured), I decided to cancel and order from a place that definitely had one in stock. I eventually found a B-grade one in stock at Savastore.com (damaged packaging, but otherwise in perfect condition and completely unopened), and ordered it ASAP.

Of course, the original plan was to have a dual-monitor setup, but thanks to my inability to get DVI-out working properly, that ain't going to happen. As a result, when my Philips monitor comes tomorrow, I will be packaging away my Sony and leaving it to rot until the day comes when I have replaced the rest of my system, including motherboard, CPU, RAM and power supply (probably in a year or so) and will thus have completely emptied my machine of potentially faulty components. The Sony is nice but the Philips is nicer, and if I can only use one I'd prefer it to be the Philips. I do look forward to the day when I can actually have a dual monitor setup, and buying two monitors will therefore be worthwhile, but until that happens, I'm sure I'll be reasonably happy with the Philips 170B4BS. Man, buying a good TFT is nothing like as straightforward as buying a CRT.

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Treasure Planet IMAX
[Posted 04:00 PM by Whiggles]

Treasure Planet is currently showing at the Glasgow IMAX Theatre right now. I'll definitely go and see it when I get a chance. I just hope they haven't fudged the composition too much with the IMAX aspect ratio, which is pretty close to 4x3.

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RIP Jerry Goldsmith
[Posted 02:48 PM by Whiggles]

Canada.com National Post

Jerry Goldsmith, composer of films such as The Omen and Mulan, died in his sleep last night at the age of 75. A great composer, he will be missed. :(

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Chiara Conti cast in next Argento
[Posted 10:40 AM by Whiggles]

Source: Dark Discussion

Italian model/actress Chiara Conti has apparently been cast in Dario Argento's next project. Whether that means The Third Mother or the TV-episode he's directing, entitled Do You Like Hitchcock?, remains to be seen. One thing's for sure, though, whichever it is, she's certainly easy on the eyes.

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July 21, 2004
I hate...
[Posted 09:37 PM by Whiggles]

It's been a while since I vented my frustration. Find out why I hate channel surfers, cats and people who watch analogue signals on a widescreen TV.

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All the Colors of the Dark
[Posted 02:52 PM by Whiggles]

(or Day of the Maniac, or They're Coming to Get You, or whatever the hell they're calling it this week)

Not quite a giallo and not quite a horror movie, this 1972 film that steals more than a page or two from Rosemary's Baby strikes me as being significantly stronger and more imaginative than the other Martino film I've seen, Case of the Scorpion's Tail. Well-shot, with buckets of atmosphere and some genuinely disturbing scenes, as well as a truly frightening-looking man with bright blue eyes, stalking our heroine, the infamous Edwige Fenech, whose ability to retain several layers of make-up no matter what situation she is in can only be matched by her total inability to act.

9/10

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Ren & Stimpy uncut DVD
[Posted 02:51 PM by Whiggles]

Source: The DVD Forums

A more recent press release has confirmed that Man's Best Friend in fact will be included on the upcoming uncut Season 1/2 set.

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July 20, 2004
DVD whimsy
[Posted 11:27 AM by Whiggles]

Yesterday, the DVD of The Collingswood Story (R1 USA), a low budget independent film I'd been wanting to see for quite a while, arrived. The DVD had been out of print for a number of months but last week came back into stock at the official web site.

The film is actually very good considering its budget. For those who don't know (ie. just about everyone), it's a horror movie that takes place entirely through web-cams. Gimmicky, admittedly, but it works, thanks to the excellent performances by the leads Johnny Burton and the super-sexy Stephanie Dees. Their acting is incredibly natural and as a result what you're seeing actually seems real. Ultimately, though, it's not exactly outstanding, because although the medium is interesting, the plot is not. Becky (Dees) discovers that she lives close to a house where a crazy Frenchman used to hack out peoples' eyes, and she decides to investigate, despite the pleas of her ex-boyfriend John (Burton), who watches the events unfold on his webcam. I enjoyed the movie overall, thanks mainly to their acting abilities, but the very low budget obviously hampers what they are able to do. Worth at least one viewing, though. 6/10.

This morning, Die Farben der Nacht [All the Colors of the Dark] (R0 Germany) showed up. This is another Sergio Martino giallo and is regarded by many as his best work. I haven't started watching it yet.

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July 19, 2004
New DVD image comparison
[Posted 02:51 PM by Whiggles]

I've added a comparison of What Have You Done to Solange? (R1 USA vs. R2 Japan) to the DVD Image Comparisons section.

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July 18, 2004
Uncut Ren & Stimpy DVD release
[Posted 11:17 PM by Whiggles]

Source: TV Shows on DVD

Paramount has announced Ren & Stimpy: The Complete 1st & 2nd Seasons for release on October 12! Including audio commentary by John K and a documentary about the show, this set features uncut versions of the entire first two seasons, barring Man's Best Friend, which will probably show up on an Adult Party Cartoon DVD release at a later date.

All I can say is, IT'S ABOUT FUCKING TIME!

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Very positive review for Ginger Snaps III
[Posted 06:10 PM by Whiggles]

Source: Bloody Disgusting

Bloody Disgusting has posted a glowing review of Ginger Snaps III: The Beginning, a prequel of sorts that takes the characters of the original two films and puts them in a 19th century setting. The concept didn't sound particularly promising to me, but thanks to this review I'm now very interested.

There's also an interview with Emily Perkins (Brigitte in the Ginger Snaps films) here.

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New DVD image comparison
[Posted 05:33 PM by Whiggles]

I've added a comparison of Non Ho Sonno/Sleepless (R0 UK vs. R2 Italy) to the DVD Image Comparisons section.

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The Girl Next Door
[Posted 03:11 PM by Whiggles]

I've reviewed The Girl Next Door (R2 UK) at DVD Times.

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July 17, 2004
Slowdown culprit
[Posted 09:35 PM by Whiggles]

You may remember that about a week ago I formatted my hard drive because I was getting continual slowdown in games and screensavers. Well, tonight, the problem materialized again. A quick system restore fixed the problem this time round, and I've come to the conclusion that I know what the culprit is: Arista's CD audio player. This program installs (if you let it) when you stick the more recent Arista CD titles in your computer's CD or DVD drive. That includes yesterday's Afterglow. It was yesterday evening that I installed the CD player software, and the problem appeared fairly quickly afterwards. The earlier slowdown also, I suspect, coincides with my installing the software for Under My Skin. Hmmmm. I don't want to jump to any conclusions, but I am extremely suspicious now. If the slowdown appears again without having installed the player software, I'll know that the problem lies elsewhere. However, if the problem doesn't show up again, I'm fairly sure I'll have found the villain. Arista, I am not impressed.

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July 16, 2004
Afterglow
[Posted 02:26 PM by Whiggles]

Afterglow, I'm told, is one of the most tricky discs out there to get working in a PC, thanks to BMG/Arista's attempts to butt-rape its customers... sorry, to "protect the artists' rights". Basically, if you can get it working, you're laughing, or so they say. Well then, I think the time has come for me to let out a loud guffaw, since while my DVD-ROM drive won't read it, my DVD-RW does. Right now I am ripping the tracks to my hard drive since, given how volatile a medium the compact disc is, there's no excuse for not being allowed to create a backup copy.

So Arista, how many points is this to me now? Let's see, Let Go, Under My Skin, Mirrorball, Afterglow. Yep, 4-0 to Captain Whiggles of the HMS Whimsy! (With honorable mentions to his cabin boy, Pioneer DVD-RW 106D.)

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My Life Without Me
[Posted 02:16 PM by Whiggles]

I've reviewed My Life Without Me (R2 UK) at DVD Times.

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New DVD image comparison
[Posted 11:46 AM by Whiggles]

I've added a comparison of Suspiria (R0 USA LE vs. R2 Italy) to the DVD Image Comparisons section.

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DVD jamboree!
[Posted 10:36 AM by Whiggles]

Two DVDs showed up in the mail this morning. The first is the Italian R2 release of Suspiria, which I had been seeking out for some time to no avail. I eventually managed to track it down on eBay, mainly because I wanted to be able to hear the non-mangled sound mix (Anchor Bay did a bit of a botch job when they converted it to 5.1). To my surprise, not only is the audio better, but the transfer seems nicer too. The grain looks more natural, the colours seem more vibrant, and in places it also looks sharper.

Secondly, I received the gift of a free copy of Sleepless (the UK release of Non Ho Sonno) from Nick at Dark Dreams, as a thank-you for letting him use my Argento reviews on his site. This release is inferior to the Italian version in terms of image (it has a hideously excessive blockyness to it that looks like a really bad rescaling job) and audio quality (a 5.1 mix with an attrociously low bit rate of 224 Kbps). Full comparisons for both coming soon.

I also got the CD of Sarah McLachlan's latest album, Afterglow, in the mail. This special edition includes a bonus disc of live performances.

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July 15, 2004
Karetní Hráč
[Posted 08:48 PM by Whiggles]

With the UK release of Il Cartaio delayed until October, and the Italian release looking like it will not include English audio, I've ordered the Czech R2 release, which is available right now, and features English audio and a decent transfer. I've also cancelled my pre-order for the UK disc. This will be my first Czech DVD. :D

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DVD debacle
[Posted 07:19 PM by Whiggles]

This morning, I got a customs card through the door, demanding that I haul myself to their depot of plundered goods and hand over a total of £9.04. "What could this be?" I said to myself. "Could it be the lost package containing The Return of the King and Walt Disney on the Front Lines at last?" In fact no, this was not the case. That particular package is still at large in the outside world, probably in the hands of a postal worker with sticky fingers. The DVD in question turned out to be the Japanese release of What Have You Done to Solange?, and to my fury, after having gone on a one-hour round trip to pick it up, the transfer of the DVD turned out to be dreadful -- much worse than the US Media Blasters/Shriek Show release. Furthermore, it was in Italian with only Japanese subtitles. Bah! The result is that I've needlessly squandered a fair amount of money.

When I got back, a package had been pushed through the mailbox, this one containing review copies of My Life Without Me and The Girl Next Door. I watched the former this morning, and it turned out to be a pretty good film, thanks in no small way to Sarah Polley, whose performance was typically outstanding. The Girl Next Door was dumped in the DVD player this evening, and, well, let's just say it won't be getting particularly high marks.

Doggy Poo also finally showed up from DVD Soon. I haven't watched it yet.

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July 14, 2004
Kill Bill Vol. 2 Japanese specs
[Posted 10:10 PM by Whiggles]

Source: DVD Times


Japanese cover


US cover

The specs for the standard edition and limited box set of Kill Bill Vol. 2 have been announced for R2 Japan. I previously contemplated buying either the UK or US release of Vol. 2 since nothing was cut from it for Western release, unlike Vol. 1, but I've decided to get the Japanese version since its packaging is so much nicer.

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Dog walking debacle
[Posted 07:55 PM by Whiggles]

My parents are away for the next six days on holiday in France. This means I'm in charge of the dogs. It means quite a change in sleep pattern for me, since I now have to be up at 7am instead of my more usual 9-10. I've set myself a mission objective of going to bed at 10pm every night, but how long that'll last I have no idea. One thing's for sure, if I don't keep to it I'll end up being dead beat by the time the week is out.

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New video card arrives. All systems are not go.
[Posted 03:13 PM by Whiggles]

My new video card, the ASUS Radeon X800 Pro, finally showed up this morning. And a very nice card it is too, with fancy lights, as well as a free webcam that I can't get to work, free copies of Deux Ex: Invisible War, CounterStrike: Condition Zero, ASUSDVD, Medi@Show, Cool3D and PowerDirector, and a cool plastic CD holder thingy. All is not going well, however, in the area of video output.

You probably remember that a couple of months back, I bought a TFT monitor (Iiyama Prolite C480T), and after using it with DVI-out for about half an hour, the colours went haywire: essentially, the R part of the RGB signal disappeared, leaving me with just G and B. I initially thought there was a problem with the monitor, but plugging the monitor into my brother's computer revealed that it was working fine. I therefore assumed that the DVI-out on my video card (ATI Radeon 9700 Pro) had died, since I was able to use analog VGA-out with no colour problems.

Flash forward two months. The Iiyama monitor has been returned to the store for reasons I'm not going to bother going into here, and has been replaced by a Sony SDM-X73B. For the past 3 weeks I have been using it through VGA. This morning, however, my new graphics card arrived (ASUS Radeon X800 Pro), but the colour problem through DVI remains present... on my brother's monitor, that is (Philips 170B4BS). On my Sony monitor, I get no output at all via DVI: just a blank screen and the message that the cable is not connected. Once again, VGA is working fine.

So there you have it. Different monitors, different video cards, different DVI cable, but the same problem is there. This surely means that, barring the highly unlikely coincidence of buying another video card with exactly the same problem as the previous one, the problem must lie elsewhere in the system. Motherboard? CPU? It seems unlikely to me, but I'm completely at my wits' end with this.

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CDs
[Posted 10:48 AM by Whiggles]

I've added entries for Mulan and Mirrorball to the CD Collection page. eXistenZ will go up once I've had a chance to listen to it.

Mulan

The score for Mulan is in my opinion one of Goldsmith's best, despite lacking enough of an oriental sound for it to completely fit in with the setting of the film. Around half of this CD is comprised of the film's songs (it's a musical, after all), and the other half is Goldsmith's score. It's incomplete, and there is a lot of material here that I don't think is present on the film, but what is included is very good.

Track 2 of this release is an instrumental version of Reflection performed by Vanessa Mae that is not present on the US release. For most non-English prints of the film, this instrumental track was used during the closing credits instead of the Christina Aguilera version.

Standout moment: Track 8 (Suite from Mulan). Around seven minutes' worth of score from various parts of the film, showing off a wide range of different moods and styles.

Mirrorball

This is a live recording, with audience participation, whooping and missed notes. It's also not only the first live album I've owned but also the first Sarah McLachlan album I've owned, and I like the results very much. The live performances have an energy that I suspect would not be possible with a studio recording, and indeed the various tracks here that I previously heard studio versions of (Good Enough, Adia, Angel) sound much better live. One thing that baffles me about Sarah McLachlan's songs is that, for a supposed non-deist, she sure makes a lot of references to "God" and even one to "Jesus". However, the "Jesus" reference came in the same verse as the phrase "a really fucked-up man", so I guess the religious references are meant to be ironic.

Standout moment: Track 6 (I Love You) is probably the strongest song, but I also like Track 12 (Ice Cream), partly for the amusing audience participation, and partly because anyone who writes a song about ice cream has got to be a little wacky.

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July 13, 2004
CD purchasing extravaganza
[Posted 03:16 PM by Whiggles]

Today I went into town with my mum and Lyris, and we perused various stores and ate at a Chinese restaurant called China Buffet King -- all you can eat for £5.80, and it actually turned out to be good food, not the reheated mush you usually find in buffets. I shall certainly go again.

I also bought three CDs at Virgin Megastore: the scores for Mulan and eXistenZ, and Mirrorball by Sarah McLachlan. Mirrorball, by the way, plays fine on my DVD-ROM drive, despite it being one of the discs that is reputed to cause playback problems for PC users. I'm beginning to think Pioneer manufactures its DVD drives to be immune to the boobytrap tomfoolery of Macrovision and their evil cronies.

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Unreal Tournament 2004
[Posted 03:11 PM by Whiggles]

A few days ago, Lyris bought the PC-DVD release of Unreal Tournament 2004. It makes a nice change to see a modern game of this size on one disc, and in my opinion it's about time publishers stopped releasing games on CDs if they won't fit on a single one. DVD-ROM drives are cheap as dirt now, and I read the other day in Computer Gaming World that the CD-ROM is 10 years old now -- a good time to retire it and make room for DVD.

Anyway, it's a fun game. It's really little more than an expansion to Unreal Tournament 2003 (it even includes most of 2003's maps), and as such I'm not a fan of them charging full price for it, but the additions do make it a better game. The tournament itself is much better-planned, including management options, one-on-one gambling rounds and so on, instead of just going from one level to the next. The level design also seems a lot more interesting, although on the downside there are more large system-clogging levels.

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July 11, 2004
A snapshot from yesterday's reinstall of Windows
[Posted 06:30 PM by Whiggles]

No comment.

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Quick update
[Posted 01:54 AM by Whiggles]

Just a quick update before I head for bed. Over the last couple of days I've been experiencing slowdown in anything involving DirectDraw -- games, screensavers... basically everything except DVDs and word processing. System Restore didn't do any good, neither did reinstalling DirectX or my ATI drivers, so I formatted the whole thing -- something I really hate doing, given how long it takes to get everything reinstalled. But there was no real alternative, and the slowdown has disappeared.

Tuesday 6th July was my granny's 90th birthday. What an age! She has a benign tumour the size of a football in her stomach, she's had two strokes, one hip replacement and god knows what else, but she keeps on ticking. Tonight (well, last night, technically) was her birthday party, which meant that a whole bunch of relatives, including a few people I hardly know, turned up. The guests included my estranged uncle Bill, whose wife died earlier this year. Since he married the woman, he's had little or no contact with the rest of the family, but since she died, he's turned over a new leaf and now visits my granny (his mother) every week like a good little boy. You win some, you lose some, I guess.

Seven Blood Stained Orchids (R1 USA) and The Simpsons Season 4 (R1 USA) arrived in the morning. Oh, and Doggy Poo has finally been dispatched. :) All of these have been DVD Soon orders, and they have all been very nicely priced and promptly delivered. I'll definitely use them more in the future.

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July 10, 2004
Fahrenheit 9/11
[Posted 12:18 AM by Whiggles]

I'm back from seeing Fahrenheit 9/11, which opened in the UK today courtesy of Optimum. I have to honestly say that, so far, this is the best film of the year, eclipsing Kill Bill Vol. 2. The cinema was packed, and there was even some scattered applause at the end when the credits began to roll -- something I've never experienced before. Michael Moore is a master of presenting facts that are skewed as far as possible in favour of his argument, but as with Bowling For Columbine there are a number of elements that simply cannot be argued with. And not all of them deal with Bush. The part that made my blood boil the most was an interview with two inbred US soldiers with worse teeth than any hillbilly I've ever seen laughing about how they liked to play music because it fired them up for killing people. A forget the name of the song, but the lyrics were "Burn motherfucker", and Moore edited it together into a little music video showing Iraqi civilians, including children, being mowed down by machine gun fire. Powerful stuff. I spent the first half of the film laughing at how stupid Bush looked and sounded, but by the middle half of the film my mirth had turned into rage. I was really, really pissed off at what I saw. Before I went into the movie I thought I hated Bush, but how I felt before then is nothing compared to how I feel now. Beelzebub help us if he wins another term in office.

9/10.

There were a handful of interesting trailers on before Fahrenheit 9/11. I also picked up a brochure for the cinema that shows yet more films I have half a mind to see.

The Village. I haven't seen any of M. Night Shyamalan's other films, but this one looks really intriguing. From what I can gather, this story has been remade several times, but this one looks fun and creepy.

King Arthur. I'm not really a fan of big war epics, but this one looks quite interesting, transposing the myth and the magic into a setting grounded in reality.

Collateral. Interesting-looking film directed by Michael Mann featuring a taxi driver who finds himself forced to ferry around a serial killer so he can do his dirty deeds.

Nathalie... From Alain Sarde, producer of Mulholland Dr. This French film directed by Anne Fontaine looks to be a thriller/character study featuring a prostitute who finds herself in a rather strange and dangerous situation. What that situation is I don't know, but the trailers was cool, and Emmanuelle Béart is a great actor.

And finally, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen in New York Minute. Wow! This film looks like it has it all. Talented stars, great cinematography, tight pacing, powerful social commentary, an air-tight script.............. I'M KIDDING! What a load of shit!

Well, there you have it. Uncle Whiggles' round-up of movies to see this summer. Be there or be square.

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July 08, 2004
Contents of Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 2 leaked
[Posted 09:19 PM by Whiggles]

Source: The Animation Show

A list of the cartoons to be featured in this November's Looney Tones Golden Collection Vol. 2 DVD has been leaked and is available here. While I'm not a fan of the pick-and-choose nature of these collections, I was very impressed by the quality of the extras and reasonably satisfied with the image restoration on Volume 1, so I will probably pick up Volume 2 as well.

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July 07, 2004
Catalyst 4.7 available
[Posted 11:49 PM by Whiggles]

The latest drivers for ATI video cards are now available. Featuring numerous bug fixes and performance improvements, as well as the introduction of Temporal Anti-Aliasing, which allows the quality of anti-aliasing to be improved when a game is maintaining 60 fps. Download here for Windows XP.

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Tom and Jerry US DVD announced
[Posted 11:47 PM by Whiggles]

Source: DVD Times

Warner have announced the US release of Tom and Jerry: Spotlight Collection, The Premiere Volume for 19th October 2004. The 2-disc set will feature 40 digitally remastered cartoons and bonus features including a new documentary and commentaries on three shorts by Jerry Beck. This set sounds very promising, but the big question is whether or not this release will be uncut. With Jerry Beck involved, I'm hopeful.

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Der Schwanz des Skorpions
[Posted 12:26 PM by Whiggles]

I've reviewed Der Schwanz des Skorpions/Case of the Scorpion's Tail (R2 Germany) at DVD Times.

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July 06, 2004
WoW European beta sign-ups
[Posted 07:10 PM by Whiggles]

Sign-ups have now become for the European beta of World of Warcraft. While the idea of having to pay a monthly fee to play a game strikes me as attrocious, I have entered into the (free) beta so at least I am in the running to get to see what the game is actually like. Sign-ups will be open for around three weeks. Click here to go to the sign-up site.

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PowerDVD 5 patch
[Posted 12:06 PM by Whiggles]

A new patch has been released for PowerDVD 5. Download it here.

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July 05, 2004
Der Schwanz des Skorpions
[Posted 11:39 PM by Whiggles]

My R2 German DVD of Der Schwanz des Skorpions (Case of the Scorpion's Tail) showed up from Xploited Cinema this morning, marked as a gift and packaged discretely -- I'll definitely be ordering from them again. The packaging of the DVD is some of the most unusual I have seen so far: more like the clamshell cases some American VHS tapes come in than a standard DVD case.

I'll have to watch the film again before I can come to any conclusions about it. First impressions suggest that it is a fairly standard but stylish giallo, featuring genre regulars George Hilton and Anita Strindberg, a black-gloved killer, blackmail, blood and guts, and a catchy score by Bruno Nicolai. There's some interesting stuff going on, including good use of the locations of London and Athens, and some interesting camera-work, including an entire scene shot at a 180° angle.

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Birthday brou-ha-ha
[Posted 11:29 PM by Whiggles]

Today, me Lyris and Graham went to the cinema to celebrate my 21st birthday. We went to see Godsend, as there wasn't really anything else worth seeing, and the premise (child dies, scientist clones him, but child inherits someone else's nightmares) sounded interesting. The film actually turned out to be relatively mediocre. I enjoyed it enough, and it was certainly worth watching once, but nothing in it really stood out as being at all noteworthy. Really it was The Omen meets The Sixth Sense, only nothing like as accomplished. The ending also struck me as pretty weak, offering no real conclusion. Overall 5/10. Probably worth a rental.

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July 04, 2004
Inheritance adventure
[Posted 02:39 PM by Whiggles]

Well, as you probably know, today is my real birthday, and I am happy to say that I have come into a little inheritance. As I'm sure I told you back in 2001, my granddad died of lung cancer, and my gran, who was losing her wits to dementia, was fairly quickly put in an old peoples' home. My dad and aunt became the executors of their estate, and they decided that each of my grandparents' grandchildren (there's four of us) would get a certain amount of money at the age of 21. I got mine today: £1,000.

That's right, £1,000.

Naturally, a fair amount of this is going into my savings fund, but I have decided to spend some of it on a little dream I've always wanted to realize: I'm going to get a second TFT monitor, so I can have a dual display. Back when I was just breaking into the wonderful world of DVDs, I yearned to have two monitors so I could watch a film on one and use the other for web browsing, documents, reviews etc., at the same time. Well now I can. So what monitor did I order? The same one my brother has: the very excellent Philips 170B4BS. I decided not to get another Sony SDM-X73B, since while I do think it is a good monitor, and it has surprisingly good rescaling capabilities (for resolutions lower than its native 1280x1024), its uneven black level is not really something I want a repeat occurence of. So my current monitor will be the one that is used for the likes of gaming, web browsing, word processing and so on, while my new one will be used for the more demanding world of DVD viewing.

Happy days!

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eXistenZ
[Posted 10:25 AM by Whiggles]

Last night I sat down to watch eXistenZ, without any particularly high hopes, but to my surprise I was absolutely riveted throughout. I bought the film blind, mainly because it was so cheap, but also because I really want to see more of David Cronenberg's work, having previously only encountered Crash (shocking, I know). The concept of a virtual reality computer game that the protagonists disappear into sounded silly to me on paper, but Cronenberg pulls it off with flying colours. I love the way the narrative continually turns each situation on its head, so you're never quite sure where it's going. Superb performance by Jennifer Jason Leigh, who I seem to gain more respect for with every film I see her in. I was slightly less impressed by Jude Law, mainly because he kept slipping up with the American (or was that Canadian?) accent, but he does a good job of looking baffled throughout, which is what his character essentially calls for. Also nice to see a semi-cameo at the end from my favourite actor under 5ft 2, Sarah Polley. All in all, a great film, definitely took me by surprise.

The Canadian special edition DVD has a very nice transfer too. Cronenberg is clearly a guy who really cares about the way his films are presented on DVD. While not on the same level as Naked Lunch (surprise, surprise, another Cronenberg film), it is still a definite 10/10. Great sharpness, contrast, grain and encoding, only slightly edge enhanced. I read that another studio (Fox, I think) was planning on releasing a special edition of one of his films and wanted him to include a commentary. He asked to supervise the transfer, since he felt that all previous releases of the film on home video had deviated from his intended look, and when they refused, he walked, leaving them with no commentary and the whole project in limbo (it's hard to market something as a special edition when the director isn't even involved).

9/10


Oh yeah, happy Independence Day to all my American viewers. Very nice of the entire country to take the day off to celebrate my birthday. :)

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July 03, 2004
Birthday bally-hoo
[Posted 06:58 PM by Whiggles]

I decided to move my birthday forward by a day. Why? Well, I prefer Saturdays to Sundays, although now that I'm on holiday I don't suppose it really makes much difference. Unfortunately, I didn't predict that I would develop a raging cold which has been steadily building up over the last couple of days and this morning hit me with the full force of a rampaging heffalump.

Anyway, what did I get? Well, I got the afforementioned The Hills Have Eyes, Naked Lunch and eXistenZ on DVD, and I'll discuss these in due course. My brother (Lyris) got me Walt Disney on the Front Lines. You may remember this as one of the two DVDs that went missing in the mail. I hadn't ordered another copy, so as you can imagine I was somewhat surprised when it came through the letterbox this morning. Needless to say, we immediately jumped straight to Der Führer's Face, an anti-Nazi propaganda cartoon featuring Donald Duck -- and quite a well-made one too, I must admit, even if it comes with a cringe-inducing ending. This is a cartoon we had only previously experienced on a crummy DivX video from a non-telecined VHS source, so it was something of a revelation to see it with a good quality transfer. The experience was similar, I suppose, to viewing a decent-quality DivX of the long-banned Ren & Stimpy cartoon Man's Best Friend last year, after only having previously seen an 8th generation LP NTSC VHS copy.

Anyhoo, Naked Lunch. I haven't watched the whole film yet, but I can tell you that The Rock has now been toppled from the position of best DVD transfer, after nearly three years' reign as the undefeated (and unchallenged) champion. It continually amazes me the kind of quality the people at Criterion are able to put out. Either a high quality DVD transfer is hard to do, or the other companies are just completely incompetent. It's probably somewhere in between the two, to be honest. As with almost all Criterion releases, it comes with a nicely-produced 32-page booklet featuring credits, transfer information and a number of very informative essays. Yessiree bob, Criterions are well worth the extra cost over "regular" DVD releases.

The Hills Have Eyes. I was quite surprised by this film. Wes Craven's second movie after the notorious The Last House on the Left, it initially had a slow start, but once it got going it became extremely engaging. It's fairly obvious that the recent cannibal horror movie Wrong Turn (which, incidentally, I went to see at the cinema this time last year for my 20th birthday) owes a LOT to this film, and it's quite interesting to compare the different approaches of the two films. The Hills Have Eyes is a far nastier piece of work, with dog-eating, rape, kidnapping of babies, tree crucifixions, gasolene explosions and some truly disturbing cannibals, including the excellent Michael Berryman, whose lack of facial hair and overall unusual appearance (the result of premature birth and major corrective surgey) are far more effective than all of Stan Wilson's latex and karo syrup in the afforementioned Wrong Turn. The Hills Have Eyes also has a pretty hard-hitting message (the oft-used "who are the real savages?") that, for once, works. Great selection of extras from Anchor Bay, including a decent career retrospective for Wes Craven, a restoration demonstration and an in-depth documentary about the film itself.

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July 02, 2004
Lilo & Stitch
[Posted 10:50 PM by Whiggles]

I pre-ordered the upcoming Italian 2-disc special edition of Lilo & Stitch from DVDLand.it.

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New SCUM update
[Posted 12:40 PM by Whiggles]

The Society of Cutting Up Movies has updated its web site to discuss the appointment of a reformed homosexual as its new executive consultant for the Perversion Department.

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Warcraft III patch 1.16 released
[Posted 10:19 AM by Whiggles]

Blizzard has released another patch for Warcraft III. Connect to Battle.net to update your copy, and go here for a list of balance changes, bug fixes, etc.

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July 01, 2004
New SCUM update
[Posted 08:57 PM by Whiggles]

The Society of Cutting Up Movies has updated its web site with news of a brand new piece of hardware designed to eradicate unwholesome imagery from videogrammes!

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Monitor
[Posted 01:47 PM by Whiggles]

I connected up my new TFT last night. I got tired of waiting for my birthday. =D

This is, when all said and done, a much nicer monitor than the Iiyama I paid so much money for. Ignoring the fact that the previous monitor buzzed, it's also amazing how much less ghosting there is, and how much sharper the image seems. I'm connected through VGA, since my new video card hasn't arrived yet, but I must say that all the VGA problems I had on the Iiyama are gone on this one. Moiré is a non-issue, and it managed to calibrate the phase, pitch and screen positions automatically, whereas on the Iiyama the auto calibration option was worse than useless, and I had to continually fiddle about with minute settings in order to get an image that wasn't covered with blurry streaks, shimmering and all sorts of banding. Yessirree bob, this is a nicer piece of equipment all round.

But like I've always said, there are drawbacks to TFTs. It's not the simple case of TFT > CRT, in the way that the crazed TFT zealots would have you think. Switching from a CRT to a TFT means trading good and bad. While, for example, a TFT takes up much less space, doesn't flicker and is not subject to glare (i.e. from the sun shining on the glass screen), the way TFTs are designed brings its own problems. For one thing, I'm not much of a fan of backlighting. In particular, because backlighting has a tendency to be uneven, as is the case on this monitor. By fiddling with the brightness, gamma and backlighting level, I've managed to set up the monitor in a way that the unevenness is minimalized, but there is still a slight vertical gradient effect, in that the top half of the screen is slightly darker than the bottom half. This is something that no amount of tilting or swivelling the monitor will fix, but I guess it's something I can live with. I've seen this side effect to a certain extent on every TFT I've come into contact with, so I guess it's just something that's pretty common across the board. Another downside to the TFT is contrast. The blacks never look as deep as they do on a good CRT -- they look more like grey -- and when watching DVDs, night scenes tend to get a little muddy. I'm also having trouble getting used to the fact that, whenever I move my head, the brightness of the screen seems to alter slightly. This will no doubt become less noticeable over time though.

It is a very nice monitor, don't get me wrong, but I honestly wouldn't believe anyone who says that TFTs are 100% better than CRTs in every way. That's bullshit.

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The Butterfly Effect
[Posted 01:23 PM by Whiggles]

The Butterfly Effect (R1 USA) arrived this morning. I've watched it now, and here are my thoughts.

Note: the version I watched is the directors' cut, which among other things, has a totally different ending from the studio theatrical cut. Therefore, anything I might say here may not apply to the theatrical version.

Overall, I found The Butterfly Effect to be very interesting. Written and directed by Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber, the writers of Final Destination 2, the film is certainly not without style, and it has the balls to do things you normally wouldn't expect to find in a film starring Ashton Kutcher who, by the way, is pretty good in this. Suggestions of paedophilia, prison gang rape and so on, for example. It gives the film a gritty sense of reality, despite the fanciful concept of time travel and altering reality, and I applaud New Line for having the balls to release this film. I mentioned style, and the film certainly has plenty of it, but it's the kind of thing that only crops up at certain moments. The rest of the film looks and feels like every other recent horror movie aimed at a teenagers/twentysomethings market. That's not really a problem, but it certainly never approaches the kind of continual stylistic bombardment that, oh, say, Cronenberg, Argento or Bava would be capable of.

In summary, The Butterfly Effect gets a hearty thumbs-up recommendation from me. Definitely go see the movie if it's still in cinemas where you are, or failing that, get the DVD. 8/10.

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