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DVD image comparison: Black Sunday


As you may have noticed, yesterday was Friday the 13th, and I celebrated in grand style by watching an ‘orror film (as Letícia Román would say), in this case Mario Bava’s Black Sunday with audio commentary by Tim Lucas, as found on the new disc in The Mario Bava Collection Volume 1 from Anchor Bay. This is a title that continues to leave me rather cold, as many of Bava’s more celebrated films inexplicably do. It’s beautifully shot, and Barbara Steele is magnificent (the perfect blend of horror and beauty), but it doesn’t grip me in the way that The Girl Who Knew Too Much does. I suppose that, generally speaking, you could argue that this is because I prefer gialli to gothic horror, but that doesn’t explain why my reaction to Blood and Black Lace is similarly lukewarm, or why Suspiria is my favourite Italian film, horror or giallo.

Anyway, I’ve put together a comparison between the old Image Entertainment disc (kindly supplied to me by Lee) and the new Anchor Bay one. It’s so close that I’m not going to call it either way. The new Anchor Bay disc is minutely more contrasty than the Image version, giving the illusion of a slight detail boost, and some print damage has been cleaned up. Both exhibit noise reduction artefacts in the form of “crawling” grain during camera movement. As with The Girl Who Knew Too Much, the sound on both releases is effectively the same, although the AB version is 2-channel mono rather than single-channel. There is also little appreciable difference between the extras, although the newer release does gain a US trailer, TV spot and Barbara Steele biography while losing the rather informative text-based notes on the Italian version of the film. All things considered, they more or less cancel each other out.

Ultimately, if you already own the Image Entertainment DVD, I don’t see much point in rushing out to pick up the Anchor Bay release. However, the fact that it is packaged in The Mario Bava Collection Volume 1 with four other Bava titles, many of which do contain noticeable improvements on their predecessors, means that many people will no doubt end up with this disc anyway.

Posted: Saturday, April 14, 2007 at 11:29 AM | Comments: 8
Categories: Cinema | DVD



Fascinating! It proves once again that your "one on top of the other" (see what I did there?) method is the best way to do comparisons. Without it, I wouldn't have been able to see the difference except where there's frame damage.

Posted by: Philly Q, April 14, 2007 10:54 AM


Indeed - I was a little surprised myself by how little difference there was between the two of them. Quite a few people have claimed to notice a significant improvement on the AB disc, but I suspect that this is just the placebo effect - unless a handful of removed speckles really makes that much difference for some viewers.

Posted by: Whiggles, April 14, 2007 11:02 AM


I only compared mine by playing one disc after another - not the most reliable of tests, obviously! But to my eye, apart from the cleaned-up print damage, the first 4 films in the set look very similar to the Image transfers.

Posted by: Philly Q, April 14, 2007 11:27 AM


I wonder does the fact that the Anchor Bay uses a dual mono 192kbps as opposed to single channel 192kbps mean that the sound is actually more compressed? It’s effectively 96kbps pumped through two channels…

Posted by: , April 14, 2007 5:30 PM


I imagine it’s entirely possible, but I listened quite extensively to both of them and couldn’t detect any difference. 96 Kbps seems generally considered to be a perfectly adequate bit rate per channel (it’s slightly more than you’ll get with a full bit rate 448 Kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 mix).

Posted by: Whiggles, April 14, 2007 5:42 PM


Hi Michael.

Hoping you will be doing a review of KILL BABY, KILL as I'm not informed enough to properly put together the problems I'm seeing on that transfer.

They do require some explication, however - the transfer's just not up to snuff.

I wonder if we'll ever get to see Dark Sky's attempt. Though, based on their COUNT DRACULA and SLAUGHTER OF THE VAMPIRES, maybe they wouldn't have naied it either.

Posted by: Jeffrey Allen Rydell, April 15, 2007 12:58 AM


Hi Jeffrey,

I don’t have any other copies of Kill Baby, Kill, so I won’t be able to do a comparison of that title, but I do intend to do an in-depth post about it once I’ve watched it. You’re right, the transfer is not very good (something about which I’ve had some disagreements with other posters on certain forums). A glance at this comparison at DVD Beaver suggests that the source used is the same one that was used for the Laser Paradise release. I may try to match up some captures from the new release with the ones provided on DVD Beaver to get some idea of just how similar they are.

I to would have liked to see the Dark Sky release, although I’m not prepared to shell out upwards of $250 for one of the small number of copies that are floating about on eBay!

Posted by: Whiggles, April 15, 2007 9:29 AM


Having done my own A/B comparison of the Image/AB Black Sunday, to my eyes the AB is decidedly sharper, which I'm most appreciative of.

As to Kill Baby Kill, it is shocking how many of these Internet "reviewers" are saying it's a great, colorful transfer. It's colorful if you like orange and yellow - it's not colorful if you'd like a transfer that actually looks like the film is supposed to. As ratty as the trailer is, the color is a little more accurate - not perfect, but not with all that ridiculous yellow and orange. It's basically a disaster, but I'm told that the Dark Sky disc is similar. Of course, Tim Lucas hasn't spoken up on that matter, even though he has the DS disc and, I'd have to imagine, the AB disc. The Savant, who is not to be trusted about transfers, has said they are very close.

Posted by: bk, April 16, 2007 9:18 PM

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