The Evil Dead appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Despite the limitations of the source, this became an appealing presentation.
The problems I found almost certainly resulted from the original photography. Sam Raimi and company filmed Dead on 16mm stock and blew it up to 35mm. Despite the resolution restrictions inherent in 16mm, the image tended to provide fairly satisfying visuals.
Sharpness varied quite a lot. Some shots appeared pretty sharp, while others came across as moderately soft and blurry.
I faulted the source for that, as I didnít sense the presence of DNR or anything that would rob the image of detail. The flick still featured plenty of grain, so if the transfer used any DNR, it went with a gentle application. No issues with jaggies or shimmering appeared, and I failed to discern any edge haloes or artifacts.
Source flaws also were surprisingly absent. Some ďgate dirtĒ occasionally cropped up around the edges of the frame, but those ďconcernsĒ came with the original photography. No specks, marks, spots or other defects appeared.
Colors lacked much vivacity, but then was another aspect of the original photography. This wasnít meant to be a lively palette, and it stayed on the subdued side of natural colors. Given their inherent limitations, the hues seemed satisfying, and the HDR of the 4K UHD added a little extra pep to the tones.
The same went for blacks and shadows. Dark tones tended to be a bit on the mushy side, but not terribly so; those elements exhibited acceptable density.
Shadows also veered into opacity on occasion, but most of the shots demonstrated positive clarity. Ultimately, I felt the presentation deserved a ďBĒ due to its inherent ugliness, but I felt pleased with the accuracy the transfer brought to the table. The film looked better than I expected, to say the least.
As for the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack, it worked surprisingly well given the filmís roots. Unfortunately, the Blu-ray failed to include the original monaural audio. Nonetheless, I liked the updated track.
Some multichannel remixes come across as forced and gimmicky, and on occasion, those traps affected Dead. However, as a whole I thought the tracks worked surprisingly well. The soundfield seemed quite active throughout the film, as it cranked up the spooky factor.
Actually, I found it to sound a bit too active at times, mainly during quieter scenes. During those periods, the mix worked overtime to give us something - or anything - to remind us that this was a brand-new multichannel track. It could seem somewhat distracting and forced.
However, all was forgiven during louder scenes; the soundtrack excelled on those occasions. The mix created a solid sense of atmosphere and placement and blended together quite well. Music showed nice stereo presence, and the effects were accurately placed and moved neatly.
Surround usage appeared quite strong overall. Again, the rears seemed a bit too active at times, but usually the track boasted an involving environment.
Not surprisingly, the mix faltered when I examined the quality of the audio, but even so, it didnít betray its origins too badly. Speech showed the gravest concerns, as much of the dialogue appeared thin and edgy. The lines remained reasonably intelligible, but they didnít seem very natural or warm.
Effects also betrayed a shrill tone at times, and they displayed some mild distortion. Nonetheless, they showed fairly good clarity most of the time, and they featured some excellent low-end response on occasion.
The score worked the best, as it demonstrated good dynamics and clarity across the board. I noticed a little hiss at times, but other source flaws caused no concerns. Ultimately, the audio for The Evil Dead displayed too many defects to earn a grade higher than a ďBĒ, but I think fans will like the remix nonetheless.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the 2010 Blu-ray? Audio was identical, as both discs offered the same Dolby TrueHD 5.1 tracks.
As for visuals, they showed a mild uptick, though the limitations of the 16mm source didnít allow for much improvement. I thought blacks and colors were a bit stronger, and sharpness came across as a smidgen tighter. If you own the 2010 Blu-ray, I wouldnít urge you to run out and buy the 4K right away, but it did offer a slightly superior version of the film.
The 4K UHD itself includes only one component: an audio commentary from director Sam Raimi, producer Robert Tapert and actor Bruce Campbell. All three sit together for this running discussion of the filmís origins and development, raising financing, shooting on location in Tennessee, assembling the movie, and the flickís reception and continued legacy.
Donít expect an even vaguely screen-specific conversation. Itís barely apparent that the movie runs while they chat. They make a couple of cursory references to the onscreen action but nothing more, so if you dislike non-specific tracks, this one wonít please you.
That format is fine with me, however, at least when the results are this terrific. All three participants have known each other forever, and that familiarity allows them to mix together in a satisfying way. They tell the story of the flickís creation in a thorough, entertaining manner that makes this a terrific commentary.
A second disc offers a Blu-ray copy of Dead - the same one from 2010. That means it includes only the audio commentary and lacks other extras.
The 2010 Blu-ray came with a bonus DVD that boasted a slew of useful extras. Unfortunately, those donít reappear here.
For all its legendary status, I must admit Iím not all that wild about Evil Dead. I think itís entertaining and respect its status as a groundbreaker, but it just doesnít do a lot for me based on its own merits. The 4K UHD provides surprisingly positive picture and audio plus a great commentary. Unfortunately, the package loses a bunch of supplements from prior releases. If bonus materials matter to you, go for the 2010 Blu-ray, but the 4K UHD becomes the most satisfying visual presentation Ė if just by a little.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of THE EVIL DEAD