Grindhouse Blu’s Party Like it’s 2006

So, here’s a little slice of the Editor’s life. I live in the Pacific Northwest and work from home, traveling to Home Theater’s Los Angeles offices about a week per month to close each print issue. Last week and next week are back to back closes for HT’s December issue and the massive Buyer’s Guide annual. Coming home from these work trips, after catching up with the family my favorite ritual is opening up my stack of packages that inevitably arrive in my absence, which always includes my supplementary/impulse buys from Amazon. Yes, movies and music.

So, last night, arriving home for my weekend mini break between LA trips I open up a box from Amazon, and there she is, the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino Grindhouse Double Feature of Planet Terror and Death Proof. This, I thought, was awesome. While both films were released separately on Blu-ray in 2008, this release is loaded with new extras and presents the films back-to-back, as a full double feature, with spoof trailers before the first feature and after the second. This style of presentation is the Grindhouse ethic, hearkening back to the drive-in exploitation double features of the 1970’s. I dig this whole approach.

So, as I’m looking over this new 2-disc set late on a Friday night and trying to figure out if I’ve got three hours of consciousness in me, buzz kill! The soundtrack info says, and I quote, “English 5.1 Dolby Digital.” This can’t be. I run down stairs and grab my separate releases. Sure enough, Dolby TrueHD on the earlier releases. This has to be a mistake on the packaging. I rummage through and open the movie disc and pop it in. The logos start and the PS3’s Display shows Dolby Digital. I still hold a sliver of hope. Sometimes the logos are cut and pasted. I skip to chapter 3 of Death Proof. Feh! Sure enough, old-fashioned legacy Dolby Digital. What the hell is this, 2006 all over again?

I have no idea how a decision like this gets made. The entire runtime is 191 minutes, and while that’s long, it’s hard to imagine this was strictly a bit budget issue. So, Rodriguez/Tarantino fans, here’s your conundrum. The previously released discs feature extended cuts of each feature, and TrueHD lossless soundtracks, but lack some of the double feature coolness, trailers and some nice new extras. The new disc’s single glaring omission is lossless audio. Hey, ultimate picture and sound is the most important thing around these parts. I’m hosed, since I already bought this new set, but anyone else out there who already has the previous releases but was looking forward to this, caveat emptor.

I'm curious for your take on this. Are you more interested in the utmost in picture and sound, or the goodies and spiffy extras?

Scott Miller's picture

This is stupid. Yes, I love the HD clarity. But the biggest advantage of my blu-ray player over my very nice DVD player is the sound - my sub has never, ever, ever sounded like it does with the blu-ray. And it doesn't sound like that with Dolby Digital 5.1, only with the lossless audio. I don't have enough hours in my life to worry about a movie's extras, so I rarely ever go beyond the movie itself (woe is me, I know). So the movie experience itself is of utmost importance. I simply will not buy a blu-ray without lossless audio, so this set of discs will never be part of my collection. What a stupid, stupid decision on the studio's part.

David Vaughn's picture

Bonus features should always take a backseat to the audio and video presentation. No exceptions...demand a refund!

Shane's picture

I don't suppose, Dave, that it matters to you that a trailer for Werewolf Women of the S.S. is among these extras?

Shane's picture

Then there's this too. This Double Feature disc replicates the way this movie was intended to be shown to audiences by the filmmakers. So, is the integrity of the artistic presentation trumped by the quality of the technical presentation?

Tyler's picture

That is absolutely inexcusable. There is no reason for studios to be releasing lossy versions. Period.

Bob (LOTR)'s picture

The World is regressing! ...Back to the DVD age!Was Blu-ray strictly for Extras? Or was it supposed to be first Best Picture & Best Sound? Yeah, I tought so too!

David Vaughn's picture

Wow...that's a tough one Shane, but I'd still vote for lossless audio and give up the premium trailer.

FrakU's picture

When I go to the movies I generally enjoy the experience and I want to replicate that experience at home! That's why I have a huge bigscreen just like everyone reading this! I saw Avatar in 3D at IMAX and I knew this was the future and I wanted to have that at home so I went and got it! Yeah im an super early adopter on this but I have no complaints and the 3D is good. If you hate 3D I think you're just plain crazy and you can all go frak yourselfs! Im done here.