September 19, 2013

Blu-ray Essentials: When a Stranger Calls (1979)/Happy Brithday to Me (1981)

When it comes to buying horror movies on Blu-ray, we have one issue; we already own so many horror movies on DVD, that upgrading them all to Blu-ray would cost a small fortune.

There are some titles that we have to own in the best format available however, and so we open to you our Blu-ray Archives, which consist of what we consider to be Must Own Horror & Genre Blu-ray's.

When a Stranger Calls (1979) & (Happy Birthday to Me (1981)
Mill Creek Entertainment
Price: Currently $6.49 on Amazon (click pic above to order)
1 50 GB Blu-ray disc
Stranger- MPEG-4 AVC (22.00 Mbps) 1.85:1/AR
Birthday- MPEG-4 AVC (20.29 Mbps) 1.78:1/AR
Stranger- DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz, 24-bit)
Birthday-  DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
English SDH
Region A

When a Stranger Calls and Happy Birthday to Me are two classic Horror flicks from the time when the Horror Genre was just getting its footing, and each movie contributed something to the rise of the genre in their own way.

This isn't the most stunning of Blu-ray offerings (as far as the video/audio presentation goes), nor is it packed with extras or supplemental materials like most discs these days tend to be, but as a bare-bones offering, this is a good package at a great value. 

Stranger delivers some genuinely chilling scenes, and what might be the best opening act that a Horror movie has ever seen (for the record, we think that the final scene is almost as effective.) As much as certain elements of this movie were inspired by Black Christmas, Stranger has since inspired plenty of Horror flicks that followed after it.

"Have you checked the Children?"
Birthday, on the other hand, was hardly groundbreaking or inspiring. What it did do, was give us one of the first "Highbrow" slasher flicks amidst the throng of slashers that existed only to serve up naked coeds getting offed in overtly-visceral ways. This movie was more about the story than it was body count, and it proved that you can combine grisly kills with a solid narrative.

To have both of these lesser-known Horror movies on one Blu-ray disc, and for such a bargain price, is a beautiful thing.

There's some sort of period joke to be made here, but I digress...
For two lower-budget Horror flicks from the late 70's/early 80's, they look pretty good in high-def format. We were absolutely pleased with how crisp they looked, as both were fairly big improvements on their previous DVD versions.

The black levels are deep and solid, and both films retain a good amount of their grainy texture. There's also not a lot of evidence of compression or DNR having been applied to either film, which is always a good thing. Both films look about as sharp as they can here, considering that they were never meant to be visually dazzling to begin with, and it's unlikely that either of them will ever look better than they do here.

Neither Audio mix is spectacular here. Stranger offers up a standard Mono track, while Birthday gives us a solid 5.1 Lossless DTS track. Both sound alright, there's just nothing here for audiophiles to get excited about.

Sadly, for those of us who crave extra/special features, these discs are bare-bones and contain none.

As a Horror fan, you almost have to own When a Stranger Calls, if only for the superb opening sequence. Throw Happy Birthday to Me in there as a bonus, and you've got one hell of a combo at a price that you just can't beat.

This is most likely the best that either movie is ever going to look on a home video format, and both movies were welcomed (though not perfect) upgrades for our collection.

Click the cover art at the top to order yourself a copy from Amazon.

Lots of grisly imagery and acts are to be had in these flicks, and they both are fairly underrated genre offerings that deserve more attention than they get.


No comments :

Post a Comment