Code Red's the Redeemer Vs Code Red's the Redeemer (DVD/ Blu-ray Comparison)

In 2010, Code Red released The Redeemer: Son of Satan on DVD. And in 2014 he released it again on blu-ray, in a limited run of 1,000 copies. These copies differ in a lot more than the simple fact that one is in standard def and the other in HD. Is one better than the other? Is the blu-ray worth up the upgrade if you already bought the DVD? Let's take a look.

The Redeemer (a.k.a. Class Reunion Massacre) is a weird precursor to slasher genre from 1978. A supernatural boy rises out a lake, hops a ride on a bus, and possesses a priest. I think. It's not exactly 100% clear what's supposed to be taking place, but that's a rough idea. Anyway, at the same time, a bunch of former classmates (each loosely representing one of the seven deadly sins) now living very distinct, disparate lives, receive invitations to a class reunion at their old school. But when they arrive, no one else is there except for that priest, flamboyantly played by T.G. Finkbinder, who has a penchant for disguises, giant creepy puppets and murdering sinners. The film has some bad acting, a real low budget feel, very 70s look, shifting tones and some cornball melodrama. But once the mayhem starts, it gets pretty entertaining and some sequences are surprisingly effective. It's like a less professional Slaughter High with a supernatural bent.
(this screenshot comes from backwoodshorror.blogspot.com)
The fact that Code Red's DVD uses a 35mm print makes it a huge step up in quality from the old VHS and past public domain Class Reunion Massacre DVDs sourced from said tape. I don't have the old Class Reunion disc, so I borrowed the upper screenshot from a review on backwoodshorror.blogspot.com for the comparison (it's a very fun review of the film, and very different from the one I'm writing - I recommend you pop over give it a read). It's small so the quality may not be a 100% fair representation of the quality; but it should give you a good idea. It is worth noting that it appears to be open matte, so it actually has more visual information on the top and bottom. But the Code Red is framed in its proper aspect ratio and clearly of higher quality. The color timing is notably different, too; but let's put a pin in that. Color timing is going to be a big point later on in this review.
The preceding message that appears on the screen once you hit play on the film, though: said 35mm print is very beat up and worn. (Also, maybe Desert Island Films should stop selling their DV-R on Amazon?)
There's tons of scratches, splotches, pops in the soundtrack and even green chemical burns, plus little skips and jumps throughout the film due to damage There's at least one vertical green line through almost every shot in the picture. This is a perfect example of one of Code Red's "grindhouse prints," but it's all they had, so what're you gonna do?  It's certainly a lot better than the past, low-def options.

So, low def, standard def... let's get to high def!

Since Code Red has a proper film print, albeit one that appears to have been stepped and beat on, there's image information there to be nicely enhanced by this new 1080p encode. So, right away, a healthy, natural upgrade, especially for those of you with nice, big TVs. But is that the only difference? Why no, my friend, it's not. Time to delve!
blu on the left; DVD on the right
Right from the opening shot there, differences are clear. Remember how I said we'd come back to color timing? Well, the DVD is looking pretty sickly yellowish/green there on the right, isn't it? The scratch damage is the same here and throughout most of the picture, so it's the same print. But you can see we've got a little extra picture on the sides where the black bars are on the DVD. But really, the significant improvement is in the color. Have a look:
again, blu on left; DVD on right.
What color do reckon is accurate for that swimming pool water? Blue or lagoon green? One of the multiple issues with the DVD is that the print had clearly faded and turned colors. This blu does a good job of restoring bringing it back. Even in subtler scenes, it's still noticeable:
Occasionally, however, you can say the DVD has an edge over the blu. Blacks are crushed to the point where we lose actually lose information in these shots:
her eyes and hair alongside her neck
the trees in the upper left
But that's a very minor quibble. For the most part, it's an east victory for the blu-ray. HD, colors, framing. It's just a superior presentation of the same print.
Except, what's this? How did they get out of sync there? It's because the blu-ray has also been upgraded to include an extra gore shot that was missing from the DVD! It was originally shaved because of print damage, but since Code Red has multiple (damaged) prints - they've said publicly that the DVD was made using the best out of four prints - they were able to take it from another one and edit it seamlessly into this disc. There's also an additional reaction shot that's only on the blu of the group looking at her body. It's just a few quick seconds, but still: more complete - yeah!
Also, a lot of viewers may be turning the film off already by this point, but the closing credits have been improved. It's even more noticeable in motion than from my screenshots here. And they've been re-framed a little tighter, which is clearly correct, because the DVD credits clearly fail the illusion of the words disappearing off the top of the screen. haha Also taken from another print, the blu-ray's credits have less scratches and spots on them and are noticeably less shaky. I'm sure we're low on the totem pole of people's concerns at this point, but higher quality closing credits are still better than lower ones. Clearly, more care has been put into this newer edition.
There's just one little disappointment. The DVD one minor extra, to quote the back of the box, "the original theatrical trailer taken from an old 1981 3/4 inch tape." It has some bad-ass narration and gives you a glimpse of the full-screen image. And it was left off of the blu-ray. Why? Well, this was very beginning of Code Red's forays into blu-ray, and they seemed to be  learning the technology as they went. Their first two blu-rays were this and Voices From Beyond, both of which didn't even have menus. Their later ones all do, so I suspect if this had been released later in the year, the trailer would've been on there. But, oh well. It's just a trailer. The DVD also opened with a trailer for Family Honor, and included bonus Code Red trailers for Nightmare, The Visitor, The Carrier, Horror High and Slithis.
Do the finger prints reveal the killer!?
So depending how big you are into this film (it's pretty poor in a lot of respects, after all, so not everyone's going to be a fan), the blu-ray may or may not be worth it. But it's definitely an upgrade, in a lot more respects than I think people even realize. So extra credit to Code Red for putting in the extra effort on this one. Hopefully viewers appreciate it.

P.S. - I realize almost 50% of DVDExotica's content so far has consisted of Code Red releases. That's not the plan, and I think you can expect things to balance themselves out over time. But with that said, you can definitely expect more Code Red titles to be covered here, 'cause their releases are right up our alley. 😎

2 comments:

  1. If Code Red was going between prints to find the best to compile, they sure overlooked Cindy being cut off mid-sentence when she's telling her drunken boyfriend she's going to the reunion. Since this happened at the reel change, I'm sure one of those prints had the full scene. Still, I love having this obscure gem on Blu-ray.

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  2. Great movie, just bought the blu ray can't wait to receive it! Thanks for the comparison!

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