The Carrier, the Most Desperately Needed Upgrade of All! Code Red Catch-Up, Part 7

And we wrap up Code Red Catch-Up not with an DVD/ Blu-ray comparison, but one I desperately wish was a DVD blu-ray comparison: a very strange, Michigan horror allegory called The Carrier.  Yes, like the films of Scott Spiegel (i.e. Intruder) and Josh Becker (i.e. Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except), this is one a small crop of 80s horror tied to the Evil Dead family.  Joe Loduca did the score, Bruce Campbell did the sound (and has a sort of cameo appearance), Peter Deming did the cinematography, Bob Kayganich and Gary Jones worked on the effects, etc.  But honestly, writer/ director Nathan J. White has definitely created his own weird thing that has to be taken on its own terms.  I definitely wouldn't recommend this film along "oh, hey, you like The Evil Dead?"  It's maybe more of an "oh, hey, you like The Spirits of Jupiter?"
The plot summary of this film speaks for itself, so I'll just tell it.  A social reject in a small town called Sleepy Rock is attacked one night by... well, basically a big foot.  Yeti?  Anyway, he survives, but winds up with a strange curse where anything he touches becomes toxic, so if anybody else touches it, they melt horribly.  This starts to spread out of control horribly, and everybody in the town gets hysterical.  An out of town doctor comes into town to try and set everybody straight, but it's too late.  The town's populace has split into two warring factions, with flags and everything.  And the most coveted currency becomes cats, because you can use them to touch objects and see if they'll make you make you melt.  So everybody is killing each other over cats, and it's played about as straight as it possibly could be, like some sort of demented AIDS parable, or as the director tells us, a metaphor for guilt.
Why yes, all the characters do spend most of the film wrapped in garbage bags.  Look, this movie is a low budget and amateurish as it is ambitious and artistically committed.  Most average viewers looking for Hollywood gloss and conventional stories are going to hate this as soon as they can stop laughing at it.  But it's also kind of delightfully wonderful.  It's such a crazy story.  Two people are killed by a Dr. Seuss book, a rapist dissolves mid-assault and another guy melts into an outhouse, three little kids fight three bikers to the death.  There's some real production value as mobs fill the streets with overturned cars, a period look and lots of special effects shots.  What's not to love?
So, this film has only been released once anywhere in the world: Code Red's 2010 disc.  I'd been waiting for it for years and years, I even bought a VHS rip from VHSPS back in the day, which I've still got.  It took until almost the end of the SD era to get a legit DVD (and yes, VHSPS removed The Carrier from their catalog when Code Red released this properly).  And like the title says, it was already in desperate need of a reissue the day it came out.  It's only got truer over the last seven years.  I'm sure you've already got the gist from the screenshots we looked at so far; but once we compare it with that VHSPS rip and you'll really see why.
VHSPS tape rip top; Code Red 2010 DVD below.
So, this film is clearly fullscreen, and even for SD, low on detail.  VHSPS just gives you direct rips of the original VHS tapes (in this case the Magnum Entertainment tape from 1988), FBI warnings and all.  And sadly, they don't look much different apart from Code Red's disc being less yellow.  And yes, they both have serious interlacing problems; it just affects alternate frames.  Code Red tops the rip' it is a little more detailed and sharper.  It looks like it's from a cleaner 1" tape than a standard commercial VHS tape.  But guys, this film was shot on 35mm.  It could look so, so much better.  And to make it all the more frustrating, the director talks about how he has all the original 35 film elements on the commentary.  He even refers to having a director's cut, how it originally screened, with a scene the distributors made him cut out because they felt it was too extreme.  Why didn't Code Red use any of that?  Argh!  So frustrating!

Anyway, Code Red's mono audio is perfectly fine, and naturally there are no subtitle options.
After all my gripes, I have to say I was still happy to get this disc because it has a great audio commentary with Nathan J. White and a very effusive Scott Spiegel.  I was disappointed not to get a proper widescreen transfer, but on the other hand I never thought I'd get to hear the director talk about his film.  And it's great, highly energetic the whole way through.  Lots of behind the scenes memories, Sam Raimi anecdotes and sorely needed explanations of the madness onscreen.  Bill Olsen chimes in with a couple good questions, too.  Besides that, we get the original theatrical trailer, plus some bonus trailers including the obligatory Family Honor one on start-up.
Look, I am not mad at Code Red's DVD.  It's still the only legit release of this film I love since Magnum put it out on tape in the 80s, and it did improve upon the picture quality to some degree.  Plus it gave us that great commentary.  I'd still buy it in a heartbeat if I didn't already have it.  But man, every time I see Code Red upgrade another one of their back catalog titles to blu-ray, which they've been doing at an admirably insane rate, it kills me when The Carrier isn't among them.  No title in their collection is in more desperate need than this one: a fresh 2k scan of those 35mm film elements, widescreen, HD, with that cut scene restored?  Oh my god, please!  Nobody would hesitate to double dip on that one.  Heck, get just a five minute phone interview with Bruce Campbell, it'd probably shoot up to being one of the best selling titles.

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