Controversial Blus: Death Laid an Egg Indeed (DVD/ Blu-ray Comparison)

Hoo boy.  This disc.  Well, big thanks to reader Simon for sending me a copy of Cult Epic's limited edition release of Death Laid an Egg to cover as a controversial blu.  Not that I'm sure there's much controversy to be had; I think pretty much anyone who looks at it can universally agree that something's off here.  See, this was originally limited to 300 copies (I've got #280 here) as more of a bonus incentive in an indiegogo campaign they were running for a new book.  A 3-disc combo pack of Blu, DVD, and a bonus soundtrack CD.  So okay, as just a "perk" giveaway, you'd keep your expectations in check.  But that was just a special pre-release.  A 2-disc combo pack (same thing, minus the soundtrack) was released wide back in November.  I'd casually kept tabs on the story of this release online all along... but now that I've been able to finally pop this disc into my player and see what people have been talking about for myself, yeesh.
Mind you, I have nothing bad to say about Death Laid an Egg itself.  It's a film I first noticed when I was young because, obviously, of its ridiculous title.  Especially since this isn't even a screwball comedy, but a reasonably serious giallo.  I could never quite push myself to blind-buy it from Video Search of Miami ('cause they weren't cheap!), but I always saw the film receiving high critical marks.  It's the film European Trash Cinema magazine famously called "my favorite Euro-trash film ever" (v.2, issue 6, though I believe they later devoted an entire issue just to this film).  It's a weird little film (as you'd expect), about secret affairs, blackmail, the prerequisite mysterious gloved killer, and yes, there's a mutant chicken.
I'm not sure I'm as enamored with the film as ETC.  Gialli tend to run dry for me, including this one.  And the fact that the soundtrack to this film is. dare I say, intentionally annoying is fitting... it doesn't make for an experience I long to revisit.  I'm happy to report that there's definitely more to this film than the novelty of its title, but it never really draws me in on a personal level.  The editing is a bit gimmicky, the characters are a little flat.  It's a quirky, entertaining little flick, and I definitely appreciate that they're going for more of a deeper, wry commentary on the human condition than your average stylish but hollow murder mystery giallo.  But it still never rises to the level of something I'd hold up as a favorite.

Of course, it might not be helping that up 'till now, I've only seen the shorter, 86 minute cut.  So maybe that's not really enough to truly judge the movie fairly.  After all, it's just been recently discovered that there's a longer cut, with fifteen minutes of additional footage.  But you won't see it here, so that's already one good reason to hold off on this release.
2017 US Cult Epics DVD on top; blu-ray on bottom.
If you want another good reason, just look at it.  Okay, it's pale and soft; film grain has been smeared away.  Worse, there's scanner noise, and the disc isn't interlaced, but something is clearly wrong when the camera pans horizontally.  It looks like they upconverted an old, already tweaked non-anamorphic 480p DVD, and just applied deinterlacing.  The 1.78:1 framing seems alright, but the picture seems overly bright.  Honestly, it looks worse than the decades old Japanese DVD... I wish I had that here for comparison shots.
But really, you don't need a comparison to see that something's clearly wrong here.  I've been saving the worst for last: this weird edge enhancement that only pops up on seemingly random areas of the picture, but really strongly.  See those dark, black outlines that go around parts of his shoulders and hairline?  That's not the movie; that's some weird tinkering with the master.  Meanwhile, his features almost sink into his face due to lack of contrast.  But those spots are boldly black.

The sounds pretty weak, too.  We're given the choice of a DTS-HD 5.1 mix or Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0, and there's nothing wrong with them on par with the image, but they both sound tinny and light.  At least the subtitles look fine.  Oh yes, it's also interesting that both audio tracks are the Italian dub, which is great to have... but there is an English dub of this film.  Odd they left that out.
Special features are underwhelming, too.  There's just a a lobby card gallery, the trailer, and the film's soundtrack album as an audio file (and again on a separate CD if you got the limited edition).  And I understand, an old 60s giallo with limited exposure in the US, you don't expect a fancy special edition. 

Honestly, except for the picture quality, which truly is objectively problematic, the main reason to pass on this edition is the upcoming Nucleus disc.  Ironically, another indiegogo campaign had already been quite successful before Cult Epics started theirs.  They're releasing 2k restorations of Death Laid an Egg (and also Lady Frankenstein), which will include both this 86 minute and the longer cut of the film, both the Italian and English audio tracks (with subs), and a bunch of extras, including new and vintage featurettes, a commentary, alternate credits and more.  They've already published screenshots of their work, and it features none of the problems that plague this disc.  It's region free and comes out this year.
So okay, I'll concede that Cult Epics' disc isn't "unwatchable."  If you just want to see the story unfold, this'll do the trick.  I've bought and held onto DVDs that looked worse.  I've even recommended them, in lieu of anything else.  But no blu-ray should look like this.  And the fact that such a superior disc, in apparently every single way, is right around the corner, means you're really going to regret getting this edition instead of waiting an extra couple months.


  1. Pretty sure Nucleus release will be B locked ( and outstanding when we finally get it ).

  2. I've been told the Cult Epics Blu is also missing some violence compared to the German Blu.