Blue Underground's God Told Me To.... In 4k!? (DVD/ Blu-ray Comparison)

You might've noticed I'm a bit of a Larry Cohen fan by now, and once I read that Blue Underground had created a bunch of new features for their blu-ray of one of Cohen's most out there features, I was already on board. I've owned the old Charter VHS tape of God Told Me To, upgraded to Blue Underground's 2003 DVD, and as of yesterday morning, I've upgraded to their new blu-ray edition. An HD upgrade would be pretty sweet for such an off the beaten path flick as this already, but I wasn't expecting to flip the case over and read "brand-new 4k High-Definition transfer from the original uncensored negative." 4k, what is this, Ghostbusters? I know they did it for the Maniac Cop sequels, which were incredible releases; but I figured sure, for Lustig's own films... but now here it is, a brand new 4k scan of God Told Me To!
I mean, God Told Me To is one weird film... It may not be Cohen's weirdest - I think that title still goes to The Stuff - but that film was light-hearted and silly. This is equally weird, but also pretty grim and disturbing.Tony Lo Bianco is a New York police detective who finds himself investigating a series of heartless murders seemingly commuted at random by disparate, everyday people. A man with a sniper rifle starts shooting people on the street from a rooftop, another man murders his wife and small children in their apartment - all played in a straight-forward, realistic manner. The only connection between the killers is that they all claim "God told me to."

Well, I'm not going to give away what turns out to be behind the killings, but I guarantee you'd never guess where this film is going unless someone spoiled it for you. But it goes in some wild, creative directions, that just barely hold together by the strength of Cohen's writing. Some great supporting actors really help bolster the proceedings to, including the instantly memorable Richard Lynch, a harrowing turn by Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf's Sandy Dennis, Cohen stalwart James Dixon and a small, surprisingly non-comic role by Andy Kaufman. I'd put this right alongside the very best of Cohen's work, but if you're expecting a light-hearted thriller along the lines of The Ambulance or Devil's Advocate, let alone a screwball comedy like Full Moon High, prepare yourself for a very different experience.
Blue Underground's 2003 DVD on top; and their 2015 blu on bottom.
Before sitting down to watch this properly on my television, I popped this into my PC drive just to have a quick look at it and my immediate reaction was: wow. This is the blu-ray experience. Blue Underground's DVD was already an excellent release, but the movie really feels alive now. The framing is pretty identical, but while the colors are vivid in both versions, but they pop even more, while still looking a little more natural, on the blu. The DVD leans a bit green in comparison. But it's all about the boost to HD and the improved detail. Just viewing these caps embedded in the blog doesn't show you the rich improvement of the new blu; you've gotta be sure you're viewing them full size. Let's get in close so we can really appreciate it.
Blue Underground's 2015 blu-ray left; and their 2003 DVD right.
Grain is still very much alive and untouched on the blue, and yet it's so much clearer and free of digital artifacting compared to the DVD.  The guys in the lower part of the image above look like a splotchy mess on the right, but perfectly real now on the blu.

The blu gives us three choices in the audio department:  7.1 DTS HD, 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround EX and the original mono track in DTS-HD for us purists. There are also optional English DTS, French and Spanish subtitles.The DVD was already pretty rich with audio options (four, not counting the commentary), but the subtitle options are brand new.
And how about those new extras? The original DVD had an excellent commentary with Larry Cohen and William Lustig, where they had a great back and forth yet imparted a lot of info, and that's been ported over here. Hidden as an Easter egg was also a brief Q&A with Larry Cohen at a NY film festival, which has been carried over and unhidden. The DVD was already pretty loaded with trailers. It had the original theatrical trailer, plus seven TV spots, including two which sell the film under the alternative title of Demon. But the blu goes even a bit further, including all seven spots, the trailer, plus another full theatrical trailer which uses the Demon title. Both discs also share a poster and stills gallery.

But that's about all the DVD had. Loved the commentary, and the Easter egg was a nice touch; but it still didn't quite feel like a special edition. Well, they've fixed that with the blu-ray. First there's an all new, and very charming 20+ minute Q&A sessions with Larry Cohen, where he's full of great anecdotes. There's also a new interview with special effects artist Steve Neill who got his start on this film and wound up working with Larry for a whole bunch of films, and he talks about all of them. Finally, there's another interview with the star, Tony Lo Bianco, who shows a real appreciation for this bizarre entry in his resume, except for one particular scene.
This is a terrific, underrated little movie, and it just received a best case scenario blu-ray release. I have some pretty high expectations from Blue Underground, and they've definitely exceeded them. If you were waiting for reviews before upgrading this one, go right on ahead!

No comments:

Post a Comment