Last Week: Some hopes for disc.

Somehow in this digital age of downloads and streams and ever-declining physical format sales, new announcements still surprise- indeed, all things considered it’s possibly more surprising than ever. Soundtrack releases and news of such have become a little scarce of late (unless you’re a Planet of the Apes fan) as many of the independent labels have run into a few issues lately with the studios they license scores from. But Quartet Records last week announced the release of a remastered and expanded edition of Philippe Sarde’s score for Ghost Story from 1981. The score is one of the finest horror scores but has always had limited releases, first on vinyl and later on a Varese CD that has commandeered high prices on the secondhand market for years. Its a big lush romantic symphonic score that’s also quite gothic and dark, and comes from the era when so many films had such different and unique soundtracks. It was one of my friend Andy’s favourite films and scores. Expect a review towards the end of the month.

Another announcement has been the 4K UHD release of Angel Heart, which I posted about yesterday. Its a funny thing, the films that are getting 4K UHD releases these days (Nic Roeg’s haunting Don’t Look Now got a restored 4K UHS release a few weeks back, also from StudioCanal). Apocalypse Now in 4K arrives this month and Kubrick’s The Shining in September. If done right, these can be the final and definitive editions for the home – pity about my DVD and Blu-ray copies that got us here, but if physical formats are nearing their Retirement Date at least they’re going out with a bang. Hell, rumours were afoot this week that Disney is prepping the original Star Wars films for 4K release next year, and it’s an old adage that when Star Wars hits a format it’s officially hit its stride/become popular so hey, 4K may not be as niche as its cracked up to be.

So anyway, it’s gotten me wondering about James Cameron’s The Abyss, which is enjoying its 3oth anniversary this year. Incredibly we never got the film on Blu-ray at all, so a 4K release would be a big leap from the old DVD release, and there has certainly been rumours around for the past few months (although to be fair, there have been rumours before over the years of an HD upgrade, so wait and see).

The R1 special edition of The Abyss I have was from the halcyon days of the format, when studios repeatedly tried to outdo themselves with ever-more elaborate special editions with documentaries and all sorts of behind the scenes footage and fancy menu animations – one of the things that disappoints with 4K discs is the really primitive front-ends, having to trawl through seperate screens to get to the audio or scene menus? Really? Anyway, if there is any truth to the rumours, we should be hearing some announcement in the next month or so if its coming before the end of this year. It’d be great to cap off my irregular ‘Party like it’s 1989’ reviews with one about The Abyss hitting 4K UHD.

3 thoughts on “Last Week: Some hopes for disc.

  1. Matthew McKinnon

    We all have our wish lists, I guess. I can’t believe that – with some of the zero-budget garbage from the 70s and 80s that gets blu-ray special editions these days – we somehow can’t get a release of The Parallax View or Michael Ritchie’s Smile, for example.

    Though one of the good things about 4K is that it’s pretty much the final frontier for home video. Any higher resolution is a waste of time unless you have an actual cinema-sized screen. So studios are gradually going through their old film archives and retransferring their old movies. And to offset some of the cost, we get physical releases of often odd – but pleasing – choices. Long may it continue.

    As for the Abyss, a digital colourist posted on Twitter a couple of months ago that he was working on a new 4K transfer – with a photo as well – but I guess it’s all down to Cameron finding the time to approve it, which won’t happen for some time. Still, I caught half an hour of The Abyss on TV the other night and concluded that I don’t really need to see it ever again.

    It occurs to me: given that Cameron found time to oversee Terminator 2 and Aliens (repeatedly), maybe he’s just not that arsed about The Abyss and True Lies? Fair enough on the latter, it’s pure garbage. But maybe they’re his Dune. Just didn’t work out how he wanted exactly, not keen on revisiting them. Just a thought.

    1. The thing I can’t understand, is that after they invested so much into something like The Abyss, I’d have thought the studio would be keen to maximise the return by releasing it in whatever new formats come around. Lord only knows how much Lucasfilm etc earned from fans double and triple-dipping on copies of Star Wars films across VHS (pan & scan and later widescreen), Laserdisc, DVD and Blu-ray. If I counted up the money I’ve spent on editions of Blade Runner I’d likely choke.

  2. It seems ridiculous that The Abyss hasn’t had a release since the days of non-anamorphic DVD. I suppose it’s more of a cult favourite than Cameron’s biggest films, but when there are definitely people clamouring for it… I guess it does all come down to Cameron being too busy/disinterested to approve it. I wouldn’t be surprised if T2 and Aliens had more of an “if you don’t come and approve this we’ll just do it without you” attitude from the studios.

    Looking forward to Apocalypse Now in 4K, though it’s another case where my Blu copy has sat embarrassingly unwatched since its release. Might try to squeeze in a viewing of the theatrical cut in 1080 before the Final Cut in 4K.

    StudioCanal seem to be a real driver of slightly-unexpected 4K discs. I’ve wondered if they’re doing 4K restorations anyway and just putting them out on 4K disc sort of as a bonus, which then makes me wonder if some of their older 4K restorations are actually going to get overlooked. I’m mainly thinking of Highlander, which they put out on BD from a 4K restoration over 3 years ago now. I’d personally love that film in an edition like they’ve given to Don’t Look Now and those four Carpenter films.

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