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Better Off Dead
(Blu-ray)

review by Zach B.



MPAA Rating: PG

Running Time: 97 minutes

Starring: John Cusack, David Odgen Stiers, Diane Franklin, Kim Darby, Curtis Armstrong, Amanda Wyss

Written and Directed by: Savage Steve Holland



 

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $22.99

Features: Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 1.85:1 Widescreen 1080p High Definition, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English Stereo, French Mono, Spanish Mono, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Scene Selection (33 scenes)

Released: August 2nd, 2011

 


"Better Off Dead" is presented in 1080p high definition, preserving its widescreen theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It's far from a perfect transfer, but thankfully, my fears that the movie would be "digitally scrubbed" were not founded. It looks like you're watching an actual print of the movie, as there is a fine amount of film grain. Detail and fleshtones are well done, while color saturation is merely adaquete — not bad, but never bold either. Blemishes and dirt pieces are abound, as is shimmering. However, the transfer is pretty soft overall, and looks a bit faded at times. The visual quality is punched up compared to the DVD, but in relation to other catalog titles I've seen on Blu-ray, it's not overly spectacular. 

 


"Better Off Dead" has been given a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio remix. Despite utilizing all the channels and the subwoofer, the sound still feels a bit limited. Rupert Hines's synthy score sounds quite good, and can be pretty enveloping. Dialogue is always clear and easy to hear, while Lane's inner-voice creates a good effect. The sound effects are not always terribly discrete, but they make a decent enough impression: car accidents, suicide attempts, and of course, the famous ski finale. The .1 LFE isn't too much, fidelity is good and dynamic range is decently. All the sound elements are balanced properly too, meaning nothing ever sounds like it is overpowering something else. 

English Stereo, French Mono and Spanish Mono tracks are included. Subtitles in English, French and Spanish are on the disc as well.

 


Well, it's an improvement on the featureless DVD released nearly a decade ago: we get the Theatrical Trailer in full screen.

 



"Better Off Dead" is a beloved cult classic from the 1980s, and it's great to see it on Blu-ray. The movie now features a 5.1 mix, and its high-definiton debut is thankfully not digitally scrubbed. Still, it's pretty much empty on supplements — couldn't Paramount/CBS produce a retrospective after all these years? Fans of the movie — and there are tons of you — may not be able to resist picking it up on Blu-ray, but I'd at least recommend waiting for a price drop.