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Poltergeist (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

One of the greatest triumphs in horror, and always proving quite timeless, Poltergeist celebrated 40 years this past summer. Tobe Hooper’s film will be getting itself a 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray release finally, just in time for the spookiest month of the year. Sporting a new 4K transfer as well as some a remastered 5.1 track and the original theatrical mix in lossless format, it’ll also carry over the extras from the original Blu-ray release. The official release date is September 20th, coming out from Warner Bros alongside The Lost Boys debut on 4K Ultra-HD. You can order yourself a copy by using the paid Amazon Associates link that follows the review at the bottom of the page.

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Film

Strange and creepy happenings beset an average California family, the Freelings — Steve (Craig T. Nelson), Diane (JoBeth Williams), teenaged Dana (Dominique Dunne), eight-year-old Robbie (Oliver Robins), and five-year-old Carol Ann (Heather O’Rourke) — when ghosts commune with them through the television set. Initially friendly and playful, the spirits turn unexpectedly menacing, and, when Carol Ann goes missing, Steve and Diane turn to a parapsychologist and eventually an exorcist for help.

Turning 40 years young this year, Poltergeist still remains one of the most effective slices of horror ever created. I had the pleasure of discussing the film a few months back with Forbes’ Scott Mendelson as a part of our The Summer of ’82 at 40 pop culture retrospective series. You can hear our thoughts and analysis here at the 26:48 mark.

Video

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the standard Blu-ray disc, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail Poltergeist was due for an upgrade well before the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray format came around, its standard Blu-ray carrying an outdated VC-1 codec. And it looks absolutely top notch in its fresh, 4K transfer here on this new disc. The contrast is excellent, the sharper image boasting a lot more finer details and more nuanced picture. There’s lots of space in this image and a good range of depth on display.

Depth: Depth of field is pretty terrific with the interiors and exteriors showing off a pretty excellent sense of scale and big feeling to it all. Movements are filmic and natural with no issues coming from any sort of rapid motions or camera pans.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and rich and maybe the all star here in the improved image department. Shadows and darkness prove quite awesome and the contrast really helps to embolden all the colors and crispness of the image all around. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are bold and and natural with a great palette on display. They are saturated very nicely into this image and look incredibly authentic. HDR glow comes in nicely with lights, displays and the haunting ghostly visual effects.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial features and textures like freckles, stubble, make-up, dried and wet good, sweat and more are all very clear to see from any given distance in the frame.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA (Remastered), Original Theatrical English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA, French 2.0 Dolby Digital, German 2.0 Dolby Digital, Italian 2.0 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Castilian) 2.0 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Latin American) 2.0 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, German SDH, Italian SDH, Spanish (Castilian), Dutch, Spanish (Latin American), Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish

Dynamics: Poltergeist’s 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray debut has some nice updates on the audio front. While we aren’t blessed with a new Atmos track, the 5.1 has been remastered and is now DTS-HD MA track instead of a Dolby TrueHD one that had been on the Blu-ray discs. Also included is the original theatrical mix and its given to us in lossless format. Either way you swing it, its an active mix that doesn’t go overboard and is in service of both the film and the era. The score is lovingly woven in and out and takes center stage at times of effectiveness. Sound effects rollick around the room with great layering and depth to make it an authentic experience.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Some solid rumble and power comes through the subwoofer with ghost action, glass shatter, things blasting and then amplifying the power of the strings, horns, drums and bass in the score.

Surround Sound Presentation: Sounds swim around the room and pop up in some interesting places in the back channels. Its a neat mix to keep you on your toes, but also impressive with its accuracy in translating the onscreen action. Speakers also carry a nice power when traveling back and forth across the room.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extras

Poltergeist comes with the newly remastered standard Blu-ray edition and a redeemable digital code. All bonus materials are the previously released ones found on the regular Blu-ray disc. A warning card about flashing/strobing lights in the film is included inside the case as well as notated by a sticker on the slipcover.

They Are Here: The Real World of Poltergeists, Part 1: Science of the Spirits (HD, 15:31)

They Are Here: The Real World of Poltergeists, Part 1: Communing with the Dead (HD, 15:33)

The Making of Poltergeist (SD, 7:18)

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:26)

Summary

40 years later, Poltergeist remains just as effect today with a dazzling display of visual effects to go along with genuine chills, haunting imagery and endearing family dynamics. The debut on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray does not disappoint in the presentation department with an outstanding transfer and wonderfully complimentary surround track. Extras remain very good. The only knock against this release is the terrible new cover art somebody decided to go with. This is an immediate pick up for film collectors.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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