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Cast a Deadly Spell (1991)
#1
Cast A Deadly Spell is a fun, noir, Lovecraftian mash-up made for HBO television in the early 90's.

For the longest time the last best version available was a laserdisc to DVD preservation that I'm not even sure is in circulation anymore.

But that doesn't matter anymore, because Amazon has a 1080p stream that's also been circulating elsewhere... right?

Unfortunately, no.

This was shot explicitly for HBO as part of a set of 4 genre films written by Joseph Dougherty during that period.
Dougherty is known almost exclusively for writing TV episodes.  These films comprise nearly his entire feature length filmography and shot when TV was square NTSC.

The other films are 'Steel & Lace' (1991), a 1993 remake of 'Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman' starring Daryl Hannah, and a sequel to CaDS called 'Witch Hunt' (1994) with Dennis Hopper replacing Fred Ward.

So the OAR is 4x3.  Amazon has cropped the top and bottom to make this 16x9.  That's nearly forgivable, but HBO has aired an HD version that has been available in their On Demand list for a long time now.  HBO's version is correctly 4x3.

Watching that version recently I found something even worse... it's been censored.   Swear words have been over dubbed or muted.  Yup, HBO censored their own made for HBO movie.  I'm not even sure they know it. But going back, the same edits are in the Amazon stream.

So while I have been considering putting together a new version using an HD source, the laserdisc2DVD audio (or at least patches from it) and some corrected closed captions from HBO, I have reservations.

First, I really need to watch both versions side by side and make sure that nothing visually has been cut or cropped/zoomed, etc.

Also, while the beautiful Amazon rip is floating around, I'm not sure I want to go to this trouble for a cropped image.  I have no ability to cap the HD version from HBO beyond crappy 480i.

Anyone have any thoughts?

[Image: vlcsnap-2571-04-17-08h52m41s513.png]

[Image: vlcsnap-4317-07-30-06h04m03s881.png]
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#2
I'd go for the 1.33:1 version, if you can a way (or someone who can cap it) to get it in 1080p; but I'm crazy enough to hint an AAP-AR version, if the Amazon version is not a simple cropped version, but retains more details on both sides - as it seems by the pictures, but they are from different frames. Or, if the HBO HD cap lacks a bit of resolution, using the Amazon to get more in the central area of the frame.

Of course, laserdisc audio is still needed, possibly uncompressed.
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#3
The 4x3 snap was from the laserdisc/DVD. SD captures from HBO look much better.

Weirdly, I'm seeing HBO's on demand is 16x9 now. I'm 98% sure it was previously 4x3 back in October (or at least the version they were airing live).

I'm wondering if they have two versions... and if the 4x3 might be uncut. I'll have to keep an eye out for a live broadcast. So for the moment OAR isn't possible.

The laserdisc cap was not my doing so PCM isn't possible. IIRC correctly that disc is DD stereo.
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#4
Finally found some free time and spent it on this movie for some reason.

I got the best quality web-dl of the current print (just under 7GB). It had a nice high bitrate video and stereo DD+ audio at 224kbps.

I already had a copy of the nice laserdisc to DVD version that's out there with an uncensored audio track.

I converted the audio tracks to lossless and remixed them and rebuilt a repaired uncensored edition. Nothing is re-encoded. The audio is wave.

I'll probably will post it on 'spleen, but PM if interested.
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#5
(2024-03-12, 01:46 AM)Doctor M Wrote: Finally found some free time and spent it on this movie for some reason.

I got the best quality web-dl of the current print (just under 7GB).  It had a nice high bitrate video and stereo DD+ audio at 224kbps.

I already had a copy of the nice laserdisc to DVD version that's out there with an uncensored audio track.

I converted the audio tracks to lossless and remixed them and rebuilt a repaired uncensored edition.  Nothing is re-encoded.  The audio is wave.

I'll probably will post it on 'spleen, but PM in interested.

I might hit you up for this (or at least the audio at some point) since this does look interesting.

And I know this was 4:3 when it originally aired, but it really feels like they shot it protected for 16:9 with  shots like this:
https://i.imgur.com/WWEsgQA.png

But the 1080 stream seems pretty waxy. Wondering if the 720 rip might actually be better overall. Have you taken a look at the HDTV rip? It looks heavily sharpened but Topaz is pretty incredible at toning that down.
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#6
I'd love to see a 4x3-16x9 hybrid fan edited, but I can't color correct/match to do that.

JustWatch says Amazon doesn't have this right now, just for MAX subscribers or to rent/buy. MAX service's 1080p stream is 4.35GB so Amazon's was probably the best, but I haven't compared images.
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