Arrow’s new Blu-ray transfer compared against Severin’s earlier version
This article contains several comparisons which contrast the older Severin Blu-ray transfer with the new Arrow version. The frames aren’t necessarily exact matches, but should give a solid indication of the visual differences.
Arrow’s new edition of Horror Express is set to release on February 12.
Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and Telly Savalas all starring in the same alien-zombies-on-a-train Euro-horror film set on the Trans-Siberian Express? It’s an affirmation and blessing that this is in fact a real movie, and Arrow is releasing a beautiful new feature-packed edition.
This new transfer has much-improved color correction, toning down the harsh yellows with a more natural palette — this is especially notable in skin tones. Additionally, finely pointillized film grain is much more prominent, replacing the sometimes smeary digital noise of the prior.
Less noticeably, there was previously a slight vertical stretch which elongated faces and essentially made things look taller. It’s unlikely this would be distracting in watching the film, but nonetheless it has been corrected and in the comparisons you can see that the new transfer exhibits proper proportions, which has the additional benefit of showing a greater of the frame.
As a result of color correction, skin tones look more natural now with the previously strong yellow tones mitigated.
The restoration also repairs some prominent scratches. Here’s a very obvious one below (these different images are actually consecutive frames). In an isolated frame you can make out the evidence of repair, but in motion it looks flawless.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS (as Provided by Arrow)
- Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
- Original Uncompressed mono audio
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Brand new audio commentary with Stephen Jones and Kim Newman
- Introduction to the film by film journalist and Horror Express super-fan Chris Alexander
- Murder on the Trans-Siberian Express — an interview with director Eugenio Martin
- Notes from the Blacklist — Horror Express producer Bernard Gordon on working in Hollywood during the McCarthy Era
- Telly and Me — an interview with composer John Cacavas
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
- FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Fully-illustrated collector’s booklet with new writing by Adam Scovell
These transfers are truly two pretty different beasts. Arrow’s new edition is unquestionably the more pristine and definitive look for the film proper — the standard for most Blu-ray collectors. But for its flaws, Severin’s does play with some grindhouse charm, exhibiting more of the grit one might see on a theatrical print. That’s not always the right impulse, but for a 1972 horror movie, it’s a great experience.
Fans who don’t own the film shouldn’t hesitate to pick up Arrow’s new version; it looks terrific and carries over nearly all the extras from the earlier disc, then adds some great new ones (including featurettes produced by the reliably solid Ballyhoo Films).
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Except where noted, all 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the disc(s) in question with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.