Arrow Video’s new edition of Brotherhood of Satan released this week . This article contains several comparisons which contrast Mill Creek’s earlier Blu-ray transfer with the new release from Arrow. The frames aren’t necessarily exact matches, but should give a solid indication of the visual differences.
Viewing tips: For gauging clarity and resolution, these images are best viewed on a large monitor with widescreen aspect ratio — if viewing on a mobile device, pinch-zoom for closer inspection. Elements like color, brightness, and contrast are more easily compared in a narrow window or upright mobile.
Brotherhood of Satan fits into a weird little 70s subgenre of highly entertaining films in which respected western actors like Ernest Borgnine (The Devil’s Rain), R. G. Armstrong (Race with the Devil), and in this case, Strother Martin, hammed it up as outwardly unassuming agents of Satan, entrenched deep in the heart of small towns that hide secret societies that worship the devil.
The film has been on Blu-ray domestically a couple times before thanks to Mill Creek, first as a double feature with Mr. Sardonicus in 2013, and again in a triple feature entitled “Psycho Circus” with Torture Garden and The Creeping Flesh in 2017.
This comparison analyzes the new Arrow Video edition against the “Psycho Circus” release of the movie.
On a purely technical analysis, the first thing I noticed is that the movie file on the new Blu-ray disc is almost twice as large as the version which was on the Mill Creek triple feature (an absolutely huge difference, even allowing for Arrow’s inclusion of uncompressed audio and commentary). Given that three films shared that same disc, it’s unsurprising that there was heavy compression involved.
In reviewing the transfers, I was surprised to discover they look practically identical to my eyes. The source certainly appears to be the same, exhibiting identical telltale flecks and imperfections.
I’d venture to guess that many observers will not see any differences at all in the images below, especially at a normal viewing distance. There are some differences, though: The most important is that Arrow’s disc has a bit better clarity. This is a very slight difference, only noticeable on close inspection of the grain detail, and probably owes to the Mill Creek disc’s liberal compression. The framing is also a bit different for most of the film, a bit tighter on Arrow’s release (meaning the Mill Creek version shows a little more of the frame). Coloration also varies slightly, but so imperceptibly that it’s almost not even worth bringing up.
The screenshots below are in chronological order. In the first few, the framing is identical between the two versions.
At this point in the film, most likely coinciding with a reel change, the framing shifts a bit and Arrow’s is slightly tighter for the rest of the movie.
On a pure image quality basis I’d give Arrow the slightest edge, but the differences are so small as to be virtually identical. The difference in image quality alone is certainly not a compelling reason to consider an upgrade.
That said, there’s much more to the package, as Arrow’s version brings several bonus features which were not part of Mill Creek’s barebones versions. And while the Mill Creek editions were inexpensive budget releases, their valuations have crept up over the years making them not quite the cheapskate slam dunks they used to be.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
- Original uncompressed mono audio
- Optional English subtitles
- Brand new audio commentary by writers Kim Newman and Sean Hogan
- Satanic Panic: How the 1970s Conjured the Brotherhood of Satan, a brand new visual essay by David Flint
- The Children of Satan, exclusive new interview with actors Jonathan Erickson Eisley and Alyson Moore
- Original Trailers and TV and Radio Spots
- Image Gallery
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Richard Wells
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated booklet featuring new writing by Johnny Mains and Brad Stevens
Get it at Amazon: https://amzn.to/3Dwkf0p
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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.