Vinegar Syndrome released their newly restored Blu-ray of Thriller: A Cruel Picture this week. This article contains several comparisons which contrast Synapse Films’s previous Blu-ray transfer with the new release from Vinegar Syndrome. 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.
These images were both pulled from Blu-rays to give more of an apples to apples comparison. There is most definitely more detail and clarity on the Vinegar Syndrome disc, since their transfer was a 4K transfer versus the 2K Synapse one. The grain is just gorgeous. The color on the Vinegar Syndrome disc overall does feel slightly oversaturated at times, but for the color timing, you can see below that some scenes transfer better than others and that the Synapse has an almost cyan tint to some of the scenes. So it’s hard to pick a clear winner for color. With some scenes I prefer the color timing from Vinegar Syndrome, and sometimes I think Synapse nailed it.
We definitely see that the true issue on both discs is the limitation of the source material rather than the transfer. The lack of focus in scenes and the fact that the film was a blow up from 16mm to 35mm means Blu-ray might have been just enough. While I welcome the extra resolution that the 4K transfer brings on a Blu-ray disc, it might have been enough for this presentation without the UHD. I think this is going to be the barrier for a lot of lower budget exploitation and genre films going forward. While the resolution is there for these transfers, is there any real advantage other than HDR to these more robust transfers and UHDs?