I have already written about VHS tapes turning horror fans into the hipsters of the film world. I am a Horror Hipster, as are many of you. What does the extreme Horror Hipster do though? The hipster is someone that is too vintage for their own good. They like everything that no one else cares about. Sometimes, they probably don’t even like it themselves. I am here to tell you that there is one way the Horror Hipster can out-hipster all of the others. The way to do this is to find and buy your horror favorites on Laser Disc. Talk about a dead format. Many consider the VHS a dead format; but, the Laser Disc was dead before the VHS tape and it came out later. I own about 75 LDs, and I’m here to tell you why they are great for the collector. I am also going to walk you through some areas of film’s technological history that you may not know about.
So this isn’t really a review of Evil Dead 2. You already know that it is a 10/10, a must own film for any horror fan. I own multiple versions of the film: two different VHS releases, a DVD, a Blu-Ray, and a Laser Disc. It is an important film for me because it is one of the first horror films I saw and definitely the one that got my film obsession started. This is more of a review of the Laser Disc itself. You may already looking at the pictures saying, “What the hell is that thing?” I am going to break down everything from size and weight comparisons to picture and sound quality. I am also going to show off a bit. This Laser Disc, for instance, is a very limited edition blood red version. The film itself is already rare on this format, so this version is incredibly hard to find. Just like different colored vinyl records, only the serious collectors kept track of these pieces.
So let’s talk about size. As you can see from the pics above, the LD is insanely huge compared to the DVD. They are also very heavy, making purchases painful for the E bay shopper that hates shipping costs. The LD player (if you’re not completely distracted by my wife’s green walls yet) is also the size of an old school stereo receiver with a CD changer. Oh yeah, it played CDs too. The top of my LD player is also big enough to hold a PS 2, Gamecube, and Retron machine with room to spare. It is takes up lots of space, it’s heavy, and it’s pretty loud while running. So…those are all of the cons.
As you can see from the packaging, it is similar to that of the vinyl record. So if you’re reading this and don’t know what a CD is, just forget about the whole record thing. The back of the sleeve also has your scene selection with chapter titles. That is a feature that carried over to DVD. What didn’t carry over, and perhaps you’ve noticed this already, is the fact that it has two sides. Yes, you have to get up halfway through the movie to flip the damn thing over. This gets even better when you have a long film, like 2001, with multiple discs. Okay, so there was one more con.
Moving on to the actual movie, you can see from the screenshots that the quality is somewhere between the VHS and the DVD. The reason these weren’t around for long was because they very quickly developed the technology to shrink the disc and improve the picture quality with the DVD, not to mention the eventual leap into Blu-Ray technology. You will notice when watching an LD, that there are times that you seem to have a clearer picture than others. Just in my pics, you can see that the quality can change depending on the viewing angle, although some discrepancy may be due to the fact that I took the pictures on my phone.
The same is to be said about the sound quality. It was definitely better than the VHS; but, before you knew it, the DVD had it beat. The LD was praised for it’s awesome digital sound quality when it first came out. However, if you are young enough to have not heard of the LD, then your ears have already been spoiled by the highest quality Blu-Ray sound.
In the end, these are just cool to own. They are already rare and bound to practically disappear in the future. This is great for the collector looking to invest in an antique. It is also great for the movie freak, who wants to experience every film format. Oh yeah, it’s also another way that the Horror Hipster can separate themselves from the pack; so, they can remind everyone how cool they are because they aren’t mainstream. I guess I buy them for all of these reasons; but, I also buy them because I like to look at myself as a film historian. It’s an opportunity to look back at the stages in technology through which we’ve progressed. We are, after all, lucky enough to be living in a time where the biggest technological advances in history are occurring. I think owning these little pieces of history will be a great way to educate (or deaducate) and impress future generations of film fanatics.