This article contains several comparisons which contrast the older Image Entertainment “Midnight Madness Series” Blu-ray transfer (“before”, left) with the new Arrow Video 4K restoration (“after”, right). The frames aren’t necessarily exact matches, but should give a solid indication of the visual differences.
Our Editor-in-Chief Ed Travis has already reviewed Arrow’s The Hills Have Eyes Blu-ray in full; this article is strictly a comparison of picture quality.
Arrow’s new release of the early Wes Craven chiller has a new 4K scan of the negative, supervised by producer Peter Locke. Additionally, it is viewable with the film’s alternate ending in the same quality. Here are my own observations, though you can scope the screens below and draw your own conclusions:
The original transfer suffered a number of problems. It was overly dark, soft, and murky. It also had what appear to be some compression artifacts – check out the ghosting around the edges of the title text.
The new disc basically fixes all of this. Noise gives way to grain. Nighttime scenes, barely visible before, can be seen much more clearly. Textures look more natural, exhibiting less artificial smoothing. Even the framing is opened up or better centered in many places.
As Ed noted in his review, The Hills Have Eyes is a grimy old 16mm movie, and it will never look pristine. But seeing the two Blu-rays compared directly, there’s a world of difference, and I’m honestly kind of shocked that is actually looks this great. Color, sharpness, brightness, and even framing are all a massive step up from the 2011 disc. Arrow’s new transfer is a clear winner, and that’s before even factoring in the alternate cut, subtitles (absent from the Image disc), and solid bonus features.