Thoughts on The Ring DVD

Jasper Sharp jasper_sharp
Wed Apr 4 08:04:57 EDT 2001

I just picked up the new UK DVD release of Hideo Nakata?s the Ring the other 
day and thought I?d share my thoughts with the rest of you. I?d seen the 
film about a year ago and wasn?t quite as gung-ho about it as others have 
been, but figured that if the sales figures for this Tartan release were 
high enough then it would encourage further similar releases from the 
company (In fact I believe that RING 2, AUDITION, and BATTLE ROYALE are also 
planned for later in the year.)
Without getting bogged down with the merits of any of these individual films 
(save a quick aside that I?m frankly amazed at all of the negative press 
BATTLE ROYALE is getting- Within its intended market it is a very effective 
film and certainly kept audiences at Rotterdam on their toes. I was frankly 
amazed at Tony Rayns? blanket dismissal of it within Sight and Sound the 
other month ? it is not aimed at the art-house crowd!)
Sorry, without getting too bogged down with the merits of any of these 
individual films, I would like to hear what anyone thought of the appalling 
job Tartan have done with regards to the quality of the transfer and the 
overall packaging of this title.
Now I?m usually not particularly bothered with issues such as transfer 
quality, figuring that as DVD is ultimately such far better quality than VHS 
it would be churlish to complain. However the sort of target audience for 
this type of film, horror fans, ARE the sort of people who balk if 2 seconds 
of their favourite film is missing, and word on the street for this 
particular release has been unanimously negative. For a start, the print is 
so poorly mastered that the picture quality is too dark to make out what is 
going on for a vast proportion of the time. Secondly there?s the problem of 
the non-removable subtitles, obviously burnt into the print from which the 
DVD was taken, and finally there?s the rather spars ?extras? listed on the 
packaging ? two trailers for THE RING, one for AUDITION and a rather 
uninformative (or rather uninformed) ?review? by Mark Kermode, a fine film 
writer in his own right, but no expert on either Japanese cinema or horror. 
Compare this with the liner notes on the recent range of Pagan releases, for 
example, or Image Entertainment?s recent releases of the two Wakamatsu 
films, Female Convict Scorpion and Black Tight Killers.
As a distributor, Tartan have done a sterling job in making available a 
great deal of foreign language films in Britain, both theatrically and on 
video. Their input into the cinematic cultural climate in the UK throughout 
the past decade has been essential: Alongside Artificial Eye and ICA 
Projects they are the only company who have consistently been putting 
subtitled films out into the British market. However, with this particular 
release they seem to have little understanding or time for the target 
audience of this particular product.
As far as bringing Japanese cinema to a wider audience goes, THE RING is 
somewhat of a flagship release for them in the UK, and by extrapolation also 
in Europe (and in the US too as this won?t be getting a DVD release on the 
other side of the pond now that Hollywood own the remake rights). Film is 
now such a global market that Tartan can expect a great deal of sales from 
outside of the UK (I for example, bought mine in a high street shop in 
If people buy this product and are put off by the shoddy approach to 
marketing it that I have mentioned, they will not buy further releases from 
the company and will go to another source for it. I have therefore ordered 
my DVD of AUDITION from Hong Kong (a cheaper option, might I add) in 
anticipation of a similar treatment for Tartan?s release later in the year.
I have noticed that Tartan do not have their own website, so whether they 
are aware of all the negative comments flying around about this recent 
release. I can only hope they will learn by the time of their next batch of 

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