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Ringu Collection
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • Japanese PCM Stereo
  • Japanese DTS-HD 5.1 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 3 Discs
FEATURES
  • Bonus feature: Spiral, George Iida's 1998 sequel to Ringu
  • New Audio commentary on Ringu by film historian David Kalat
  • New Audio commentary on Ringu 0 by author and critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas
  • The Ringu Legacy, a series of new interviews from critics and filmmakers on their memories of the Ringu series and its enduring legacy
  • A Vicious Circle, a new video interview with author and critic Kat Ellinger on the career of Hideo Nakata
  • Circumnavigating Ringu, a new video essay by author and critic Kat Ellinger on the evolution of the Ringu series
  • Spooks, Sighs and Videotape, a new video essay by critic Jasper Sharp on the J-horror phenomenon
  • The Psychology of Fear, a newly edited archival interview with author Koji Suzuki
  • Archival behind-the-scenes featurette on Ringu 0
  • Ringu 0 deleted scenes
  • Sadako's Video
  • Multiple theatrical trailers for the Ringu series
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Limited edition 60-page booklet featuring new writing from Violet Lucca, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Jasper Sharp, Kieran Fisher and Kat Ellinger
  • Limited edition packaging featuring original and newly commissioned artwork

Ringu Collection

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Hideo Nakata
2019 | 97 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $99.95 | Series: Arrow Video
MVD Visual

Release Date: October 29, 2019
Review Date: November 3, 2019

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amazon.com  amazon.ca

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SYNOPSIS

In 1998, director Hideo Nakata (Dark Water) unleashed a chilling tale of technological terror on unsuspecting audiences, which redefined the horror genre, launched the J-horror boom in the West and introduced a generation of moviegoers to a creepy, dark-haired girl called Sadako. The film's success spawned a slew of remakes, reimaginations and imitators, but none could quite boast the power of Nakata's original masterpiece, which melded traditional Japanese folklore with contemporary anxieties about the spread of technology. A group of teenage friends are found dead, their bodies grotesquely contorted, their faces twisted in terror. Reiko (Nanako Matsushima, When Marnie Was There), a journalist and the aunt of one of the victims, sets out to investigate the shocking phenomenon, and in the process uncovers a creepy urban legend about a supposedly cursed videotape, the contents of which causes anyone who views it to die within a week - unless they can persuade someone else to watch it, and, in so doing, pass on the curse... Arrow Video is proud to present Ringu, the film that started it all, restored from the original negative in glorious high definition and supplemented by a wealth of archival and newly created bonus materials.


PICTURE

Arrow Video brings their Ring Collection box set over from region B land, though use the more commonly used American title: Arrowís North American Ringu Collection presents Ringu, Ringu 2, and Ringu 0 over three dual-layer discs. All three films are presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and are each given 1080p/24hz high-definition encodes. Ringu 2 and Ringu 0 make use of older masters provided to Arrow by Kadokawa Pictures but the first film has been given an all-new 4K restoration from the company, scanned from the 35mm original camera negative.

The follow-up films to Ringu offer the weaker presentations, with Ringu 0 coming off weakest. It has a far muddier, fuzzier, and noisier look in comparison to the other films in the set, and Iím sure the original high-definition master comes from around 2000 and was made with only DVD in mind. Itís better looking than what was found on Arrowís Dark Water and Pulse releases, but it looks old. The only surprising aspect is that damage is minor, with only a handful of flaws and some minor stains in a few places. But ultimately itís muddy, enhanced by its weak black levels that severely crush things, especially in darker scenes.

Ringu 2 looks sharper, and it might come from a newer master, but it still shows its age. Film grain is there but itís not super clean, looking a bit noisy and clunky, but details in general are far sharper in comparison to Ringu 0 and colours are also better. Black levels are okay but could be better. The only surprising aspect is that the film does present a number of flaws, primarily bits of dirt here and there, but on the whole it is still very clean.

Ringu looks incredible, though, and it may be the best looking presentation Iíve yet seen for a 90ís Japanese horror film. It has the most film-like look, rendering grain cleanly and finely, which leads to sharp, incredibly distinct details. Many exterior shots are just loaded with fine-object detail, with individual blades of grass even standing out. Colours look better saturated and rich, and black levels are very strong. Damage is also not an issue. The upgrade from DreamWorksí original DVD is substantial and anyone still stuck with that DVD will be quite shocked how good this film can look. Probably the nicest surprise Iíve had in a while, but itís a shame the other two films couldnít receive the same amount of love.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

Each film in the set receives two audio presentations: a 2.0 stereo surround PCM soundtrack along with a 5.1 DTS-HD MA surround presentation. For each film the tracks offer similar experiences, aiming to create the appropriate mood, enveloping the viewer with creepy music and eerie sound effects. The mixes vary, with Ringu probably receiving the most effective ones, but even then, in each case, the 5.1 tracks do create creepier experiences thanks to the better use of the dedicated lower frequency channel and better direction: this latter aspect actually creates the illusion of something sounding to come from overhead, which the 2.0 tracks canít do as effectively. But all of the tracks sound clean and offers strong fidelity and range. Ultimately, I preferred the 5.1 tracks for each film.

7/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Arrow loads on a number of special features covering the series and the J-Horror phenomenon of the late 90ís that the first Ringu set off. The first disc, presenting Ringu, starts off with a new audio commentary featuring David Kalat, author of the book J-Horror: The Definitive Guide to The Ring, The Grudge and Beyond. Though Arrow has delved into ďJ-HorrorĒ and its popularity in the West with previous releases, Kalatís commentary offers a crash-course on the subject, getting into the history of the subgenre, explaining where it started and how it developed into what it became in the 90s before heavily influencing horror films in North America and beyond. The track does focus primarily on Ringu of course but Kalat does also talk about the two direct sequels (Ringu 2 and the kinda-forgotten Spiral) and the prequel (Ringu 0), while also covering the original novels (which were more science-fiction in nature), a previous softcore adaptation (which sounds pretty wild, though by all accounts itís a crushing bore), and then the various spin offs and remakes, including the American one and its sequel directed by Nakata. The track is loaded with an astounding level of information, covering a wide array of topics, but Kalat has planned it out well, going from topic to topic in a natural manner to make sure to never lose the listener. I assume he has it all planned out and is more than likely using notes or even a script but it never sounds like it. Itís a wonderful track and is a strong addition all on its own.

Arrow adds on some more scholarly material, next presenting a new video program called The Ring Legacy, featuring interviews with critics Andrew Kasch, Rebekah McKendry, Ph.D., and Alyse Wax, all of whom reflect on first seeing the film(s) and what grew out of it after. Another feature later on gets into the various sequels and spin-offs that followed, but the participants do talk about the other films that came to be, offering their own thoughts on them (some favourable, some not), and then how Hollywood capitalized on this (this led to Japanese studios just churning out horror films knowing Hollywood would just buy up the rights to do a remake). Itís a strong critical analysis of the series of films and it also manages to be a bit of fun, ending with Kasch complaining about the American title for the Japanese film, Ringu, explaining how that title came to be.

Next up is a new interview with Kat Ellinger. Ellinger explains the impact the film had on her at the time, actually scaring her after having to put up with the trend of cynical, self-aware horror films that came from the eventual success of Scream. She then talks about director Hideo Nakata and how he came to direct horror when he actually had no interest in the genre, only doing the first Ring film and other horror after with the hopes of getting financing for his film on director Joseph Losey. From here she talks about ďJ-HorrorĒ and what the Ring films kicked off, and how the influence of these films carried over to the West. Kalatís track offers the most clinical (though no less fascinating) look at the subgenre while Ellingerís offers more of a personal insight into it.

Further adding on to the impact of the Ring films, Alexandria Heller-Nicholas next provides a new 25-minute video essay called Circumnavigating Ring, which aims to help newcomers (or even those only somewhat knowledgeable of these film) navigate through the rather complex and convoluted mythology behind the Ring films, told through multiple films, remakes, reimaginings, cross-overs, novels, manga, video games, books and more. I was somewhat aware of the various materials out there but was beyond shocked by just how much stuff there was. The essay goes through the material in order, starting with the novels, giving a decent overview of them (which Kalat also did in his track) before covering each film after. Though Iíve always been happy with Ringu and even the American remake on their own, itís great to get a sort of glimpse into how the mythology has developed and morphed through the years, even if a lot of it sounds boneheaded (a Freddy vs. Jason type cross-over film with The Grudge!?)

The disc then closes off with a few short supplements. You can watch Sadakoís video, which runs 50-seconds, two of the Ring/Spiral double-feature trailers from the Japanese release, or the UK trailer. Thereís also an odd photo gallery that just presents the director and the filmís star at a panel.

Disc 2 presents Ringu 2, though the film sadly gets shafted and doesnít offer any new material specific to it, whereas the other films in the set do! It does, at the very least, offer one significant supplement, the original sequel to Ringu, Joji Iidaís Spiral, which was released simultaneously with the first film. Unfortunately for Spiral Nakataís film had an enormous impact, heavily influencing not only horror films in Japan, but also throughout the rest of the world, meaning Iidaís film was going to have huge shoes to fill without anyone realizing it. The film just couldnít live up to the first film and both audiences and critics came away perplexed and disappointed, and the film disappeared.

Spiral is, tonally and stylistically, a completely different beast in comparison to the first film. This story focuses around a pathologist who becomes entangled in the story of Sadako and the cursed video tape, all after performing an examination on the body on Ryuji Takayama, who fell victim to the curse in the previous film. He eventually crosses paths with Mai (Ryujiís girlfriend in the first film) and then comes to see the cursed tape himself. As he investigates the video and the deaths around it he starts to suspect there may be a more scientific reason behind it (though I would say more farfetched, but what do I know).

Itís easy to see why audiences would have experienced a sort of whiplash coming to this film from Ring. The first film was an atmospheric horror film filled with tension, dread, and disturbing imagery, while Spiral (though somewhat atmospheric) is a far more serious drama/medical thriller that plays it pretty straight. The first film also left things up in the air while this one sets out to explain everything. It also suffers from not being terribly interesting from a technical/filmmaking perspective, unable to grip its audience like the first film did.

Maybe without being tied to the first film Spiral could have been its own thing but when compared to Ring it comes off terribly mediocre, and itís not hard to see why it was decided to make another sequel and have Nakata behind the wheel again. But having said that, one canít really lay any blame on Iida as the studio had both films made at the same time (with different people leading the creative team) and there was no sharing of information between the two productions. Iida liked the novel on which Spiral was based and decided to stay true to the source, while Nakata and his screenwriter took a lot of liberties on Ringís source, so just from that perspective there is a huge disconnect. Nakata was also intent on making a horror film, while the original novels were science-fiction, which Iida stuck with. Considering just those things this film was pretty much doomed to be lost in Ringís shadow.

After all that, though, I have to say the film also serves as an interesting comparison to the Nakata sequel. Since Spiral apparently sticks true to the original novel (I havenít read it, so I can only base this on the comments made throughout special features in this set) itís interesting to see what elements made it into Nakataís version. Ringu 2 does have a heavier science element, and also takes a few plot points and moments, but again Nakata is interested more in making a horror film, so that aspect is amped up more, keeps the sciences in the background, and he again prefers to a have a woman as the main protagonist, dropping the pathologist from Spiral, promoting Mai front and center (her character also has a very different arc in Spiral). Iím actually not terribly fond of either sequel (though both are better than the American sequel) but chances are Iíll end up watching Nakataís sequel again before this one.

Rather surprisingly the presentation for Spiral is pretty strong, obviously an older high-def master but almost on par with Ringu 2, just more specs of dirt and debris. It also comes with a 2.0 stereo surround PCM presentation and a 5.1 DTS-HD MA surround track.

Disappointingly there isnít much else to be found here, nothing specifically around the main feature itself. There is a 25-minute interview with author Koji Suzuki, which looks to have been recorded around the time of Ringu 2ís release. Here Suzuki talks about his novels, his influences, how he writes, and shares his thoughts on the film adaptations (though he hadnít seen Nakataís sequel yet). The disc then closes with a bunch of trailers, including the UK trailer, a double-bill trailer for Ringu 2 and Shikoku, and then one of the Ring/Spiral double-bill trailer found on the disc for the first film.

Ringu 0 then appears on disc 3 and it manages to get some exclusive new material from Arrow, including a brand new audio commentary by critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas. She offers a really wonderful defense for the film (though I donít think it needs one, but then thatís me), pointing out its strong aspects and throwing ďshout outsĒ to the cast and crew she doesnít think gets their fair share of respect for the film. She also talks about the series as a whole, including the many remakes and spin-offs, and also talks about the original source stories and points out the influences (Carrie an obvious one, Eyes Without a Face a less obvious one). Itís a fun track in the end and she keeps the energy up.

Another strong feature to the disc (and the set as a whole) is a video essay by Jasper Sharp called Spooks, Sighs, and Videotape, which is a 37-minute examination of the J-Horror phenomenon of the late 90ís/early 2000ís. Though this is covered in other features in the set (including the commentary on this disc) itís excellent getting a focused timeline, looking at early Japanese horror films (like the influential Kwaidan) and how things morphed through the decades until we finally get to Ringu, its sequels, The Grudge, and more. He looks at the various films and American remakes born from this time period and the oversaturation of the market, which caused horror to shift yet again. Itís a great essay and a wonderful one for those not familiar with the sub-genre.

The disc then closes with a number of more standard features. Thereís a 21-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, which is simply just that, providing footage of the filming of certain seuqences as well as discussions between cast and director, and even practicing the Sadako movements. The disc also features 6 deleted scenes running about 7-minutes (all are fine but unnecessary in the end), followed by the filmís individual theatrical trailer and a double-bill trailer where it was paired with Isola.

The set then closes off with one of Arrowís wonderful booklets, which covers all of the films in the set, including Spiral. Along with their respective film credits and restoration notes each film receives thorough essays from different writers: Alexander Heller-Nicholas for Ringu, Jasper Sharp for Spiral, Kieran Fisher for Ringu 2, and Kat Ellinger for Ringu 0. Violet Lucca also opens the booklet with what could be called more of an overview of the films and the character of Sadako.

Overall they are a solid set of features covering the film, its impact, and the J-Horror sub-genre. If I felt one disappointment, outside of material specific to Ringu 2, it was the lack of a feature that directly compares the films to their original source novels when all we get are mentions scattered throughout the features. Despite that I think fans should be giddy with what Arrow has lovingly put together here.

9/10

CLOSING

Arrow has put together a fantastic box set for the three films. Though they sort of skim over Ringu 2 the supplements offer a satisfying analysis of the films and their impact, and the presentation for the first film looks wonderful. Itís just a shame the other two films didnít get to receive the same attention.




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Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca