Since Big Trouble In Little China is nearly finished ( https://originaltrilogy.com/topic/Big-Trouble-In-Little-China-John-Carpenter-1986-35mm-Scan-opportunity-a-WIP/id/75450 ), I thought I’d start talking about the next preservation on my roadmap. A movie that got me started into fan restoration work in the first place: Hellraiser
Here’s the nutshell. One day, I stumbled randomly across a post on the Blu-Ray forum about how the Hellraiser 2K restoration put out by Arrow looked practically nothing like its 35mm counterpart (https://forum.blu-ray.com/showpost.php?p=15869547&postcount=562 ).
I recently managed to get my hands on a well-preserved archival print, watched it, took some scans, made sure they were representative of how it looked correctly projected and compared it with the Arrow Blu-ray.
Be aware that I really liked the Arrow Blu-ray despite the peculiar grain, and didn’t have any problems with the color timing… When I watched this print, I couldn’t believe my eyes. This film when viewed on film looks absolutely incredible, very stylish, quite a lot of blue lighting. I had no idea this film looked that good, home video has just done it a complete disservice.
One thing I will say is that this print was not grainy at all, even in low-light conditions there was nothing out of the ordinary, I wasn’t even aware of it most of the time.
When I flicked through the Arrow disc not long after, it looked flat and orange compared to what I had seen, it looked ugly and noisy. In the scene where the cenobites appear at the hospital, the room in the print appeared more blue with Pinhead’s skin also being bathed in blue which helped draw attention away from the make-up, on the Arrow the room is more neutral and the make-up job on Pinhead really stands out. Also in a scene near the end (see last picture below), in the print, there’s clearly blue lighting in the background and the characters directly in front of the camera are covered in a warm glow from a fireplace (IIRC), yet on the Arrow, everything is again flat and orange.
And having seen his and his screencaps, I can never unsee just how horrid the Arrow master really is in comparison. All of the stylish blue flair and whatnot is just dull, neutral, and lifeless! It’s very much akin to how Fox treated BTiLC.
This led me down a sort of train of hobby work for a while over on FanRes ( https://forum.fanres.com/thread-2497.html ) where I tried to regrade with Arrow BD with those five 35mm stills above as well as a gallery of other stills provided from the same guy below.
The results were mixed admittedly. Although I did come out with a release of the regrade, I was never truly happy with the results for a variety of reasons.
The first big reason was that I was brand new to the community and I was still trying to figure out how to approach this project. The long story short in that regard was TomArrow being basically my mentor as he watched me continually struggle trying to piece together basic stuff (though I am very thankful that he was a very patient person and stuck around). Since then though, I’ve learned some newer techniques and stuff that’d helped me a lot back then.
The second biggest reason was that there was a lot of educated guessing involved which I didn’t like to do since I had no idea how the colors were supposed to be handled for scenes outside of those stills and I couldn’t tell what was fading or photochemical color grading more often than not. Although there is a laserdisc that does respect the 35mm color grading, I have no means of ripping it even if I could get my hands on it.
On top of all that, there was still the weirdly harsh grain issue in the BD that I had no way of really fixing easily without accidentally DNRing detail. At the end of the day, it was a bit of a mess that I hoped to revisit someday.
Fast forward a few years later when I stumbled onto some celluloid-pertinent opportunities, I noticed that this movie was on the books with a low-fade high-quality print.
A perfect opportunity to finally be able to see how the whole movie looked in 35mm for the first time and in 4K no less!
Calculations had roughly estimated the project costs to be $1000 to cover rental, shipping, scanning and a hard drive.
As usual, I’ll start with pledges, though I’ll make a PayPal Pool if it looks like we can overcome the initial cost hurdle.