Home Page  
 
 

Pulse
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.78:1 Widescreen
  • 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Japanese Dolby Surround
  • Japanese PCM Stereo
  • English subtitles
  • 2 Discs
FEATURES
  • New interview with writer/director Kiyoshi Kurosawa
  • New interview with cinematographer Junichiro Hayashi
  • The Horror of Isolation: a new video appreciation featuring Adam Wingard & Simon Barrett (Blair Witch, You're Next)
  • Archive 'Making of' documentary, plus four archive behind-the-scenes featurettes
  • Premiere footage from the Cannes Film Festival
  • Cast and crew introductions from opening day screenings in Tokyo
  • Trailers and TV Spots
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tommy Pocket
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY:Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Chuck Stephens

Pulse

Dual-Format Edition
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
2001 | 119 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: Arrow Video
MVD Visual

Release Date: July 11, 2017
Review Date: July 18, 2017

Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca

Share:

SYNOPSIS

Award-winning filmmaker Kiyoshi Kurosawa delivered one of the finest entries in the "J-Horror" cycle of films with this moody and spiritually terrifying film that delivers existential dread along with its frights. Setting his story in the burgeoning internet and social media scene in Japan, Kurosawa's dark and apocalyptic film foretells how technology will only serve to isolate us as it grows more important to our lives. A group of young people in Tokyo begin to experience strange phenomena involving missing co-workers and friends, technological breakdown, and a mysterious website which asks the compelling question, "Do you want to meet a ghost?" After the unexpected suicides of several friends, three strangers set out to explore a city which is growing more empty by the day, and to solve the mystery of what lies within a forbidden room in an abandoned construction site, mysteriously sealed shut with red packing tape. Featuring haunting cinematography by Junichiro Hayashi (Ring, Dark Water), a dark and unsettling tone which lingers long after the movie is over, and an ahead-of-its-time story which anticipates 21st century disconnection and social media malaise, Pulse is one of the greatest and most terrifying achievements in modern Japanese horror, and a dark mirror for our contemporary digital world.


PICTURE

Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s influential horror film Pulse gets a new dual-format edition from Arrow Video. The dual-layer Blu-ray disc presents the film in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (not 1.85:1 as the back of the box states) with a 1080p/24hz encode.

Like Arrow’s release of Dark Water the master has been supplied by Kadokawa Pictures and also like that release I suspect it was created long ago with only DVD in mind. It doesn’t look as digital and processed as Dark Water but it doesn’t look filmic, compression still being a problem. Grain (which didn’t exist on Dark Water) is present but it looks more noisy and unnatural than I would hope, and thanks to that compression blocking and other artifacts are present (there are shimmers in some of the tighter patterns for starters). This all leads to a largely fuzzy picture that lacks clarity and depth. Colours are muted and I suspect this is the intended look, but black levels are a bit off, looking more murky and crushing out details. It’s a very flat looking picture.

Also disappointing is the lack of real restoration work. It’s possible Arrow did some touch ups, I can’t say for sure, but there are still a number of white specs and even a tram a little after the half-way mark. The good news is that the picture looks a bit better than Dark Water’s but not by a lot.

5/10

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.

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

AUDIO

Like their Dark Water edition Arrow’s Pulse does at least deliver an effective audio presentation with the films lossless PCM 2.0 stereo surround track. Dialogue can be a bit flat I guess, though it’s still clear, but it’s the film’s creepy score and sound effects that really shine. The score moves effectively between the speakers with decent clarity, serving the film’s unnerving mood very well. The best moments, though, are during scenes where there is wind in the background, which whisks and whirls between the front and back and sounds quite lifelike. Altogether the audio sounds quite good.

8/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Arrow’s special edition packs in some wonderful supplementary material starting with a new interview with Kioyshi Kurosawa conducted in early 2016. This incredibly rewarding 44-minute discussion has the director talk extensively about his career from his early indie films to his work on softcore “pink” films, and then his straight-to-video work where he found himself dipping his toes into genres he wasn’t entirely comfortable with, like Yakuza genre films (actor Show Aikawa even shows up to talk about working with Kurosawa on these films). But then Kurosawa gets into Cure, Charisma, and Pulse, as well Hideo Nakata’s films (particularly Ring) and the birth of the Japanese horror craze. It’s here that Kurosawa admits he didn’t think there’d be much life to this wave so he shoved as many ideas as he could into Pulse (the original idea of which was born during his straight-to-video days) thinking he wouldn’t be able to explore them later if interest in these films died. But “J-horror” would carry on thanks to Grudge and the wave would be carried over to America with numerous remakes and even original films carrying the influences. It’s here Kurosawa then gets into the clichés of Japanese horror of the time and how he was already trying to avoid them in Pulse (for example he didn’t want ghosts with long hair). He makes comparisons between Japanese horror of the time and their American counterparts. I have seen a handful of Kurosawa’s films and know very little about him, but this is an illuminating and engaging interview that seems to have remedied that, and I also was thrilled with his thoughts and observations on the horror genre. It’s a really great discussion and I think fans will be thrilled with it.

Junichiro Hakashi again shows up for an interview, with this one looking to have been recorded during the same session for the interview that appears on Arrow’s Dark Water release. It’s a rather funny talk, Hakashi admitting at being too scared to watch horror films (he was asked to watch Suspiria for this one and couldn’t do it) and then he talks extensively about his previous work and learning his craft. He compares Kurosawa to other filmmakers, amusingly calling him a “strange fellow,” more in how he works; he’s more improvisational than other directors and leaves it very open as to how a scene might play out. The segment also cuts to Kurosawa talking a bit about Hakashi’s work. Another segment worth watching.

The Horror of Isolation is a new 17-minute discussion with director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett, who were behind the recent Blair Witch film. The two talk about the impact “J-horror” and Pulse had on them and how the films have worked their way into their work. They also offer their observations and thoughts on what makes this film work, breaking down some of the more unnerving moments for them. It’s probably the weakest new feature on here but there are some interesting comments in here, and I was reminded that this Blu-ray will be a blessing for many despite the less-than-ideal presentation: it was hard to see this film at the time and they recall watching it on VCD.

Following that is then a number of archival features. A 41-minute making-of featurette from the time of filming presents some great behind-the-scenes material (I was rather fascinated by the opening footage of Kurosawa planning Ryosuke’s apartment, right down to the placement of Coke cans) and then interviews with the much younger director (it really pains me to realize how old this film is now) and others about this world being created for the characters. There is then footage from introductions to the Tokyo premiere (about 7-minutes) and the Cannes Film Festival (about 3-minutes, half of which involves translators). Kurosawa and actor Haruhiko Kato appear for both, while Koyuki and Masatoshi Matsuo do show up for the Tokyo premiere.

There are then 4 featurettes about the film’s special effects, which are all interesting but I was especially fascinated by a segment involving some of the ghost effects (which includes footage from planning meetings about how the ghosts will move and look, the meetings get a bit intense) and then how the film’s most impressive segment (a one shot take involving a woman jumping to her death) was developed. I remember the first time I saw this sequence and just how horrified and shocked I was by it, yet at the same time I was just blown away at how, on a technical level, it could have been accomplished. I knew CGI was involved but considering how new and primitive it was at the time I couldn’t quite figure out how it was done so seamlessly, and watching it today it still looks real (though maybe the weak presentation helps there). Kurosawa touches on this sequence in his interview but in its dedicated segment here we get a breakdown of how the effect was pulled off, and I’m even more impressed with the sequence since it also had to take into account the added complication of camera movements. The effects in this film are really brilliantly done and I was quite fascinated by this. It looks like this material was made for another early DVD release and I’m glad Arrow was able to include this material.

11 TV spots and quick promotional clips made for a Japanese television station (running 15-seconds total) close the disc. The booklet then includes a wonderful and lengthy essay by Chuck Stephens on the film, J-horror, and Kurosawa. Unlike Dark Water’s booklet we don’t get a defense of the American remake, which isn’t all that shocking: the remake is an awful, awful film and it’s hard to imagine anyone trying to offer a defense of it.

Overall this is a very well put together and enjoyable special edition, Arrow putting in the extra effort. I found all of the features fascinating and rewarding and I think fans will definitely feel the same.

8/10

CLOSING

It’s a better edition all around in comparison to Dark Water but it still has its issues. I was definitely thrilled with the special features and I found the audio effective, but the video presentation, though not as bad as Dark Water, is still not very good. Again I’m glad Arrow is at least releasing the film but I really wish they could have worked their own magic on the restoration.




Share: 



Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca  




Join our Facebook Group (requires Facebook account)

This site is not affiliated with The Criterion Collection