Saturday, February 20, 2021

PULSE (1988) (Eureka Entertainment Blu-ray Review/Comparison)

PULSE (1988)

Eureka Entertainment
Region Code: B
Rating: Cert. 18
Duration: 91 Minutes
Audio: English PCM 2.0 Stereo with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: Paul Golding
Cast: Cliff De Young, Roxanne Hart, Joey Lawrence

In this late-80's techno-horror thriller Colorado kid David (Joey Lawrence, Urban Legends: Final Cut) travels to the suburbs of California to spend the summer with his father Bill (Cliff De Young, The Craft) and his new wife Ellen (Roxanne Hart, Highlander). His arrival coincides with some strange happenings in the neighborhood, beginning with the neighbor across the street who one night demolished his house before being fried by electricity, apparently distraught that his wife had been killed in a freak garbage disposal accident! 

Staying at his Dad's place is cool, his room is adorned with cool toys and a coveted racecar bed, and he makes fast friends with a kid in the neighborhood named Stevie (his real-life brother Matthew Lawrence, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie), but this cool summer is about to be ruined by a series of weird technological mishaps. His stepmom is nearly scalded to death in the shower when the electric water heater goes haywire, the dryer the basement goes nuts, and David is nearly suffocated by car exhaust fumes when the garage door opener refuses to work properly.  

Pulse (1988) is a bit dated in it's approach but it is still a cool bit of techno-horror, complete with an old harbinger of techno-doom by way of Holder (Charles Tyner, Evilspeak), who seems to have knowledge of what's happening. There's also a string of small appliance repairman and electricians who are called to the home to asses the strange electrical-related  happening, among them Robert Romanus of Fast Times at Ridgemont High and The Resurrected. Shot by cinematographer Peter Lyons Collister (Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers) it's a slick looking film with cool macro-photography of the inner workings of circuit boards and other household appliances and wiring inside the walls of the house, so that you can see the supernatural currents, the ghost on the machine so to speak. 

I also dug the cool suburban setting that has a bit of an Amblin feel about it, not to mention the Lawrence kids, who are actually not only super-cute 80's kiddos but they do good work here, particularly Joey. Cliff De Young is also quite good as the father, he comes off as a cool and caring dad, and when he has to take on the techno-menace with an axe during the finale he pulls that off too. 

Pulse (1988) is a solid techno-horror entry from the late-80's of the popcorn munching variety, a pretty slick looking production that doesn't require a lot of brain-power, with a wonderful cast and some fun eighties special effects that still brings a smile to my face. This is the film's U.K. Blu-ray debut, but if you're region-free and looking to own this film, this is the superior edition to own, the U.S. release from 2017 is barebones, Eureka give it a solid commentary, a video essay and the original theatrical trailer, plus some cool-looking packaging extras. 
Screenshot Comparison
Top: Mill Creek Blu-ray (2017) Region A
Bottom: Eureka Entertainment Blu-ray (2021) Region B

Audio/Video: Pulse (1988) makes it's U.K. Blu-ray debut on Region B locked Blu-ray from Eureka Entertainment framed in the original 1.85:1 widescreen. Not sure what the source here is but it looks great to my eyes. The source elements are in fantastic shape with only some very minor white speckling and occasional dirt to contend with. The grain structure looks pleasing throughout with some nice depth and detail in the image,. The colors are uniformly strong and the black levels impress, this is a great looking scan of the film. Notably, the U.S. release from Mill Creek Entertainment was cropped to a screen-filling 1.78:1, while the Eureka Entertainment rerelease maintain the original aspect ratio with a sliver of more information on all four sides, otherwise the differences in the image are negligible, as can be seen in the accompanying Blu-ray comparisons. Also be sure to check out the over sixty screencaps at the bottom of the review! 

Screenshot Comparison
Top: Mill Creek Blu-ray (2017) Region A
Bottom: Eureka Entertainment Blu-ray (2021) Region B

Eureka offer an uncompressed English PCM 2.0 stereo audio track with optional English subtitles and it sounds fine. Dialogue is always discernible and the score from composer Jay Ferguson (A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child) sounds great in the mix. 

Screenshot Comparison
Top: Mill Creek Blu-ray (2017) Region A
Bottom: Eureka Entertainment Blu-ray (2021) Region B

I was pleased to see that Eureka saw fit to outfit their release with some actual extras, unlike the barebones release in the U.S. from Mill Creek Entertainment. Supplemental begin with a fun and informative commentary from Amanda Reyes, the author of the highly recommended 'Are You In The House Alone?: A TV Movie Compendium 1964-1999'. Reyes commentaries are always deep diving and filled with information and this is no different, she points out every bit player and celebrates their filmographies, as well as the main cast and pointing out the cool touches from director Paul Golding. 

Screenshot Comparison
Top: Mill Creek Blu-ray (2017) Region A
Bottom: Eureka Entertainment Blu-ray (2021) Region B

Additionally we get a cool fourteen-minute video essay from film historian Lee Gambin entitled Tuning in to Tech Horror wherein the knowledgeable historian compares the film to other tech-horrors of the era. It's an interesting watch as he lays out the tropes of the sub-genre, how it fits in well with the tech obsessed 80s, and comparing it to what had come before like Killdozer (1974), Demon Seed (1977), The Car (1977), Murder By Phone (1982), The Lift (1982), Christine (1983), Mr. Wrong (1984) and others. The disc is buttoned-up with a one-minute trailer for the film. We were only sent a "check disc" for the sake of this review, but retail copies include a limited edition slipcase and a booklet with new writing on the film.  

Special Features:
- NEW! Audio commentary by author and film historian Amanda Reyes
-NEW! Tuning in to Tech Horror – video essay by writer and film historian Lee Gambin (14 min) HD
Trailer (1 min) HD
- Limited-Edition O-card Slipcase (First Print Run of 2000 Copies Only
- Limited-Edition Collector’s Booklet featuring a new essay by film scholar and author Craig Ian Mann (First Print Run of 2000 Copies Only)

More Screenshots from the Eureka Blu-ray: