Comparison between the remastered HD version (represented here by Nameless Media's Blu-ray, identical in content to worldwide Blu-rays from Sony & the 4K Blu-ray) and the original version (represented here by Anchor Bay's US DVD, identical in content to most DVD editions and releases on earlier media).
Regardless of international censorship, there are still two matters of faith for purists when it comes to Sam Raimi's horror classic The Evil Dead. On the one hand, there's the aspect ratio, because although probably originally designed for 1.66:1, a widescreen version in 1.85:1 has been "officially recognized" since 2002 thanks to Raimi's oversight of Anchor Bay's DVD. That's a better fit for today's 16:9 TVs, but an open matte version in 1.33:1 was known to many fans before that, and is therefore still often preferred today. On Blu-rays by Nameless, both aspect ratios are on offer, while the older Sony editions from overseas only include the 1.85:1 image. On DVDs it was a mixed bag, worldwide you sometimes got both and sometimes only the 1.85:1 version.
A second issue is that the film was digitally retouched in 2012 for the first Blu-ray. All newer HD releases as well as the 4K UHD disc are affected by this. One should also not be misled here by the naming of the additional disc in Nameless Media's collector's editions: The difference between the "unedited original version" and the "remastered version" is merely Nameless' subsequent use of filters. "Original version" refers to the already retouched HD master that Sony had previously released on Blu-rays abroad. "Remastered" was then only by Nameless subsequently as far as the film grain is concerned.
So what are some fans faithfully keeping the DVDs or even older releases on the shelf for? Mainly because of various film errors that were covered up in the high-resolution remastering. Clearly the most noticeable is the moment right at the beginning, where producer Rob Tapert was accidentally still visible in the picture to the right of the bridge. But also lighting errors were eliminated several times or short, unintentional perspective changes. Admittedly, these are all adjustments that benefit the film. It didn't really take on similar proportions as with George Lucas or James Cameron. On top of that, there were a few audio changes in the form of slightly shifted soundtrack cues, for example, but we won't go into those in the report.
For the HD version, the 4:3 version of the "unedited original version" from the Nameless Blu-ray set was taken in this report. As explained in the intro, this designation is somewhat unfortunate considering the changes from previous releases on DVD, among others. The version is basically identical to the picture on Sony's worldwide Blu-rays, although the film was released there in 1.85:1 instead of 4:3.
The Blu-ray has 1 sec more black screen at the beginning.
As the car crosses the bridge, producer Rob Tapert used to be seen on the right side of the frame. This part has now been uniformly filled in with scrub.
Here again in zoom:
In various interior shots with Scotty, the originally too dark light from outside was adjusted here. Since the scene is set during the day, it is much brighter from outside since the HD remaster.
Note: According to the article on Book of the Dead, a reflection of the cameraman on a window should also have been removed here. Possibly the third comparison picture here is meant with it, although we recognized corresponding outlines there also still in the HD master.
The flash shot is back in on Blu-ray. As is well known, it was missing from some earlier DVD editions, probably at Raimi's request. Later, however, he revised this decision again.
+ 1.4 sec
Immediately following, the moon was revised, which was visible here as a matte painting behind the house. The fogs differ a bit. Also, the image used to wobble slightly, this was also stabilized in HD.
The blue light from outside has been toned down a bit here as well. Especially noticeable in the close-ups of Cheryl. So another noticeable example of the HD version's own color grading, although no day/night difference as in the scene with Scotty at the beginning.
Again the outside shot with the moon. In the past you could also see a blue shimmer here always shortly before the flashes. This side effect of the old animation technique was also digitally touched up in the Star Wars versions, as is well known.
Again in zoom:
The moon was also revised in this scene.
During Shelly's nervous breakdown, the camera pulls up a bit here, and so above the car headlights at the top center of the frame, you suddenly saw more lights. These were probably involuntarily from the set lighting or other background. For the Blu-rays, this was colored black.
Like the ominous flash sequence, just a feature of the old Elite US DVD, but then corrected on later DVDs starting with the Anchor Bay version. Actually, the first shot of the possessed Cheryl is a static shot. To increase the shock effect, the Elite version zoomed in closer in the middle of the shot.
Two shots of Linda screaming have been flipped horizontally. This fits better as a connector to the more distant shots around the perimeter.
Again, the shot with the moon was revised, see the fog.
Note: When later in minute 57 there is only the moon with wisps of fog in close-up, no adjustment was necessary.
Here, during a shot above, a hair wandered across the camera lens. This is no longer the case in the HD versions.
Again in zoom:
In the center of the frame, two small glowing dots could be seen here earlier at the top and just to the right of Ash's arm. In HD, these probably unintentional disturbing factors have now been removed.
When Ash barricades the door and Scotty appears at the front of the frame, the background with Ash was simply frozen on the original version. For the Blu-ray, they have instead fluidly blended this over with Ash's final movement to the door.
Hard to show on screenshots: During animation, the image jumps a bit in the original version. For the HD master, the image level was stabilized here.
Likewise on a handheld camera shot outside shortly after. Again, the picture doesn't wobble on Blu-ray.