Shallow Grave follows four Catholic School girls on a road trip and the maniac killer that's after them. It turns out, that the killer is a respected Sheriff in town. Vinegar Syndrome has delivered this great slasher to Blu-ray with a very good 1080p HD transfer, a DTS-HD 2.0 audio track, and some worthwhile extras. Recommended!
Horror slashers were at an all-time high in the 1980s. The likes of Freddy Krueger and Jason Vorhees were terrorizing the box office with each sequel. Numerous production companies followed suit with their own unique brand of slasher monster that preyed upon its victims. In 1987, Shallow Grave entered the game after multiple production problems and re-writes that eventually lead to a fun, yet brutal slasher film that pitted a maniacal police officer against some college students. It's a story that's been done many times over, but the sheer bleakness of this story and its villain still stands the test of time for a solid horror adventure.
Not to be confused with Danny Boyle's first feature film of the same name, Shallow Grave went from an alien invasion synopsis to an interracial couple confronting racism in the South, which ultimately resulted in the final cut of four Catholic school girls heading to Florida for a much-needed vacation that turns into their worst nightmare. The original director left the production and the executive producer Richard Styles had to fill those shoes quickly himself. Navigating unfamiliar creative territory, Styles utilized his love for old slasher and B-Movie flicks in Shallow Grave, including an ode to that infamous sequence in Psycho.
Even though most of the film feels very familiar and follows that same formulaic pattern that most slashers use, Shallow Grave still manages to surprise with its beats of dark humor and not conforming to the normal path these films tend to walk down. Four friends make their way via a road trip to Florida for party time at the beach. On the way, their car gets a flat tire in rural Georgia. While waiting for the tire to be fixed, one of the girl's witnesses a man murder a woman nearby. Unfortunately, this man notices her and must take care of any eyewitnesses. Things go from bad to worse when this murderous madman is actually the respected Sheriff of this town and he just killed his mistress in fear of their affair getting back to his family.
From here, bodies pile up as this officer brutalizes his way through anyone who gets in his way. On one side, these women are trying to get the word out that this man is a killer, while the Sheriff's deputies and colleagues buy his manipulation into these out-of-town girls who are responsible for the murders. Current themes of toxic masculinity and even female empowerment are present here some thirty-five years later, but of course, being a horror movie, all will end in tears and bloodshed.
There is no revenge plot here like in I Spit On Your Grave. Shallow Grave is very much into its own darkness of a brutal male killer taking out women - and he succeeds greatly at this. Despite some of its cheesy dialogue and performances, Shallow Grave offers up an entertaining throw-back at the world of slashers that could have spawned a sequel or two if it did better upon release.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Shallow Grave slashes its way to Blu-ray via Vinegar Syndrome. The sole disc is housed inside a hard, clear plastic case. There is no cardboard sleeve. There is reversible artwork though. On one side is a new illustrated image of the main character with some dead bodies below. The reverse side is the original theatrical poster of a barely buried woman in the dirt.
Shallow Grave comes with a very good 1080p HD transfer from Vinegar Syndrome. This was sourced from a 2K scan from the 35mm elements of the original camera negative.
Colors are bolder and richer in this image with primary colors standing out nicely. Shades of green in the bushes and leaves look wonderful and brown tree trunks look wonderful. Mid '80s wardrobe brings out those hyper colors nicely in every shot. Red blood always has a great-looking shine to it and the neon bar signs are fantastic. The detail can look sharp in certain well-lit shots, but as a whole, the filmic picture looks a little soft.
Closeups do look vivid and reveal facial textures and hairs, but the grain is heavy and can hinder some of those intensely detailed closeups. Black levels are somewhat deep but have some murkiness to them and the skin tones look natural. The heavy film grain also comes with scratches, warps, and dirt as well. Luckily, this movie feels like a Grindhouse film, thus keeping with its style and original source.
This release comes with a DTS-HD MA 2.0 mix that gets the job done. Sound effects are well-balanced but are never too loud or pack a large bass-heavy punch. But the audio track allows for those quieter moments to sound nice in their appropriate spacing; the more chaotic noises have a more dynamic sound to them.
Screams, gunshots, and vehicles driving by all sound good. The score always adds to the suspense of each scene while the dialogue is always clean, clear, and easy to follow. Ambient noises of people in the bar or police station sound great too, but when in a natural setting, no background noises are really heard.
There are about 29 minutes of bonus materials here which are two interviews with the director and writer of the film, recalling their past. Two commentary tracks are also included.
Shallow Grave still stands the test of time for being a dark slasher film that cuts deep and is still politically and socially relevant. Vinegar Syndrome has done a great job with the 1080p HD transfer, the DTS-HD 2.0 audio mix, and some great bonus features. Recommended!