• Drag Me To Hell (Collector’s Edition)

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: February 12th, 2018.
    Director: Sam Raimi
    Cast: Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver, Dileep Rao, David Paymer, Adriana Barraza
    Year: 2009
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    The Movie:

    Sam Raimi's first horror movie since he left the Evil Dead films alone decades ago, Drag Me To Hell shows that while he may have gone Hollywood with the Spider-Man franchise, he's still more than capable of delivering the goods. While it might lack the gore quotient of his more popular early films that sense of manic humor and screwball splatstick that made those pictures as quirky as they were is still very much alive and well.

    The movie follows a young woman named Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) who works as a loan officer at a California bank. Hoping to be promoted to assistant manager after landing a huge potential deal for her branch, she's running into some competition from the recently hired Stu Rubin, a perpetual ass kisser who will do anything it takes to get the job, including stabbing co-workers in the back. Mr. Jacks (David Paymer), the manager, seems to encourage the competition between the two, however, and when Christine receives a visit from a feeble old woman named Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver), who has had a string of medical problems and can't pay her mortgage, she decides to show Jacks she can play hardball and allow the bank to foreclose on the woman's home. When Christine tells this to Mrs. Ganush, the lady freaks out and attacks her, only to be dragged away by security.

    Later that night, Christine is attacked by Mrs. Ganush a second time in the underground parking garage and in the ensuing struggle Mrs, Ganush snatches a button off of Christine's coat. She curses this button, gets it back to Christine, and then disappears. That night Christine is hanging out with her boyfriend Clay Dalton (Justin Long) and she decides they should stop in and visit a fortune teller named Rham Jas (Dileep Rao). Ram tries to read for Christine but what he sees obviously frightens him and he sends her away. Soon, Christine finds she's being haunted by an evil spirit. After some strange encounters she tries Rham again and he explains to her that the Lamia, the evil spirit of the Black Goat, is being used to curse her. Christine tries to set things right and help Mrs. Ganush with her loan problems but it's too late, the Lamia will haunt her and eventually, when the time is right, drag her to Hell.

    Working in the same style he employed for Evil Dead II, Raimi's latest manages to mix humor and comedy very effectively. The film never feels too silly or too late, and the horrific elements are definitely played with the right amount of punch, but there's a sense of fun to the whole thing that pushes this one outside the box just enough to work. Some of the odd camera angles and strange set pieces that Raimi's work is none for are here and while this is a softer film than maybe some had hoped for, there's enough of an ‘ick' factor to it that horror buffs should find much to enjoy here - despite the PG-13 theatrical rating, Drag Me To Hell is fairly strong in that department.

    The cast are all fine in their roles with Lohman and Long making for a likeable enough couple. The real show stealers are Rao as the occultist who wants to help Christine and of course Raver as the sinister Mrs. Ganush. An interesting foil, you can't help but feel for the old woman, at least early on in the film, as they establish her character initially as one to be pitied rather than feared. All of that changes of course, but even as the story plays out you can't help but feel just a tad sorry for the old bat and wonder if maybe Raimi's film is intentionally flipping off the banks. The film might be a bit too CGI heavy in spots, lending scenes that could have been more frightening an unimpressive cartoonish quality, but generally the effects hold up well here.

    Universal's Blu-ray release contains the theatrical cut and the unrated version. The unrated cut does feature some noticeably gooier bits and pieces but doesn't really change the film much outside of that.


    Shout Factory’s two-disc Blu-ray release contains both the theatrical cut and the unrated versions of the film, each on their own BD50. The unrated cut does feature some noticeably gooier bits and pieces but doesn't really change the film much outside of that. Both versions are presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 2.40.1 widescreen ‘taken from the 2k digital intermediate.’ Shot digitally, the image is pristine, there’s obviously no print damage or grain to discuss. Fine detail is very strong, black levels are excellent and color reproduction looks great. Skin tones appear lifelike and natural and there are no noticeable issues with any compression artifacts or edge enhancement problems. Picture quality is pretty much identical between the two cuts – which is fine, the image here is a strong one.

    An excellent English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix adorns both cuts on this Blu-ray release with optional subtitles available in English only. There's plenty of aggressive channel separation and during some of the more horror-oriented moments in the film, especially once things start picking up in terms of ‘manifestation', it's not uncommon to hear all sorts of commotion and effects bits whizzing around your room. Quieter moments use the rears to add ambiance in the form of natural room sounds and background noise and by spreading the score out nicely. Dialogue is clean, clear and concise even during the commotion of the fight scenes and the musical score and sound effects never overshadow what's being said on screen. Bass response is terrific and the mix will give your subwoofer something to chew on, especially when the winds start to swirl and the monster starts to get a bit more aggressive in its tactics. In short, the sound mix is great. An optional DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track is also provided on each disc.

    Extras are spread across the two discs in the set as follows:


    Carried over from the Universal Blu-ray release are thirty-five-minutes’ worth of production diary entries, presented in HD. These are interesting enough as they do give us a look at Raimi's approach to filmmaking first hand, and just how ‘into it' everyone seemed to be while the film was being made. There's some good stuff here and it's nice to see it included, but where's the commentary? Featurettes? Deleted scenes? You can't help but feel that Universal could and should have done a lot more in this department.

    The first disc also contains a thirty-three-minute piece that contains some vintage Interviews with director Sam Raimi and cast members Alison Lohman and Justin Long. This is fairly ‘EPK’ in nature, but it’s interesting to hear from Raimi in particular as he’s not really featured on any of the other supplements included here. They talk about their experiences making the picture and what it was like working with one another.

    Rounding out the extras on disc one is a few TV spots, the film’s theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection.


    The second contains a selection of new featurettes, starting with a twelve-minute interview with actress Alison Lohman entitled To Hell And Back. She talks about going into this one fairly blind, not really aware of Raimi’s past in the horror movie scene, what it was like on set, his directing style, her interactions with some of the other cast members and her thoughts on the film as a whole. Actress Lorna Raver shows up for sixteen minutes in a piece entitled Curses!. She also wasn’t aware of Raimi’s horror movie legacy when she took the part and tells some interesting stories about the director’s sense of humor and what it was like to work with him. Up next, we spend seventeen minutes with composer Christopher Young in Hitting All The Right Notes. Young was an Evil Dead fan before taking this job and was quite excited to get to collaborate with Raimi. We hear all about that here as well as what he tried to bring to the film with his compositions and a fair bit more.

    A still gallery, menus and chapter selection round out the extras on disc two.

    Both disc fit inside a standard Blu-ray keepcase that comes with some nice reversible cover art and a collectible slipcover.

    The Final Word:

    If not taken too seriously, Drag Me To Hell turns out to be a lot of fun. The same manic spirit that made Raimi's early work as enjoyable as it was is still here, if slightly watered down for a big studio and a younger audience, but despite its flaws this is a wildly entertaining film. Shout! Factory’s new two-disc release presents both cuts of the film in great shape and with a whole host of new featurettes.
    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Matt H.'s Avatar
      Matt H. -
      Great movie, endlessly rewatchable. I LOVE Alison Lohman in this.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      I'll agree with Matt. Watched it with my daughter recently, it really holds up.