The Blu-ray Disc
Mastered in HD from a 35mm fine grain print, White Zombie is presented in 1080p high definition in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. But rather than simply hitting play when you pop this disc in, better to head over to the extras menu where you’ll find a listing for the “raw” version of the film. The transfer the disc defaults to it is an over-processed mess, slathered in digital noise reduction and full of waxy, haloed figures with excessively blown-out whites.
The raw version is an identical cut of the film, just without any digital “enhancement” added. This can still be a pretty rough presentation, with a good deal of damage, frequently out-of-focus frames and a number of image and sound dropouts. Still, the film’s grain is intact, and when the materials allow for it, there’s a decent amount of fine detail visible. The extreme close-ups of Lugosi are especially nice. The public domain film has had plenty of garbage home video presentations, and though this one is undeniably rough around the edges, it’s quite watchable. It’s just too bad many viewers of this disc will just go straight for the bad default transfer.
The uncompressed mono audio is also problematic, as is to be expected. A persistent hiss is present throughout the film, as are crackling, dropouts and distorted music cues. The dialogue can get a little hard to understand at points but is mostly intelligible.
Several extras are present on the disc, including an audio commentary by film historian Frank Thompson, a 6-minute interview with Lugosi from 1932, the 1951 theatrical reissue trailer and a gallery of stills.
The Bottom Line
While the default transfer is just awful, the included raw version offers a solid home video representation of this low-budget horror.