HD DVD Rises from the Grave… Briefly

Sweet Zombie Jesus, I just received a new HD DVD in the mail! This comes more than a year after what we all assumed would be the last ever HD DVD was released in Germany. Nevertheless, here I hold in my hands a copy of ‘Deadlands 2: Trapped’.

Some of our forum readers may have followed the travails of indie director Gary Ugarek (aka DjfunkmasterG), who has been struggling for the better part of a year now to get his micro-budget zombie flick released as a limited HD DVD collectible. If you haven’t been following his lengthy ordeal, here are some links to the first 59-page thread and the current 39-page (and counting) thread all about it.

At first, Ugarek’s distributor, Anthem Pictures, was all for it, so long as he could drum up 500 preorders. He managed to do that much, and then the project seemed to collapse in a morass of technical problems (no production facilities would press the disc) and studio politics. What really stung most for those foolish enough to preorder (myself included) was that Anthem collected payment up front at the time of ordering, and then went silent on the whole issue for months.

Personally, I know next to nothing about this movie. But I trust that having not seen ‘Deadlands’ part 1 will not affect my ability to follow the plot. I only ordered for the hell of it, as a collectible. I lost track of the project status a while ago and basically forgot about it. I know that some people demanded refunds, but it didn’t seem worth the effort to me. I figured, if the disc ever did miraculously come to fruition, then I’d have an interesting collectible. And if not, I’ll survive without the $30.

So, what do you know, here it is. From what I gather, the majority of the movie was shot on standard-def video and has been upconverted for the HD transfer. And apparently it’s been compressed onto a single-layer DVD-R [Correction: It’s an HD DVD-R.] crammed with bonus features (including an alternate workprint version of the movie). I kind of have a feeling that it’s going to look like crap. No offense to Gary on that. Those specs just aren’t in his favor, which he probably recognizes as well. Even so, for me, it’s still something interesting to own anyway.

The package I received also included a printed Certificate of Authenticity, which I unwittingly tore when opening the mailer. I suppose I can live without that.


    • Josh Zyber

      I believe it’s a DVD-R disc that’s been authored as an HD DVD. But I haven’t followed the thread in the HD DVD forum actively in a long time. I may be wrong about that. I’m sure the answer is in there somewhere. If anyone finds it, feel free to correct me here.

  1. Ted S.

    Josh are you one of the HD-DVD fanboys or something? Why in the heck did you spend $30 on a movie that you know it wasn’t shot in HD but rather up-converted from standard def? You sound like a very smart person but this sounds pretty dumb to me, no offense.

    Maybe you can enlighten me…

  2. Charles

    I received my disc a little over a month ago, but that was only after going back and forth with Anthem. I was one of the first to order it (#5 according to my certificate), so it’s been a super long wait. I love HDDVD, and am glad to own this movie, and I like how passionate the director is on it.

  3. Vortex

    Being the last movie released on HD DVD, it’s probably a collector’s edition for being the worst “HD” quality ever released on HD DVD. Can you review the movie like a regular HD DVD movie with ratings for the movie, picture, sound and bonus materials?

    Is the HD DVD disc pressed or burned onto a HD DVD-R disc? For a small amount of copies made, HD DVD-R would be much cheaper especially if the director was able to buy the leftover HD DVD-R blank discs for a bargain price.

    Also, it’s funny that HD DVD supporters used to say HD DVD disc is cheaper than Blu-ray to manufacturer. The last HD DVD movie was sold at a premium price.

  4. Joe B

    Josh– Please send a copy of this HD-DVD directly to Bill Hunt at “Digital Bits.”
    It should make his day! (LOL)