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Ultra HD : Highly Recommended
Ranking:
Sale Price: $49.99 Last Price: $ Buy now! 3rd Party 37.19 In Stock
Release Date: January 30th, 2024 Movie Release Year: 1999

eXistenZ - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Overview -

David Cronenberg, master of the macabre, has mounted many films that feature his vision of reality being morphed by something humans don’t understand. His 1997 film eXistenZ is no exception, though its somehow able to have its meta cake and eat it too in ways similar films failed miserably at in the 1990s. Those delightful weirdos at Vinegar Syndrome have upgraded this under-loved Cronenberg classic to 4K Ultra HD with a special features-packed release that comes with a gorgeous new transfer of the film aided by HDR10. Gooey, grotesque and slippery in all of the beautiful ways a Cronenberg work can be, this new 4K Blu-ray release comes Highly Recommended!

In the near future, video games have evolved to a point where they are able to biologically interact with players through the use of an electronic umbilical cord. Allegra Geller has created eXistenZ, a highly anticipated virtual reality game which has come under fire for its potential ability to effectively warp players' perceptions of reality. When an anti-game zealot attempts to murder Allegra during a demo, she narrowly escapes with the help of her publicist, Ted Pikul. However, Allegra discovers that the only master copy of the game might have been damaged during the attack and convinces Ted to test it with her. After Ted reluctantly agrees, the pair enter the virtual world of eXistenZ, but it’s not long before they start becoming uncertain as to where the violent gameplay ends and reality begins...

Director David Cronenberg’s (Videodrome, Crash) masterpiece of sci-fi horror for the video game age, eXistenZ stars two-time Academy Award nominee Jude Law (The Talented Mr. Ripley), Oscar® nominee Jennifer Jason Leigh (Single White Female), and four-time Oscar® nominee Willem Dafoe (Platoon). Action-packed from beginning to end, and featuring memorable creature effects designed by Stephan Dupuis (Scanners), loaded with a consummate selection of new and archival extras, Vinegar Syndrome is proud to present the 4K UHD debut of this slime-filled look at a virtual future which might become reality sooner than we'd like to think.

directed by: David Cronenberg
starring: Jude Law, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Willem Dafoe, Ian Holm, Sarah Polley, Christopher Eccleston, Don McKellar, Callum Keith Rennie
1999 / 97 min / 1.85:1 / English 5.1 Surround + 2.0 Stereo

Additional info:

  • 2-disc Set: 4K Ultra HD / Region A Blu-ray
  • 4K UHD presented in High-Dynamic-Range
  • Newly scanned & restored in 4K from its 35mm interpositive
  • Brand new commentary track with film historian Dr. Jennifer Moorman
  • Archival commentary track with director David Cronenberg
  • Archival commentary track with cinematographer Peter Suschitzky
  • Archival commentary track with visual effects supervisor Jim Isaac
  • "Crafting (un)Reality" (22 min) - a brand new interview with art director Tamara Deverell on building the worlds of eXistenZ
  • "Frankenstein Syndrome" (9 min) - a brand new interview with make-up effects artist Stephan Dupuis on bringing eXistenZ to life
  • "Sticking with Genius" (10 min) - a brand new interview with producer Robert Lantos
  • "The Art of the Title" (7 min) - a brand new interview with opening title designer Robert Pilichowski
  • "Frame by Frame: The Invisible Art of Production Designer Carol Spier" (48 min) - archival featurette
  • Archival Promotional Featurette (7 min)
  • Archival Special Effects Featurette (4 min)
  • Promotional & behind-the-scenes still gallery
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Archival EPK interviews with: director David Cronenberg (4 min), actor Jude Law (15 min), actress Jennifer Jason Leigh (2 min), actor Willem Dafoe (7 min) and visual effects supervisor Jim Isaac (28 min)
  • 40-page perfect bound book (exclusive to the Limited Edition Slipcase) with essays by Justin LaLiberty and Jon Dieringer
  • Reversible sleeve artwork
  • English SDH subtitles

OVERALL:
Highly Recommended
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
This special limited edition 2-disc 4K UHD/Blu-ray set comes with a spot gloss flesh-textured hard slipcase + slipcover combo (designed by Haunt Love), includes a 40-page perfect bound book and is limited to 10,000 units.
Video Resolution/Codec:
2160p/HEVC
Length:
99
Aspect Ratio(s):
1.85:1
Audio Formats:
English 5.1 Surround + 2.0 Stereo
Subtitles/Captions:
English SDH subtitles
Release Date:
January 30th, 2024

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

Alright, time for a bit of a story before I dig into eXistenZ the film, a work that I’ve loved dearly ever since I saw it in the summer of 2014 while I was sick and recovering from back surgery (meta, right?). David Cronenberg was set to be honored at the Provincetown Film Festival that year and I was set to cover the festival for my main outlet at the time. A planned filmmaker’s luncheon on the Saturday of the festival served as an opportunity for press members to interview honorees from the festival. Yes, folks, I got the rare opportunity to interview the man himself. Actress Debra Winger was being honored at the time as well, but our talk got nixed after she talked to two press members and decided to stop giving interviews. Not sure what they said, but Winger has been very difficult to interview over the years anyway, so I didn’t take it too seriously.

Needless to say, I was mortified at the prospect of interviewing Cronenberg and I knew I only had 15 minutes with him, so I really had to come prepared. I gulped down a free vodka and orange juice at the event bar, then made my way up to the press lounge to speak with him. I was greeted by a kind, unassuming man who although looking kind of sullen, was eager to talk about his craft. As soon as I brought up eXistenZ, his eyes lit up and we got into serious conversation about how humans interact with technology, and how that morphs our own reality. Then, on top of that, I got him to talk about how making the move from film to digital wasn’t difficult for him since he was unsatisfied with how his films have looked in theaters on prints that were several generations away from the original negative. It was a dream come true, and I didn’t expect to be welcomed so warmly by one of my heroes.

Back to the movie in question, eXistenZ! This sneaky, wily and frequently hilarious satire on the video game industry at the time still kills me to this day. Not sure if that is because so much of my childhood was given willingly to video games I adored, to the point where they became a main focus in life, or if it was because of Cronenberg being one of the absolute best to ever do it. Either way, eXistenZ had miraculously aged into what may be the best sci-fi drama that attempted to predict how humanity and tech will give itself to each other through modes like video games. And in classic Cronenberg fashion, it’s this breathless work that so delicately colors in an artificial environment that may look like reality, but it keeps you guessing whether you’re in a game or not throughout. 

eXistenZ follows game designer Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and young marketing trainee Ted Pikul (Jude Law) as they’re attacked by a fanatical assassin set out to kill Geller and destroy her new game, titled eXistenZ. Now, the duo is on the run and use the game to discover the true plot to destroy Geller’s work. But when reality looks too similar to the game, it’s hard to tell what’s real or fake.

Jennifer Jason Leigh is a perfect match for Cronenberg’s wry approach. She can play deadpan and seductive at the same time, which is wonderful considering the basis of eXistenZ is that most of these characters have lost what made them human by their interaction with video games. And Jude Law, a fresh-faced baby at the time of this production, is the perfect naïve force to watch Allegra play with until he becomes a force to reckon with. For a film that closely follows these two performers, it’s a joy to watch them work through the anxieties in their respective natures that prevent them from connecting like regular humans. It’s a very beautifully layered dissection of humanity in the face of tech. 

All in all, eXistenZ is the rollicking horror drama that you’ve always wanted from the master of macabre, but it’s in Cronenberg’s intellectual approach that makes it rise above its peers of the era. It was a joy to revisit them film again, as I find it to be a very funny, gross and funnily gross work that only gets better with time.

Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-rays
Is your bioport ready for the game? eXistenZ arrives in a two-disc (4K Blu-ray and Blu-ray) release that comes housed in a standard amaray case with reversible artwork. The amaray case has a limited-edition slipcover that is then housed within a flesh-textured slipcase. Also, in the slipcase is a perfect-bound book with a couple of essays. Both discs (BD66 for the UHD and BD50 for the Blu-ray boot up to standard menu screens with options to play the film, set up audio, explore bonus features and select reels.

NOTE: The Limited Edition Slipcase version is exclusive to Vinegar Syndrome and will be back up for sale in the new year once the current Partner sale has concluded. 

    

Video Review

Ranking:

Death to the demoness Allegra Geller…or, death to the truly awful 2012 Blu-ray of eXistenZ from Echo Bridge Entertainment! Vinegar Syndrome presents eXistenZ in 2160p aided by HDR10 from a new 4K restoration sourced from the 35mm interpositive. While I’m a bit bummed that they couldn’t get the original negative to scan, the interpositive is the absolute next-best thing, and this new presentation proves that immediately upon watching. This is a very contrasty-looking film, which isn’t surprising given 1990s-era film stock, with deep blacks giving way to muted, natural flesh tones and sets. This new presentation honors that look wonderfully, dialing in brightness and contrast just right, preventing highlights from being blown out, and letting those gooey special effects sing with texture. Film grain is light and appreciable. This is a huge upgrade from the DNR-laded transfer on the 2012 Blu-ray and will impress both fans and newcomers alike. Textures are the name of the game in Cronenberg films, and this new 2160p presentation honors that beautifully. Bitrate is consistently high as well, though avoiding crushing the blacks by encoding at too high a bitrate.

Audio Review

Ranking:

Both original 2.0 stereo and 5.1 surround tracks have been packaged nicely by the VS team in DTS-HD MA encodes, and both are in terrific shape with little damage to note. This isn’t the most dynamic film when it comes to surround channels, though the 5.1 track offers a much more refined LFE and nice bass for heightened moments of violence and in the score by Howard Shore. Dialogue and music are balanced very nicely in both tracks. These are great presentations of both tracks any way you hear them.

Special Features

Ranking:

Alright, Cronenberg fans everywhere. While this release wasn’t able to score an interview with the man himself, this supplements package is robust with interviews and featurettes with cast and crew. This release carries over archival features from the 2012 Blu-ray, adds even more archival features not seen on US releases of the film. I highly recommend watching the new interview with art director Tamara Deverell, as it’s always interesting to hear how Cronenberg collaborates with the people who bring his vision to life, plus Deverell has some terrific stories to tell about her journey in the film industry. 

Disc 1: 4K Blu-ray Feature & Special Features

  • Brand new commentary track with film historian Dr. Jennifer Moorman
  • Archival commentary track with director David Cronenberg
  • Archival commentary track with cinematographer Peter Suschitzky
  • Archival commentary track with visual effects supervisor Jim Isaac

Disc 2: Blu-ray Feature & Special Features

  • Brand new commentary track with film historian Dr. Jennifer Moorman
  • Archival commentary track with director David Cronenberg
  • Archival commentary track with cinematographer Peter Suschitzky
  • Archival commentary track with visual effects supervisor Jim Isaac
  • Crafting (Un)Reality (HD 22:14)
  • Frakenstein Syndrome (HD 9:24)
  • Sticking with Genius (HD 10:25)
  • The Art of the Title (HD 7:00)
  • Frame by Frame (SD 48:29)
  • Archival promotional featurette (SD 11:09)
  • Archival special effects featurette (SD 3:42)
  • Promotional & behind-the-scenes image gallery (HD 3:24)
  • Theatrical trailer (SD 2:11)
  • Archival EPK interviews
    • David Cronenberg (SD 4:15)
    • Jude Law (SD 14:46)
    • Jennifer Jason Leigh (SD 1:25)
    • Willem Dafoe (SD 7:03)
    • Jim Isaac (SD 27:48)
  • 40-page perfect bound book (exclusive to the Limited Edition Slipcase) with essays by Justin LaLiberty and Jon Dieringer

Are you ready to start a round of eXistenZ? Vinegar Syndrome certainly thinks you are, as this 4K Blu-ray release comes packed with supplements and a stunning new transfer of the film that puts previous releases to shame. If you’re a fan of the goopy, grimy, slimy and intellectual work of David Cronenberg, then you owe it to yourself to pick up this Highly Recommended release.