Pulse Special Edition (Kiyoshi Kurosawa) on Blu-ray and DVD combo – The DVDfever Review

Pulse

Pulse is a Japanese horror film from 2001 which didn’t see a release in the US until as late as November 2005, and this release has been pending on Arrow’s books for a fair while, but fans will be pleased that it’s now released and with the usual slew of extras.

In a city where there’s a lot of “things that go bump in the night”, or sometimes in the very dark daytime, a lot of people are topping themselves from time to time, but why?

And how come, for one early on, a later picture of one man’s flat appears on his PC monitor and seems to have him standing up and alive? And how come this image is the same as the image they’re looking at, so it’s an image within an image within an image and so on? Yes, it’s time for another J-horror where only batshit mental events take place! Little of it makes sense, but it certainly has some intrigue, especially when character start putting red tape round doorways to denote ‘The Forbidden Room’.

It transpires that the problems are all caused by that pesky internet! And agreeing to terms and conditions you don’t understand (sounds familiar?). It’s also the age of the dial-up internet. Remember that? Well, I do remember when Chris Tarrant was adverting thefreeinternet.net, and how it would be “free forever”, and then it shut down soon after. Thanks, Chris!

But this internet is smarter than the average internet. After you disconnect, it phones you back up, itself. Hey, free phone bill – don’t knock it! Until death comes, of course… Damn! Read those T&Cs next time!

(Note, however, that by 2005 when this came out in the US, dial-up was almost a thing of the past as broadband was taking a hold on the market)

So, with the TV making a crackling sound, people disappearing, dots appearing on a computer screen, the ghosts continuously calling out for help, there’s some great use of misdirection to make you think one thing will happen and then the opposite does. That said, with a J-horror movie, you can sometimes expect the unexpected, but even when you can, it still doesn’t stop it being a freaky scare.

It features quite a lot of those typical spooky elements, but as a film, it all feels very disjointed and doesn’t hang together coherently at all, hence isn’t as believeable as it wants or needs to be. However, even when you’re losing interest, it does come back with just enough to keep you watching, regardless of the fact it doesn’t make any sense.


Ryosuke goes online to check if the Jayden K Smith thing is a hoax (yes it is).


The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition, and while there’s a slight amount of grain that I usually see on Arrow’s restorations, given the age of this film, it starts off a little worse for wear, but the print takes a few minutes to settle down, so don’t be too perturbed by it all looking far from its best at the start.

The audio is in DTS HD-MA 2.0 (stereo), and what stood out the most is that ghostly voices appear all around the speakers, even in Dolby Surround. Okay, so in the rear they won’t be split-surround, as it’s not a 5.1 soundtrack, but had I not known the format beforehand, I’d have assumed it WAS 5.1!!

The extras are a mixture of in-depth interviews and footage that would otherwise have remained unearthed for ever had it not been for this release, so if you enjoyed this movie, you’ll be very well-served by Arrow once again:

  • Kiyoshi Kurosawa: Broken Circuits (43:53): A new Arrow documentary from the writer/director, filmed in May 2016, in which he not only talks about Pulse, but many of his previous works. Like the next piece, this interview is in Japanese with English subtitles.

  • Junichiro Hayashi: Creepy Images (25:03): This one was shot in February 2016, and sees the director of photography talking about his work with the director.

  • The Horror of Isolation (17:11): Another video for the fans of the director, this time also FROM fans, as director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett (who’ve worked together on You’re Next, The Guest and Blair Witch) talk about their admiration for Kiyoshi Kurosawa and how Pulse inspired their own work. This interview was filmed in Los Angeles in April 2016.

  • Archival Making-Of Featurette (41:03): Shot in 4:3, this behind-the-scenes on-set video does what it says on the tin, and given its length, it’s a superb find for fans of the film.

  • Tokyo Premiere Introduction (7:04): The director and cast members introduce a preview screening, held on January 16th 2001.

  • Cannes Film Festival (2:57): Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Haruhiko Katô (Ryosuke Kawashima) introduce the movie premiere at Cannes on May 11th 2001.

  • Special Effects Breakdown: Archive featurettes (so, that’s to warn you not to expect top-notch quality, but that’s not a problem as it’s great that these are included) for four specific scenes, the titles of which I’ll hide behind a spoiler heading…
    Spoiler Inside SelectShow

  • TV Spots (4:15): Eleven clips running from 15 seconds to one minute.

  • NHK Station IDs (0:15): Two bizarre brief clips as two of the cast recorded idents for telly.

While I received just the disc for this, the finished product also contains a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tommy Pocket, and the first pressing includes an illustrated collector’s booklet containing new writing on the film by Chuck Stephens.

The main menu features a short piece of the theme music set to clips from the film, there’s a bog-standard 12 chapters and subtitles are in English.

Pulse Special Edition is out tomorrow on Blu-ray/DVD Dual-format, and check out the full-size cover by clicking on the packshot.


What will you look up today?


FILM
PICTURE QUALITY
SOUND QUALITY
EXTRAS
4.5
8
8
8
OVERALL 7


Detailed specs:
Cert:
Running time: 118 mins
Year: 2001
Distributor: Arrow Films
Released: July 10th 2017
Chapters: 12
Cat.no: FCD1396
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio (Stereo)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
Widescreen: 1.85:1 (35mm)
Disc Format: BD50

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Producers: Ken Inoue, Seiji Okuda, Shun Shimizu, Atsuyuki Shimoda and Hiroshi Yamamoto
Screenplay: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Music: Takefumi Haketa

Cast:
Ryosuke Kawashima: Haruhiko Katô
Michi Kudo: Kumiko Asô
Harue Karasawa: Koyuki
Junko Sasano: Kurume Arisaka
Toshio Yabe: Masatoshi Matsuo
Yoshizaki: Shinji Takeda
Michi’s mother: Jun Fubuki
BosS: Shun Sugata
Employee: Shô Aikawa
Ship Captain: Kôji Yakusho
Taguchi: Kenji Mizuhashi
Man with Bag: Takumi Tanji
Student A: Hassei Takano
Student B: Atsushi Yuki
Student C: Go Takashima
Girl with Long Hair: Kaori Ichijô
Doroningen: Teruo Ono
Convenience Store Employee: Ken Furusawa
Ghost: Masayuki Shionoya

Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.
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