Dragonslayer (1981)
Paramount Home Video
Cast: Peter MacNicol, Caitlin Clarke, Ralph Richardson

Wow!, was my first impression when I inserted ’Dragonslayer’ into my DVD player and looked at the movie. To me, ’Dragonslayer’ has always had a special place in my heart and I still rank it as the best dragon-movie ever made, and I was all the more excited to see the splendor with which Paramount is putting this movie on the screen here.

The film tells the story of an aspiring magician who is called upon to kill a dragon that is devastating the far reaches of the country. Inexperienced and insecure he tries to take on the dragon but only makes matters worse for everyone involved when he only aggravates the beast instead of killing it. The wrath of the dragon is merciless and yet, steadfastly, the young magician tries to find a way to save himself, the world and most importantly his beloved one. He digs deep in his inner self and discovers that indeed he has the powers to destroy the dragon, though in a very unexpected way.

The anamorphic widescreen transfer that Paramount is serving up here is nothing short of breathtaking. I remember ’Dragonslayer’ as a grainy film with plenty of noise and washed out colors. None of that is evident in the DVD. Colors are phenomenally strong without ever being oversaturated. Finally it is possible to see the real vision behind the movie as the atmosphere is suddenly a rich texture of atmospheric colors and gradients that is wonderful to behold. Blacks are deep and absolutely solid with shadows that are well delineated and don’t lose detail. The definition of the transfer is also staggering bringing out image details never before seen. Needless to say that the compression is equally impressive without a hint of an artifact in sight anywhere.

The DVD also presents us with a cool 5.1 channel mix of the original audio track that adds quite a punch. Very active and aggressive, the audio is powerful and rich with a surprisingly natural frequency response and good dynamic range.

Unfortunately Paramount has not added any extras to this release but in all honesty, I could not care less for once. I’ve been waiting for this movie for years and to see it in such glory is more than enough to make me happy. The staggering presentation makes me feel as if I am re-experiencing the film entirely anew, and that is much, much more than I had imagined. Thank you, Paramount.