Ah, porn: the bread and butter of the American male for more than a century. It's not exactly a bragging point and you're never in store for a groundbreaking film… but you continually return to the watering hole none the less. "Camp Cuddly Pines: Powertool Massacre" has the special honor… ahem… the special pleasure of being the first, feature length porno released on HD-DVD and, from the list of special features, works hard to impress. Unfortunately… unfortunately? Eh, you get the idea. Unfortunately, the effort is minimal and this set is a technical nightmare all around.
First off, I have zero interest in reviewing the movie itself for you so if you're here to find a count of position types, styles, and performers, you'll be sadly disappointed. Needless to say, the movie is comprised of a lot of laughably-unrealistic sex vignettes separated by an underwritten, overdeveloped plot that spoofs the slasher genre without much consideration for stimulating anything in the same hemisphere as your mind. But that's not what anyone's here for so, like any film in adult entertainment, this is a fleeting point at best.
The video is presented with the VC-1 codec in a disappointing 720p that avoids 1080i, much less 1080p resolution. Why "Camp Cuddly Pines" is being released on HD-DVD without taking advantage of anything other than the storage space is beyond me. But even this doesn't make sense because the movie is two hours long and sits alone on the spacious high definition disc. If it has that much room to work with, why wasn't it filmed using high def cameras and decked out to the nines?
The visuals are muddy and create the unintentional illusion of peering through someone's dirty window as they watch the movie. Edges are soft, sharpness is none existent even when cranked up on your HDTV, and textures shockingly lack any detail at all. The latter was the most surprising. One of the biggest improvements you'll notice with the high definition format is skin detail and everything on display here looks worse flat, dead, and uglier than it does on DVD. Even worse, the colors are undersaturated, the contrast is awful, and the picture lacks any sort of pop.
You'll occasionally see the benefits of the higher storage space but you'll still catch quite a lot of artifacting and noise that you wouldn't expect in a recent, high definition release. The night scenes provide a nice depth of black and, at times, you can see how the fog and the forest are helped with the leap up. But you'll also catch terrible artifacting in large splashes of color (the opening shot of blue sky looks like a checker board). There was also a thin thread of static and distortion that would appear at random along the outermost edges of my screen. It's the first time I've ever seen this kind of error so I have no idea what to even call it. Needless to say, it sent me searching other movies to make sure something wasn't wrong with my television or HD-DVD player.
The audio is a bit better and features warmer tones from the Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track. The soundfield itself is amateur at best and suggests that it isn't a huge priority in the adult film industry. Dialogue is clear but other sounds are muffled and pitchy. The real dialogue of the film (the grunts, the moans, and the… whatever you call that set of effects) are consistent and, other than poor placement of microphones, the audio held up well. Again though, there was nothing showcased that made me feel that adult entertainment belongs on HD. Since it's new to the market, you would think the adult industry would be pushing the format and utilizing all sorts of technical mastery to boost sales. But in the heyday of VHS I'm sure it was the same. It doesn't really matter what you put out, people gotta eat.
The special features are an even bigger waste as they're all presented in standard 480i definition. The bonus discs increase the value, especially for fans of behind-the-scenes material, but they look so ordinary on your display that you'll wonder why you spent the extra cash on this high definition set. There are two full discs of featurettes and interviews and another disc of trailers and bonus scenes. You won't be hurting to justify the value of the entire package other than how it relates to the high definition presentation.
Overall, there isn't anything to find in this HD-DVD version of "Camp Cuddly Pines" that will make you upgrade your adult material to high definition. While it does look cleaner on a large screen, it's still terribly inferior to every thing else the format has to offer. With this being a recent production, this is incredibly surprising and you can tell no effort was made to use high def or film cameras that would take advantage of the high definition anyway.
If you're looking to pick up this release, hit the standard edition instead. If you were just curious as to how the first porn would effect the HD format war, keep waiting for that answer because low quality presentations like this one won't convert anyone.