The Criterion grain monks of the Abbey of St.Martin have done it again. They’ve taken a splendidly captured black-and-white classic — in this case Robert Aldrich‘s Kiss Me Deadly (1955) — and made it look a little bit grainier and fuzzier in certain portions than it did on the last DVD version. And, paradoxically, sometimes a little better. And with a wider image. So it’s not bad, but it hasn’t given me one of those Bluray highs that I live for either.

All I know is that I was 100% delighted with the MGM Home Video DVD (which came out exactly ten years ago) and that I feel a bit mixed about the Criterion Bluray.

I don’t hate it, but I’m not that enamored either. It’s an overly purist monk job, and you know how I feel about those.

I’m not putting down Criterion’s Deadly disc entirely. I’m saying it’s an in-and-outer — at times thrilling and at other times dupey, at times radiant and sharp and looking like a real 1955 movie showing at the Brooklyn Paramount, at other times grainy and then suddenly razor-sharp knockout again. But too often it looks smothered with a billion digital mosquitoes. I’m sorry but I would have been happier if the Universal Home Video guys who slightly DNR’ed Psycho had gotten hold of this one. It looks okay, acceptable, pretty good, very good but also — too often — a little bit crappy.

What can I tell you? When I watched the 2001 Deadly DVD on my 36″ Sony flatscreen analog beast, it looked like a perfect dream — sharp, slick, satiny. Now it looks covered by a Biblical plague, a swarm of micro-sized Egyptian water bugs.