Having seen Hideo Nakata's 'Ring' on Video CD some time ago, I was very keen to see this chilling masterpiece makes it's way onto (english friendly) DVD. I had been expecting one of the big US companies (like Anchor Bay) to get in there, but it was UK based Tartan that got there first with a somewhat impressive DVD release...

The premise of 'Ring' is somewhat simple (but comprehensively scary) - it begins with school playground talk of an urban myth about a strange creepy video that once viewed brings a deadly curse upon its viewers, condemning them to a terrifying death exactly seven days after! As the myth grows, a budding TV investigator starts to uncover the fact that the stories are actually true and when her own niece falls victim to the curse she starts digging deep into the truth of the mysterious tape - not only finding a lot more than she bargained for but puts all her friends and loved ones lives in jeopardy also!

Reeking of atmosphere and downright terrifying, 'Ring' is probably rightly one of the most recognised eastern horror classics currently around the genre scene. While the film misleadingly opens in a similar vein to the mainstream 'Scream', it very quickly takes you down a very different route - one that is built up through tension and atmosphere rather than the cheap fright route that mainstream horror these days normally takes. Nakata's direction is testament to the excellent fear factor that is consistent throughout, which when doubled with the fact that the film is entirely bloodless and considering that the basic scenario is nothing more than a play on the old 'chain letter' stigma - this is most likely one of the most powerful and significant genre movies to be made in quite some time.

Sure the film does have its odd faults, I did scratch my head in disbelief at the scenario where every third person seems to have psychic abilities (go figure) and the lead characters complete disregard for their infant son would have social services banging at their door in no time. That said though, the high standard of the film in general outweighs these minor faults and overall the film is an excellent slice of terror cinema.

The disc from Tartan is a cracker also, the film itself is presented in anarmorphic widescreen and it looks great - with only a few blemishes showing on the source print itself. For the first time though, 'Ring' is presented on DVD with English subtitles, albeit they are burnt onto the print and at times are awkward to follow (white subtitles on a white background tends to be a tad troublesome) but all round the presentation is very nice.

The extras on this disc are kinda fun also with Tartan truly getting into the (ahem) spirit of things by including a separately accessed clip of the offending cursed video (complete with danger warning from the distributor). There are also some nice trailers for the first two films of the series that will sate the appetites of fans no doubt. There's also the inclusion of a review of the film by genre critic Mark Kermode in text mode - maybe Tartan didn't want to subject us to the visual delight of Kermode sans bikers jacket and quiff in case of truly scaring us witless! Finally, there's the obligatory bio pages and stills gallery, which is more a collection of screen grabs than anything else.

If you haven't seen 'Ring' then you really should, just don't expect a bloodbath or a teen shocker. This one's the real deal when it comes to classic vintage 'scares' horror and the disc from Tartan is the best you're likely to ever see it. Lovely stuff - check it out!

Review by Alan Simpson

Directed by Hideo Nakata
Released by Tartan
Region '0' PAL - Rated 15
Ratio - Anarmorphic Widescreen
Audio - 2.0 Stereo Japanese
Running time : approx 91 mins
Extras :
Trailer selection, Film notes, Stills gallery