MAD DOG MORGAN is undeniably an interesting film that with worth a watch. I'm happy with have it in my collection, technical issues notwithstanding. Troma is not known for high-quality transfers and this is no exception. My experience so far with the "Tromasterpiece Collection" had been fairly decent: REDNECK ZOMBIES looked good considering the source material and THE LAST HORROR FILM was a great pickup even though the picture was certainly lacking (especially in night scenes). I have yet to watch my copy of COMBAT SHOCK (it arrived only the other day), I have TROMA'S WAR on order and will eventually pick up CANNIBAL! THE MUSICAL. At this point, I do not have high hopes for pristine reference-quality transfers. I'm watching the DVD on a blu-ray player on a 42" HDTV. This gives me the black bars on the top and bottom of the screen as opposed to all-four sides as it on a computer screen running VLC. Even with the upscaled image, the quality leaves a lot to be desired. Many DVDs I won look much better with this setup which does not bode well for this release.
What we have here is a 4:3 letterboxed image that looks rather poorly cropped. It's not the most terrible DVD I've ever seen, but it is not very good. There is choppiness throughout and a lot of fuzziness to the image. Having watched releases from companies like Blue Underground who specialize in releasing off-the-beaten-path films, I can't imagine Troma's excuse for this transfer. Having seen what people can do with HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY and the like, I know the sky is the limit. In this instance, it seems Troma put a lot of effort into the packaging and wore themselves out by the time they were supposed to upgrade the transfer for us. I will admit that I became used to the shoddy image quality once the film got going, but that does not make up for what could have been. This feels more like something I'd find on a Mill Creek collection than a standalone 2-disc rerelease. Definitely a letdown.
Audiophiles will likely cringe throughout. There are spikes for gunshots and much of the dialogue is muddled. This leads to frequent adjustments of the volume setting which is never any fun. I wouldn't mind so much if not for Troma's obstinate refusal to include subtitles on their DVDs. What year is this?
Since I bought this movie fairly cheaply used, I won't mind purchasing another copy that promises (and delivers) a real anamorphic transfer. I can't imagine it would be a loss to the distributor since Dennis Hopper seems like a reasonable selling point, no matter how unknown the film.
In conclusion: If you really need to see the film, you can watch it in terrible quality on Troma's youtube page. If you're like me and a completist, this is the best you'll get for a while. It goes for fairly cheap since it isn't OOP and I don't see another release of this in the US forthcoming. We're stuck with this, but the quality of the film itself makes it an easier pill to swallow.