Peter Sellers' Many Pink Panthers, Part 1 (DVD/ Blu-ray Comparison)

"How many Pink Panthers are there?" is a complicated question.  I think the simplest answer would be: nine, or eleven if you count the Steve Martin remakes, and I don't even know how many if you count all the animated shorts and multiple television series.  And while it might be tempted to write-off the animated stuff as kids' fare and Saturday morning marketing, it's worth noting that the first animated short, 1964's The Pink Phink, won the Academy Award, which is more than you can say for any of the other films (though Henry Mancini's impeccable music received nominations, at least, for both the 1963 original and 1978's Revenge Of the Pink Panther).  So, in the end, the cartoon panther might be more culturally important than the actual feature films.  But anyway, that's just the simple answer, because the series is way more convoluted than that, at least in part because it was never conceived as a franchise.
The first Pink Panther was meant to be a simple, light-hearted caper film.  The protagonist was to be jewel thief David Niven, with the great Inspector Clouseau character just a minor character to be played by Peter Ustinov, plus Ava Gardner as his wife.  When the pair backed out and Sellers and Capucine were cast in their stead, Edwards started seeing the appeal of the Clouseau character.  He and Sellers formed a bond over silent film comedy and started improvising scenes and adding more and more comic moments for the inspector.  It got to the point that while Nivens' character might arguably still be the protagonist of the story, the focus had shifted thoroughly to Clouseau; and Nivens wasn't even asked back for the next five films.
Then, the second film wasn't even intended to be a "Pink Panther" film.  A Shot In the Dark was originally written as an adaptation of the completely unrelated stage play.  But when Sellers was cast and grew unhappy with how the film was going, he had Blake Edwards brought on to rewrite and direct the script featuring the Clouseau character.  After that, Jacques returned as the titular role in 1968's Inspector Clouseau, but this time played by Alan Arkin and not written or directed by Edwards.  It's generally not considered canon by serious fans, but then what does "canon" even mean in a series where a major character can die dramatically in one film and be back in the next as if nothing had ever happened?
Drawing the border around Sellers is further stymied by the fact that Curse Of the Pink Panther and Son Of the Pink Panther, starring Ted Wass and Roberto Benigni respectively, have direct continuity and many recurring cast members with the previous entries; and they're still written and directed by Blake Edwards.  And if you want to really get into deep cuts, you could start talking about Romance Of the Pink Panther, the one Peter Sellers wrote that never got made.  But, in short, it's a complicated mess.  And even the two major Peter Sellers 6-disc Pink Panther collections from MGM that we'll be looking at today don't even have all the same films in them.
But there's no question about where to start: 1963's The Pink Panther.  But it's still a bit of an outlier.  Longtime Clouseau fans revisiting this first film will notice that Clouseau is definitely a rawer, still not fully developed persona compared to the later films.  He dresses differently, acts differently, even his accent French is distinctly different.  And like I said, Nivens character is still essentially the protagonist, so Clouseau is often sidelined in a way he'll never be in any of the subsequent films, being left out of long stretches of the film and many comic set pieces featuring other characters.  Instead of being a typical Panther film, it's much more of a very 60s romp, more in line with something like Casino Royale or What's New Pussycat? (also starring Sellers and Capucine), with an ensemble cast getting into all sorts of goofy hi-jinks.  As such, Panther fans tend to prefer some of the later entries, where Clouseau is really the Clouseau we all know and love.
But on the other hand, revisiting them all now, the 1963 film holds up as one of the best.  Admittedly, it's somewhat uneven.  Claudia Cardinale's accent was apparently too thick, so her entire performance was unfortunately re-dubbed.  But I can't imagine she'd be any less of a wet blanket with another audio track.  And fans looking for the faster-paced comedy of the later films will probably be frustrated or bored by the stretches of romantic banter and the extended musical performance by Fran Jeffries in the middle of the film.  If you haven seen it in a long time and don't remember, it's a bummer to realize that familiar elements of the series, like Clouseau's regular interactions with Herbert Lom's Inspector Dreyfus or Burt Kwouk's Cato are completely M.I.A. in this one.
But if you can loosen up on your expectations a little, you'll find some of Sellers' set pieces are his funniest in the entire series.  Mancini's music truly is a perfect accomplishment, one of the all0time great film scores, and aligns perfectly with Edwards' elegant filmmaking.  This film is shot beautifully with exotic locations and attractive sets and costumes.  The ensemble cast is mostly a blast, including a young Robert Wagner, a highly intelligent turn by Capucine, and of course, Nivens is perfectly charming and wonderful.  And you know what?  Jeffries' musical number is damn catchy.  Some of the comedy is a little too wacky and easy, sure, especially in last act at a costumed ball where obvious gags are formulaically played out.  But compared to the later films which get too repetitive and cartoonish for my tastes, blurring the line between running gags and repeated jokes to an unflattering degree, the original Panther is positively refreshing.
So, MGM has released The Pink Panther on DVD... an awful lot.  From their original non-anamorphic flipper disc in 1999, to including it in all kinds of sets, like their massive United Artists collections and multiple Pink Panther boxes, not to mention all the duplicates put out in other regions.  I've got four for you guys today, including the 2004 Pink Panther Film Collection Starring Peter Sellers, a 2006 single disc release, the 2009 Collector's Edition blu-ray and 2017's most recent Pink Panther Film Collection Starring Peter Sellers blu-ray set, released in conjunction with Shout Factory as entry #14 in their Shout Selection series.
1) 2004 US MGM Collection DVD 2) 2006 US MGM DVD
3) 2009 US MGM blu 4) 2017 US Shout blu
So, we're looking at four different discs, but you'll notice we're mostly dealing with two different transfers.  The DVDs have one nearly identical set of framing and color timing, and the blus have another.  The DVDs are framed at 2.29:1, and have more of a warmer tone.  Look how the walls in the first two pics are practically orange; but they're pink in the next two.  This color timing difference is consistent throughout the running time of the film.  And while SD has never been able to fully capture film grain properly, you'll notice the DVDs have a waxy look that suggests some scrubbing, almost to the point of appearing stylized.  The blu-rays, meanwhile, are much more photo realistic and framed at a more accurate ratio of 2.35:1.  The shift is subtle, but overall more pleasing when you look closely.  For example, look how the man in the red sweater in the upper left hand corner in the second set loses most of his face in the DVD framing.  He's certainly not an important character to the scene, and it's not something you'd probably even think about if you were just watching the DVD at home any given evening; but the way the blu-rays include him looks more professional and what the DP most likely intended.
Am I getting a little too artsy with my comparison shots? MGM blu left; Shout right.
So, okay, it just about goes without saying that the blu-rays surpass the DVDs (a few unfortunate examples have proven that isn't always the case).  But what about the two blus in relation to each other?  Well, as you can see, they're using the same master.  So for most people, they are for all intents and purposes identical.  But they are different encodes, so sticklers would be right to point out that they actually are different if you zoom in closely enough.  If you zoom in to, like, 300% and click back and forth between them, pixelated patterns of captured grain do flicker back and forth.  Ultimately, I guess I have to say that MGM's disc is still ever-so-slightly better (sticking with the shots I've posted, compare the tip of Fran's chin for an example of a visible distinction).  But really, in motion, it's a completely arbitrary call.  If I'm going to get drawn into a forum debate, okay, the MGM disc wins; but practically speaking, they're interchangeable.

In terms of audio options, the differences begin to broaden.  The DVDs are the same, both letting you choose between 5.1 mixes and the original mono track, plus French and Spanish dubs and English, French and Spanish subtitles.  On MGM's blu, that's basically the same except the audio is now in DTS-HD, and they've added a few more dubs (German and Portuguese) and subs (Chinese, German, Korean, Portuguese and Thai).  Shout drops all the foreign language options, as they typically do, but besides carrying over all the English options (5.1 and mono in DTS-HD and optional English subs), they've also added a third English track, a 2.0 stereo mix in DTS-HD).  Mr. Purist here just sticks with the original mono, but that's an interesting little addition.
1) 2004 US MGM Collection DVD 2) 2017 US Shout blu
So now let's talk special features.  The original 1999 DVD was barebones except for the trailer, but by the time of the 2004 disc, they'd added a Blake Edwards commentary, which is fun and full of great info fans will want to hear.   And the bonus disc of the DVD Collection also has a key extra relating to the first film: a half-hour documentary called The Pink Panther Story, featuring interviews with Edwards, editor Ralph E. Winters, Sellers biographer Ed Sikov, producer Walter Mirisch, stunt coordinator Joe Dunne, script supervisor Betty Abbott Griffin and some kind of expert on film scores named John Burlingame.  It's quite fun.  There's also a ten minute featurette about the cartoons.  And by the time we get to the initial blu-ray, we also have a ten minute interview with Robert Wagner, plus two... weirder featurettes.  One is an interview with a real, convicted jewel thief and his biographer, and another is with a bunch of professional jewelers, who talk about the (fictional, of course) pink panther diamond itself.  They're pretty throw-away as they're barely connected to the film, but amusing little watches and I'd rather have them than not, I suppose.
Happily, Shout Factory carries over all of that, even the jewelers and cat burglar.  But they still manage to add to the collection, giving us an all new on-camera interview with Claudia Cardinale (in Italian with forced subs).  Plus, they throw on a couple stills galleries.  And, as you can see, they made some effort to improve the heavily interlaced SD features from the old DVDs, too, which I definitely appreciate.  So, just looking at the first film by itself, it may not be enough to convince you to double-dip; but all things considered, this is the best release of The Pink Panther so far.  It also includes an attractive 28-page booklet by Jerry Beck and comes in a nice slip box.  Of course, the best thing about the set is that it includes the rest of the films, which unlike the original, are all making their HD debuts... So come back soon for Part 2.

Something Unexpected From 88 Film's Asia Collection: The Gifted

This one was a real pleasant surprise for me.  I was completely unfamiliar with The Gifted before they sent for me to review, and last I'd looked, I thought 88 Film's Asia Collection was all Shaw Brothers and Inframan flicks from the 70s.  But this is a contemporary (2014) Korean movie about, well, I couldn't even tell what.  Horror?  Drama?  Or some kind of thriller, according to the back of the box.  But the label's official description really doesn't tell you much at all - and even that turns out to be inaccurate - so I was really jumping in blind.  And as an old hand who's burned through a few video store selections in my time, that's become fairly rare these days.
Well, the first thing I have to report is that this movie is a slow burn. If you appreciate a good slow burn, you're in for a treat.  But if not, back out now, because this one is super slow.  For the first solid half of this movie, I was thinking, well, this is an interesting choice for 88 but they're really gonna take a bath on this title, because it's just an earnest indie drama about how hard it is to earn a living in modern South Korea.  A young man was laid off from his last position, and because he'd never been promoted before he lost that job, no new company wants to hire him.  We see him go from interview to interview, meanwhile getting increasingly stressed out when he's back at his apartment alone.  Meanwhile, his girlfriend wants to buy a small cafe, but doesn't realize they can no longer afford it.  Her little brother has resorted to stealing cell phones, and our protagonist winds up pursuing small, miserable jobs that don't pay enough to make ends meet.  That's like the first hour of this movie.
It's all well shot, the performances are grounded and convincing and he makes good use of music.  But if I have one real complaint about this movie, it's that the characters are too broadly drawn, which makes the slow pace of the first half genuinely boring.  Eventually everything's going to pay off in a grand way, but the characters are too simplistic to sustain the first portion.  The girlfriend wants to make enough money to live a comfortable life, and is concerned about her brother.  That's like all there is to her for a very long stretch.  There's a scene where the girl tells her boyfriend to return a handbag, she hasn't taken the tags off of it; and I thought, finally, one moment where she doesn't just follow the very simple, one sentence motivation her character's had all along.  She doesn't just want money; she's rejecting money.  You know, in the really good indie dramas or comedies, they can make a meal of this kind of material because there's lots of subtle and relatable layers to the people you're empathizing with on screen.  Here, you just start to feel like they're clarifying something that really didn't need any more explanation.
So by now, I guess I've warded all of you away from this movie, but hang in there.  Like I said, the first half requires some patience, but it's still well made and the drama is painfully plausible.  And when this film finally takes its turn, it all comes together and starts to pay off in spades.  I won't spoil where it goes, but I'll say that this film definitely qualifies as a horror and makes an excellent spiritual successor to American Psycho (especially compared to the dreadful sequel it actually got).  No, it isn't satirical like AP, and it doesn't go after yuppies or any similar kind of archetype.  But it's a hard story that asks the question: why not respond sociopathically to a society that callously treats you completely mercenarily?  It's a powerful, disturbingly effective story, and you'll definitely be glad you took the ride by the end.
2018 UK 88 Films blu-ray.
88's blu of The Gifted, due to be released on the 28th, I believe marks this film's English-friendly debut on disc anywhere in the world.  This is a new(ish) film, and looks to have been shot on digital, so there's not too much at risk by way of the transfer, barring 88 doing anything foolish, which happily they don't seem to have done.  Their master is presumably a one to one copy of the filmmakers' DCP, so it looks just the way it's supposed to look, short of a 4k UHD edition.  And it does look just fine.  The picture is slightly matted to 1.85:1, and if detail is ever a little light, I assume that's down to the camera they used.  We're given the option of Korean 2.0 or 5.1 mixes, both in DTS-HD, with optional/ removable English subtitles.

There are no special features except for a 1.83:1 trailer with burnt in subs.  And the case features reversible artwork with an even darker, creepier design.
I've already shown this movie to a couple people, and they were quite impressed, too.  As much as any art can be judged objectively, I'd say The Gifted is an undeniably good movie.  But I have to admit the rewatchability's probably on the low side.  I really won't be surprised if 88 wind up taking that bath on this title.  But I hope they don't, because I'd love for them to surprise us again with more off-the-radar treats like this.

The Full, Grizzly Experience

Well, this is my first time owning Grizzly, thanks to a review copy sent from 88 Films, but it's far from my first time seeing it.  I grew up on these movies on TBS back in the 80s.  They kind of run together a bit for me: very talky, made-for-TV feeling animal attack films with a batch of commercials every three minutes.  Not exactly cutting edge Hellraiser, but they were pretty much your only free, daytime horror options as a kid.  I can still remember Leslie Nielsen ripping off his shirt in the woods, deciding he had become a killer animal, too, and he was going to rip apart all his fellow campers who dared to question his leadership.  Unfortunately, this isn't that movie, but it's a close second.
A lot of these movies take heavily from the popular disaster genre of the 70s, like The Poseidon Adventure and Avalanche, combined with the radioactive giant critter films of the 50s, like Them or Beginning Of the End.  But coming immediately on the heels of Speilberg's 1975 box office sensation, Grizzly sticks very closely to the Jaws script, and with taglines like "the most dangerous Jaws on land" and "not since Jaws has the terror been like this," they're not shy about it.  Christopher George is Roy Scheider, the official in charge of keeping the park safe for the public.  He catches onto the shark grizzly killing vacationers pretty quickly, but people don't want to believe him and the guy in charge refuses to shut down the park despite George's warnings.  So he assembles a 3-man team, with Andrew Prine as Richard Dreyfus and Richard Jaeckel as Robert Shaw.  It's all here, dragging a bloody corpse to lure the beast to the animal's POV shots lurking up on its victims.  There's even a sequence where the music mimics John Williams' famous "duh-nuh, duh-nuh" theme as the bear sneaks up on an camper.
But in the end, the Jaws angle isn't what sells the movie, at least not decades later now that we're hip-deep in Jaws knock-offs.  It's the wildly satisfying bear attack sequences.  They're surprisingly graphic and ambitious.  The bear swats one woman and her arm goes flying across the clearing.  A small child is mauled on screen.  A horse is beheaded with one, clean swipe!  And I won't even begin to spoil the conclusion that could still make audiences break out into cheers and applause.  The rest of the film is about as flat and dull as you'd imagine: wooden dialogue, excessive pseudo-scientific exposition, and completely uninteresting subplots that never affect the story... I suspect there's an earlier draft where Joan McCall's role as a reporter was going to lead her to investigate the camper deaths and, you know, get endangered or something.
Yeah, the bulk of Grizzly is awfully generic, but it really knows how to deliver the goods.  All the helicopter shots and variant locations don't add much by way of thrills, but they at least belay a healthy budget.  More impressively, they make great use of a real bear though there are of course a few scenes where actors are clearly mauled by a PA in a fuzzy glove.  Actors are harnessed up to portray massive Rawhead Rex-style bash-ecutions.  It helps a lot that they play everything deadly straight, unlike the goofy Sharknado outings of today.  Grizzly never goes camp or winks at the audience, except for one scene that sticks out like a sore thumb, where a female ranger, on the hunt for the man-eating grizzly bear, decides to take an inexplicable break to strip down and bathe in a small waterfall... where of course the bear is hiding!  But even that just manages to add to Grizzly's only-in-the-70s charm.
This is hardly Grizzly's first time at the rodeo.  Shriek Show first rescued it from the dark sea of grey market DVDs with a nice, 2-disc special edition.  Scorpion released it as a somewhat strange, limited edition blu-ray release in 2014.  They included two transfers (yes, it was a BD50), unfiltered or DVNRed, sold with the warning that, "This Blu-Ray of GRIZZLY is not up to our usual standards for a Blu-Ray release. However, due to the overwhelming request for this title, we are presenting the film to you in the best way possible in HD. Although there are many imperfections with the materials, we hope you can still enjoy the presentation as it is while viewing. Thank you."  Also curious: they didn't include the audio commentary from the DVD, even though Walt Olsen (president of Scorpion) was one the participants.  Anyway, now it's just been released this week in the UK from 88 Films, so let's have a look!
88 Films 2018 UK blu-ray.
Presented in a very wide, 2.40:1 aspect ratio, 88's disc apparently uses the same master as Scorpion, but thankfully they've opted for the non-DVNR version.  This is a very grainy transfer, probably taken from a print.  But while there are occasional white flecks and minor blemishes - even a little soft flickering in one or two scenes - for the most part, Grizzly's in much cleaner, more attractive condition than I was expecting.  The colors are strong and very natural, and the aforementioned grain is very distinct and crisply rendered.  Sure, I'm sure going back to the OCN could pull out more detail and clarity.  But I'm surprised Scorpion got self conscious enough to issue a disclaimer over this master - it looks pretty good.

Audio-wise, we get a healthy, lossless LPCM stereo mix.  No subtitles, but then I don't believe the Scorpion or Shriek Show releases had any either.
Here's where things start to get interesting: special features.  The Shriek Show set was pretty full, with the audio commentary, plus a nearly 40 minute retrospective documentary, a screening Q&A, vintage 'making of' featurette and some other little odds and ends.  Scorpion carried over some of that, but lost the commentary and featurette (though they did add their Katrina intro, if you're interested in that).  And 88?  Well, disappointingly, they've included none of that.  But they did produce their own, all-new exclusive 23-minute featurette.  It's an interview with David Del Valle, who's basically here as an expert to give us a little of the backstory for the film.  But he knew Christopher George, so he's able to give us some unique personal anecdotes, and it winds up mostly being about him.  Quite interesting and definitely worth the watch.  Besides that, we get the theatrical trailer and, if you get the first pressing, it also includes a limited edition slipcover and booklet where Calum Waddell rather generously compares the film to George Orwell's Animal Farm, and gives a little history to the "animals run amuck" genre, with quotes from Joe Dante and others.
So, Grizzly is entertaining, but not what you'd call, you know, a good movie.  It's definitely worth watching once for the highlights, but beyond that, for me, it's the kind of movie you get as an impulse buy or not at all.  Maybe you see it cheap and pick it up on a lark, or include it in a big order when a site is having a sale...  For most viewers, I'd imagine whichever blu-ray is in your region will do.  But if you are seeking the full Grizzly experience, this 88 blu is a welcome option.  Because it gives you the un-DVNRed HD transfer, plus a nice, new exclusive special feature.  So I'd say the best way to have it all is to get this and the old Shriek Show DVD for all the other extras.  There's also a German blu from '84 Entertainment, which includes all the Shriek Show extras, but not this new one from 88.  So the '84 and 88 pairing is another option.  But you can buy the DVD set used a lot cheaper, and combined with 88, it still nets you all the extras and the top quality HD presentation.  If you already have the Scorpion or '84 blu, though, it's probably not worth double-dipping just for the Christopher George piece.  But yeah, for right now, 88 and SS (or '84) discs make up the ideal, total package.

...I say "for right now" because there's already been a new, promising announcement to complicate things further.

It's Alive, The Whole Bloody Crib from Scream Factory (DVD/ Blu-ray Comparison)

I've covered a lot of Larry Cohen releases on this site, but not the most famous, iconic horror hit of his career: It's Alive.  Why not?  Well, because until today, there wasn't much to write about.  Warner Bros released it and its two sequels on DVD back in 2004, both in the US and the UK, and that's been it.  They repacked 'em once or twice, so you could buy the films individually or all together.  But there's just been those core, staple DVDs to serve the trilogy for all these years.  Until today, finally, Scream Factory has given them all new 2k scans from the original film elements and released the entire trilogy in HD for the first time ever.
1974's It's Alive is a real horror classic that stands up alongside the likes of The Omen, Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist.  And I think it's all thanks to the combination of the natural intelligence Cohen injects into his scripts with his knack for finding root, human issues that frighten us.  What if that cop we all count on to protect us in times of danger was really the danger?  Maniac CopAmbulances, Uncle Sam, the food we eat and even God have all shown us their sinister faces we've all secretly dreaded they might be concealing thanks to Mr. Cohen, and probably the most sensitive of all those phobias is the fear expectant parents have of something being wrong with their baby.  And as the classic tagline for this baby reads, "there's only one thing wrong with the Davis baby... It's Alive."
That's heavy stuff; and while it's debatable how scary they actually make the killer baby (or how much they're even trying), the subject matter is still dancing on a raw nerve.  They manage to maintain some atmosphere by keeping it mostly in shadows and unseen, like the shark in Jaws, and pouring a rich Berrnard Hermann (Citizen Kane, Psycho, and a few other minor little efforts you may've heard of) score over all the proceedings.  But this film lays into the drama of the situation at least as much as the horror.  There some touches of humor, too, of course - this is our Cohen, after all - but this is about as far as he gets from his zanier horror outings like Q or Return To Salem's Lot, basically playing it straight and letting the severity of the situation sit with the audience.  A great cast, including the relatively unsung John Ryan, genre staple Andrew Duggan and Cohen regular James Dixon, really do their part to hold this up to a higher level of credibility than Cohen typically aims for.
But you can never really tap the same vein twice in horror.  If you're lucky enough to rattle audiences once, doing the same thing next summer just won't have the same effect, and the most successful horror sequels are ones that know to aim for something different, like Aliens or Evil Dead 2.  And It's Alive 2, a.k.a. It Lives Again... sort of does that.  The cast returns and the tone is relatively the same, including Herrmann's music.  But where the first is clawing at your raw emotions, this one is reaching out to us more on an intellectual level, offering us interesting ideas on an almost sci-fi plain as opposed to primal level of the original.  If we take it as a given now, after the first film, that monster babies are an issue, how do we deal with them, and what does that say about us?  The film was advertised as "now there are three of them," but thank god Cohen is able to put more into the script than that.  The new cast members (including the great John Marley) mesh perfectly with the returning stars, and Rick Baker's first monster looks a little better this time around.  It all comes together well enough to be a good, effective movie well worth the watch, despite their being, of course, only one classic in this series.
And speaking of there only being one classic in this series, along comes It's Alive 3.  It's subtitle Island Of the Alive tells you all you need to know about this one.  Lofty ambitions are put aside with Cohen instead going for more of a self-indulgent romp this time out.  And frankly, it's probably the best choice he could've made.  It's the 80s now, John Ryan is replaced by fan favorite Michael Moriarity, and the vibe definitely gets lighter as the infamous babies are exported to a Jurassic Park-like island.  Serious issues are still sort of being dealt with, including a memorable courtroom scene where Moriarity begs for his son's life, but it's full of goofy bits where he rafts onto a California beach from Cuba with a few of Fidel Castro's men or his brief stint as a shoe salesman.  Only James Dixon hangs in there from the previous films, but Cohen regular Laurene Landon fills in, as does horror icon Karen BlackIsland is almost more of a riff on the previous films than the conclusion of a trilogy, but it's still a good time I'd hate to miss out on.
2004 US Warner Bros DVD top; 2018 US Scream Factory blu bottom.
first two part 1, second two part 2, third two part 3.
I'm gonna lump these comparisons together, because it's the same story every time.  Warner Bros' DVDs are all 1.78:1, anamorphic widescreen, and frankly a little over compressed even for their time.  Consequently, Screams 1.85:1 blus are some very satisfying upgrades.  The films typically look a little soft, probably due to Cohen using small, frequently moving handheld cameras, and there are actually one or two flat-out out of focus shots.  But that's the filmmaking, not the home video transfers.  Scream brings out about as much clarity as they possibly good with their fresh scans, and they look a lot better.  The DVDs also seem to sport a little edge enhancement or other tinkering to try to smarten up their images, which has happily been done away with on the blus.  And the colors have been corrected, almost always to their benefit (I do wonder if they swung the pendulum a little too far into the greens for It's Alive 2, but that could just be me reacting to them reducing the excessive reds of the DVDs).  These films really needed updated masters to be brought to HD, and happily we've got them.

Update 5/2/18 (see comments): The DVDs for parts 2 and 3 are also slightly vertically stretched, which is corrected on both blus.  One more little benefit to upgrading.

For audio, we get some pretty straight forward bumps to uncompressed DTS-HD.  All the DVDs and all the blus just featured the original mono tracks, except for part 3, which has stereo mixes in both cases.  The DVDs did feature extra French dubs, as well as French and Spanish subtitles, but both the DVDs and blus feature optional English subtitles, which is all that really matters.
Now one thing Warners got right with their DVDs was bringing in Larry Cohen for his consistently excellent audio commentaries for all three films.  It has to be noted that for part 3, he was recording to a cut version of the film; and while all three films were released completely uncut on both DVD and blu, this means his commentary leaves some unnatural dead air during the scenes that were excised from his tape.  And he takes some pauses himself anyway on the other ones.  That's the only complaint about these otherwise terrific commentaries.  Besides that, the Warner Bros discs also included a trailer for each film.  And it should be noted that parts 2 and 3 were released as a two-sided flipper disc, a small annoyance Scream Factory happily did not continue.
They did port over the commentaries and trailers, though, so we're all good.  In addition to that, they created an excellent little mini-documentary going over the history of the entire trilogy, interviewing tons of key personnel, from Cohen to his producers and DP to Michael Moriarity and James Dixon.  It's only about twenty minutes long, but it's terrific; and honestly, I would've bought that on disc if it was released by itself.  Otherwise, though, these aren't quite the packed Collector's Editions we get when Scream goes all-out.  The only other new stuff Scream gives us are a new Q&A with Cohen from an It's Alive screening, where he just repeats anecdotes from the commentary anyway, and a new interview with Steve Neill, the effects artist for part 3.  They do also throw in some additional radio and TV spots for the first film, and stills galleries for all three, plus the first two films have reversible artwork.  And all three cases come in a thin cardboard box.
Ultimately, this is a very satisfying set.  But you know, they haven't quite given these movies the Nightbreed treatment.  It feels like Scream Factory is cutting down a bit on the number of special features they create in general, which is a disappointing trend.  It's wonderful that they brought in Michael Moriarity, but then all they used of his interview was those quick couple soundbites?  You'd think since they had him on camera, they would've chatted with him long enough to put together a  whole separate interview on disc 3.  And I'm worried that their titles further down the road (like, say, Alien Predators) will be more barebones, not less.  The price is certainly right, but I would've happily paid $20 for even fuller editions, especially since we already had the commentaries on the DVDs, so there's not so much new material.  But that concern aside, it's hard to be anything but quite pleased with this set.  The films look great and everything included is thoroughly rewarding.  It's hard to believe we haven't had It's Alive on blu before, in any region.  But we do now, and it's pretty great.