The Squid and the Whale, Finally From Criterion (DVD/ Blu-Ray Comparison)

I couldn't wait for this release to come out since Criterion first hinted at it in their newsletter.  And it was an especially long wait, because it was one of their New Years drawings, which can take a couple of years, as opposed to their usual hints, which usually come true in 2-3 months.  So I was really raring to go.  But when specs were finally announced and I read that they weren't carrying over the DVD extras, I lost some steam.  Then, when I read some early reviews suggesting that because this film was shot on 16mm it didn't really benefit from the HD upgrade, I climbed up on the fence and held off double-dipping.  But I'm glad I finally hopped off, because this is a first class release all around.
The Squid and the Whale is my favorite Noah Baumbach film.  His previous films were great (yes, I will defend Highball), but with this film he finds an added level of maturity, which he's maintained in his subsequent work, and a keen insight that may be stronger here than anywhere else.  In a way, it's well trod ground of two young brothers, including a young Jesse Eisenberg, coming of age.  But it's real strength comes from the brilliant, semi-biographical character of his father, played by Jeff Daniels.  Daniels has always been a terrific actor (Terms of Endearment, and great comedy roles like The Purple Rose of Cairo and There Goes the Neighborhood), but I don't think the world ever quite saw what he or Baumbach were truly capable of until this film.  It's a perfect merger of writing and performance, zeroing in on a real human life in a way very few films in history have ever managed.  We actually caught a glimpse of him before, in Kicking and Screaming, played by Elliot Gould; but here he's really fleshed out and brought to life.  It helps that Laura Linney strikes the perfect balance as a counterweight to all of his energies, and really his whole world billows out around him thanks again to Baumbach's writing (this script was nominated for an Oscar) and a strong supporting cast, including William Baldwin and Anna Paquin.
Sony originally put this film out on DVD as a new release in 2006, and it was a pretty strong disc.  Anamorphic widescreen, nice selection of extras.  But when it came time time to graduate to HD in 2012, all we got was a crummy Mill Creek double feature, where the same old master, with obvious tampering in post, was slapped on double disc along with Running With Scissors, shorn of its extras.  But thankfully, in 2016, Criterion finally came through to do the film justice.  And have they?
2006 Sony DVD on top, and 2016 Criterion blu below.
2006 Sony DVD left, and 2016 Criterion blu right.
So yeah, some very nice improvements here.  Criterion has done an all new 4k scan of the original negatives, and like I mentioned in the intro, there was some concern that 4k might not do all that much for a 16mm film.  Like, it wouldn't be one of those nice examples where signs in the background and text that was unclear would suddenly become readable... but as you see in the close-up above, that's exactly what happened here.  Sure, it's grainy, but actual image has been recovered as well.  The colors are a lot richer, too.  That tennis court and Owen Kline both look like they're fading away on the DVD.  You'll also notice that the DVD was slightly window-boxed (again, think old television overscan areas), which has been fixed on the blu, turning a strange 1.81:1 ratio to a proper 1.85, essentially revealing what's hidden under those vertical bars.

Sony gave us a solid 5.1 mix, plus optional English subtitles, and several language options (alternate English CC subs, French subs, and a French 5.1 dub track).  Criterion keeps it strictly English (sorry, overseas importers), but gives us a remastered 5.1 track in DTS-HD and optional English HoH subs.
So I was 100% relieved about the picture restoration, but here's where I still get a little grumpy.  Sony came up with some great special features for this release.  There's a photo gallery/ audio commentary by Baumbach where, because he says he doesn't feel comfortable completely analyzing the entire film, he talks for just over an hour over a series of film stills.  It's really insightful, and I have to admit, I don't miss him trying to stretch with "um"s and "ahs" just to meet the film's running time.  There's also a substantial (well over half an hour) film festival Q&A with Baumbach, the promotional 'making of' featurette, a crap-ton of bonus trailers (11), and a multi-page insert with the film's original LA Times review, and an article on the film from The New Yorker.
Well, Criterion carried over the vintage featurette, but that's it.  So holding onto the original DVD (or picking it up if you don't have it already) is unfortunately pretty essential for any serious fan.  On the other hand, Criterion did come up with some pretty terrific new extras of their own.  There's a new, on-camera interview with Baumbach that runs over 25 minutes, an all-too brief (under 8 minutes) interview with Jeff Daniels, a featurette interviewing Eisenberg, Kline and Linney, some original audition footage, and a short piece on the film's score, with Baumbach talking to composers Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips.  Oh, plus the trailer, which I'm surprised Sony forgot, and a substantial, 38-page booklet featuring an essay by Kent Jones and another Baumbach interview.
So, look.  I can't complain about anything Criterion gave us, it's all great.  A killer new transfer that exceeds expectations, souped up audio, and some terrific new special features that bring in the voices of a lot of key players left out of the DVD.  This is a must-have release of a must-have film.  It's just frustrating that this could've felt truly definitive if they'd've just licensed the Sony extras, too.  We should be able to chuck our DVDs at this point.  But oh well.  Don't make the same mistake I did and let it put you off upgrading.  Criterion's blu-ray definitely belongs on everyone's shelves.

Valentina Vs. Baba Yaga: Director's Cuts, Italian Comics, Lost Films and More!

When I first encountered Valentina, I had no idea about the source material, previous film adaptations or anything.  I caught it on late night cable, and for all I knew, it was just another softcore "erotica" flick, like an 80s Emmanuelle knock-off.  Admittedly, I noticed something was a bit unusual as soon as Valentina was shot to death in the opening credits and the directors' names flew out of her bullet wound.  But, hey, some of those Emmanuelle movies went to some pretty weird places, too.
It's full of creative uses of scrims, too
And in a way, 1989's Valentina is softcore erotica coming in the wake of Emmanuelle.  Valentina, played by American gymnast turned model turned actress Demetra Hampton, spends a lot of time undressing and making love.  She's even got a catchy theme song named after her, like Emmanuelle.  But as many times as this film starts a sex or general nude scene, it cuts quickly away, over and over.  I used to think this was just a soft, censored cut of the film, but no, that's just how it is.  Because this film has a lot more interesting ground to cover.  Like, just try and follow this brief synopsis:
Valentina is a fashion photographer/ detective/ international woman of mystery who's working on a photo exhibit on cellos when she discovers she has a famous cellist for a stalker.  She's walking home with her boyfriend Rembrandt when a sexy witch almost runs her over with her car.  Taken with Valentina's beauty, the witch gives her a doll, which secretly comes to life and puts a spell on Valentina.  It causes her to sleepwalk to the witch's mansion, where she has a giant pit in the floor leading to a secret torture dungeon, where she gets locked in a cage.  Rembrandt figures it out and rescues her, at which point Valentina decides she can no longer resist the temptation of that cellist stalker and starts an affair with him.  But he turns out to be a dangerous knife-wielding psychopath, so she leaves town and goes on holiday to some old European city where a secret cult of people who cannot age steal her camera for an immortality ritual.  Meanwhile, dejected Rembrandt buys some antique art pieces from a street vendor, and a coven of witches haunt him to get them back.  Valentina escapes the cult, Rembrandt defeats the witches, and they reunite in a beach bungalow, where a Lady Terminator-type walks out of the ocean and starts blowing the entire town up with her laser eye-beams!  The whole movie is interspersed with pop reggae songs, dream sequences and artsy photo shoots, making very little sense, but boy is it entertaining!
featuring authentic Robocop vision!
Years later, when I'd put all the pieces of this bizarro-puzzle together, it's just as fascinating, if not moreso.  It's co-directed by Gianfranco Giagni, who also made the terrific, still unreleased Italian horror flick Spider Labyrinth; and it's based on the celebrated adult/art comic books by Guido Crepax.  Originally, the Rembrandt character was the star, known by his super-hero name Neutron; but his fiance Valentina became more popular and took over as the star of her own book for decades.  And the reason the movie has such a convoluted, episodic feel is because it's actually a mash-up of an Italian Valentina TV series, so we're seeing about six or seven half-hour episodes edited into a single movie.  And the most famous issue of the Valentina comics had actually been made into a movie over a decade earlier, Corrado Farina's Baba Yaga.
1973's Baba Yaga stars Carroll Baker as that sexy witch who almost runs over Valentina (this time played by Isabelle De Funès), and just focuses on this one particular story.  George Eastman co-stars as Arno, who's basically a stand-in for the Rembrandt character, and it has the same stand-out imagery: the pit in the witch's house, the cursed doll, and even some of the same dream sequences, like Valentina fighting her boyfriend in a boxing ring, which both films are taking right out of the comics.  Farina has a frankly annoying free-form jazz soundtrack, but is otherwise pretty cool, turning shots of the film into black & white stills to mirror the comic panels, and making other stylistic choices to merge film and comics, well before Creepshow and Ang Lee's Hulk tried it.  And because it's a feature film devoted to a single story, as opposed to Valentina, which smushes in everything and the kitchen sink, it has time to develop the characters and restore plot points, like the witch cursing Valentina's camera.  I still prefer Valentina, and Hampton captures the character in spades over De Funès, who looks like someone pressed a wig down on her head and never told her what was going on, but both adaptations definitely have their strengths, so fortunately we don't have to choose.
Or perhaps more accurately, we can't choose.  Because the movie Valentina has never been released on DVD or blu in any region around the world.  Or VHS even!  There's just a very rare Japanese laserdisc, and that's pretty much it.  Except happily, I was able to find a grey market copy from the now defunct Video Search of Miami.  Oh, and yes, the entire Valentina television series was released on DVD in Italy from MHE Ideal Entertainment (you can bet I've got that, too), but while the show is made up entirely of footage from the series, and Valentina fans should definitely seek it out as it features plenty more adventures, including a vampire, gangsters and one episode that's a homage to Argento and giallos in general.  But the series loses the madcap energy of the spliced together film, which is frankly kind of amazing.  Plus, as a die-hard fan, I tried re-editing the film out of the DVD series to have it in good quality, and there are lines of dialogue and music clips that are unique to the film, so it can't even be reconstructed (though I pulled it off by cleaning up the audio on the VSoM DVDR).  Like, I'd recommend the series to fans of cult Italian stuff and of course the Crepax comics, but the Valentina movie is a unique experience even non-fans would get a pretty good kick out of.
VSoM DVR on top; 2008 MHE DVD below.
So yeah, the VSoM disc is a grimy, old VHS-recording-sourced transfer.  It's washed out, soft, full of video noise, etc.  I mean, just look at it.  The MHE DVD, on the other hand, is just alright for an old television show on DVD.  But by comparison, it's a friggen' revelation.  You can actually tell what colors things are supposed to be!  Unfortunately, it's got a little bit of an interlacing issue, but otherwise it's no better or worse than you'd expect.  It's fullscreen, which is surely correct for a television project.  They include all thirteen episodes over three discs, and include the complete English and Italian audio in nice, clean stereo tracks.  Zero extras, but it's nicely packaged in a fold-out digibook and external slip-box.  And it's probably the best we'll ever get of the series or the film, as I believe its the copious amount of famous pop songs used throughout (Boy George, Buster Poindexter's "Hot Hot Hot," etc) that are preventing out favorite cult labels from tackling it.
A deleted/ restored scene from Shameless's director's cut of Baba Yaga.
So no Valentina for us, but there's no problem with Baba Yaga.  Diamond originally released it under the title Kiss Me, Kill Me in 2001; and then Blue Underground released it in 2003 with a bunch of cool deleted scenes (and plenty of other extras we'll get to).  In 2009 in the UK, Shameless teamed up with Farina to re-edit those back into the film, because the producers removed them against his will in the first place.  "Finally, after 35 years, you can see my film as it was before the producers hacked it to pieces - Corrado Farina" is printed on the actual DVD label itself!  So that's definitely the DVD version I recommend.  Blue Underground released it again in HD as a 2013 blu-ray, but disappointingly, they didn't release the director's cut.  I imagine the reason is that the deleted scenes were in lesser quality, and they couldn't (or didn't want to pay to) restore that footage to HD, too, to reintegrate back into the film.  But come on, if Baba Yaga were an Argento film, you know we'd at least have a composite cut on blu.  Oh well.  So I never got the blu-ray, but here's a comparison of the two DVD versions.
2003 Blue Underground DVD on top; 2009 Shameless DVD below.
Both discs are slightly windowboxed to 1.83 and 1.76, respectively.  The transfers are virtually identical apart from this framing issue, with BU showing a bit more on each side.  But the inserted deleted scenes on the Shameless disc are interlaced, faded and distinctly lower quality (as above).   In terms of pure PQ, I'd give it to BU for the extra width, but the Shameless version of the film is a more fun, wild film, as it's mostly edgier dream sequence content that was cut, not boring exposition.  Shameless also includes both the English and Italian tracks with English subtitles, whereas BU only includes the English and no subs (though that is something they did fix with their blu, which has both audio tracks and subs).
Shameless and BU both feature substantial interviews with Farina (they'[re different, but as you can imagine, he says a lot of the same things in both of them) and a cool featurette on Crepax's comics called Freud in Color, plus the trailer and a gallery.  Blue Underground also has a neat easter egg, with a (very brief) Tinto Brass interview, where he talks about Crepax's influence on his own work.  And they include an insert with some additional comic and poster art.  Shameless, on the other hand, has a new introduction by Farina, a text commentary/ trivia track and most impressively, a rare short film Farina directed in 1973 called Fumettophobia, about Italian comic books like Crepax's.  Shameless also throws in a bunch of bonus trailers and some cool, reversible artwork.
So I still hold out hope that one day Shameless will release their cut of Baba Yaga to blu-ray, to at least give us a definitive version of that film.  But sadly, what I really want the most, the biggest hole in all our collections, will probably never be filled: the Valentina movie.  But, as with all my M.I.A. posts, I write it with hope alive - I mean, hey, who could've anticipated a German label creating an exclusive special edition of The Resurrected, or Lions Gate developing the Vestron line?  Plus, I can at least let you guys know about the superior Shameless DVD of Baba Yaga and the Italian set of the Valentina TV series.  It's just... not the movie.

Oh!  And if you haven't seen it (or even if you have), I've created a brand new index for the site, so you can search posts by filmmaker, genre, format, etc.  It's still growing, but everything that's there works, and I've just added a new keyword tag to go along with posts like this one: comic book-related.   💪

You Can Count On Manchester By the Sea (DVD/ Blu-ray Comparison)

Here at DVDExotica, we appreciate all kinds of movies, even those you don't have to hide from your parents and children.  Sure, usually I'm a wild-haired film snob waving his finger at the television screen shouting, "you're giving 'Best Picture' to that pandering piece of dumbed-down Hollywood pap?"  But sometimes I do stumble onto a film simply because it's been nominated and come out saying to myself, wow, that really was an excellent movie.  And here are two such examples, 2000's You Can Count On Me and this year's Manchester By the Sea, both by writer/ director Kenneth Lonergan.  In fact, I think I may've spotted a subtle similarity in their stories.
You Can Count On Me stars Mark Ruffalo as a thirty-something, orphaned drifter, getting into bar fights and doing odd jobs to barely scrape by with no anchor or goal in life.  Following a death in the family, he returns home to the small town he grew up in, where he's widely known as an infamous trouble-maker.  At first he maintains a civil distance, but as they're staying together, he's pressured into reconnecting with his nephew who grew up with only one parent.  He winds up taking his nephew to see the father he'd never known, and it goes disastrously.  Still, it turns out to be a necessary growing experience for the boy, they ultimately wind up bonding and we see the strength of the drifter's character hidden by all the flaws he wears on his sleeve.  Though he ultimately [SPOILER technically, but not really, because it's clear this is the direction the story was always headed in.  Like, don't worry; this won't ruin the movie for you if you haven't seen it] leaves the town and his nephew behind to return to the seemingly empty life he left behind despite being pleaded with to stay and live in their hometown, we know they'll see each other again, because they've grown together into a genuine, loving family.  The supporting cast includes Matthew Broderick in a terrific, stuffy but scene-stealing comic role and Lonergan himself in an amusing and well-played bit part.
Manchester By the Sea stars Casey Affleck as a thirty-something, orphaned drifter, getting into bar fights and doing odd jobs to barely scrape by with no anchor or goal in life.  Following a death in the family, he returns home to the small town he grew up in, where he's widely known as an infamous trouble-maker.  At first he maintains a civil distance, but as they're staying together, he's pressured into reconnecting with his nephew who grew up with only one parent.  He winds up taking his nephew to see the mother he'd never known, and it goes disastrously.  Still, it turns out to be a necessary growing experience for the boy, they ultimately wind up bonding and we see the strength of the drifter's character hidden by all the flaws he wears on his sleeve.  Though he ultimately [SPOILER technically, but not really, because it's clear this is the direction the story was always headed in.  Like, don't worry; this won't ruin the movie for you if you haven't seen it] leaves the town and his nephew behind to return to the seemingly empty life he left behind despite being pleaded with to stay and live in their hometown, we know they'll see each other again, because they've grown together into a genuine, loving family.  The supporting cast includes Matthew Broderick in a terrific, stuffy but scene-stealing comic role and Lonergan himself in an amusing and well-played bit part.
Look, I'm not criticizing either film by playing up their similarities.  And obviously they're not strictly identical.  You Can Count On Me also co-stars Laura Linney as the nephew's mother, whose subplot is almost as important as Ruffalo's.  And the nephew character is now an older teen with more adult concerns, excellently played by Lucas Hedges, in Manchester By the SeaManchester also delves deep into the drifter's backstory, which is only touched on in exposition in You Can Count On Me, unveiling a deeper tragedy.  They have unique scenes of humor and drama.  I actually think it's a compelling return to the first film's themes by Lonergan, and the two films actually play even stronger together than as separate, unconnected works.  Both deserved their Academy Award nods more than most of their peers, and I highly recommend the pair, especially if you've seen and enjoyed one, but not yet caught the other.
It seems crazy that You Can Count On Me has not been released on blu-ray, not even to coincide with the recent release of Manchester By the Sea.  But at least the 2001 DVD from Paramount is widescreen and has some decent special features.  The exact same thing can be said for Lions Gate's 2017 Manchester By the Sea release, except they did also release a blu-ray version.  In fact, it's a combo-pack, so we can compare the DVD and blu.
Paramount's You Can Count On Me DVD isn't bad for being so old, at least it's anamorphic and uninterlaced.  It's framed at a slightly off 1.77:1, with a slight pillarbox bar on the right-hand side, that was probably hidden in its day by TV overscan area.  It looks soft and murky by today's standards and sure could use a nice boost to HD.  The reflection on that lake looks pretty jittery in motion.  It includes the option of a 5.1 mix or a 2.0 stereo track, both in Dolby, with optional English subtitles.  Again, perfectly fine for 2001; it's just past its sell-by date at this point.
2017 Lions Gate DVD on top, and their blu-ray on the bottom.
blu-ray left; DVD right.
In comparison, Manchester By the Sea looks so much clearer and more vibrant.  Seeing the shots on the same page like this really illustrates how much You Can Count On Me could use a new release.  But, anyway, taken on its own terms, Manchester's blu is a pretty sharp; even its DVD counterpart looks almost as good.  But of course, when you get in close, you see all the texture that's lost in SD (was fake film grain added to this movie?).  Lions Gate letterboxes it to 1.85:1, and gives us a 5.1 mix in DTS-HD, with an additional Spanish dub and optional English and Spanish subtitles.
You Can Count On Me isn't exactly a packed special edition, but it has a small, somewhat satisfying selection of extras.  The main asset is an audio commentary by Lonergan, who's a good guide through his work.  There's also a brief featurette, which talks to Lonergan and the cast.  It's short, but not overloaded with clips from the film, making it a bit more filling than many of its ilk.  There's also the film's trailer, some bonus trailers and an insert.
And the situation is almost the same in Manchester.  Lonergan's back with another audio commentary, which is about as good as the first, though frustratingly he never once mentions You Can Count On Me; suggesting this story was completely invented on its own by Matt Damon and himself, with no connection to any previous work.  Okay.  There's a similar featurette, as well, which gets some nice quotes from the cast and takes a look at the filming location, again without getting bogged down in promotional clips.  This time we also get three deleted scenes, and again some bonus trailers. There's no insert (except for one of those digital download code sheets), but it does come in a slipcover.  In fact, if you're a collector, you should know there are actually two alternate slipcovers out there.  The one I have pictured above, and a newer repressing that swaps out the Golden Globes banner with one touting its Academy Awards instead.
So yeah, I heartily recommend both films; the Academy got it right in these cases.  So if you haven't yet, definitely pick up Manchester By the Sea.  And I don't know.  Maybe if we hold a candle light vigil or something, we can get a nice 4k scan of You Can Count On Me from Criterion or somebody?

The Incomparable Altered States (DVD/ Blu-ray Comparison)

Here's another Ken Russell oddity.  In fact, it may go down in the history books as Ken Russell's most famously weird film, but I don't think it's quite that.  It's certainly trippy, literally, and filled with strange science fiction notions.  But it's based on a novel by Paddy Chayefsky, and this material takes great pains to convince you that the sci-fi you see in this film is entirely possible, if not the author's genuine beliefs.  Sure, it's an excuse for the director of the far-out imagery of Tommy to depict drug-induced hallucinations and other craziness, bur at the end of the day, it doesn't feel as unpredictably crazy and unhinged as Lisztomania or The Fall of the Louse of Usher.  Russell's actually quite grounded here.  But still, if you want some heady, serious yet mind-bending science fiction, this one still holds up better than most of what we get today.
William Hurt lends a lot of credibility to his role as a university researcher determined to pierce the mysteries of the human consciousness.  In classic Hollywood fashion, he experiments on himself, with sensory deprivation tanks and hallucinogenic drugs, attempting to unlock the hidden chambers of the brain and access a collective memory or an "original self."  It's all well and good, until he finds it's not something one can just pop in and out of, and he starts to become a danger to his family and coworkers (Drew Barrymore, the great Bob Balaban, television's Molly Dodd Blair Brown and John Larroquette) as his body begins to follow his mind and he physically devolves. 
Did I mention that Hurt lends a lot of credibility to this film?  Because boy does he.  There's a lot of weight on his shoulders.  I enjoy this film because it's smart, and it's a treat when Russell finally gets to cut loose with his visual depictions of drug-induced visions.  But it never really crosses the line for me into becoming a great film, because it fails to pay off it's heady set-up.  You feel like you're being led to some kind of ingenious, thrilling spectacle, but instead just wind up in typical, B-movie mad-scientist-on-the-loose territory, a la Bela Lugosi's The Ape Man or Kevin Bacon's Hollow Man.  It's got terrific production values, some strong moments and the actors keeps your eyes on the screen the entire time.  But the conclusion's pretty pedestrian.
Still, for being such a highly regarded and famous science fiction film, it sure has an underwhelming history on home video.  Warner Bros originally released it on DVD in 2000 as a flipper disc in a crapper snapper case.  And then they released it as a barebones blu in 2012.  You know, when Warner Bros doesn't want to prioritize something, they can keep a film's home video life pretty bland.  Oh well, let's at least see how the film looks.
2000 DVD widescreen side on top; fullscreen side mid; 2012 blu-ray bottom.
Sigh...  The DVD, at least, looks pretty good for being so old.  It's anamorphic widescreen, not interlaced.  Both widescreen versions are 1.78:1, because of course they chose "no black bars" to a more accurate 1.85:1, and the fullscreen version is naturally 1.33:1, opening up some of the top and bottom while chopping off some of the left and right.  Obviously that version's for curiosity seekers only.  At least they've cleaned up some of the damage from the DVD's footage (look at the scratches and dirt on the mushroom cloud), but they seem to have scrubbed away fine detail in the process.  At first I thought the DVD might actually be more detailed than the blu, but no.  Taking a closer look (check out the grate on the top left of the inner chamber in the second set of shots), the blu pulls out a little more, and it's certainly safe from the compression smudges and edge enhancement of an old standard def transfer.  But it's certainly not a 5-star transfer.  I also suspect the saturation might've been a little artificially boosted, too.

So the DVD gave us a 5.1 audio track (yeah, even back in 2000), plus a French dub, with English and French subtitles.  The blu replaces the French dub with a Spanish one and gives us the 5.1 English in DTS-HD, plus English, French and Spanish subs.  So not bad, but the original audio really would've been nice.
So yeah, everything's pretty barebones.  The DVD has a trailer and 2 TV spots, plus some bonus trailers.  What's fun, at least, is that even the trailers are wide on the widescreen side and fullscreen on the reverse.  The blu-ray doesn't even keep the TV spots, having just the trailer.  It kills me that there's never been even a halfway special edition for Altered States.  There's so much to talk about from the special effects to the novel.  This is one of those films where the story behind it seems as fascinating as the film itself.  They could've had the film's stars talk about how they got their start here.  And it kills me that they never brought in Ken Russell while he was still alive.  For a long time there, Russell was recording commentaries for everything from Lair Of the White Worm to Salome's Last Dance, but Warner Bros couldn't get him for Altered frikken' States?  That's just neglect.
So do I recommend Warner's blu of Altered States?  Sure, I guess, in lieu of anything else.  But it's certainly a low priority upgrade if you've got the DVD.  It feels like the only reason we have a blu-ray of this film at all is because it's too big not to, but it feels like a big ol' missed opportunity to me.

Oh, but before I leave you, I just wanted to let you know that I've been spending the last couple of days updating some more older posts with additional comparisons.  So if you're interested in any of the following films, check out their pages; they're better than before: Exotica, I Eat Your Skin, Tommy, Mulholland Drive (yes, again), Mistress America, While We're Young, Night Of the Creeps, Creepshow 2 and Young Frankenstein.  Woot!