The One and Only Lair Of the White Worm (DVD/ Blu-ray Comparison)

Well, you know, curious cult films that lay way off the beaten path are right up this site's alley.  And you see I've been writing about a whole bunch of Ken Russell films.  Plus, I've been covering almost the entire Vestron line.  So was there ever any doubt that we'd be looking at the new, 2017 special edition blu-ray release of The Lair Of the White Worm?  I really love that Vestron isn't just going for the most obvious, franchise titles first, and instead creating a really diverse line-up of creative and interesting films.  And nothing says diverse, creative and interesting like Lair Of the White Worm.
Oh man, this film gets better every time I see it.  I mean, seeing it in HD for the first time might be part of it, but I really think it's my appreciation of the material that keeps rising the most.  Lair is a smart, trippy experience where Russell films the abridged and altered version of Bram Stoker's final, delirious novel, and of course lays his own layers of eccentric sensibilities on top of that.  I've seen (and okay, even taken part in) online arguments over whether this should be categorized as a comedy rather than a horror movie.  I mean, if you're calling it a comedy, you're not wrong.  Certainly, there's plenty of intentional wit (when the cop radios for back up and the voice over the radio responds, "I can't; you've got the car!") and campy humor to be enjoyed, and Ken even tosses the terms "satire" and "spoof" around in his audio commentary; but if you force the film to only play through that lens, I think you're missing something.  At it's heart, it's a "straight" horror film that's not afraid of its absurd roots and proud to indulge some wild divergences.
And apart from bringing the film to modern times, this is a more faithful adaptation than you might think.  Certainly, Russell adds a lot, like the crazy dream sequence, and there are a few scenes, like the worm rising over the forest, that you just know Russell would've loved to include but Vestron's budget wouldn't allow.  But instead of moping over what isn't here, let's celebrate everything that is.  This is a great cast, including an early role for Hugh Grant, who's better in this than he is in a lot of his later work.  Peter Capaldi makes a strong male lead decades before he'd become Doctor Who himself.  And Amanda Donahue, who would go on to do one more film with Russell and then spend years as a regular cast member on LA Law, is the ultimate vamp.  The worm itself looks a fair bit dodgy, and the actual pit is a pure throwback to drive-in cinema; but the rest of the effects are great, from the super huge vampire fangs, an incredible, gruesome bisection scene and of course the wonderfully ambitious, video composite hallucination sequences.  It's also got some great locations, costumes and set design, plus one of the all-time great horror movie theme songs.
For the longest time, the counter-intuitive rule with this film was the oldest DVD was the best.  Pioneer/ Artisan released this as a nice, anamorphic widescreen special edition DVD way back in 1999, with an audio commentary and everything.  Unfortunately, when that went out of print, Artisan replaced it with a blander, no frills DVD in 2003, and that's been the official US release until, finally, now.  Vestron has just released a 2017, loaded Collectors Series blu-ray to render everything else here and abroad obsolete.
1999 Pioneer DVD top; 2017 Vestron blu-ray below.
The Pioneer DVD was slightly matted to 1.82:1, but the later DVD and this blu open it up to 1.78:1.  But you'll notice not just the expected slivers of additional picture along the top and bottom, but also along the sides, particularly the right.  Colors are also warmer and more vivid and lines edges are a lot clearer and more natural.  We don't really discover much more detail, though the finer points are smudgier and softer on the DVD, which the blu certainly smartens up.  And we can easily make out the fine grain throughout, which suggests we're seeing pretty much all there ever was to see.  But I do wonder where they got this master from (an IP or what?), and if maybe a high-end scan of the OCN couldn't pull out a little more.  At this point, though, I'm just speculating; and there's no doubt that what we have here is an attractive HD image that pulls way ahead of the old DVD.

Audio-wise, Vestron gives us the same stereo 2.0 mix, but this in DTS-HD, and for the first time ever, give this film some (optional English) subtitles.
Now, the original Pioneer DVD was a special edition, primarily by virtue of having a terrific audio commentary by Ken Russell.  Now Russell always did good commentary tracks, but here he's adopted a bit of a performative element in conjunction with the tone of the film, which is highly entertaining.  But don't get me wrong, it's not him being self indulgent and silly; it's a highly informative track that gives legitimate answers to the questions viewers of this film would have.  But he definitely adds some flavorful character as well.  Besides that, there's the trailer, some text-screen filmographies, and the DVD came with a nice insert.
Hi, Ken!
But Vestron, as we've come to know by now, plays to win.  Working again with Red Shirt Pictures, who are really the top of the line guys in special features these days, Vestron starts out by yes, thankfully importing the original Ken Russell commentary.  Then they've created a new, second audio commentary with Lisi Russell, Ken's widow, and film historian Matthew Melia.  It's a pretty strong commentary, too, although Melia has an annoying habit of telling us what Russell said in his commentary (thanks, we just listened to it)... it would've been a lot better if he chose a magazine article or just about any other source in the world to quote Russell from.  Also, I'd suggest making a drinking game out of all the times Lisi exclaims "YES!" to something Matthew says, but I'd be liable for the fatalities.  But those quibbles aside, it is an engaging commentary that does provide some new insight as well.
And there's plenty more.  Several of the effects artists are interviewed to tell their boisterous anecdotes of working on this film at a young age in a nearly half-hour featurette.  Editor Peter Davies and actress Sammi Davis also get to share their personal experiences in two separate on-camera interviews.  And we get to hear from producer Dan Ireland for a quick episode of Trailers From Hell (oh good; Vestron is working with them now?  Let's hope to see them appear on more discs in future then).  The trailer's also here ("hang onto your asp!"), as well as a stills gallery; and as always, this disc comes in an attractive, glossy slipcover.
Can you tell I recommend this film?  I haven't been too subtle, have I?  Like a lot of Lions Gate catalog titles, this has been locked up for far too long, and getting this in an HD special edition has been long-awaited.  And it's turned out maybe even more satisfying that I expected, as my appreciation for this film continues to rise. Now bring us Warlock 1 & 2, Rawhead Rex, Nightwish, Eyes of Fire, Beyond Re-Animator, Alligator, Sundown: the Vampire In Retreat, Gothic, Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor, and all the other awesome titles you've got!

The Strange Oeuvre of Coffin Joe, Part 1


Update 1/30/15 - 2/12/17: It's update time, boys and girls!  Synapse has just released their Coffin Joe Trilogy 3-DVD set.  How are the transfers?  What are the extras?  Is there anything new?  Should we replace our previous editions?  Let's have a look!  Oh, and I have also updated Part 2, but most of the pertinent new Synapse stuff is covered here in part 1.

Collecting José Mojica Marins movies can be almost as weird and confusing as the films themselves. You'll find yourself encountering unreleased films, double-dips, alternate aspect ratios and untranslated imports. It's as frustrating as it is fun. Marins is a Brazillian exploitation director best known for his iconic horror character Zé do Caixão, or Coffin Joe to us English speakers. His work practically defines the concept "not for everyone," but if you're of the right mindset, there's a lot to be appreciated in his ambitious films, especially the Coffin Joe titles. When you get past those, you're really putting on your "I Am a Curiosity Seeker" hat.

His films are primarily available in three main DVD collections (though there's more, and we'll get to them, too). The Coffin Joe Trilogy from Fantoma came out first in 2002, after their success and notoriety via a series of VHS tapes from Something Weird. The titles were all sold separately or available together in a pretty wicked awesome coffin-shaped boxed set. Each DVD also came with a cool, reprint of a Coffin Joe comic book, and you got a bonus fourth if you got the coffin set. It's now long out of print, but was reissued in Australia in 2011 with the same transfers and extras, minus only the coffin box and comic books.

Soon after, Marins released a huge boxed set of elaborate special editions through Cinemagia in Brazil called Coleção Zé do Caixão. A lot of it was untranslated, including most of the extras (we'll get into all those specifics, don't worry), but the films were, and it included several more titles than the original trilogy. Then, in 2009, in conjunction with the release of his Marins' comeback film, Anchor Bay released another boxed set in the UK called The Coffin Joe Collection, which included most of the same titles, but also had a few exclusives.

And now in 2017, we have Synapse's The Coffin Joe Trilogy, which features the original two Coffin Joe films, plus his 2008 comeback, Embodiment of Evil, as opposed to the Fantoma set, which included Awakening Of the Beast as its third entry.  It also has more extras that the Fantoma set, much of which comes from the Cinemagia box.  Though fan hopes that they'd add subtitles to all the wonderful features there that lacked subtitles are mostly dashed; Synapse did at least do a little something.  But more on all the specifics as we come to them.
At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul is the debut of Coffin Joe from 1963, the first of the trilogy. Here we're introduced to the evil undertaker (played by Marins himself) who keeps a small village under his thumb and is determined to find the perfect mate to give him a heir. He defies God by eating lamb on Good Friday and screaming monologues at the sky, treats people terribly, kidnaps potential concubines and even murders those who oppose him. It's a weird and original story, and Joe is a fantastic character. Opposed to those great elements are a low budget and non-professional filmmaking techniques as Brazil really didn't have a film industry. The flaws will drive most people far away from these films, but those remaining will have a huge grin on their face. This is something wild.
Fantoma first, Cinemagia second, Anchor Bay third and Synapse fourth.
The original Fantoma set boasted of their 1.66:1 widescreen transfer from the 35mm negative and supervised by Marins himself. Unfortunately, the discs are non-anamorphic, but I guess with 1.66 you can just about get away with that; but they're still going to look window-boxed on your widescreen TVs. I'm sure they look heaps better than the old video tapes, but they still look soft and dirty and sound hissy. I imagine the condition of the original elements have a lot to do with that. Anyway, the Cinemagia transfer looks almost identical, but a bit brighter and softer. And as we can see the Anchor Bay set is very different, being both unmatted at about 1.25:1, and... yellow.  The Synapse is fullscreen but at a more traditional 1.33:1 and without the yellow tinting.  It has deeper blacks, like the Fantoma (as opposed to the faded Cinemagia), and it also seems to have been a bit cleaned up - note the absence of most of the dust and dirt in the sky - but possibly at the cost of smoothing some grain.  That may be why Syanpse opted to make these DVD only, where the grain doesn't really bear out no matter what you do, anyway.
Fantoma first, Cinemagia second, Anchor Bay third and Synapse fourth.
Marins supervised the matted, widescreen sets, and used them for his own box, so it seems likely that the letterboxed is his preferred AR. But there's at least some curiosity value in the full frame viewing. And who knows?  Maybe matting it was revisionist.  It's also important to point out that the subtitles are removable on the Fantoma, Cinemagia and Synapse sets, but burned into the print on the AB set.
Extras-wise, the Fantoma disc has an insightful ten minute interview with Marins as its main feature. It's also got trailers for all three films in the set, the comic book (which is a seriously high quality, 35 page reproduction of an original Coffin Joe story - don't underestimate these bad boys), and an insert with notes from his biographer. Anchor Bay has... nothing.

And the Cinemagia disc? Oh man. Well, it starts with a really cool claymation Coffin Joe intro, that appears on all the Cine discs. Then the film opens with a tragically unsubtitled introduction by Marins in character as Coffin Joe. Other untranslated extras include an audio commentary, audio from two Coffin Joe records, a silent short film called Bloody Kingdom (with commentary by Marins) and clips of two other short films, interviews with the editor, composer, two DPs, and the screenwriter, a new (2002) Coffin Joe scene that ties into a scene from this movie, a new interview with Marins, a featurette called Who's Afraid of Coffin Joe where people seem to be asked on the street about their Coffin Joe memories, a short featurette on his website and multiple trailers. There's also the complete, infamous footage of his eye surgery, which has no audio, so English speakers can "enjoy" this feature as much as anybody else, as well as several stills galleries.

With all of that said, again, Synapse isn't giving us the definitive boxed set we all hoped they would with all those wonderful extras translated.  But they have given us a pretty sweet package.  First of all, they do have that cool claymation opening.  And next, it has the interview from the Fantoma disc.  Then, it includes the newer interview with Marins from the Brazilian set, finally translated!  It also includes the film intro from that set - finally translated!  It features that new scene - finally translated!  And it features the Bloody Kingdom short with the commentary, you guessed it - finally translated!  And finally, it includes two trailers for the film.  So it's pretty awesome... just try to block all the other, wonderful extras from the Brazillian set, like the interviews with the editor, composer and DPs, that got left behind.
This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse (1966) is a the direct sequel to At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul, and Coffin Joe is back to up the ante. I hope I'm not giving too much away when I say that this is the film where Coffin Joe goes to Hell! I mean, literally, we see him walking around there and interacting; and those scenes are in full color, too. Holy shit, it's amazing! And no, that's not the ending. That just happens midway through; because Joe gets out to wreak more havoc on his quest to sire an heir and defeat God. And this time he has a hunchback assistant, too.
Fantoma first, Cinemagia second, Anchor Bay third and Synapse fourth.
The first thing you'll notice is that This Night looks much better preserved than At Midnight. Probably partially because the negatives were kept in better condition, and partially because he had better equipment and more money this time around. Still, the differences between the transfers in At Midnight still seem to hold true here. The Cinemagia disc is still softer (possibly a compression issue with all the extras), though maybe not any brighter this time. AB is still yellow, full-frame (though a closer to normal 1.31:1 this time) and the subs are still burnt in.  And as with At Midnight, Synapse basically looks like a 1.33:1 version of the Fantoma set, which was at least the best of the bunch.
Fantoma first, Cinemagia second, Anchor Bay third and Synapse fourth.
Even the color scenes look a little off on the AB disc, with the blacks looking blue. Worse, though, is the fact that Anchor Bay also has this crappy interlacing issue going on, which is probably the result of a poor NTSC to PAL transfer. Fantoma and Synapse clearly have the superior transfers (in this rare color section, we see the colors are a little more natural on the Synapse version), with Cinemagia a reasonably close second, while Anchor Bay's are a mess.  I had originally written they were at least interesting if you were really keen to see the open matte footage, but now thanks to Synapse, there's a better way to do that.
The feature comparison is pretty unchanged, too. Once again, Fantoma has a Marins interview, plus the trailers, comic (they're all different) and another insert. And Anchor Bay has nothing again.

Cinemagia continues to blow the others away, except for the fact that they're untranslated. It starts out with a new Coffin Joe intro the film. There's another audio commentary. There's two more vintage recordings. There's six interviews, a featurette of Marins giving a tour of his museum, outtakes from a Coffin Joe commercial for Cinema Trash, a special effects make-up demonstration from some Marins project called Bruno (I think), a screaming test with a couple of actresses, another interview with Marins, a bunch of trailers, a website interview which might be the same as the last one and another episode of Who's Afraid of Coffin Joe. For us English speakers, well, there's a bunch of stills galleries... oh and an almost 30 minute documentary called The Universe of Mojica Marins! It has subtitles and it's pretty neat. It's a vintage doc about Coffin Joe from 1978 - if you've got the set and skipping the extras because they're not in English, go back and watch this.

And once again, Synapse comes in with a nice set of extras, but still leaving so much awesome Cinemagia stuff behind.  But we do get the Fantoma interview.  And we get one of the few already translated extras from the Brazilian box, the Universe documentary.  But newly translated from the Brazilian box are the new interview with Marins, the museum tour, and the introduction.  All those other interviews and stuff are not carried over, though we do also get the trailer and a photo gallery.
Now, Fantoma calls their set The Coffin Joe Trilogy and the third film they include is Awakening of the Beast (1969). But it's really just an unrelated, totally wacked out Marins film that, like many of his movies, has a hint of the Coffin Joe character in it. Marins himself has often said the trilogy was unfinished, and it was only in the late 2000s, when he made Embodiment of Evil (well after the Fantoma set had already come out), that he finally finished it. If you've been enjoying the Coffin Joe horror films so far, prepare for a huge shift and possibly a major disappointment. But if you can get past the fact that this isn't Coffin Joe 3, or even a horror movie at all, it's still pretty good, or at least interesting.

This is a very 60s film, showing the shocking things people might do while on LSD. Lots of dancing to bad music, sleazy sex... mostly those two things. Basically the film is a series of vignettes. Characters come, have their shocking LSD-induced moment, and then disappear, all being narrated by a couple of doctors talking about the effects of LSD. What would've been shocking in the 60s is tame now, making this pretty plodding and dull if you ask me. But the film picks up in the third act when Marins starts to get involved, playing himself. He experiments on some people, showing them his comics and movies (we even watch a clip of This Night), and talks about his work having strong psychological effects on people. It sounds like BS until he injects them with LSD and they hallucinate a crazy, full color sequence of Coffin Joe menacing them. It's trippy, imaginative, and a total blast. Coffin Joe walks across a bridge made of screaming humans, butts talk. Honestly, now that I've seen this film all the way through the first time, I tend to just skip to this part. It's got a great ending, too, which always makes me smile. The first half is just so rough to get through. So, I really don't think it has the broader appeal of the other Coffin Joe movies at all. But it is the most released of his films, not only included in all three sets, but as an individual release by Mondo Macabro. That's right, this next comparison is going to be a four-way.
Fantoma on top, Cinemagia next, Anchor Bay third and Mondo Macabro on the bottom.
Things get different here, and not just because we've added an extra disc into the mix. Anchor Bay, you'll notice, isn't full-screen and yellow... well, faintly more yellowish than most of the others, but not like before. Its subtitles are still burnt in, though.
Fantoma on top, Cinemagia next, Anchor Bay third and Mondo Macabro on the bottom.
Cinemagia still looks very similar to Fantoma but a bit fuzzier. And Mondo Macabro actually looks the softest and fuzziest of all. Online sources sometimes cite MM as being fullscreen (example: filmaf), but they're framed exactly the same at 1.66:1. They're all actually pretty close, with Anchor Bay rivaling Cinemagia. But Fantoma still looks the clearest, while Mondo Macabro looks almost VHS sourced.
Mondo Macabro gets back into the race in the extras department, though. They've got a nice, little documentary called The Nightmares of Coffin Joe, which runs about 26 minutes and interviews not only Marins, but some of his collaborators, who we normally never get to hear from (they're on the Cinemagia set, sure, but not translated). If you're a big enough Coffin Joe fan, and starved for material like we all are, Nightmares is worth the price of admission alone. It's why I've got. Fantoma, meanwhile, comes slow but steady with another Marins interview, comic book, insert and set of trailers. And Anchor Bay - wait for it... has nothing.

And what has Cinemagia got for us this time? Another untranslated intro, commentary, pair of recordings, a 15 minute doc film on Joe called Fogo-Fatuo, five interviews, some kind of visit to the national archives about Marin's films, a weird orientation where Marins yells at what looks like college students and they squirm in their seats (hey, don't look at me), another Marins interview, another episode of Who's Afraid, more trailers, more stills galleries, and that website thing again (I don't know, maybe they are different on every disc). Nothing in English; move along.
Marins from the Fantoma interviews, say goodbye to these
So that gets us through the "Coffin Joe Trilogy" (really two-thirds and a bonus Marins film), but there's still plenty more to go. But what will we do now that we no longer have the consistently superior Fantoma (and in some cases, Synapse) transfers to cling to? Well, this post has started getting unwieldy in length and we've still got a long way to go, so to find out, stay tuned for Part 2...

Deadtime Stories Reborn Thanks To Scream Factory (DVD/ Blu-ray Comparison)

Deadtime Stories is a movie I enjoy, but I'm not sure I can recommend, very much along the same lines as Deathrow Gameshow. It's something I discovered as a kid, and I think that's definitely a huge part of why I'm able to appreciate a lot of its ambitions despite its questionable executions. But I don't know. Maybe it is good. I can't tell anymore. But I tell you what it's not. It's not the TV series of the same name on Nickelodeon, it's not the direct-to-video George Romero anthology called Deadtime Stories, and it's not the dark, scary movie the random stock image and art design of this DVD cover make it feel like. It's a silly 80's horror anthology based on traditional fairy tales with a lot of goofy humor and varying tones.

Update 9/3/15 - 2/10/17: Wow! Scream Factory really came through and changed the whole game for this film.  I've just got my hands on their new, 2017 special edition blu-ray, and it's like looking at an entirely different movie.  I know this isn't one of their popular, flagship titles; but this right here is why I love Scream Factory.  Read on.
The film opens with a wrap-around on an uncle telling a child bedtime stories, which we naturally dive into, a la Princess Bride. This actually came first, though. Anyway, he winds up telling three stories, the first I guess loosely based on Hansel and Gretel? That's a stretch, but it's the only one that's tricky to ascribe to a particular fairy tale, though it's definitely got all the classic elements. TV's Scott Valentine stars as a young and very naive assistant to two medieval witches. He's blissfully happy being their stooge until he spots a young maiden and falls in love. They obviously don't give him their blessing, and conflict ensures. The second story is an updated Little Red Riding Hood, with the title character being a modern day. "hot lookin' high school senior." "That's not the way mommy tells it," the boy interrupts. "Shut up, that's the way I tell it." The wolf in this story is a junkie werewolf who tracks her down when they get their prescriptions mixed up at a drug store. And finally, the third story is Goldilocks and the Three Bears, where Goldilocks is a murderous telekinetic, and the three bears are a family of escape mental patients. This last story really veers off into screwball territory.
There's some decent effects in this and some genuine efforts to be creative, fun and original. It gets bogged down by its low budget and can get pretty juvenile, but it a lot of it worked for me on cable TV as a kid.  The last story was still a little too goofy, and the first story seems to take a while to get started, but it's got solid production values, including some cool effects and a terrific opening credits sequence with a rockin' 80s theme song (by Taj).  It's never going to top anybody's lists, but at the same time, you've got to be a real stick in the mud not to be able to enjoy at least parts of it.  And if you grew up with this movie on cable like I did, you're going to need this in your collection, if only for a little kick of nostalgia.

Until now, there had never been a decent release of this film to really give it a proper, fair viewing.  Image originally released this film on laserdisc.  I haven't seen it, but I know it's barebones fullscreen CLV. And they eventually wound up releasing this on DVD, too.  That I've got right here.  And there has also been a bunch of junky no frills releases of this, since nobody seemed to be defending its copyright.  So, yes, I've got another one of those Mill Creek editions (from 50 Chilling Classics, again) to compare the Image disc to.  But of course the super big deal is the new Scream Factory special edition, which gives us a new HD transfer from the original camera negative.  And there's also an SD version of it, as it's a combo-pack.  Just wait 'till you see the difference; it's night and day.
1) Image DVD 2) Mill Creek DVD 3) Scream Factory DVD 4) Scream Factory blu
I actually thought this might be the first time a Mill Creek budget disc might come out ahead in this comparison, because Image's disc is so troubled and disappointing. But no, they still somehow managed to be even worse. Both transfers are clearly from VHS sources, and not even good quality ones. They're dark, swampy and smeary. Yuck. But Mill Creek's disc is even softer than Image's, has interlaced/ ghosting frames and crops the image - albeit only slightly - on all four sides. Mill Creek has higher saturation, which I can't even call whether it's better or worse. More like just two different kinds of ugly. I guess I slightly prefer Image's colors, since they don't bleed as much as Mill Creek's; but it gives the film an even more faded, joyless look. Plus Mill Creek is too red.

But who cares anymore?!  Look at that Scream Factory release.  Deadtime Stories actually looks like a real movie!  It's now slightly matted to 1.85:1, and we do lose some excessive headroom and vertical space, but we gain that back with restored picture on the sides.  And more importantly, it's actually attractively framed now.  Again, it looks like a real movie as opposed to an ugly, boxy mess.  We've got natural grain, detail we can finally decipher and beautiful colors.  Look how that red cat clock finally stands out from its surroundings.  Scream also gives us the original mono audio in lossless DTS-HD with optional English subtitles.  Take a guess whether Image or Mill Creek bothered with subtitles.
All three versions are the same cut, too.  I mention that because there's also a UK version with a different edit.  You can click here to read movie-censorship.com's article comparing this Image DVD with an old British VHS.  There's some alternate shower footage of Goldilocks (though the distinction seems arbitrary, since both include nudity), and most notably, there's a shot of Valentine ripping out the witch's heart which is missing from all these discs.  There's a noticeable clip where it happens, too.  I was hoping Scream's return to the original negatives would mean this shot would be naturally reinstated, but nope.  Oh well.

Technically, I suppose, the Image DVD does have one editing difference, though: the closing credits. Yeah, their disc is so no frills, it even cuts out just as the final credits begin.  Mill Creek at least lets them play all the way through, along with the closing song, and of course Scream Factory does.
A shot from the alternate edit of the first story
Oh, and naturally, both of the previous DVDs are completely featureless. Old Image releases usually had at least a trailer on their discs, but not this time.  But Scream Factory sure turns that around.  They list some cool, new stuff on the back of the case; but happily, once you put in the disc, you find even more.  So the first thing you'll notice is that the director Jeffrey Delman is heavily involved, which is great.  He provides an audio commentary, which is great, because this kooky movie raises a lot of questions.  He also provides a 16 minute on-camera interview to fill in the rest of the story.  Then there's a fun, 16 minute featurette interviewing some of the stars: Scott Valentine, Cathryn DePrume (Goldi Lox) and Melissa Leo (Mama Baer).  There are two deleted scenes, one from Red Riding Hood and one from The Three Baers, both of which are sourced from video tape and have explanatory introductions by the director.  And probably this release's biggest surprise, an alternate version of the first story that they started putting together to possibly exist as a stand-alone if the anthology never got finished.  It's got a bunch of new footage, alternate music, is missing some stuff from the final film, and doesn't have the final act.  But it's a heck of a lot of deleted scenes.  It's also sourced from video and has an introduction by the director.  Plus there are two theatrical trailers and a photo gallery.
Thinking about it now for this article, I guess a lot of my indifference towards this film's qualities today probably stemmed from the hideous videotape transfers this film is stuck with. I mean, look at all these blah screenshots. If someone actually put out a quality, widescreen film-based edition with all the footage from both the US and UK versions, and some good extras, I could see this being a pretty engaging movie, at least for people who don't mind a healthy dose of goofiness. Scream Factory has definitely released worse. So how about it, labels, anyone want to be a bit of a hero and give the people a blu-ray release of this film? I'd buy it.  Look, they did!  Well, apart from rounding up the European footage - it would've been nice if they also grabbed those cut British scenes, at least off the VHS tape, as additional deleted scenes.  But honestly, who could've expected such a thorough, packed special edition as we've gotten here?  Fans of this movie should be over the moon.