How Code Red Saved The Eerie Midnight Horror Show (DVD/ Blu-ray Comparison)

The Eerie Midnight Horror Show is an extremely misleading and pretty weird re-marketing of a 70s Italian flick called L'ossessa or Enter the Devil that tries to present this as a Rocky Horror Picture Show knock-off. But this film couldn't be further from that. It's also been given the exploitative title Sexorcist, but that's at least more representative of what the film's about; sex and exorcism are two major elements of the story. Eerie is hardly a dry or studious film - it definitely falls more onto the fun and trashy end of pile. But it is a fairly earnest little horror film that plays it straight - something you'd never guess from looking at the cover of Code Red's limited edition blu-ray here.

Update 4/9/18: Eerie Midnight has been re-released on blu-ray, this time as part of a "Drive-In" double-bill with The House That Vanished from Dark Force Entertainment.  We've got a proper comparison down below, but TL;DR?  It's just a slightly different encode of the same transfer.
Eerie's often referred to as an Exorcist clone, and I don't doubt that it was made to cash in on that film's success. But it's a very different movie that really doesn't start getting into The Exorcist's territory until the final half hour or so. It's the story of devilish possession, but this happens to a grown woman and is told through her perspective, where we see her Satanic visions. And our devil is played perfectly by Ivan Rassimov - we spend a lot of the film eagerly awaiting his next appearance. Our heroin is an art student who brings home a life-sized wooden sculpture of a crucified monk who'd given his life to Satan. We're treated to some surprisingly impressive effects of the wooden man coming to life, and naturally he corrupts his new owner. The film has a lot of off-beat themes and diversions, including art history and S&M sex - there's a whole weird subplot about her parents' semi-open relationship (are her mother's kinky affairs somehow to blame for everything?). But it's primarily just an interesting, stylish little flick about a woman possessed in Rome, with a bit of an unfortunate soundtrack.
Now, this film's been available for years on VHS and no-frills public domain DVDs, always in muddy, hissy fullscreen editions. And I've got the latest one of those of those releases - Mill Creek's version, included as one of their 50 film collection, called Pure Terror - right here so we can have make a proper comparison. Because Code Red has now finally given it respectable treatment, providing an illuminating, widescreen transfer taken from a 35mm print, presented in HD on their limited (to 1000 copies) edition blu-ray.  And even though that limited edition still seems to be readily available in 2018, it's been reissued anyway, by Dark Force Entertainment.  This disc is also limited to 1000 copies, and is part of DFE's "Retro Drive-In Double Features" series, which pairs Eerie Midnight with the completely unrelated British film, The House That Vanished.
Mill Creek's 2010 DVD top; Code Red's 2014 blu mid; Dark Force's 2018 blu bottom.
Code Red's case refers to its transfer as being in "Grindhouse Scope," a reference to the severe damage some of their source prints have been known to be suffering from. And it's true, the print this feature was scanned from is far from free of scratches, noise, and vertical green lines (as you can see in the first comparison shot). It's also a little soft for an HD image. But compare that to the hideous fullscreen transfer we've been living with (which isn't free of speckles and scratches either) and it's a freaking revelation! It's so much cleaner and more defined. The widescreen gives much more picture, which looks heaps better in its original aspect ratio. It finally looks like an actual movie. The colors are drastically improved from the DVDs' greenishly bland pallor. And the DVD has this weird double matting thing going on, giving the whole movie a grey bar going up the right side of the screen. I left the second set of comparison shots completely uncropped, so you can see exactly how it plays on your television. Ugh.
Oh, and yes, the DVD is heavily interlaced, resulting in ghosting frames like you see above, too - presumably due to a poor PAL/NTSC conversion. The blus are thankfully free of this issue as well. And yes, the both blu-rays are virtually identical, right down to matching chemical damage.  They are necessarily different encodes of course, and if you zoom all the way in, you can see the pixelation is technically different.  But the resulting image is too similar to say one is in anyway superior to the other.  And both blus feature the same mono audio track, which has all the hiss and pops you'd expect, but it's so bad that it gets distracting.  Basically, the found an old print, scanned it, and these are the direct results.  It looks like they color corrected it, too, which is a big plus.  But this is no fancy restoration from the original negatives or anything.
Mill Creek's 2010 DVD left; Code Red's 2014 blu right.
Now, again, The Eerie Midnight Horror Show was never the film's proper title. But the credits on the DVD are totally different from what's on blu-ray discs, with the DVD using cheaper, alternate credits. The blus go back to an earlier, superior version. The Mill Creek version also uses that same red title card (pictured) to cover up the ending of the closing credits sequence, which we see in its original form on the blu-rays, showing the alternate title The Tormented. The blus also run about 30 seconds longer, but I think the only difference is in the credits, neither version appears to be otherwise cut.

No edition of this film has any substantial extras to speak of, but Code Red's blu does have an amusing intro and outro sequence featuring Katrina Leigh Waters and the infamous banana man. Dark Force throws a few random things on its disc, but nothing to do with the film.  It's just about fifteen minutes worth of vintage drive-in intermission footage and bonus trailers that play between the two films when you watch the disc in "Drive-In Mode."  Sure, we'd all prefer some real extras, like an interview with Stella Carnacina; but I don't think we'll ever see this film get that kind of special edition treatment.
So, could this movie potentially look better if someone made a top of the line 4k scan of the OCN (assuming those materials still exist)? Sure. But the blu-rays are an amazing improvement on a film that was getting absolutely zero love or attention in a dreadful, public domain hell. Of course it's no cinematic masterpiece, but it's actually an entertaining and sometimes effective little flick, which you'd never realize if you'd only seen any of the previous releases. This film has been given new life, and hey! It turns out it actually kinda deserved it.

Mortuary, Scorpion's Limited Edition Blu

Today, I thought we'd take a look at one of Scorpion's limited edition blu-rays, Mortuary. This is one of four titles they released at the same time - the others being Girly, Island Claws and Don't Answer the Phone. These are still pretty recent - debuting this past October - so even though they only pressed 1200 copies, there's still a chance you might find one. And Mortuary is certainly my pick of the four.
I mean, it's kind of a goofy movie. It's got a very 70s, made-for-TV vibe. Although it's not, mind you. It's actually from 1981/1983, and if nothing else, its widescreen cinematography and brief nudity proves this wasn't shot for television. It's just got that aura to it, whether it's the actors' feathered hair or the simple, expedient way most of the scenes seem to be laid out. But on the other hand, it's a fairly original plot, ably produced and performed, that manages to drum up some genuinely creepy atmosphere at the right times.

Greg and his buddy drive their very 70s van to a warehouse to pick up a couple tires, when they stumble upon the owner of the local mortuary (Christopher George in his final film) leading a witches coven with a bunch of the local housewives. Immediately after, Greg's friend disappears. Meanwhile, his girlfriend is having other problems. Ever since her dad died, she's been sleep walking and keeps seeing a mysterious pale man in a hooded robe carrying a scythe. Of course nobody takes her seriously, until the hooded figure starts doing some real world damage. How do these two mysterious plots interconnect? Or do they at all? This isn't one of those perfunctory, by-the-numbers budget horror stories that you'll be way ahead of at every turn. It'll have you guessing, if not just throwing up your hands in bewilderment; but it does ultimately come together without ever really getting too far our there.
The whole film moves at a breezy upbeat pace; at first you almost feel like you're on a Scooby Doo mystery. And it's the occasional, powerful image or moment that grabs you and makes the film stick with you in the long run. Bill Paxton fans will definitely want to check this one out, too, for an early yet sizable role. I doubt it's anyone's favorite horror film, but I really appreciate how too off-center it is to blend in with the rest of the slashers and regular horror that was coming out in the same era.

Scorpion gives Mortuary it's HD debut with this blu-ray, updating their previous DVD release from 2012. It's not exactly a loaded special edition, but it's a pretty high quality release.
Bill tries to show his classmates the gift of Mozart.
I haven't seen the previous DVD, but this purports to be a brand new master taken from the original IN (InterNegative). It's full widescreen, meaning 1.78:1, which is the same AR as the previous DVD.  And honestly, it looks pretty great... Certainly greater than you'd've ever thought if you'd seen this movie on television or VHS back in the day. Like I said this movie has that made-for-TV vibe, but this transfer really opens it up into a real movie. Smooth, crisp lines and natural colors. It gets grainy in the nighttime scenes, but I'm sure that's a product of the original film exposure, not a flaw with the blu-ray. I really don't think you can ask for more than what we've been given here.

The sole audio option is the original mono track in DTS-HD, which is perfect.
Now, the DVD was part of Scorpion's 'Katrina's Nightmare Theater' line, all of which has been stripped away from the blu. I'm certainly not sorry to see that goofy stuff taken off the artwork, giving this film a more earnest presentation. But I do kinda feel like her little video intro and outro could've been left on the disc as an easter egg or something. But whatever, no real loss. All the other extras, slim as they are, have been ported over and are a very welcome addition to the film.

The main extra is a video interview with the composer, John Cacavas. He talks a little about this film, and drifts off to tell us about the rest of his career for a while, before bringing it back to Mortuary at the end. I definitely would've liked to have heard more about Mortuary, but he did have a few interesting things to share. All told, it's just over fifteen minutes, and definitely leaves you wanting more of a special edition, with more interviews; but at least there's this.

The only other extra is the original theatrical trailer, but you should definitely make a point to watch it. Because this trailer is all original content. Meaning, none of the footage in the trailer is from the movie. Instead, it's a little piece with Michael Berryman, the memorable star of films like The Hills Have Eyes, and who does not appear in the actual film Mortuary at all.
So okay, this film is definitely not for everyone. Or even most people. But if you dig second tier 80s horror, then you'll definitely enjoy and find a number of things to appreciate in this movie. It's unique, and Scorpion's first class presentation gives it a strong leg up.

Controversial Blus: Dangerous Liaisons (DVD/ Blu-ray Comparison)

Dangerous Liaisons has been adapted for the screen multiple times before (Les liaisons dangereuses in 1959), during (Valmont in 1989) and after (1999's Cruel Intentions, 2003's Untold Scandal and 2012's Dangerous Liaisons), but Stephen Frear's version remains the best known and more or less definitive version. Not that it's particularly faithful to the novel, or the popular stage play, but its cast, its portrayals, and its icy close-ups are, I think I can say, iconic. I'm not usually a fan of John Malkovich or Keanu Reeves; but everybody perfectly embodies their characters (despite making no effort to be French like their setting), including Glenn Close, Uma Thurman, Michelle Pfeiffer and Swoosie Kurtz (who was also in Cruel Intentions), to the point where when you're discussing any version of the story, it's easiest to refer to the characters as "John Malkovich," "Glenn Close," etc.
One of the reasons it's so popular, I'm sure, is that it's one of those rare Richard III-style stories where the protagonists are conniving villains who bring you into their scheme. But where Richard breaks the fourth wall, Malkovich and Close do it through heated, private exchanges. Kurtz has just brought her daughter, Thurman, into a society from a sheltered convent life, where she was kept to remain "pure" for her arranged husband (played perfectly by Jeffrey Jones in Valmont, but who we never actually see in Dangerous... he's only referred to). Jones once spurned Close, so now she's out for revenge, so she asks Malkovich to seduce Thurman before her wedding night, to spoil her chastity. Malkoich has his sites on another woman, however, a very married Pfieffer, and it turns into a manipulative contest between Close and Malkovich to see who can pull the most peoples' strings for their own sadistic whims. It's pure scandal as everybody is seducing everybody they shouldn't, and the stakes get higher and higher until they become deadly. What could be more fun?

Now, Warner Bros 1997 DVD was a very early release, so their 2013 was quite a long-awaited upgrade. I've got both, so let's see just how much of an upgrade we've gotten, shall we?
Warner Bros' 2013 blu-ray on top; and their DVD on bottom.
...As if anyone would need to be told.
Lights on...
...lights off.
I was all prepared to write about how the DVD wasn't even anamorphic, but my memory has done me a disservice. It is indeed anamorphic. The DVD has a duller palette and flecks that have been removed for the blu (i.e. just over Uma's right ear in the last shot). The framing is basically identical, though the DVD is a bit taller. It's ever so slightly pillar-boxed, practically invisibly in the overscan area. The DVD almost looks like it was filmed through a thin, dirty gauze that was then removed for the blu-ray.

But the blu-ray isn't perfect... It's presented on a dual-layer disc, which is nice, but the actual scan still seems to be under 25GB. More notably, there has been a little discussion, started on the Home Theater Forums, about how, in certain scenes, "the image is jittering so it's uncomfortable to watch." An official review on referred to the comment, saying, "A poster on another board who received an early copy of this title reported major distortion commencing with chapter 6 (when Valmont visits the peasant home) and spoke ominously of a 'botched job'. I have now played the review copy on three different setups (a Panasonic BD-50, a PS3 and a BD-ROM drive) and have seen no such problem."
The jittering can be observed in this shot, among others.
Well, I have to admit I didn't notice anything during my initial, casual viewings. But after reading about this, I took a close look for this review, and I certainly do see it. And my blu isn't any advance, early copy - it's a regular, retail copy I didn't buy until this 2015. And while I'd agree with's writer that calling it a botched job is a bit extreme, the jittering is there. I can't say it makes the scene uncomfortable to watch, however. When I first spotted it and saw what he was talking about, I thought, nah, it's just an issue with this exterior shot having been shot hand-held, so the camera's not steady. But like the original commenter says, when I fired up my DVD copy to compare it, the jittering isn't there, and the shot is quite steady. So maybe the film got a little loose in the scanner or something? I don't know. Warners did screw up here a bit, apparently, but it's really no big deal in my estimation. After all, it took me a good while to confirm for myself that the issue even existed.

Oh, and while we're comparing transfers, I have to note that Warners old DVD is a flipper (and packaged in a crapper snapper to boot!), with an alternative full-screen transfer on the other side. Let's look at how that's been modified for your 4.3 television...
I'm not even going to bother saying which version is on top and which is on bottom.
Yuck. There is a little extra info at the top and bottom, but at the expense of having the sides chopped off. I'm guessing it's Pan & Scan, but I can't bring myself to watch it long enough to say for sure. It's a junk, 4:3 transfer; that's all we need to know.
The extras department provides another strong motivation to upgrade. While the blu isn't exactly loaded, it's light years beyond the DVD, which has nothing, not even bonus trailers for other WB titles. The blu-ray has a 4:3 trailer, and much more enticingly, an audio commentary by Frears and screenwriter Christopher Hampton. Frears has a few nice anecdotes and insights, but mostly seems at a loss for what to say during an audio commentary. Fortunately, Hampton seems to understand how these things works and does most of the heavy lifting, talking about the production, changes from the novel and the stage play, and how he left Valmont to rush Dangerous Liaisons into theaters first. It's a very good commentary, and all the more rewarding as it remains the only extra for a film with a lot of story behind it.
Dangerous Liaisons is a delicious tale, and this is still the ultimate adaptation that really doesn't have to worry about "holding up" over the decades, and has yet to be replaced by its many attempted successors. And while this blu may not be 100% perfect, it's a rather compelling disc, quite a leap forward from what we had, and the best we're likely to see anytime soon.

Searching for a Definitive Signs of Life from Werner Herzog

Signs of Life (Lebenszeichen) is Werner Herzog's debut feature film. As such, maybe it feels a little creaky along the corners, a little like a filmmaker still finding confident footing. But it's surprisingly effective and stands up alongside his later films better than you might expect. And, like just about every Herzog film, it's been released a couple of times in differing editions. So I thought I'd take a comparative look at now, because I don't think any other site ever has, so we can see which is the preferable disc.

Update 5/21/15 - 6/16/22: Well, it's been seven years now, and it looks like we've concluded the search. Signs has shown up on blu for the first time, thanks to Shout Factory's Herzog: The Collection, Volume 2.  But you'll still want to hold onto your DVDs, for reasons we'll detail below, so it's still not entirely clear-cut.
Herzog tells a very leisurely paced story, here, of a German soldier named Stroszek, wounded during the war, who finds himself stationed in a small arms depot located on a tiny Greek island. He marries a local woman and stays there with two fellow soldiers, maintaining an otherwise deserted station. Life becomes very placid, safe and perfunctory. Slowly Stroszek begins to unravel, and decides he must defend his depot from everyone and everything and nobody knows how to get him out.

As you might've gathered from that description, things move rather slowly and for the most part is removed from being "action packed" as on can get. Things ratchet up a little towards the end, sure; but for the most part we're observing a lot of subtle moments with the four main characters and a few local villagers. A lot of common themes in Herzog's work turn up here, though, and even specific moments (this isn't the only film Herzog shows us how to hypnotize a chicken through one of his characters), and it draws you in if you're not too restless. Eventually signs of life to emerge from the still, gray environment. And the proceedings are helped immensely by some intriguing performances and a rich location.
Now, being an earlier work, Signs of Life doesn't tend to get the high profile releases, like a fancy Criterion DVD or Shout Factory blu-ray. But, like I said, there are a couple of releases out there. There's a German DVD from Studio Canal, but that one isn't English friendly, and the movie itself is spoken in German, so we'll rule that one out. There's also an Australian 6-disc set of Herzog films, called simply Werner Herzog Collection, which includes Signs of Life. But until now, most readers would've been interested in the two remaining releases, which I've got here for comparison: the Italian 2-dsic set from Raro, and the New Yorker's DVD release right here in the US. That's been turned on its head somewhat, now that Shout Factory has released the film in HD as part of their new, BD set Herzog: The Collection, Volume 2.  But they both have some interesting and unique features, too, to keep the matter complicated.  So let's dive right in.
1) 2005 New Yorker DVD; 2) 2005 Raro DVD; 3) 2022 Shout Factory BD.

So the DVDs have essentially identical transfers, presented in 4:3. But there are definitely things to point out. The first thing you may be asking yourself is what's up with the subtitles in the first comparison. Well, okay. The film is primarily spoken in German, and all of that is translated by optional English subs, like normal. A few scenes, however, have characters speaking Greek, and those subtitled into German. And those subtitles are burned into the picture. In those brief instances, both DVDs than just lay the English subtitles right on top of the German ones, as pictured. The blu at least gives them a different color and moves the translated German far above the Greek.  And while you're looking at that, notice that all three discs' English subtitles are translated differently. I can't really tell you which is more accurate; but they're not really that critically different.

You'll also notice some pull-down issues with the New Yorker disc, resulting in interlacing/ ghost frames. Did they actually just rip the Raro DVD? It very well may be the case, since that one came out first. If not, they got it from some PAL source and didn't bother to rescan it. Either way, it's not exactly ideal.  But that's more of an academic distinction now that there's a clear, HD winner in picture quality.  Shout's new blu is much sharper, with detail far clearer and more refined.  It's a very strong step forward.  The framing also pulls out to reveal slightly more picture along the bottom and right-hand side, widening out from 1.31:1 to 1.36.  The grain, though, is soft when it's detectable at all, suggesting this is an older scan, or troubled encode, or possibly even DNR'd?  The blu handily trumps the DVDs, but it's not an exceptional blu-ray transfer by the higher format's standards.

All three discs just have the original German mono (with the subtitles as already discussed), but the Shout does deliver it in DTS-HD.
The differences in extras are much more extreme. The New Yorker disc is pretty simple, but actually quite strong. It's main feature is probably the most compelling of all: an audio commentary by Herzog, with a little helpful prompting by Norman Hill. The commentary drifts a bit to Herzog's childhood and starting his career, but when they talk about the film itself, which is most of the time, it's very enlightening. And it's also pretty upbeat and engaging; a highly recommended commentary. Besides that, the New Yorker disc doesn't have much else. There's the original theatrical trailer, which is disappointingly untranslated (a narrator seems to have a lot to say; I'd love to know what), and a few bonus trailers for other New Yorker releases. There's also a nice, little insert with credits and notes.

Raro's a little more all over the place. Each of the two discs feature a 17 minute talk by a film critic: Enrico Ghezzi on disc 1 and Fabrizio Grosoli on disc 2. They're pretty dry, but do tell you some key info about Herzog and this particular film. The commentary is a much more rewarding and direct way to learn this stuff, but since it isn't on the Raro set, at least these interviews give you a lot of the same, key points. And this doesn't even have an untranslated trailer, so for Signs of Life specifically, I'd say the New Yorker has the much stronger set of extras.
But there's more. The Raro set also includes five early Werner Herzog short films: Herakles (1962), Last Words (1967), The Unprecedented Defense Of the Fortress Deutschkreuz (1967), Precautions Against Fanatics (1969) and Nobody Wants To Play With Me (1976).  All five of these films (thoroughly covered here) have been released in other sets, most notably in the Documentaries and Shorts collections sold through Herzog's website and the Australian version released by Shock. But they turn up on other releases, too. For instance, three of them are on BFI's DVD and blu-ray editions of Aguirre, Wrath of God. So how valuable this set of shorts is depends entirely on whether or not you've already got them elsewhere. If you're collecting all of Herzog's works, you're going to need to pick up some of the bigger sets anyway, rendering this redundant. But if you're more of a casual viewer, they do make for some neat bonuses.

Anther big selling point for the Raro set in Italy is surely the booklet, which is pretty impressive. Way more than the little insert the New Yorker disc has, this one's so thick it has a squared spine. Just picking up the Raro case you'll feel how much heavier it is, and their booklet is why. But none of it's in English, so for most of us reading the blog, it's not actually all that valuable.

And the new Shout Factory blu?  Nothing, zip, zero, zilch.  It does have the other films in the set, which I suppose top Raro's bonus shorts, but there are no special features for this or any of the films in The Collection, Volume 2.  The original Collection at least preserved a lot of the existing commentaries from other releases, and the New Yorker had a great one, but nope.  So that's a disappointment.
So, if you've already got one or more of those DVDs, keep 'em for the special features, but it really is worth the double-dip for the jump to HD.  If you don't already have them, well, IMHO I'd say you could probably skip the Raro (get those shorts elsewhere), but keep an eye out for the New Yorker and that commentary.  That and the blu add up to a very satisfactory edition.

From a Whisper To a Scream Factory Slam Dunk (DVD/ Blu-ray Comparison)

Alright, From a Whisper To a Scream has been my most anticipated Scream Factory release of the year. Not of all time, mind you... after all, they did that amazing Nightbreed restoration and gave special edition blu-rays to some DVD debuts like Terrorvision and Without Warning. But for 2015, this is the one I've been watching the calendar for; and man, I am not disappointed.

I wouldn't argue that this is the best film in their line-up, but I do have fond memories of it since the 80s when it was known as The Offspring.  I originally rented it for a sleepover and it left an impression on me, so years later I kept trying to find that movie with the scene where the civil war era kids played pin-the-limb-on-the-corpse. That and the rat scene from Epitaph were two cinematic moments I was always telling my friends they had to see. But I could never quite remember the title. I know I rented Offerings and Burnt Offerings twice apiece because of that. I mean, it doesn't help that The Offspirng's title and box art really didn't match the film, making it look more like Village Of the Damned meets It's Alive. So I was pretty delighted when I checked out MGM's DVD just because it was an anthology horror film by Jeff Burr, and it turned out to be that film. This blu-ray already had that advantage going for it.
But it's a pretty neat film in its own right. Like I said, it's a horror anthology, a la Tales From the Crypt, but with updated blood and 80s sensibilities (for both good and ill). One of its appeals is certainly how ambitious it is. It's full of great, varied special effects and memorable sequences like the "pin the limb" scene. It has a diverse cast including Clu Gulagher, Cameron Mithcell, Butcher Baker Nightmare Maker's Susan Tyrrell and of course Vincent Price in his final horror film, unless you count Dead Heat. And, since the premise of the film is that the town historian of Oldfield is telling a reporter its gruesome past, each sequence of the anthology takes place in a different time period: the 80s, the 50s, the 30s and the 1860s. So it's not just a period piece, it's several. For a low budget independent film by a first-time director, that's especially impressive. And at the same time, it's clearly personal for Burr (in its production if not the content itself), which gives this film an extra resonance most of its peers lack. In other words, it's not a cynically made formula follower that panders to a lowly horror audience; it's a passion project.
Now, I see this movie get a surprising amount of flack for what a fun and creative venture it is. I guess I can think of a couple reasons for that... It's all played in a sort of broad, larger than life style, a la the old EC Comics stories. So I kinda get it when I hear "the acting sucks," but I also think that's kinda crazy. Like, the Gulaghers are great in this; they're just not playing 100% naturalism - but how can you not love their performances? Also, Vincent Price probably draws a lot of the wrong audience, expecting more of a gentler, old time-y kind of horror film. I get that. Scream Factory's put out two big Vincent Price Collection boxed sets, and they didn't include this, presumably because it really doesn't fit in tonally with his other work. If you're looking for another Raven, this isn't really the film for you... although Dr. Phibes is starting to get warmer.

But if you can get past those little hang-ups, I can't imagine many of Scream Factory's audience being disappointed by this. It never fails to deliver the goods.And my anticipation for this release was only somewhat based on the film itself. Honestly, when I saw the announcement last October, I thought I was "fine with my DVD for this one." I didn't get really excited until I heard what an awesome special edition they had lined up. So let's not waste any more time and delve. I've also got my old MGM DVD on hand so we can appreciate the differences.
Scream Factory's 2015 blu-ray on top; MGM's 2005 DVD below.
Whoa! Look how much better that looks. I figured this was just going to be one of those cases of Scream getting the same HD master MGM used for their DVD and just giving it the natural boost of being on blu, which would've been perfectly fine. The case doesn't mention a new scan or anything, but look at the colors, the crispness of the edges, the contrast. Maybe not a whole new scan, but somebody did something good with this transfer. And the detail is great; check out Clu's forehead in the first pair of shots. Not to get too personal, but you can see detail in the top picture there that's washed out of the second. Overall, this title feels like a bigger upgrade than a lot of other blu-rays taken from already high quality DVDs.
The flip side of MGM's 2005 DVD.
One little thing the DVD had going for it, though, is that it was a flipper disc. Yeah, I know you're thinking that's a bad thing, not a good one; but the point is it had an exclusive fullscreen transfer on the other side. And what's more, that version was open matte, so as you can see, it actually has a decent chunk more picture on the top and bottom. Of course, there's no question that the 1.85:1 transfer on the A-side and blu-ray is the preferred, correct and more attractive framing. But it at least gives the DVD a little, special curiosity value for the dedicated fan.
Less appealing is that dreadful "YOU WOULDN'T STEAL A CAR, WOULD YOU?" commercial that autoplays on both sides of the DVD. But that and the trailer are the only extras on MGM's release. Does Scream Factory top that? Oh boy howdy.

First of all, not to be outdone in even the slightest capacity, Scream has both the original theatrical trailer and an annoying autoplay commercial (this time for Shout TV). But now we really get to it. We have two audio commentaries, one by Jeff Burr and one with co-writers and producer Darin Scott and C. Courtney Joyner. Both are a lot of fun, full of very entertaining anecdotes about making this film, and they do a pretty good job of not stepping on each others' toes and repeating all the same stories. You'll be laughing, and yet they work on a dry informational level as well. There is an awkward gap right in the middle of the second commentary, where they took a break or something went wrong on a technical level for a couple minutes worth of dead air; but it's a minor quibble about a great feature.

Then we come to the documentaries. Return To Oldfield fills in every single possible bit you could want about this film, clocking in at just about two hours, making it longer than the feature film itself. All the surviving major players are on hand, even Clu Gulagher and a vintage interview with Cameron Mitchell. When they come to the civil war segment, even a couple of the original children turn up. The second documentary is a little shorter but still feature length, and is all about the humble beginnings of Burr and other local filmmakers as they grew up making super 8 films from youth to college. It's really involved with a surprising amount of participants, including their parents, childhood friends and high school teachers, but it's also more than a little self-indulgent. It's upbeat and cheery, but by the hour mark, you're really starting to ask yourself if you care at all about all these amateur super 8 films made by children you've never heard of. It does set up From a Whisper To a Scream, though, as the ultimate culmination of that journey detailed in this documentary, like he's finally made the ultimate Super 8 movie... on 35mm.

And there are a couple other odds and ends. If you're like me and usually skip the stills galleries, still check this one out. It features a video introduction by Burr and he narrates the rest. So it's actually a neat little featurette that runs over ten minutes. Then there are some extra TV spots that advertise the film as The Offspring; and Scream has included some really cool reversible cover art with the original Offspring title (yes on the spine, too) and poster.
This is a film I really wouldn't have ever expected to see a special edition for. I think we just got lucky that Joyner's Daniel Griffith's Ballyhoo Productions [Oops! Minor correction: see the first comment below] was already regularly making extras for Shout's MST3K sets and stuff; so they already had him "in house" when they acquired his film amongst MGM's massive catalog. So hopefully this blu-ray brings some new fans to this film, because it's a good time, and now looks better than ever.