The Integral Re-Animator From Capelight (DVD/ Blu-Ray Comparison)

Re-Animator is in the weirdly unique position where its unrated version is actually shorter than its censored, R-rated version. By several minutes, too; not just a few seconds. I remember holding both VHS tapes in my hands back in the day and thinking they had to have been mislabeled; but no, it's true. Why? Because the R-rated version, though missing the most extreme, controversial shots like you'd expect, features a bunch of less shocking scenes trimmed out of the unrated version. I guess for pacing. But I grew up with both versions, and so, while horror fans naturally gravitate towards the bloody unrated version, I always thought something special was missing from it. Of course, something special was missing from the R-rated version, too; and if you've seen the film, you know exactly what moment I'm thinking about.  heh
When Elite Entertainment released their excellent 10th anniversary Re-Animator laserdisc, it included, amongst many other things, the unrated version with all of the deleted scenes as extras and a detailed timeline of where each of those would fit into the complete film. I always wanted to use those to make a composite cut, but back in those days, getting a digital recording of a laserdisc and trying to edit a high quality movie file on a personal computer was technically possible, but rather daunting.

So, when Elite came out with their Millennium Edition special edition, I got that; and when Anchor Bay came out with their re-release, including a new 70-odd minute making of documentary I switched to that version. And I've still got that one, so we can use it for a comparison here. Yeah, Image put out a blu-ray; but I never felt compelled to upgrade. And I'm glad I didn't, because a year later, the German DVD company Capelight came out with their own 3-disc special edition blu. And not only did it feature a new and much improved 4k scan and restoration from the original negatives, which frankly would've been enough, but they used that new transfer to create "the Integral Cut," which combined all of the extra R-rated version's footage with the essential unrated moments. It's the Re-Animator I've always wanted... although admittedly some of those long scenes of Bruce Abbot and Barbara Crampton could've been left on the cutting room floor. But still, this is now my definitive Re-Animator; it's great.
Now, Capelight's released a couple different versions of their new Re-Animator blu. A cheaper single disc edition, a combo pack with Bride of Re-Animator, and the one I opted for: the 3-disc mediabook set. The disc set is two dual-layer blus and one DVD, containing all the extras (more on that later). It has the Integral cut, of course, but also the traditional unrated version from the same 4k scan, in case you're not as sure of the new cut as I am. And it a standard def presentation of the TV cut as well, for completists, or yaknow, just for fun. Let's take a look.
Top to bottom: Anchor Bay's 2007 DVD, Capelight's 2013 Integral cut blu,
Capelight's unrated blu, Capelight's unrated DVD and Capelight's TV cut.
I threw screenshots of all the transfers into the mix for the sake of being as informative as possible, but most of the story is in the first two (although, am I crazy, or is the Integral cut a smifgen darker than the unrated?). Obviously Capelight's version trumps Anchor Bay's because we're comparing an HD blu to a SD DVD; but it beats it in a lot more areas than just that. Look at the framing. Does Dean Halsey have a hand or no? And that AB transfer is the same one the US blu used, too, because it predates the new 4k scan. So the 1.82ish framing has been opened up vertically to 1.78:1, but there's also a good deal of new picture information on the sides, too. The older master just looks to be overly zoomed-in. The new colors are more natural, too, than the red-heavy look of the past. Grain is very real here, too; I'd say the new 4k scan really pushes this film to its limits.

Also interesting is the TV cut, included on one of the blu-rays, but in standard definition. Sure, it's the fuzziest and worst looking of the lot, but it's also open matte. So while it has all the same picture on the sides (compared to the old framing, of course, as seen on the AB shots), but additional picture on the tops and bottoms, even more than the new 4k scan introduces. So serious fans may want to at least pop it in and scan through it as a curiosity piece.

Besides the multiple German audio tracks, the unrated version (on both the blu and DVD) sports 5.1 and 2.0 stereo English mixes. And it's got optional English subtitles as well. The Integral cut doesn't have the subs or 2.0 mix, but does have a DTS-HD 5.1 English track. Capelight has also added an isolated music score
Extras are a pretty solid lock for the Capelight blu, carrying over everything from past editions. Re-Animator covered itself in the special features department pretty early on. The old laserdisc already had two excellent audio commentaries with all the major players, plus the long list of deleted scenes and trailers. Then the Millennium DVD set added interviews with just about everybody, plus some storyboards and odds & ends and even an isolated music score; and those extras have stuck with just about every subsequent release. Anchor Bay, being Anchor Bay, of course added something new to the mix: that 70 minute documentary I mentioned earlier. And that, along with all those other extras have been ported over to Capelight's release. No, they didn't really come up with any new extras, but there's not left that needs to be added that wouldn't just be redundant at this point. Re-Animator already came fully-loaded.

The media book packaging includes a nice 24-page booklet, but the text is all in German. Looks nice, though. There's also a couple inserts and autoplaying bonus trailers for other Capelight releases on each disc. But that's the only non-English friendly content. Every cut of the film and all of the extras are in English.
You can tell the people at Capelight really cared about this film, and came up with a blu-ray package that didn't just upgrade our old DVDs to HD but was a major upgrade over the previous US blu-ray. Other countries are starting to pick up on this new 4k scan and integral cut and release it around the world, including Second Sight in the UK and Umbrella in Australia. So depending what country you live in, you might want check to see if your local edition is suitable and cheaper to obtain. Like, I know there's a Japanese one, too, but I'm not sure what transfer they're using because honestly I stopped paying attention. Nobody's topping this sweet Capelight set. And unfortunately here in the US, I think we'll be stuck with the old scan as our only blu for a while, so American fans should definitely be importing.

1 comment:

  1. Arrow Video's US Blu-ray looks like the same scan as the Capelight Blu, but has a much beefier encode so the grain looks much healthier. Details pop more.