Pieces, The Director's Vs. American Unrated Cut (DVD/ Blu-rayComparison)

Pieces is the latest Grindhouse title to be revisited on blu-ray in a new, 2-disc set. They've been steadily working their way through their catalog, revamping all their past special edition DVDs, and they've done another stellar job here. A brand new transfer, new extras, and what's creating possibly the biggest stir online, new limited edition packaging.
If you're not already familiar, Pieces is a Spanish slasher film that's famous for how it doesn't put on any airs. One of its famous taglines is "It's exactly what you think it is." But I don't think that's exactly true. Certainly the bulk of the film is a very formulaic, traditional slasher film about a mysterious killer murdering students on a campus, with a couple of very perfunctory cops on the trail. But it's got some very strange moments of humor, some of which are totally cliche (the chesty girl innocently asking the anatomy professor what the pectorals are), whereas others are totally out there and original, making the film stand out. A Bruce Lee parody guy suddenly jumps out and attacks one of the cops in the middle of the night, only to apologize ("must've been bad chop suey!") and run off into the night. Or a really funny gag where the killer boards an elevator with his next victim while hiding a chainsaw behind his back. Even the premise of one of the police officers being a beautiful young woman/ tennis pro who decides to go undercover at the college is clearly having some fun by taking the insipid extremes of the genre and playing them up to the point of parody.

But it never really turns the corner into full parody. It's still mostly an actual slasher that follows the numbers without comment. Christopher George plays it pretty flat and the dubbing is genuinely poor. The silliness is there just enough to keep you involved, while it works to deliver as a genuine slasher, with some genuinely gruesome kills. All in all, it's an enjoyable time for a slasher fan, but it's probably not far out enough to convince more mainstream audiences.
Now, Grindhouse already released Pieces as a 2-disc DVD set in 2008, but one important inclusion here is that they've added the uncensored director's cut alongside the unrated American version that was on the DVD. Both versions have entirely different audio tracks, and the DVD did also include the Spanish audio as a secondary option. But the proper director's cut is actually about a minute and a half longer, and differs in more than just the audio. So I spent last night going through both versions to break down the differences.

First, of course the credits are different, in English vs in Spanish, where the American version has a red, bloody knife next to their title card of Pieces, while the Spanish has plain white on black text of the original Spanish title, Mil gritos tiene la noche. Also, the American version plays the full opening flashback and then cuts to the credits. The director's version intercuts back and forth between the two. Then there are differences at these rough time codes:
8:33 We see more of the killer putting together the infamous puzzle. This is a recurring difference between the two cuts. Both versions cut to the killer putting together the puzzle, but the Spanish version goes on longer, showing the killer adding more pieces before cutting away.

13:45 There's a little bit of extra dialogue from the dean as he's being interviewed by the police with the professor.

16:10 More extended puzzle solving.

40:10 There's a little extra dialogue between the reporter and the dean.

51:43 Extra shots of the kung-fu professor after he's been knocked to the ground and our lead student is explaining who he is.

59:50 Still more extended puzzle solving.

1:14:52 There's a longer shot of the cop on the phone, with an extended line of dialogue.

And of course, there are alternate closing credits in Spanish.

And the audio is substantially different, and not just the music. One thing you'll notice if you watch both versions is that the translations often go in completely unique directions. For example, at 27:04, the cop says "I have the strange feeling that somebody is watching me" in the Spanish audio and "I wonder what the hell he's doing with all those pieces that are missing" in the English! That's not just a subtle variation in the translation! Somebody took some real liberties here.
Grindhouse's 2008 DVD on top; their 2016 blu-ray below.
Grindhouse has created a brand new 4k scan of the original camera negative to trump their own, previous hi-definition restoration from 2008, and it's a very obvious improvement. Colors and brightness are a lot more natural, compared to the blown out older discs. Though both releases preserve the film's 1.66:1 ratio with almost identical framing, this is far more than just the improvement you see from putting the same transfer on a blu-ray over a DVD. Lines are much cleaner, too - check out the New England Patriots pennant on the upper left of the second set of frames, and how much clearer it is to read.

So like I already mentioned, both releases have the Spanish and English audio, with new DTS-HD tracks for the blu, plus removable English subtitles. Both versions also offer you "Vine Theater Experience" audio track in 5.1, where you hear the English audio with a packed theatrical audience recorded live at a screening of the film. I watched it that way, too; and apart from some laughter and applause at the more outrageous scenes, they're generally pretty quiet and you're mostly just listening to the English track with some echo.
Most of the extras are the same across the two versions, with a couple key additions to the blu. So I'll start with what's the same. The primary extras on the DVD were two, quite in-depth (almost an hour long each) interviews with director Juan Piquer and co-star Paul Smith. That was mainly it, although there were a bunch of easter eggs and bonus trailers hidden away. Those included two brief interviews with producer Stephen Minasian, bonus clips from the Smith interview, footage of Eli Roth at a Pieces screening, and some more footage of Piquer at a screening, including a bit where he shows nude photos of some of the actresses from the film.

All of that stuff, easter eggs and all, has been ported over. Some of them are in the bios & filmographies section, one of the producer interviews has been moved to the regular interviews section, and some are still hidden easter eggs on disc 1. But they're all there. This time around, they've also recorded a brand new commentary by Jack Taylor, who played Professor Brown. He's only in a small percentage of the film, so he does one of those "let me talk you through my entire career" commentaries, but he does at least occasionally acknowledge what's happening on-screen, and keeps coming back to Pieces every so often. So, all in all, a middle of the road commentary: not one to go out of your way to acquire, but worth listening to if you've got the disc.

And Grindhouse has also added the feature length documentary 42nd Street: The Rise and Fall of America's Most Notorious Block, by Calum Waddell (who also moderated the commentary track). It's not about Pieces, except in the indirect way that Pieces is one of the many B-films that would've played on 42nd St in its day. It was already released as an extra once before, on 88 Films' blu-ray of Anthropophagous, so you can read more about it on my coverage of that. And as that was a UK release, this will be its debut for many region A viewers.
And the packaging. The original DVD's wasn't too bad either; it came with an insert of liner notes by the beloved Gore Score author Chas Balun, which opened up into the film's original poster. But I'd say the blu-ray tops it. They do lose the fold-out poster, but keep Balun's notes in their new 8-page booklet with an additional essay by Rick Sullivan. And this release comes in a cool, embossed slipcase. But more impressively, it comes with a complete CD of the film's original soundtrack remastered from the original studio tapes, including the composer's voice coming in sporadically to label the tracks. It doesn't, however, feature the funky electro songs the girls dance to in the English dub, but I guess you can't have everything.

Also, the first 3000 copies of the set came with a puzzle, as depicted in the film. It is a genuinely cut puzzle you can disassemble at solve at home, though it's split into a lot fewer pieces than you see in the movie, so it's super easy. Still, it's one of the most clever packaging gimmicks I've seen with a special edition blu, and it's rather durable and well made.
So Pieces may not be the best film in Grindhouse's line-up, but it's a fun watch. And Grindhouse has definitely given it top notch treatment, probably even better than the film deserves. I know they've said they're done once they finish releasing their library onto blu, but given the terrifically high standards they've been consistently reaching, I hope they reconsider and stick around.

Code Unknown and The Mystery Of the Missing Frames (DVD/ Blu-ray Comparison)

So, I've been a little nervous about upgrading my Code Unknown DVD with Criterion's new blu because of the online murmurings of missing frames. I thought maybe I should wait until Criterion publicly addresses this. But now it's been a while and it's looking like maybe they won't. So I got my hands on a copy so I could see what's actually going on here.

Update 5/10/16: I've added the US Kino DVD to the mix. I knew it was inferior to the other releases, but it's hard to believe by how much, especially considering it after the Artificial Eye DVD. Also, be sure to scroll down to the very bottom for a word from Criterion about the missing frames and replacement discs.
Code Unknown is the first of Michael Haneke's French films, and it's one of those Short Cuts kind of films, where it contains multiple plot lines about very different characters who seem to only be briefly, coincidentally linked. But where those types of films usually feel like they're going for cleverness or cuteness, this is Haneke, so you know that's not going for that. It's not as dark as a lot of his work, but - thanks also to a loaded performance by Juliette Binoche - it feels a lot more substantive. That plus, as I just learned on this Criterion release, the fact that many parts are based on real stories about real immigrant families, gives this film a dramatic heft even a few of Haneke's films don't quite have. I won't get into spoiling story points and character specifics, but this is a Haneke film even people who don't normally like Haneke films will take to.
So, shut up already and get to the missing frames, right? Well, I'll be honest, I have been staring at this film for hours and hours, clicking frame by frame, back and forth, and I still don't know. So first of all, I can say flat out that most casual viewers have nothing to worry about; you won't notice anything wrong. So if you're interested in this blu, go ahead and enjoy.

People in that thread specify four time codes where they've seen frames missing: 8:38, 9:09, 10:07 and 20:51. Well, at 9:09 a character is quickly pushing another down a busy street with the camera panning alongside them, so it's practically impossible to tell. But some of the others... particularly 8:38, I do think I see a little speed up. Another poster mentions that particular point, too, where the boy throws a paper down to a beggar, it could be a little frame jump there. But I've got the Artificial Eye DVD from the UK, and you don't notice it there (though maybe the PAL speed-up helps cover it up), so I took screenshots of each frame in that sequence, and they actually line up perfectly:
2015 Criterion blu on top; 2001 Artificial Eye DVD bottom.
And I went frame-by-frame as far as a minute earlier and a minute later than that section I screenshotted, too; and I couldn't find anything. So I really don't know if anything's missing. Like I said, I do sort of see that speed up they mention in motion, but I don't know. Maybe it's integral to the film as shot, and that's why it matches up with the previous release. Or maybe there's nothing there at all. I've spent so much time staring at such a minute thing, I'm seeing missing frames when I look out the window. I can't really blame Criterion for not coming up with an explanation for this one, but on the other hand, I'd be really interested to hear anything they have to say about it.
One thing you should've spotted in those frames above is how much better Criterion's blu looks. The reason I imported the Artificial Eye DVD from the UK back in 2001 is because the USA's DVD from Kino was ugly and lighter on extras, as you'll see. But Criterion's new blu-ray has come out, and putting the possibly missing frames aside for a moment, it shows how much room for improvement there still was.
2002 US Kino DVD 1st; 2001 UK Artificial Eye DVD 2nd; 2015 US Criterion blu-ray 3rd.
Man oh man, is that Kino DVD the worst of the litter. Non-anamorphic, fuzzy, over-saturated bleeding colors, the subtitles are burnt in and it's interlaced. Thankfully Artificial Eye's DVD doesn't have any of those issues, and of course neither does the blu. Another one of the benefits of the Artificial Eye DVD was that, while it kept the same 1.85:1 aspect ratio of the US DVD, it still managed to find more picture information along the sides. Well, Criterion has repeated that trick, bringing in even MORE of the image into the same frame. Comparatively, the AE colors look overly heightened and unnatural compared to the blu, and just generally overly contrasty, especially in the shadows. Being SD, the DVD is also softer than the cleaner blu-ray image. All in all, a strong improvement.

AE's Dolby stereo audio track is pretty good, but Criterion's DTS-HD 5.1 mix beats it. They also have clearer yellow subtitles, which is nice.
Going back to Kino vs. AE, extras were an even stronger reason to import than the transfer. The US disc was barebones, with only the trailer, an insert with chapter stops and three bonus trailers (including Haneke's Piano Teacher) to show for itself, while AE's had three nice features: an introduction by Michael Haneke, an almost half-hour long 'making of' doc and an interview with Haneke focusing on one scene in particular called Filming the Boulevard. Plus the trailer. Curiously, dvdcompare also mentions an audio commentary by Haneke, but that... just isn't true.

Criterion carries all of these extras over. They're given different names, but don't be confused, they're the same features. But they also add two new things: a new, more forthcoming interview with Haneke, and a pretty informative interview with film scholar Roy Grundmann, who made me realize Haneke has a ton of television movies I still need to see. They're not massive additions, but they're substantive and very welcome.
So yeah, it's a pretty impressive definitive upgrade from Criterion - especially if you were living with the Kino DVD, saints preserve us. This frame dropping issue is a shame, either because it slightly (very slightly!) tarnishes a great release, or it's not even there, and it's just tarnishing its reputation unfairly. Either way, don't let it put you off, because it's a great film and after a close examination, I can't even be sure what's going on, so it can't be too damaging. I'd recommend not even checking the timecodes for it and looking, because once you think you think you see it, you won't be able to stop noticing it. And then you'll be haunted... like me...


Update 3/2/16: The Criterion forum post I linked to earlier has an update from Jon Mulvaney of Criterion, confirming that they recognize the issue and will be offering replacement discs soon.

Nightmare City from Arrow and Everybody Else (DVD/ Blu-ray Comparison)

Ugh. When I look at all the recent and upcoming zombie movies like Maggie, Rec 4, The Battery, Pride and Prejudice With Zombies, Scouts Guide To the Zombie Apocalypse, World War Z, World War Z 2, Pandemic, Resident Evil Part... 8?, Rise Of the Zombies, Navy Seals Vs Zombies, Cockneys Vs Zombies, Pro Wrestlers Vs Zombies (yes, these are all real movies), Zombies Vs Strippers, Warm Bodies, Zombie Hunter, Night Of the Living Dead: Resurrection, Night Of the Living Deb, Night of the Living Dead: Darkest Dawn, and so forth and so on, I just want it to end. All these hacks with their cute, little pun titles need to have stopped like ten years ago. But, on the other hand, I've found I still have time for the classics. Having just picked up Arrow's recent restoration, I'm happy to say I can still have as much fun as ever with Umberto Lenzi's Nightmare City.
If you don't know, 1980's Nightmare City is known as the original "fast zombies" movie, where they run, plan and use weapons. I had a film professor tell my class that 28 Days Later was the first, but he was off by about 22 years. And yes, I know, the director insists that these monsters aren't zombies, just people who can only be killed with a shot to the brain and that are infected with a virus that turns them into an army of literally blood thirsty killers whose bite turns their victims into more of them... but that's practically is the definition of the modern zombie. It's certainly what you have in 28 Days. I mean, I see it, but it's a very thin distinction; and come on, in America, this film was released under the title City Of the Walking Dead. You can't blame us for seeing them as zombies now.

But anyway, besides the fact that these zombies run, what's this movie all about? Well, it's a Spanish Italian co-production (hence it's star, Hugo Stiglitz) where zombies basically enter a city and lay waste to it for the entire film. Our hero's a reporter who really can't do anything but try to stay one step ahead of the tidal wave of death that's wiping everybody out. Even faster than the zombies is the pace of this film, which just rushes from one wild set piece to another. This is a big film with tons of extras and plenty of locations, all chock full of zombie mayhem. Occasionally, the film eases off the throttle to give us a more suspenseful moment, but then it's right back to the chaos.
It's not exactly a deep film, and of course the dubbing can only further spoil performances that probably weren't very good in the first place. But, who cares? It's a blast. You've got a great soundtrack by 1/4 of Goblin, a unique look for the zombies, and one thrilling set piece after another. This film successfully creeped me out as a kid, too; because it's just so nihilistic. Characters are introduced, just to narrowly escape the fate of dozens of others getting killed all around them, just to run into another situation they can't escape. There's no getting away from it, and the situation's only spreading and getting worse. But if you're worried this film is going to get too grim for you, just look at this shot of zombies rampaging through a TV studio chasing spandex-clad disco dancers:
Now, this isn't my first time at the Nightmare City rodeo. I used to own the old VHS tape, which I happily upgraded to the awesome, widescreen special edition DVD from Italian Shock. But when televisions made the switch from full to wide, I realized it wasn't anamorphic, so I begrudgingly double-dipped on the 2008 Blue Underground DVD, which was just a reissue of the Anchor Bay DVD I originally passed on. But then when I read about Arrow's new high def restoration with a bunch of fresh, new extras, I was happier to triple-dip. But Arrow's is an interesting case: they actually wound up giving us two different transfers to choose from. And it's a blu-ray/DVD combo pack, so that's four. Plus, I've got the two older DVDs... Hoo-boy, if you're not already sitting down, you really should now, because we've got a lot of screenshots to compare.
Wash those windows, man!
Before we begin, though, you might be asking why is Arrow giving us two transfers in the first place? Well, it's like this. They first made a brand new 2k scan of the original camera negative, which looks mostly awesome. But unfortunately, the negative has been chemically damaged while in storage, so you get stains and discoloration like that yellow junk in the shot above. It's most noticeable in the first and last minutes of the film, but recurs intermittently throughout. Because of this, they went to Raro, who already released this film on blu in 2013 and licensed their transfer. That one's an alternate HD transfer taken from the 35mm reversal dupe negative, which doesn't have the damage... but also doesn't have the same level of detail or quality image, and also has had some DNR and other effects done to the image (by Raro, not Arrow). So do you want to watch the higher quality but damaged version, or the lesser but cleaner version? Arrow lets us choose. Personally, though, I'd go with the new 2k scan of the damaged negative and pass over the older HD transfer as nothing more than an academic exercise. But here, let's have a look.
1) Italian Shock's 2000 DVD 2) Blue Underground's 2008 DVD 3) Raro's 2013 DVD
4) Arrow's 2015 dupe DVD 5) Arrow's 2015 OCN DVD 6) Arrow's 2015 dupe blu 7) Arrow's 2015 OCN blu
So the first set of shots gives us a look at some of that chemical damage, or lack of, depending on which disc we're inspecting. It's honestly not too intrusive, though it's definitely strong enough to catch your attention. Besides the obvious yellow stains, it also cause the image to flicker, which you can only see in motion, and the color sometimes drops out of areas of the picture, turning almost black and white for a few frames. Personally, I didn't find it annoying, and I am the type to notice these things.  😉

Every release preserves the film's 2.35:1 aspect ratio, which is nice. Well, the Italian Shock and Blue Underground are a smidgen off, at about 2.33, but it's close. Blue Underground finds a little touch of extra information on all four sides, and then Arrow finds even a little more. Of course, being non-anamorphic makes Italian Shock pretty unacceptable right out of the gate anyway. It's also got a lot of edge enhancement and other nonsense; you'd never mistake it for a new release. Blue Underground, meanwhile, is a bit excessively true to their name with a bluer-looking image.

Between the two blus, the Arrow's Raro transfer looks very smoothed over. Grain and detail are much clearer on Arrow's blu. I'd almost even take Arrow's DVD of the OCN transfer over the blu of Arrow's Raro's dupe. Almost, not quite. The compression issue still puts the blu-ray over the top. So, just suck up the damage. The negative is now intrinsically damaged, so it's not like we can hope for Scream Factory or anybody else to come along and fix it. Well, maybe Synapse could come along and give it a frame by frame digital cleaning, but realistically; I don't think we'll see this movie look any better than this.

Another nice improvement we get with the Arrow blu (and, to be fair, the Raro blu) is the inclusion of the Italian language audio track with English subs. The previous DVDs only featured the English dub. Both blu-rays offer both in LPCM mono.
So now let's look at the extras! I'll start with the Arrow set, because that's the edition you really ought to be getting. First, it's got an audio commentary by former Fangoria editor-in-chief Chris Alexander. It's fairly entertaining, but not as interesting as his commentary for Contamination. There's a brief interview with Eli Roth, too, which is engaging enough but not terribly enlightening. Actually, the interview I was most excited for was Maria Rosaria Omaggio, because we've never heard from her on any past releases. Then there's an interview with the man himself, Umberto Lenzi, which is quite good - he seems pretty on board for Tom Savini's upcoming remake - but of course we have heard from him before. Then there are a few smaller bits, like a brief featurette explaining the two transfers, an alternate opening credits sequence with a different on-screen title, and the trailer. The set comes with reversable artwork and a 12-page booklet. All in all, a pretty strong package.

Speaking of strong packages, I'm hanging onto my Italian Shock disc. That has a long, 50 minute interview with Lenzi and even an audio commentary by him! Admittedly, it's not the best commentary, with literally the most extended periods of dead air I've ever heard on an audio commentary in my life (and I've heard a lot!). But when he's going, he's pretty interesting, and between that and the interview, you get more from him than on any other release. It also has the complete soundtrack album (on the DVD), plus a photo gallery and the trailer.

Blue Underground's disc (and the Anchor Bay one before it) just has their own interview with Lenzi, which is good, but doesn't contain anything not said on the other discs. Well, that and the trailer. And the Raro blu-ray has the longer Lenzi interview from the Shock disc, but lacks the commentary. It also has two trailers, plus a booklet.
Basically, the Arrow set is all most people interested in Nightmare City will need, in terms of transfers, audio options and special features. And it's a clear step up from everything that's come before it. But if you're a hardcore Lenzi fan, you might want to track down the old Italian Shock disc for the other extras. Once you've got those, you can totally forget the other releases, unless you're just collecting for collecting's sake. Arrow has handily claimed the "Definitive" title on this one.

Aliens, Dragons, Monsters & Me: The Ray Harryhausen Laserdisc and Special Edition DVD That Almost Was

Aliens, Dragons, Monsters & Me is a charming 1990 documentary on stop motion legend Ray Harryhausen, originally created for Disney and centered largely around an interview with him at a retrospective of his work at the Museum of the Moving Image. It was released on VHS and laserdisc in 1992, but unfortunately never on DVD or blu. It came frustratingly close, however.
It's a short documentary, clocking in at only 48 minutes. But those 48 are chock full of great stuff. Like I said, the one on one talk with Harryhausen is the centerpiece, and we get to see some of the cool exhibits set up for his retrospective, including vintage stills and many original models. But they also have interviews with Ray Bradbury, Mrs. Willis O'Brien (widow of the Mr. Willis O'Brien, the original stop motion pioneer who did King Kong and later worked with Harryhausen on Mighty Joe Young), film producer Charles H. Schneer and Kerwin Mathews (star of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and The 3 Worlds of Gulliver). And of course it's loaded with all the coolest scenes from his most famous films, as well as some of his earliest and unreleased work.

This doc's probably been a little overshadowed lately by 2012's Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan, a feature length documentary that brings in all the Hollywood big shots from James Cameron to Steven Speilberg. That one has been released on DVD and blu by Arrow, with some impressive additional extras to boot. And I do recommend that release for any Harryhausen fan. But it feels a little too impressed by the contemporary mainstream directors he influenced. Every subsequent film clip is as likely to be from Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland, Monsters Inc. or District 9 than one of Harry's. Still, it's pretty great and does give talk extensively to Harryhausen. But Aliens, Dragons, Monsters & Me has more of a homey quality, like you've just popped in for a one-on-one chat with the man.
The film's short enough that the whole thing fits on a single side of the laserdisc, which at least cuts out the annoyance of having to flip it over. There's a funny turtle logo telling you to play the other side if you're curious enough to give side B a try anyway. But anyway, as short as the doc is, Lumivision's laserdisc still longer than the VHS release. That's because it has some additional content after the closing credits: excerpts from Guadalcanal and "another look at the models." Guadalcanal is a short color film, the narrator tells us, that Harryhausen made "during his off hours while serving in the signal corp during World War II." As such, it's much more of an early amateur film than the professional studio films we saw through the rest of the documentary, but it's still an impressive and very fun, completely animated short with no people, just vehicles and objects springing to life on their own. Then the extra look at the models is a nice chance to really get in close and see everything from the retrospective, with a little narration explaining things like how the fur was removed from the Mighty Joe Young model for use on another film.
The film is presented in fullscreen 1.33:1, which I assume is how it was originally shot and intended to be seen. The interviews are shot on video, and of course the film clips vary, but overall it's presumably just slightly superior to the VHS. The bonus photographs of the models at end look sharper and clearer, though, and would probably look decidedly superior to the tape if they'd been included there. Unfortunately though, the film is intermittently interlaced, as you can see in the shot of the kids entering the museum above and the earlier Bradbury shot.
It'd be nice if there was a restored DVD release, huh? Well, there was a kickstarter back in 2012, which would've made that happen had they received funding. They'd already checked and they had all the film and tape elements in great condition, and were essentially going to rebuild the film with all fresh scans. They also had a bunch of unreleased material they were going to add, including an interview with Forrest J. Ackerman they were going to reincorporate back into the film, and "a special feature of a 20-25 minute conversation that Ray Harryhausen and Ray Bradbury had in Bradbury's home office back in 1981." And you only had to pledge $20 to get the DVD. But the campaign didn't even come close to reaching its modest funding goal.

Maybe they'll try again. There was a 2014 update posted by the filmmaker saying, "I hope 2014 is off to a good start for everyone, and that this is the year a special edition reissue of 'Aliens, Dragons, Monsters & Me' will become a reality. 2013 brought the sad news of Ray's and then Diana's passing, and since we had always planned to only attempt to re-release the documentary with the support of the family and foundation, the project was put on hold. Now, more than ever, preserving the interviews with Ray, Ray Bradbury, Forrie Ackerman, Kerwin Mathews, Charles Schneer, and Mrs. Willis O'Brien seems like a worthwhile effort to try to find funding." Still, that was over two years ago, and their website doesn't seem to have been updated since the initial campaign.
So we can keep a flicker of hope alive for that special edition, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Actually, it's too bad they couldn't have collaborated with the guys putting together the Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan blu and gotten their restoration on there. But that ship has sailed, so if you're interested in this film, I can only recommend the laserdisc. It's not a tour-de-force in high-end picture and sound, but it's a cheerful tour of his career, with each chapter dedicated to another of his films, with some nice little extras.