The New York Ripper Restored!

I not only own Lucio Fulci's most controversial film, The New York Ripper, I've double-dipped on it. I've triple-dipped on it. And I've read article after article and forum post after forum post about the variant releases, and I was still confused. And ever since I first came up with the notion of starting DVDExotica, I've known this was one of the films I was going to have to tackle and get straight... just as much for my own benefit as any of you guys reading this.

Update 12/5/15 - 6/26/19:  Blue Underground has re-released this as a 3-disc Limited Edition, remastered in 4k with a bunch of new extras!  How does it look?  Does it have the freeze frame and street scene?  The world needs answers!
Why is it so controversial? Well, one it's pretty graphically extreme. And when it was in vogue to attack horror movies for being sexist and violent garbage, blaming it for the ills of our society, etc... You could defend most other horror movies. Like, oh come on, Romero, Argento and those guys were operating on a much higher level than their critics were giving them discredit for. But New York Ripper pretty well fit the attackers' bill. Like now with people going after video games, New York Ripper was sort of the Grand Theft Auto of its day. Random beautiful young women are stalked, captured and tortuously killed using sexually punishing methods. Sure, there's a reason for it when the mysterious killer's identity and motivations are finally revealed, but that doesn't change that this is one sleazy film. The fact that it was set in New York and yet dubbed just added to the trashy, amateurish vibe, and since this movie lacked the stylish flourish of Fulci's more fantastic films, it was an easy film to point to and say "no artistic value."
And fair enough, there's no getting away from that. But still, it's Lucio. Especially now that we can see it restored in widescreen, it's clearly a well crafted film... even moreso than many of his others. The mystery actually works, leaving you genuinely going back and forth on who you believe the killer to be, the production values are high, some of the murder scenes are powerfully unnerving (certain shots are surely still vivid in viewers minds who only saw this once, decades ago), and the effects are really good. It's also unique - yes, this is the movie where the killer talks like Donald Duck; and what is up with the subplot with the wife and her little tape recorder? - in a time where slasher films were really struggling with a lack of originality. And dare I say it, it's even fairly smart and logical, which is quite a rare thing in the world of Spaghetti horror.

But because of its dubious reputation, it's often been censored in its many releases around the world. And considering the cut bits are also the parts this film is best known for, it's become just as important for fans to secure an uncut version. Watching The New York Ripper without the most shocking close-ups in it would be like watching Chicago without the musical numbers in it - at that point you should just pick another movie.
So when Anchor Bay first released it on DVD in 1999 (and later re-issued by Blue Underground in 2008), it had to be just uncut version. And thankfully, it seemed to be. Certainly, that's what they claimed and everyone believed. But then it came out that a scene wasn't actually missing, but there was still a problem with the edit. One scene was totally out of place, put in the wrong order. And a new, fixed version was being released on a pretty sweet "Special Restored Edition" from Another World Entertainment, a Scandinavian label, in 2007. Hurray! You had to import, but here was an even better version.

But did Blue Underground's re-issue still have the wrong order? In 2009, they released it on blu-ray (and a corresponding third US DVD edition, different from their 2008 disc), and again in 2019... did they fix the shot or what? Go ahead, do some online research and try to get a clear answer. I certainly tried, multiple times. It doesn't help that these discussions just get more muddled as other editions are still being released with other cuts and missing scenes. And since some of these cuts seem to be pretty subtle (more along the line of "guy walks down the street" than "somebody gets their eye stabbed out"), most people don't even catch the differences. You pretty much have to simultaneously watch two versions side-by-side all the way through to figure it out. Well, I've got the Scandinavian DVD, I've got Blue Underground's blu-rays, and I've done just that.
shot missing from Blue Underground's 2009 blu.
Here's the scene that was out of order on the old Anchor Bay and Blue Underground DVDs. It's not really an entire scene onto itself so much as the second half of a scene that's been in all versions of the film, in the right place. As you see on the Scandinavian disc, the cop is talking to the doctor on the street, he gets into his car and drives off, and then the camera pans back to the doctor, who turns. Then the shot freezes into a still frame and fades to black. That last bit may seem odd, but that's because Italian films in those days were often shown in their home country in two parts, so they had act breaks. The pacing of Lamberto Bava's Demons, for example, actually makes more sense when you watch Arrow's blu-ray with the chapter cards still in them. So it freezes and fades to black because that would've been intermission time. When the films were released in the US, those breaks were trimmed out and the two halves glued together as one long, standard movie.

The only weird thing, is the Anchor Bay version apparently cut the end of that scene, so the shot ends with the cop's car driving away, but then stuck the shot of the doctor on the street much later in the film, towards the climax, where it makes no sense. So the six million dollar question now, is: how does that scene play on Blue Underground's blu-rays? Did they fix it?

Pretty much, yes. The shot is no longer stuck in at the end of the film where it doesn't belong. And on the first BU blu, it's not there at all. BU's shot of them two on the street still ends with the cop's car driving away. So Another World's DVD is a little more complete, because it does have that brief moment in, but at least BU no longer has that weird, out of sequence error. Plus, you could argue that since the fade out is part of the act break, that the film version maybe shouldn't have that moment anyway. I've seen it argued online that the camera returning to the doctor is there to make him appear suspicious, but watching the film, I don't think it does that. There was nothing there to indicate to me, oh wait, maybe the doctor's the killer! He just seems to be contemplating the severity of the issues he and the cop were discussing. And having the shot freeze frame is a little unnatural, since that doesn't happen anyplace else in the film. It's just leading up to an act break title card that never appears.

And now on the new BU blu, that last quick shot is back, too, panning back to the doctor and just cutting right at the moment it freezes. So the first BU blu-ray basically fixes the problem, but then the second blu goes that extra mini-mile and squeezes in that last shot, too.
shot missing from Another World DVD.
Did that get confusing? Well wait, there's actually more to this! I haven't seen any sites even hint at this, but Blue Underground's blus (both of 'em) actually have a whole scene that's missing from the AW release! I wasn't expecting to stumble across that. And it's not just the tail end of a pre-exisiting shot this time; it's a whole scene with dialogue. Very late in the film, at approximately the 84 minute mark, the cop and the doctor are talking on the street (again!), and the doctor is explaining a new theory on who the killer might be. While I wouldn't call it a "crucial" scene, I think it's more important than the chapter break footage from the AW disc.  So there's really no way to vote in favor of Another World's cut now.
1) Another World's 2007 DVD; 2) Blue Underground's 2009 BD;
3) Blue Underground's 2019 BD; 4) Blue Underground's 2019 BD.
The first thing you're apt to notice is that the color timing is quite different with each release.  BU topped AW with whiter whites and an overall stronger, more contrasted look.  But then BU topped themselves with an even lusher, but still convincingly natural look for the most part.  The framing is also varied, with the film being presented in slightly different aspect ratios: AW at 2.30:1, and first BU at 2.35:1. This gives BU more picture on the right and a sliver along the top. However, a couple moments have some interesting exceptions: BU shares AW's 2.30:1 aspect ratio during the opening and closing credits, as well as one other time... Their exclusive scene with the two cops on the street. All the 2:30 stuff is slightly pillar-boxed, and the picture quality also looks a little softer in those scenes. They've obviously cut it in from another source. Of course, I'm glad they did, mind you, but it's less than ideal.

But now we've got ideal!  BU's new 4k scan is 2.39:1, finding even more information on the right and left hand sides.  And it no longer reverts to 2.30 at any point.  All those scenes I just mentioned are just as high quality in 2.39:1 as the rest of the film.  And yeah, the quality is beautiful.  Now, unlike say, City Of the Living Dead, BU's previous blu didn't have scanner noise or similar issues capturing detail.  It already looked pretty great.  This disc looks even better, with more naturalistic encoding and a higher res capture, but this time the improvement's really in the colors and other aspects I've gone over than the film grain.

For the audio, AW gives us the English mono with optional Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish subs.  BU 2009 bumped that up to lossless English for both the original mono and a new 7.1 track, with optional English and French and Spanish subtitles.  And here's an exciting new twist with BU's new 2019 disc.  They still include the lossless mono and 7.1 English tracks, but also offer us the original Italian mono, plus additional French and Spanish dubs, as well as French, Spanish and two sets of English subs (one specifically for the Italian track).  So they're finally giving us the Italian language option.
Extras-wise, Blue Underground comes up surprisingly short. It's still a step-up from their previous, completely barebones editions, though. It features one interview, with Zora Kerova, who played one of the ripper's victims, and runs just under ten minutes. She's the only person represented on here. Besides that, there's a very brief (under 5 minutes) look at some of the NYC locations from the film as they look today, and the theatrical trailer. That's it.

Here's where Another World steps back into the ring. They've got a very substantial, nearly hour long feature on the film's composer, Francesco De Masi. This covers his whole career and goes quite in-depth. Then there's an almost 20 minute interview with Ripper actor Renato Rossini. And there's a really cool, pre-Paura retrospective on Lucio Fulci, which runs about 45 minutes, interviewing tons of his collaborators and fellow filmmakers, from Fabio Frizzi to Sergio Salvati. All great stuff, and all have English-language options. And AW's also got the trailer, a couple bonus trailers, some galleries and a nice insert with notes, though they're not in English.
Zora Kerova in 2009 and 2019.
But Blue Underground came back for a rematch!  They've still got the few, brief extras from their 2009 release, though none of Another World's goodies.  Instead, they've cooked up a whole new batch of material, which really presents New York Ripper as the kind of special edition you would've expected to see back in the late 90s.  For critical analysis, there's an audio commentary by Troy Howarth and an interview with Stephen Thrower.  Then we get to the real goodies, on-camera interviews including a funny and charming new talk with Rossini, the greatly under-appreciated Dardano Sacchetti, actresses Cinzia de Ponti & Zora Kerova (yes, another, second interview with her, in addition to the one from the previous disc) and Enzo Sciotti who painted the poster*.  Also in the package is a soundtrack CD, a booklet with notes by Travis Crawford, reversible artwork and a cool, holographic slipcover.
*all the current cult labels using comic-book styles should hire this guy!

Still, if that doesn't sound like all THAT much for a 3-disc set, you're right.  This is BU again being a little misleading... technically this is a 3-disc set, but there's only 1 blu-ray worth of content.  The second disc is just the DVD copy of the blu, and the third is that soundtrack CD.  So "3-disc" is a bit of a stretch, even if technically true. 
So, Blue Underground has finally settled the matter of the definitive version for good, although you still might want to pick that disc up for the additional of extras, especially for that piece on the music. And if you still want even more extras, Shameless put out a blu in the UK featuring additional interviews with Sacchetti and Antonella Fulci, but their print is censored, so you probably won't want that to be the one you watch for the movie. There's also a French 2-DVD set, which is loaded with extras, but apparently none of them are translated to English.  But for most people, I think this new Blue Underground edition will more than satisfy on its own.

Hey, How About Howards End?

Alrighty, well I did Remains Of the Day, so I might as well do the other one!  Not that Howard's End and Remains are particularly similar once you get past the repeat personnel.  James Ivory, Ismael Merchant, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins all collaborated on this the year before.  But this one's based on a novel by E.M. Forster and has nothing to do with Nazis.  Actually, it might have more in common with Sense & Sensibility, as we've got Thompson playing a sterner, wiser older sister at ideological odds with a more romantic and naive younger sister, this time played by Helena Bonham Carter.  Anyway, I've been itching to cover this one since it came out as an import-only UHD last year.
This time our protagonists are not in service.  Vanessa Redgrave is a romantic, upper class lady who makes a fast friendship with the middle class Thompson.  When she passes on, she leaves her estate, the titular Howards End, to Thompson and her family.  But Redgrave's own family, headed by Hopkins, cannot accept this and secretly manage to keep the property for themselves.  Carter, meanwhile, takes pity on a decidedly lower class London couple and struggles to support them.  Things seem complicated enough, but get much more so when Thompson and Hopkins fall in love and marry, unaware of the lies that bind them.
This is Merchant/ Ivory at their best.  The plot may be a bit predictable (even from my very brief description above, you can probably guess who ultimately ends up with Howards End), but it takes some unexpected turns along and delivers some powerful drama along the way.  It won three Oscars and was nominated for six more, including best picture.  And while I'm not one to place a lot of stock in the Academy Awards (I mean, they named Crash best picture of 1994!), it's hard not to find what they saw in this picture.  Sure, the excellent period production values and lush costumes, but the performances and writing are peak cinema.
Howards End debuted on DVD way back in 1999 from Columbia Tri-Star.  It was a strong presentation (as their releases typically were), but quite barebones.  This was rectified in 2004, when Home Vision reissued this film as part of their Merchant Ivory Collection, with a nice collection of extras.  In 2009, Criterion brought it to blu, albeit with the same selection of special features.  I skipped that edition, but pounced in 2018, when Concorde released an all new, 4k restoration of Howards End as a proper 4K Ultra HD (and BD in the combo pack), with an all new crop of extras to boot.  That 4k restoration was released it in the US, too, by Cohen Media Group, but it was BD only, and apparently had issues with its aspect ratio and black levels to boot.  So importing Concorde was a no-brainer.
1) 1999 Columbia Tri-Star DVD; 2) 2004 Home Vision DVD;
3) 2018 Concorde BD; 4) 2018 Concorde UHD.
Even the oldest 90s DVD is anamorphic widescreen, non-interlaced and really quite respectable.  It does have a slight pillarbox matte along the left-hand side, framing it to a slightly off 2.31:1, though it actually shows a sliver more information on that side than any other release.  The Home Vision DVD is still 2.31:1, but now fills the full horizontal frame and pushes in just slightly tighter.  Then Concorde pushes in a little tighter to finally meet the proper 2.39:1 framing.  What you probably first notice, though, looking at these comparisons is the shift in colors.  The DVDs have a red push to them, particularly the Home Vision disc, which is decidedly too orange where even the skin tones get weird.   The Concorde transfer gives it a more natural, cooler tone.  And between the two Concordes, the UHD has a more attractive, bolder tone than the BD, which is essentially the same timing but paler.
1) 1999 Columbia Tri-Star DVD; 2) 2004 Home Vision DVD;
3) 2018 Concorde BD; 4) 2018 Concorde UHD.
And to see the benefits of the increased resolution, just look at the flower from the first set of shots come to photo realistic life from left to right.  Grain is naturally captured even on the Blu, but you see how much more naturalism there still is to be mined from the image.

One minor bummer is that only the first 1999 DVD includes the original stereo mix (plus a French dub and English and French subs).  From the Home Vision DVD on (and yes, the Criterion, too), the stereo track is replaced with a new 5.1, which is quite good, but not the original audio.  Home Vision also has English subtitles, and Concorde bumps the 5.1 up to DTS-HD on both discs, and also includes German 2.0 and 5.1 tracks and optional English subtitles.
"Wiedershehen in" means "Meet again in"
There is one language-related point I have to make about the Concorde release, though.  Their disc is completely English friendly (you can play the film with the English audio and no subs, and all of the special features are in English, too), even the credits are in English (it's "A Merchant/ Ivory Film" not, "un filme de") but the film itself has language-specific title cards.  So "four months later," is written on screen in German.  Usually most films take on that expense, and only subtitle the film's cards.  So it's classy that they went to the trouble to make foreign cards for foreign markets.  But it does make it a little weird for English-speaking audiences to suddenly be confronted with a bit of German.  There are only a handful of title cards, indicating the title and dates on-screen, so English audiences will be able to figure it out.  But I could see US viewers being annoyed by it, so I wanted to be sure to point it out.
Now, over the years, we've Howards End's gotten some sweet extras.  The 1999 DVD was barebones apart from the trailer, but The Merchant Ivory Collection DVD introduced some great stuff.  Primarily, they created two 45-50 minute documentaries.  One on the making of the film, which interviews pretty much all the cast and crew, and the second about the Merchant/ Ivory/ Jhabvala trio and their long history in film.  Then there's a nice interview with the production designer, and two brief, vintage promo featurettes, one about the film and one about Merchant/ Ivory.  The Criterion release kept all of that, and also added a new, on-camera interview with Merchant.

But instead of licensing all of that, Concorde chucked all those extras out and came up with their own stuff.  First up is an audio commentary with two film critics.  It's generally pretty good, well paced and informative, but one of the two critics has basically watched all of the previous extras and is repeating all of the trivia and anecdotes from them.  In a way, that's good, because if we're losing those extras, at least we still get all of that info.  But it's painfully redundant if you already have one of the older editions, and also, several of the anecdotes, particularly the humorous ones, don't really work as well being told second-hand as they did when the actual cast and crew were sharing their moments in the documentary.  But okay, I'll take it.  Then, there are three new interviews with James Ivory.  One is a straight-forward one with a critic, one is a Q&A with an audience filmed at a screening, and one is a brief conversation with Vanessa Redgrave.  All good content, but some stuff stuff does get repeated over and over.  They also add a second trailer (so, two total) and a couple of bonus trailers, plus reversible artwork so you can hide the big ratings logo.
So, overall, Criterion still has the best set of extras, but not by a particularly wide margin.  Meanwhile, the Concorde UHD, with the obvious advantage of being a higher level format in general, offers the best presentation of the film.  I'd say the ideal way to go is the Concorde (unless that small handful of title cards really bother you) and then just copping the DVD version of the Criterion extras, if you're a big enough fan.  Many people will probably find just the Concorde extras alone are good enough, but it is great to hear from the other cast and crew members.  Me, I've got the Concorde and just holding onto my Home Vision DVD was close enough (I only miss out on one Merchant interview, and he's already interviewed in most of those older docs and featurettes).  It's another build-your-own ideal special edition scenario, but you can wind up with a pretty awesome one.

A Pair of Twilight Times #2: The Remains Of the Day

You may've guessed what Twilight Time #2 would be, since I named this film in my Twilight Time #1 post.  Sony double-featured the two films on DVD in 2010, though they don't have much to do with each other apart from starring Emma Thompson and having come out only a couple years apart (The Remains Of the Day in 1993, then Sense and Sensibility in 1995).  But they were also two must have blus from Twilight Time, so here we are.
The Remains Of the Day is the second of two back-to-back films where Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson are at possible romantic odds with each other, directed by James Ivory, produced by Ismael Merchant, and written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.  The other, of course, being Howards End.  Certainly, there's a lot to distinguish the two, but since neither title particularly sets its film apart (one is abstractly vague and the other's just the name of the house), my short-hand for differentiating them is that this is the one with Christopher Reeves.  That's somebody you don't come across in a lot of English films.  So just commit that little "Remains Of the Day = Christopher Reeves" formula to memory, and you'll never confuse the two again.
But let's get serious about Remains Of the Day, because it deserves it.  Based on a novel by Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro, this film takes place in two timelines, before and after the second world war.  In the latter, head butler Hopkins has to come to grips with the fact that he devoted his life and everything he believed in to the lord of his house, who turned out to be an infamous Nazi sympathizer.  Mike Nichols was originally set to direct, and he stayed on to produce after he had to drop out, giving the film to the Merchant/ Ivory team as the material was obviously in their wheelhouse.  The whole cast is superb (yes, even Reeves), including pitch perfect supporting performances by Peter Vaughan, James Fox and Hugh Grant.
The Remains Of the Day has had a pretty simple life on home video.  It was released on DVD by Sony in 2001 as a pretty attractive special edition.  There was that double-feature disc with Sense in 2010, but otherwise that one DVD has been the whole story until 2013, when Sony released it on blu in the UK and other foreign regions.  Two years later, and Twilight Time brought it home to the US with their edition in 2015.
2001 Sony DVD top; 2015 Twilight Time BD bottom.
Okay, I left the negative space around the first set of shots so you can see how the old DVD is slightly window-boxed.  Back in 2001, I guess that all would've fallen into overscan area anyway, but it does change the aspect ratio from 2.33:1 on the DVD to an even wider 2.39:1 now on the blu.  Curiously, even with those vertical bars and narrower ratio, the DVD manages to have slightly more info along the sides.  That's because the DVD is slightly squished, which the BD corrects.  Colors remain almost the same, although there is a bit of a red overcast that the blu-ray clears up (look at the sky behind Hugh in the first shots).  And while the DVD was anamorphic, non-interlaced and generally quite good for such an older disc, the blu is still a big win with crisp detail and finely rendered grain.  The DVD also shows some serious artifacting along its edges, which the blu happily removes.  All in all, this is an even greater improvement than I was expecting to find in this comparison.

One minor disappointment is that the original DVD gave us the choice between the original stereo mix and a new 5.1, plus French, Portuguese and Spanish dubs with English, Chinese, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai subtitle options.  Twilight Time unsurprisingly drops the foreign language options, but they also dropped the original stereo track.  So we just get the 5.1 (though now in lossless DTS-HD) and English subs.
Sony's original DVD was pretty nice with the special features, too.  It features a lively audio commentary with Ivory, Merchant and Thompson, which strikes a nice balance between the seriously informative and anecdotal.  There are several deleted scenes, also with optional commentary, and three substantial featurettes that add up to roughly 75 minutes of 'making of' content, including interviews with all the stars, writers and major players, and some B-roll glimpses behind-the-scenes.  We're definitely talking more than your standard promotional quickie.  You also got the trailer and an insert with chapter stops.

Thankfully, Twilight Time retains all of that.  They don't add much more, but that's alright considering how much we already got.  They do add their signature isolated score track, of course.  Plus they throw in a second, international trailer and an 8-page booklet with notes by Julie Kirgo.  But basically, all the good stuff comes from the DVD.
So this is an easy recommendation.  A great presentation of a great film.  And even if you got one of those 2013 import blus, you might want to consider replacing it with Twilight Time's.  Not only did they not get the little Twilight Time exclusives: the isolated score and the trailers, they also seem to have dropped the audio commentary.  So even though Sony surely used the same transfer in every region, the US disc is a clear winner.

When Nicolas Roeg Met Dennis Potter: Track 29

1988's Track 29 is a late entry of Nicolas Roeg (R.I.P.)'s and Dennis Potter's that fans tend to let slip off the ends of both of their oeuvres.  For Potter, it comes right at the peak of his Blackeyes period, where his work was getting increasingly overwrought, and even long-term admirers were beginning to turn on him.  And for Roeg, well, from all the commemorations I've been reading of him over the past two days, he seems to be essentially remembered as simply the director of Don't Look Now and maybe two other films quietly preserved in the Criterion Collection.  Well, here's another very noteworthy creation they haven't gotten to yet; it hasn't even been released in HD anywhere in the world.  Yes, it's DVD only I'm afraid, but I think you'll find it's definitely worth getting your hands a little dirty and reaching back into the world of standard definition video for it.

Update 11/26/18 - 6/15/19: It looks like somebody had the same idea I had when we lost Roeg - it was time to revisit this film.  New this month from Indicator/ Power House is an impressive special edition blu-ray of Track 29, no longer DVD-only.
Track 29 is a remake of Potter's original 1974 BBC teleplay, Schmoedipus, with Gary Oldman in the lead role, originally played by Tim Curry.  So yes, it's another in a line of big screen cinematic Potter remakes like Pennies From Heaven or The Singing Detective.  But unlike those, which struggled to condense robust miniseries into a single feature's running time, this one actually expands what was just over an hour long to 90+ minutes.  So happily, this one isn't a "Reader's Digest" triviality, instead managing to retain pretty much everything that worked in the original.  The bulk of Track 29's dialogue, at least between the two main characters, is almost word-for-word as it was written in Scmoedipus.
But if Potter was already getting overwrought, he found an enabler in his partnership with Roeg.  To some degree, this is great.  We get to open up the action which previously took place 75% in a single London apartment to a wealth of North Carolinian locations, and you can just tell that creative photography of the underwater swimming pool shots or the bumper cars' electric stalks sparking in Theresa Russell's bedroom are very welcome additions brought to the table by having a visionary, A-list director.  But the absolute insanity of Christopher Lloyd's political rally of model train enthusiasts which expands what was the husband's completely realistic and grounded hobby in the original version just gets downright bizarre.
But it's not just Roeg's influence that takes this film into over-the-top territory.  As much as the bulk of the original has been faithfully transcribed here, Potter has also made some sensationalized changes.  Where the original tracked the husband character's frustrations with his daily life with him failing to connect to his coworkers or getting chewed out by his manager, Bob Hoskins (here replaced by by the equally terrific Seymour Cassel), he's now indulging in a humorously kinky affair with his nurse, played by none other than Sandra Bernhard.  The original had a simple, natural exchange where the husband points out a beautiful girl on the street and his coworker claims not to notice and then calmly chastises him.  Here, Sandra puts on red rubber gloves and a conductor's hat to spank him to a specially prepared cassette tape.  The same basic themes are presented, but it's a hugely different tone.  And I won't get into any spoilers, but the ending has completely changed.
But don't take this as one long gripe.  It's not all change for the worse.  I would say I slightly prefer the original, thanks in part to Curry's frightening performance, and the fact that the extra half hour does more to dilute the original's power than enhance it.  But this fresh take is often quite rewarding.  It's certainly a lot more artful and entertaining to look at.  And the new ending, while far less subtle, might actually work a bit better, at least in some ways.  You do get the impression that Potter has had the chance to ruminate on this material and make some new observations.  Plus, the new cast is terrific.  And at least taken on its own terms, as opposed to in direct comparison to the original, it's certainly a dark, fascinating little film that has the power to raise eyebrows just like Potter did in '74.
I used to own the original 2007 Anchor Bay DVD, but I sold it off when I replaced it for the 2012 Image DVD long before I thought of creating this site.  But I can tell you that it was barebones and fullscreen, looking more or less like a video tape transposed to disc.  Image's DVD, then, is an anamorphic widescreen disc.  But I'm happy to leave them both in the past now that Indicator has released the film on BD this summer.
2012 US Image DVD top; 2019 UK Indicator BD bottom.
The DVD is certainly soft and standard def... I'm surprised they came out with a widescreen update of a catalog title as late as 2012 and released it as DVD only.  Still, it was a welcome improvement over the Anchor Bay disc, looking naturally framed (at 1.78:1) and again, anamorphic.  The only major drawback, as you can plainly see in a couple of the shots above, is that it has interlacing issues.  Those are of course gone, now, on Indicator's new blu-ray.  It's a bit brighter, clearer, and matted a little tighter at 1.85:1.  Still, it's not the greatest HD restoration I've ever seen.  Grain is soft when it's there at all, and there's plenty of pixelation and digital noise when you look closely.  The booklet simply says, "HandMade's HD remaster was the source of this Indicator edition," suggesting this is an old HD master - the same one used for the Image DVD, by the looks of it.  It certainly trumps the DVD, and is perfectly adequate as a BD transfer; but if you're looking for a Roeg-worthy restoration or anything cutting edge, this'll be a bit of a let-down.

Image's audio is just your basic Dolby stereo mix, which is perfectly fine, and lacks subtitle accompaniment.  Indicator did just alright in terms of PQ, but they really come through in every other department.  The stereo mix is bumped up to LPCM and English-language subtitles have been added, plus they've gone the extra mile and included an isolated music and effects track.
And they do even better in the special features department, turning this into a proper special edition.  Image gave us nothing, not even the trailer.  Well, the trailer's here now, and so is so much more.  We get an excellent audio commentary by film historian Jim Hemphill, who has a ton if insight and behind-the-scenes info to share (though he sprinkles in a little misinformation about Potter's work).  Even if you typically skip commentaries that aren't by the filmmakers, I'd give this one a listen.  Speaking of commentaries by the filmmaker... we sort of kinda get one.  There's an audio interview with Roeg from 1994, followed by an audience Q&A, that they play over the film.  Unfortunately, he's mostly talking about his then-latest film Heart of Darkness and other general topics, rather than Track 29; so it's more of a general-interest track only for serious Roeg fans.  But hey, I'll take it!  And if you want more on Track 29, we get it in the form of some smart on-camera interviews with the editor, sound designer, costumer (this one's brief) and Colleen Camp.  There's also a photo gallery and a substantial, 36-page booklet, which includes notes by Danny Leigh, plus interviews with Potter and Russell and excerpts from critical reviews of the day.  Indicator's release also features a reversible cover with alternate artwork.
Schmoedipus, meanwhile, remains painfully unreleased, like so many of Potter's excellent teleplays.  I'm only able to include a screenshot of it because low quality rips, with that ugly time-code running over the whole thing, have been passed along on the internet for years; and I've made myself a DVD-R.  Potter's plays have been dribbling out slowly, mainly thanks to the BFI and Network these days, so one remains hopeful.  But there's so much great BBC drama in the vault, and the releases so sporadic, that it's hard to maintain optimism for any particular title, let alone Potter's entire body of work.

But then again, I wasn't terribly optimistic about getting Track 29 on blu, and yet here we are, with a sweet special edition.  So I guess, as Potter's shown us here, you never know who'll come knocking on your unsuspecting door next.