Dueling Blus: Shivers, Arrow vs Vestron

So Arrow released the HD debut of David Cronenberg's horror debut Shivers in 2014, but whoops! They restored the censored R-rated cut originally released to American theaters. This is where we learned that Cronenberg doesn't actually watch the DVDs he officially signs off on. But, gotta give them full credit here, Arrow came through and repressed new editions with the unrated footage restored in full, equal quality. Now, as of April 2016, if you bought the original cut set, Arrow set up a replacement program, and if you order it now from their site, you get proper shrink-wrapped copies of the 2nd pressing.
If you order this from some place like Amazon and aren't sure which disc you've got, you can see right here along the edge of the discs (this is a combo pack, and the DVD has been corrected, too) where it says "2ND PRESSING." So we finally have this movie in a special edition, uncut and on blu-ray. Happy day for me, because Shivers is still one of my all-time favorite Cronenberg films.

Update 5/14/16 - 9/22/20: Vestron lives!  and they've returned to bring Cronenberg's Shivers into the United States with their latest blu-ray edition.  But is it better or worse than what Arrow's already released?
This movie's like the perfect combination of low brow entertainment and high brow sci-fi/ horror, like he's found the perfect intellectual reasoning to excuse presenting us with exploitation fare by clinically exploring the basest elements of human nature. A futuristic high-rise has to have its own medical facility because it's on an isolated island. But unfortunately, one of their doctors has taken advantage of this situation to get away with some medical experimentation where he implants one of the building's tenants with a parasite that cures them of their sexual inhibitions. Unfortunately, it also turns them dangerously feral, and soon these parasites are spreading from person to person, turning everyone into a violent sex maniac.
It's like Night Of the Living Dead within ultramodern architecture, tackling all the taboo cult film issues Night somehow missed. You've got horror icon Barbara Steele, Lynn Lowry looking like a supermodel and Joe Silver, that great character actor who used to play in all of Cronenberg's old films. You've got some slimy effects work by Joe Blasco - the guy who used to have all those double page ads for his school in Fangoria - including chest bursters years before Alien duplicated them. And of course you've got the clever, subversive imagination of Cronenberg back when he was writing all his original scripts. Forty years later, this movie is one wild ride horror filmmakers today still can't match.
So, like I mentioned, Arrow's 2014/ 2016 Shivers special edition is a combo pack (a steelbook version is also available), so we'll be looking at both their blu-ray and DVD.  I've also got the older 2001 UK DVD from Metrodome, which used to be the best edition of Shivers going - in terms of transfer and special features.  The old 1998 US DVD from Image was fullframe; looking at it here, we can see how far we've come.  And of course, now we have the brand new US blu from Vestron.  All versions are the proper uncut version except the pre-recalled Arrow disc.
Image DVD first, Metrodome DVD second, Arrow DVD third, Arrow BD fourth; Vestron BD fifth.
We start with some big differences right at the outset. Image is fullscreen at about 1.30:1, and open matte, as it has all the same information on the sides, and considerably more on the top and bottom. And the aspect ratio's the same between Metrodome, Arrow and Vestron: 1.78:1, but the two blus manage to find a little more picture on all four sides.  That's nice; but that's probably not what struck your eye first, is it? The newer transfers sure are bright! The whites are really strong, effectively erasing some detail on the papers on Silver's desk in the first set of shots, and turning the whole sky off-white in the second set. Where did the blue sky go? It's there on the Image and Metrodome discs.

Well, Arrow's "ABOUT THE TRANSFER" section of their booklet isn't much help. It just says, "Shivers was restored by the Toronto International Film Festival. Restoration was completed at Technicolor with supervision by David Cronenberg, The restored film was delivered to Arrow Films by Lionsgate." Is it a 2k scan? What elements were used? Don't ask us, TIFF did it. Vestron's packaging is even less illuminating, informing us only that this is a "1080p High Definition" transfer.  Gee, thanks.  Well, I'm guessing the answer lies in the source materials. It looks like they used a print rather than OCN, IP or any other earlier film source. That certainly explains why it would be so contrast-y, just like The Killing Fields blu we looked at recently. And the cigarette burns on the film (see the shot of Allan Kolman at his desk, above) certainly suggest it's a print.
Image DVD first, Metrodome DVD second, Arrow DVD third, Arrow BD fourth; Vestron BD fifth.
All that said, the blus are still the best the film has ever looked. The UK DVD was anamorphic, widescreen and free of the typical interlacing issues we often come across here, but detail is still much clearer and more defined on the blu. Arrow's new DVD is already a clear step up, but it's still soft compared to the more refined blu with distinct grain. Image and Metrodome also look overly blu (surely the papers in the first set of shots are meant to be white not baby blue) and murky in comparison. But were the original film elements lost, or can we expect an even more satisfying restoration some day in the future?

Vestron didn't dig any up, that's for sure, clearly using the same TIFF restoration (and on-screen title cards confirm as much).  Because that's the big question now that there are competing blus on the market: which is better?  Well, the only real notable difference is that Vestron's is a softer encode.  Flipping between screenshots of Vestron and Arrow, grain seems to recede into obscurity.  It's subtle enough that most casual fans won't notice a difference, but if you want to be sure you're getting the best edition possible, Arrow is still champ.  Well, at least in terms of PQ.

Arrow and Vestron also bump up Image and Metrodome's Dolby 2.0 mono tracks to a lossless LPCM and DTS-HD tracks, respectively.  And they also add English HoH subtitles, where the DVDs had none.
But we've got to talk extras, because there's a big distinction there, too. The Image and Metrodome DVDs just have one key extra: an on-camera interview with David Cronenberg. He tells you all the key stories and basic info for the film, in a brisk but informative piece. But that's about all there is, besides a trailer; though technically Metrodome also has a photo gallery and bonus trailer for Cronenberg's second feature: Rabid.

Arrow comes with three major pieces. First up is an all new featurette directed by Calum Waddell, which cross-cuts interviews of Barbara Steele, Lynn Lowry, Allan Kolman, Joe Blasco, and film critic Kier-La Janisse, who ties it all together. This is a great piece that's both fun and gets a lot of details and stories about this film that haven't been covered elsewhere. Then there's an even better featurette, which is more of a comprehensive making of piece that was clearly made for television. It's got some cheesy animated credits, but once you get past that, there's great interviews with Cronenberg (including clips from some vintage TV pieces), producers Ivan Reitman, John Dunning, Alfred Pariser, and Andre Link, cinematographer Robert Saad, plus Joe Blasco, Lynne Lowry, Allan Kolman, plus critics Peter Morris, Bart Testa and Jason Anderson. One or two anecdotes repeat, and some basic history of the film, but they're mostly distinct and work well together.

Arrow also has a video essay, like Criterion does, by critic Caelum Vatnsdal, which is okay. It makes me wish Arrow had licensed the Cronenberg interview from the older DVDs, since I'd rather hear Cronenberg talk about a dream that inspired a scene in this film than this guy telling us second-hand that Cronenberg had a dream that made him feel ___. But it's still better to have it than not. And all the features together (the first two run about 45 minutes apiece) really do give this edition the feel of being a full special edition. Arrow also has the trailer, a stills gallery, reversible artwork (that's kind of a spoiler, if you think about it), a postcard for one of their other releases (I got The Long Good Friday) and a hefty 48-page booklet with notes by three critics and some words from Cronenberg himself, taken from the book Cronenberg On Cronenberg.

But Vestron has brought their A-game, too.  They don't share any extras in common with Arrow, but they did preserve that Cronenberg interview from the DVDs.  More excitingly, they managed to get him to record an audio commentary, which is pretty great.  He admits, though, that he hasn't seen this film in decades, which makes it clear how a cut version was able to get past TIFF and Arrow despite supposedly having been an approved transfer by him.  Anyway, that's the real gem here, but they also sat him down for a new on-camera interview (where he mostly just repeats anecdotes from the commentary... this is the most skippable of all the Shivers extras), and recorded their own interviews with Lowry and Blasco.  They also created a second commentary with producer Don Karmody, which is a nice treat, despite moderator Chris Alexander repeating all of his anecdotes verbatim on both commentaries.  There's also an archival audio-only interview with John Dunning (who's since passed) and a nice, on-camera follow-up piece with his son.  Finally Vestron packs on two trailers, a TV spot, three radio spots and a stills gallery.  Vestron doesn't seem to go in for the booklets, but they do house their release in a sporty slipcover.
Deciding on a winner is going to be come down to a lot of personal taste.  Strictly in terms of image quality, Arrow does win, but with both discs using the same master, it may not be a very important distinction.  The real battle is in the special features, which are very different across releases.  I think I might give the edge to Vestron here, but both have top notch features and both talk to key players that the other disc is missing.  Like, you've gotta have that Cronenberg commentary, but you really hate to lose Ivan Reitman.  Fortunately, Vestron has given their latest releases a very consumer-friendly, budget-conscious price point.  So dedicated fans who already have the Arrow release can happily pick up the Vestron disc "just for the extras" without the usual financial sting of double-dipping.  And more casual viewers can just pick up the Vestron, or hang onto their Arrows, confident that whichever release was easier to obtain is competitively excellent.  In brief, it's good news all around and everybody wins. 👍

Ordinary People's Shocking Debut on Blu

So I've mentioned a couple times now about how some long-awaited Paramount catalog titles have been popping up on blu for the first time in Australia.  I've been praising Via Vision for their work, but they're not the only Ozzie Prometheuses liberating classic films from the ViacomCBS company.  It's hard to dispute that Ordinary People is a great and important film.  It won Best Picture in 1980, along with three other Academy Awards and two additional noms, plus five Golden Globes, based on a best selling novel.   But somehow it's only been available as a barebones DVD the world over... until this summer, thanks to Australia's Shock Entertainment.
I wrote in my last post that the stars of Marriage Story, "never stop digging to reveal intimate truths Hollywood rarely gets near."  Well, Ordinary People is one of those rare exceptions.  Granted, it's hard not to notice that both films' idea of relatable people seems to be the unusually financially privileged, which may strain some viewers' empathy.  But if you can get past that, it's a powerful drama that builds slowly as characters' backstories and the stakes they're playing for are carefully revealed.  As a filmmaker, Robert Redford can always be depended on to deliver a respectable level of mature quality in his work, but I think Judith Guest's writing allows him to reach heights he's never been able to in the rest of his typically more conventional body of work.  But then Redford is able to come back around and compliment that writing by getting performances out of his brilliant cast few other filmmakers could deliver.
Like, obviously veterans like Donald Sutherland and M. Emmet Walsh were always going to be great, but I don't think anybody expected Mary Tyler Moore to jump into the award races so late in her career.  Of course Timothy Hutton was a newcomer who Redford essentially discovered here (though I looked it up, and he had done a couple TV movies already).  And after getting used to him in all those sitcoms and trash roles like Independence Day, this film's a fun reminder that Judd Hirsch actually can act when he's given the opportunity.

If I had one criticism, it's that the film short thrifts Moore's character a bit in the long run, almost concluding with the suggestion that everything would've been fine if she wasn't always such an uptight bitch.  I haven't read the novel, but I bet a little charitability was lost between the original (female) author and the men adapting it for the screen.  But Moore is able to squeeze in some depth between the lines, and of course she's ultimately a supporting character in Hutton's journey, so it's not a crippling flaw.  After all, it's impossible to ignore how moving all the other material is.
Paramount released this as a basic, barebones DVD in 2001, and that's basically been the whole story of Ordinary People on disc this for all time.  The closest thing to any kind of special edition was a 2009 VH1-sponsored "We Love the 80s" edition that came in a colorfully tacky slipcover and included a bonus "Music From the 80s" CD.  The DVD inside is still exactly the same.  It hasn't been until early this summer that it made its HD debut on blu-ray, as we've said, from Shock Entertainment in Australia.  And it's Region B locked, so even this release's potential reach is still limited.
2001 US Paramount DVD top; 2020 AU Shock BD bottom.
Part of the mystery as to how such a successful, critically heralded and truly important film could be relegated to an obscure import is that most labels would look at the current master and say wow, this film needs a restoration before it could be released in HD today.  Sometimes I'll point out how a recent blu doesn't hold up to the modern standard of fresh 4k scans, but looks fine for an older BD.  Well, this one would get low scores even if it came out in 2006.  First of all, this is clearly using the same master as the original DVD, which was at least anamorphic widescreen and free of interlacing issues.  Moreover, the BD's image is hazy, colors are dull, and there's a bit of a "screen door" effect presumably brought on by an attempt to sharpen film grain that is soft and barely captured.  There are also flecks and spots of film damage, but that's a minor complaint.  Want another major complaint?  Obviously some kind of edge enhancement or unsharpening tool has been applied to try and correct this funky old transfer.  To be fair to Shock, this was probably baked into the master by Paramount decades ago, but that fact doesn't help us viewers now.

So does that mean this BD is some kind of worthless side-grade?  No, we have gained ground here.  The DVD is slightly windowboxed to 1.82:1, which the BD corrects to a properly matted 1.85:1.  I left the borders around the first set of shots so you can see the difference, but the most important difference is that it means the blu winds up revealing more information on the right-hand side (and a sliver along the bottom) that the DVD shouldn't have been cropping.  And while the blu appears to be artificially sharpened, we can see that the DVD's compression makes it even softer; so the blu-ray is preserving at least a smidgen extra detail and clarity.  It's a slight boost, but it's still a boost.
Now, the back of the case lists 5.1 audio, but I'm actually happy to report that is incorrect.  They in fact provide the original mono track in Dolby Digital 2.0.  I'm less pleased to tell you that it's lossy, though.  Oh, and there are no subtitles.  The DVD had subtitles (and also a French dub).  Couldn't they just hold onto those, you might ask, but apparently not.

Shock's blu is also completely barebones.  The DVD at least had the trailer, but I guess Shock couldn't hold onto that either.  In fact, there isn't even a menu screen; it's just the one movie file on a single-layer disc.  They've really done the bare minimum.
So yeah, this isn't a blu-ray to get excited about, except for the fundamental fact that it's exciting there's a blu-ray at all.  But the film's a masterpiece, and this is the best edition going.  I imagine most people will prioritize nearly every other title in their wish lists first, but eventually you do need this on your shelf.  So credit where it's due to Shock, for at least giving us something.  Now do Rachel River.  😉

Marriage Story

I recently wrote here that I was counting down the days until Criterion's special edition blu-ray of Noah Baumbach's Marriage Story, so I'm sure you were all anticipating this one.  This is his fifth venture with Criterion now (or sixth, counting The Life Aquatic), and hey, I'm more than ready for them to follow-through with the other seven.  And upgrade their Kicking & Screaming DVD to blu.  How about a big ol' boxed set?  Well, for today, I'm just going to be happy with what I have.
We've spent a lot of time looking at Baumbach's larger than life parents throughout his oeuvre.  Now this one feels like it's jabbing at even more tender flesh by mining the life and death of his own first marriage.  The exposed nerves of Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson never stop digging to reveal intimate truths Hollywood rarely gets near.  But lest the pain and vulnerability become too much for audiences to take, we're buoyed by an especially delightful supporting cast who add humor and bring the absurd trappings of modern-day divorce to life.  Laura Dern finally won her first Oscar here; and we're consistently being entertained by her and Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, Julie Haggerty, Wallace Shawn, The Walking Dead's Merritt Wever, plus cameos by Robert "Triumph the Insult Comic Dog" Smigel and Baumbach favorite Carlos Jacott.
Criterion has just released Marriage Story as a special edition DVD and BD (separate releases; combo-packs are dead) this summer.  Naturally, even though it's academic for most fans - because the FYC discs are super scarce and have just been invalidated by a superior, official retail release entering the market - I was still quite curious to see how the Netflix screener compared to these new releases.  Not that there was any reason to expect big, exciting variances.  You could be pretty sure it would be the same transfer taken from the same locked DCP with maybe an ever-so-slightly better or worse encode.  But no, actually they turned out to be more distinct than that.
2019 Netflix BD top; 2020 Criterion DVD mid; 2020 Criterion BD bottom.
Yes, all three versions are pillar-boxed to 1.67:1, just like it streamed on Netflix.  The DVD, as you'd expect, is softer, though it does a better job preserving the grain than you'd expect.  Sure it's smudgy and more often a funky digital pattern than a perfect grain replica.  But for SD, it's refreshingly filmic, especially when the grain sometimes gets lost on the blu, too.  In some shots, I bet you could fool a lot of home theater devotees in a blind test.  In other shots, though, the upgrade is more obvious.  But, when comparing the two blus, it's hard to focus on which capture is stronger, because the color difference is so distracting.  Who thought Criterion would change the color timing?  But they did.  Now, I don't know which is Baumbach's preferred, but theirs is definitely warmer, while the screener is cooler and more cyan.  Yes, Criterion's is less green... they seem to have gotten past that little phase.  I mean, it's not a radical shift, but when you were expecting two identical transfers, it's hard to peel your attention off of it.  Again, without confirmation from Baumbach or his DP, it's hard to say which is the more "correct" timing, but for what it's worth, I prefer the new Criterion.Of course, another reason to prefer the Criterion is that they've bumped up Netflix's 5.1 to lossless DTS-HD for their blu.  All three discs include optional English subtitles, but the Criterion's also take the extra step of adding an English descriptive audio track for the visually impaired.
Then of course, the difference that's really going to have fans excited: the extras.  How about a feature-length behind-the-scenes 'making of' documentary, for a start, that takes you through the entire filming process?  There's also a separate, on-camera interview with Baumbach, a featurette interviewing the stars, another with the main crew members, and a conversation between Baumbach and composer Randy Newman.  Still not enough?  There's another featurette that focuses on filming the famous argument scene from the third act.  We also get two trailers and a 12-page fold-out booklet with notes by literary critic Linn Ullmann (yes, daughter of Liv and Ingmar) and reproductions of the character's lists (if you've seen the movie, you'll know what this means) from the film.
You don't get much more essential than this in my book.  And hey, while we're waiting for Criterion to come in and restore Baumbach's entire catalog, it looks like Mr. Jealousy will finally make its blu-ray debut this year from a little label called Moonstone Entertainment.  That one's previously only been available on barebones DVDs that weren't even anamorphic, so make that must-haves in the meantime.

The Easily Definitive Tales From the Darkside

"Man lives in the sunlit world of what he believes to be reality.  But there is, unseen by most, an underworld, a place that is just as real, but not as brightly lit... a dark side."  So spoke the syndicated narration of the notorious horror series Tales From the Darkside every school night after I was supposed to be in bed.  Curiously, however, the words are never uttered in its subsequent, official feature film, 1990's Tales From the Darkside: The Movie.
But like the show, this film is a horror anthology, very much in the vein of Creepshow.  That's because it's George Romero and co again, still working with Stephen King.  In fact, the Tales series was originally conceived as a Creepshow show, but they dropped the IP and comic book angle due to rights conflicts.  In fact, I'd say this is an even better unofficial follow-up than the proper Creepshow 2.  This time it's three stories, plus a wraparound (deflatingly titled "The Wraparound").  The writing, production values, style, music and cast are all on fire this time around.  The highlight is definitely Romero's adaptation of a King short story where Buster Pointdexter is surprisingly effective as a hitman hired to kill Darkside alum William Hickey's cat.  But the opener, a clever mummy story very much in the EC vein starring Christian Slater (who got his start in an episode of Tales), Steve Buscemi and Julianne Moore, is almost as great.  The weakest link is a the last story, which tries and fails to invest you in a flat and very 80s love story, playing like Scorsese's New York Stories segment minus all the drama.  But even that one's got a super cool, life-size animatronic monster and a charming supporting appearance by Robert Klein.  This worst segment could be a lot of movies' best.
Tales From the Darkside: The Movie debuted on DVD from Paramount in 2001.  It's been reissued a few times over the years (there was the burning book cover in 2006 and a 3-disc triple feature with Graveyard Shift and April Fool's Day in 2007), but it's always been the same disc.  Which was actually pretty fine: anamorphic widescreen with an audio commentary by George Romero and director John Harrison.  But it's been calling out for an HD upgrade for a long time, and preferably a more substantial special edition to boot, and Scream Factory has finally answered the call this summer with their new collector's edition - the film's long-awaited blu-ray debut.
2001 US Paramount DVD top; 2020 US Scream Factory BD bottom.
Despite the many years between editions, this isn't that huge a leap in image quality.  Again, for 2001 standards (and despite it's ugly cover), Paramount's DVD was pretty alright.  It's anamorphic but not interlaced.  And Scream's new disc seems to be using an old master, presumably the same old master, so we're not getting any fresh 2 or 4k revelations here.  But that's not to say we haven't gained any ground.  Scream properly mattes the film to 1.85:1, which Paramount had lazily just left at 1.78:1 (or, 1.77:1 strictly speaking, due to a little pillar-boxing on the left-hand side in the overscan area), and the brights are pulled down just a smidgen, making the contrast appear a little more natural.  And we are still talking about the basic step from SD to HD, so compression noise is cleared up (you really see it around Julianne's hair!), edges are cleaner and grain is at least somewhat accounted for.  It's disappointing Scream didn't spring for a new transfer, but it's still definite progress.

And here's another nice advantage with SF's new edition.  The DVD features a new 5.1 remix that makes a lot of changes to the regular mix (which Harrison made himself and is quite happy with).  So that's cool.  But unfortunately, Paramount forced the choice on us by eliminating the original theatrical stereo track.  But Scream's new edition includes both, naturally bumping them up to lossless DTS-HD in the process.  Both discs also include optional English subtitles.
Again, Paramount's DVD wasn't completely unsatisfying in terms of special features either.  Besides your basic trailer and chapter insert, they provided an audio commentary with Romero and Harrison.  It starts a little slow, and at first you might be worried this is going to be one of those dry tracks with a lot of dead air.  But soon enough they get into it, become much more conversational, and the insights don't stop until the final credit.

Thankfully, Scream Factory has held onto that commentary (and the trailer).  But they've also come up with a whole bunch more.  The jewel in this crown is a new, feature length documentary from Red Shirt, that talks to pretty much all the major players in the crew (the director, producer, DP, set designer, all three KNB guys, the stunt man who played the monster and the stars of the final segment, James Remar & Rae Dawn Chong).  It's arbitrarily broken up into six segments with no "Play All" option, but that's a tiny nitpick of a thorough and absorbing exploration of this film's origins and production.  Also included is a new audio commentary with producer David R. Kappes, but perhaps should have been an on-camera interview rather than a commentary, since they rarely focus on what's happening on-screen.  Finally, there's a fun collection of behind-the-scenes footage captured by KNB on VHS, a couple stills galleries, radio spots, TV spots, reversible artwork and a slipcover.
But before I leave you, I'd also like to talk about the original Tales From the Darkside... the TV series, which ran from 1983-1988.  It was originally released on DVD by Paramount season by season from 2008-2010, eventually combined into a boxed set in 2010.  Paramount's since reissued the full series as a budget set in 2016, but apart from some funky casing (the disc trays don't actually connect to the outer shell, they just float inside it), it's the same 12 discs with the same extras, original disc labels and everything.

As you'd expect from an anthology series, it's uneven.  Some big name directors (Romero, Bob Balaban, Tom Savini) and writers (Stephen King, Clive Barker, Robert Bloch) touch some episodes, but not many others.  The show is surprisingly packed with stars... some stalwart character actors doing their normal runs though 80s television, some rising stars before they were famous, some industry friends, and some flashy "big gets."  The production values are consistently low, though.  Most episodes consist of two to four characters in a single, one-room set, and outside of a few showpiece episodes, even with the good ones, you can feel the crew was just pounding these episodes out at a breakneck pace.  Some episodes go for a scary, horror atmosphere, others are quite silly; you never know what you'll get week to week, ranging from a delightful surprise to something pretty rough and tedious.  Kareem Abdul Jamar could be playing a wacky genie or a young woman could be tormented by a small monster in Fritz Weaver's creepy boarding house.  In general this series wound up playing like a lower budget Twilight Zone than anything, with no particular genre but replete with the big twist endings.
2020 US Paramount/ CBS DVD.
Where to start?  Well, the show's meant to be fullscreen of course, though at 1.30:1, it's probably a smidgen too skinny.  The real problem is that these are clearly ancient masters.  They're problematically interlaced, though the non-interlaced frames are so noisy they barely look any better.  I've seen it suggested that you can't expect much better, since these episodes were shot on video, but there's plenty of print damage on hand to betray this series' filmic origins, so a restoration could do wonders.  If I had to guess, though, the shows were likely edited on tape, which means restoring the whole series would be a major endeavor, which would explain why we haven't been given anything new or improved since the old VHS days.  But as it is, the quality seems below CBS and Paramount's standards even for an old television show.

The audio's alright, though.  A fairly clean and easily listenable Dolby Digital mono track in 2.0.  There are no subtitle options, of course, but there are a few extras.
For starters, we get a George Romero commentary over the pilot.  It's good... during the portions of the show he speaks during.  Romero's audio regularly starts and stops, as if the plan was for him to just comment over clips from the episode and make that a featurette.  That would make sense also because, in season two, there's a featurette just like that, where he comments over clips of another episode.  It makes for a bit of a frustrating listening experience, but it's still a treat to get to hear Romero reminisce about his show, even if the presentation is borked.  The season 2 one winds up only running five minutes, but at least it's a lot tighter.  The only other extra consists of two episodes of another anthology (no, not Monsters) made by the same team... an untitled series that never aired.  These episodes are pretty good, with slightly higher production values.  They're not better than the best episodes of TFtD, but they could play in the top 20% or so, and it's a nice treat to see them preserved here (in the same quality as Tales).
So there's no question that Scream's new blu is the definitive edition of The Movie, which is a real expectation-exceeding affair.  As for the series, there's no difference between the new and old DVD sets, except the new budget edition's price makes the show, despite its flaws in content and home video presentation, hard to resist.  Both are easy recommendations from me.  And remember... "The dark side is always there, waiting for us to enter, waiting to enter us.  Until next time, try to enjoy the daylight."