Red's 25th, 27th and 40th Anniversary Editions

Warren Beatty's Reds is one of those rare films that really lives up to its legacy. It really deserves all of its Academy Awards. Everything was just done so right, and beyond what you'd expect, from the writing to the fantastic cast. When you see movies like Dick Tracy or Bulworth, you wonder what happened to that early Warren Beatty who made such a masterpiece? But Reds is also a bitch to get on blu-ray. Paramount made an excellent 25th Anniversary edition, and a separate DVD release, including a terrific little documentary on the film, when blu-rays were just coming out back in 2006, and most people hadn't yet adopted. In fact, there was an HD-DVD for this, too, because we were just in the beginning of the format wars at the time. They did reissue it in 2008 (which is why most online release dates show the 25th Anniversary disc coming out on the film's 27th anniversary), but even that's long out of print. The cheapest unused copy on Amazon is $74 as of this writing, and it was higher last time I looked, so you might want to jump on it. Or try to find an import that doesn't cost even more once you factor in the shipping.

Update 5/5/15 - 12/27/21: Six and a half years later, and Reds is finally back in print.  What's more, it's a new 4k restoration as part of the Paramount Presents line.  Woot!
Reds is the true story of journalist/poet/political activist John Reed, who wound up playing a huge role in the Bolshevik Revolution. It starts out with, and continually returns to, documentary interviews with real people from Jack's life, recounting their memories of him, but the bulk of the film is played out by a fantastic cast including Beatty, of course, along with Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson (as Eugene O'Neill), Maureen Stapleton, Paul Sorvino and Gene Hackman. The tagline for the film was, "Not since Gone With The Wind has there been a great romantic epic like it," and I daresay this film fully lives up to that hyperbolic claim. And perhaps unlike Gone With the Wind, Reds is just as powerful and moving today as it was the year of its release. Everything from the complex politics to the tragic romance flourish in this lavish production, with a very memorable score by Stephen Sondheim and a directorial style that actually feels reminiscent of classic Woody Allen, but on a grander scale.

So it sucked that you couldn't find a copy for a reasonable price for so long. I've still got copies of both US blu-ray editions here, as well as the original DVD release (surprisingly, the 25th Anniversary was also the film's DVD debut). But hopefully we can forget about all that and just pick up the new 40th Anniversary edition.  All it needs to be is affordable - check! - and definitive...  Check?
1) 2006 DVD; 2) 2006 BD; 3) 2008 BD; 4) 2021 BD.

The short scoop on the 2006 and 2008 blu-rays is, apart from the tackier artwork, the two editions are identical. Same transfer, same menus, everything. They did stick different labels on the discs themselves, but that's it. A small thing to note is that, regardless of which edition you're looking at, apart from the 40th, they did leave little bits of black and odds and ends in the overscan area, leaving the AR at about 1.77:1 throughout. It's really, really on the fringe, varies from shot to shot, and most viewers probably won't see it because they haven't reset their scan for proper 100% 16x9 anyway; but it is there. I guess in 2006, they figured no one would ever see outside the TV safe zone. The new blu, however, is properly matted to 1.85:1, while still revealing more image around the edges than ever before.  The framing has definitely been improved.
See those black edges? That's the overscan stuff I was talking about.
Apart from that, it's always been a pretty nice transfer, especially for such early blus. And seeing as they were concurrent releases, it only makes sense that the DVD has the same transfer as the first two BDs, in terms of framing, colors, etc. But of course, one is in HD and the other SD, so the DVD is naturally softer, more compressed and doesn't hold up as well on large monitors, as we can see when we get in close. The lines of Sorvino's features get pretty mushy on the DVD, above, which even the old blu-ray fixes up rather nicely.  But the new blu is an improvement in this regard, too.  Even though this isn't in HDR (being a standard BD and not a UHD), we can still see the benefits of the greater color range in the scans.  Look at the reflections in Sorvino's glasses, for instance, which are blocky and blown out on the old blu and more naturally faded on the new.  The grain is also softer than it would be on UHD, but it's much more filmic and better encoded this latest time around.  The color timing's different, too, something that really stands out comparing the now warmer interview segments.  I guess you could say they raised the reds.  Nyuk, nyuk
It's a nice little upgrade in the audio department, too, though still a bit disappointing.  The DVD and blu both gave us the option between the original mono and a modestly rejiggered 5.1 (plus a French dub on the DVD and French and Spanish on the BD).  Unfortunately, the old BD audio was as lossy as the DVD.  And this new version?  Well, the 5.1 is now lossless DTS-HD, but unfortunately the mono is still lossy.  Oh well.  At least it's a step in the right direction.

All three discs also offer optional English subtitles, with the 25/27th BDs also offering French and Spanish, and the 40th giving us both standard and HoH English subs.
Extras-wise, all editions are the same.  They're all mixed together into one, feature-length (about 75 minutes) documentary, which is a very satisfying, all-you-need-to-know look back at the film, primarily based on a very substantive interview with Beatty himself.  But it also involves interviews with Nicholson, Sorvino, Paramount execs... basically everybody except Keaton.  It's great.  There's also a "DVD trailer" (yes, even on the 40th edition), which is a newly made trailer that's actually pretty corny.  It's a small thing, but one can't help wondering what happened to the original theatrical trailer?
I originally ended this post asking Paramount for an updated 35th Anniversary edition next year. Beatty was making his big comeback film, his first film since 1998, so I said the two projects could surely drum up some glowing publicity and sales for each other. Well, maybe Paramount did the right thing by waiting. But ultimately they've done the right thing, putting this masterpiece back into print, and making it a superior edition to boot.  Hey, they even took my suggestion of putting the film on one BD50 instead of two BD25s (the 40th is still a 2-disc set, but now that second disc is just the extras), sparing us the hassle of switching discs mid-film.  I'm a little bummed about the lossy mono mix, but overall, this is better than I was expecting.  Maybe for the 50th, we can get a UHD with lossless mono and an interview with Diane Keaton?  Then we'd really be set and could focus back on the important work of raising the masses out of their accustomed lethargy and the subterranean fires that continue to smoulder.

House On the Edge Of the Park... So Close!

I usually avoid looking at the stats and metrics of my site.  Because once I see that one post has more hits than another, it's an easy slope to slip down, constantly chasing the hints of popularity, forgoing what I want to write about or what I think would be best, caught up in an internet-driven numbers game.  But I looked, and here's what I now believe think people would like to see most from me: a limited edition Code Red blu-ray sleazy Italian horror movie compared to a more broadly released American DVD version.  Happily, that's exactly what I was going to write about today anyway, so here's House On the Edge Of the Park😀

Update 11/6/16 - 12/22/21: I've stuck to my policy of not looking at the numbers, so hopefully what you'd most like to see today is an updated comparison with Severin's brand new special edition, because here it is!
House On the Edge is Italy's answer to Wes Craven's The Last House On the Left, even borrowing its notorious leading villain, David Hess.  I've been reading some debate recently, over which is the sleazier, least comfortable watch, and Craven's seemed to win out, but I definitely feel that dubious honor goes to Ruggero Deodato's flick.  I can see making a case for Last House.  For one, it came first, and it's the more famous, American film, so most horror fans probably saw it first.  And the first time you see something is always the most shocking.  Also, while Last has some unnatural elements, like the comic relief cops, the graphic scenes are very realistic.  Contrast that with the Italian glamour models sitting around in color-coordinated outfits, and it gives you a bit of an "out" in feeling staged and unrealistic.
Casey Scott's liner notes for Shriek Show's DVD insert say this film has
"no flair present in cinematography," but I beg to differ.
But on the other hand, the root sadistically sexual violence feels just as genuine in both films, and in Last, those scenes really just happen in the second act, after which the film switches mode to a karmic revenge thriller, like its Virgin Spring inspiration.  But pretty much the entirety of Park just wallows in it.  It takes the typical Italian exploitation habit of finding the saleable element the original film had - in this case Hess abusing and terrorizing his victims with a knife - and making that the whole movie.  Also, everybody's despicable in this one; there are no decent characters to latch onto.  And its damned effective, if a bit ethereal and stagey at the same time.  Plus, it's got a great disco theme song and finishes up with a nice twist ending that I certainly didn't see coming, and won't spoil here.
We originally only had House On the Edge of the Park on non-anamorphic DVD courtesy of those trashy budget packs from companies like Brentwood and Diamond, but in 2002, Shriek Show rescued it from obscurity with a widescreen special edition.  There have been UK editions, too, from Vipco and the more respectable Shameless Screen Entertainment, but outside of Shriek Show, almost all of those were edited versions.  The uncut DVD went out of print and started getting scarce.  But in 2016, Code Red came to the rescue with an uncut, limited edition (1500 copies) special edition blu-ray.  But now in 2021, Severin reckons they can top it, with a new 4k restoration, dual language options and all new special features.  Let's see how they did.
1) 2002 Shriek Show DVD; 2) 2016 Code Red BD; 3) 2021 Severin BD.
Where to begin?  The Code Red blu is pretty grainy and seems to have some of that infamous Italian scanner noise to boot.  But it's still a far superior image to the old Shriek Show DVD.  The 1.85:1 framing is only marginally different, with slim slivers of differences all around the edges.  But the DVD is flatter, with more limited and less natural colors, some ugly interlacing (a regular issue with Shriek Show releases), and heavy edge enhancement (look at the cards on the table; it's like somebody traced them on the table with a thick sharpie).  Code Red seems to've at least done the best they could with the Italian scan, and it certainly has a very noticeable jump up in quality from the DVD, which itself was a strong improvement over the old grey market junk.  But fans have always been in the market for something better.

And, we kinda got it with their new scan, which is 4k from the original OCN according to the back cover.  No more scanner noise for a start.  And the framing's still 1.85:1, but it's pulled out a bit to reveal more picture along the edges.  The color timing is also warmer, more in line with Shriek Show's.  But the grain's pretty light for a 4k scan, and the black levels are rather milky.  Not quite to Wax Mask degrees, but less than ideal.  The blacks are actually rather crushed, and I wonder if Severin lifted the blacks a little to say "look, we didn't level any detail out."  Just compare it to the Code Red - for example, look at Hess's left arm in the second set of shots.  We see a lot more of it on there, that's lost into a sea of blackness on the Severin.  My guess is that the Italians crushed it with their scan, and Severin just worked with what they got.  Or maybe Severin totally did it themselves, who knows?  Either way, it's a distinct bummer, kind of resulting in a draw PQ-wise, or at best a very slim victory, which should've been an easy win for a fresh 4k scan of a troubled older edition.
But then Severin pulls ahead.  Neither previous disc has the Italian audio, just the English audio.  This is a case where the English is distinctly preferable, with Hess's real voice on the English track, as opposed to the poor dub on the Italian, but still, it's always nice to have both.  And now we do.  All three discs preserve the original English mono audio in clear 2.0 (in lossless DTS-HD on the blus), but only Severin also includes the original Italian mono (also in DTS-HD).  And it's the only one to provide English subtitles.
Shriek Show did cobble together a pretty nice selection of extras.  They got lengthy interviews with the two most important people, Hess and Deodato, who answer just about all the questions you'd have after seeing this crazy picture.  Plus there's another good interview with Giovanni Lombardo Radice and a feature with Hess's family (watch his son play guitar and his wife refuse to talk about her role in the film).  On top of that, they included the original trailer, a stills gallery, some bonus trailers and an insert.  Code Red doesn't add anything new, but ports all of the Shriek Show stuff over, except for the bonus trailers and the insert, so we can let go of our old DVDs.

But Severin came hard on this one.  They carry over the Hess interview (and include the bit with his wife as an easter egg), which they've given a more professional edit, and the gallery, but replace the Deodato and Radice interviews with newer, HD ones.  They also conduct new interviews with the cinematographer and set designer.  And they provide an enthusiastic audio commentary by Bruce Holecheck & Art Ettinger.  They've met several of the key players in the making of this film, so they have some nice insight, in addition to some well researched backstory.  I've been listening to a couple Italian horror commentaries recently, where they "Experts" are clearly just winging it, and go way off on long, self-indulgent tangents without telling us pretty much anything most fans wouldn't already know.  So this is a satisfying reminder off how much better these tracks can be.
...And that's just disc 1.  Disc two includes the surprisingly engaging 2019 feature length documentary Deodato Holocaust, which plays a lot like Baumbach's DePalma, except of course it's Deodato, and I'd say it's actually more fun.  Disc 2 also includes the trailer (though not the House trailer) and almost 20 minutes of deleted scenes, some of which are as entertaining and worth watching as the material they left in.  And as Severin has been doing with a lot of their Italian titles, they've included the soundtrack CD.  At first I was thinking I don't know if I care too much about the soundtrack to this one, it's not like a beloved Goblin score or anything.  But when it arrived I realized, of course, this means we finally get the complete "Do It To Me" disco theme - of course we need this!  Severin's release also comes in an embossed slipcover with reversible cover art and an insert featuring the CD track-listing.
So Severin's new blu is undeniably the way to go with this film, but problems with the transfer hold it back it from being the distinct triumph it should've been.  If you can watch the film without the crush bugging you (in motion, it does flag my attention and bug me a little, but it's not too frustrating), you'll be delighted with the rest of the package.  Heck, Deodato Holocaust is worth the purchase alone.  In fact, I almost imported a pricey mediabook edition a few months before this was released... So I'm glad I held out, and glad for this release in general.  But let's face it, we'll all be replacing this edition again a few more years down the line.

The Definitive Taxi Driver

Martin Scorsese's masterpiece, Taxi Driver, has been restored in 4k and released as such on blu for a long time now.  But it's only available on an actual 4k Ultra HD disc now, exclusively as a part of the Columbia Classics Vol. 2 boxed set.  It seems like a surprisingly popular title to hide away in an over one hundred dollar collection, but most of the titles from Vol. 1 are still only available in 4k via that set, so I guess this is how it's going to be for a while.
Even 45 years later, Taxi Driver still digs under the skin to probe facets of human nature few other films have even thought to hint at, marking it as one of the indisputable pinnacles of cinematic art; and this is coming from someone who's seen The Killing of Satan.  Writer Paul Schrader and the Mean Streets team proved ideal collaborators, and all the other elements managed to fall just perfectly into place.  There's Bernard Herrmann's final score, NYC's inimitable personality, and all the brilliant supporting players including Albert Brooks, Young Frankenstein's Peter Boyle, a very young Jodie Foster and yes, that's Maniac's own Joe Spinell in that shot above.  People give Cybill Shepard a hard time, but every note she hits is as pitch perfect as everyone else's here.  Obviously, there's a huge pool of talent behind and in front of the camera here (it's easy to forget how powerful an actor DeNiro was when you see all the silly stuff he's committed himself to in recent years), but the planets still had to align just right to achieve these results.
Columbia Tri-Star first released Taxi Driver as an anamorphic widescreen, but completely barebones DVD in 1997.  A disappointing half step backwards for owners of Criterion's special edition laserdisc.  They had to've realized that was pretty paltry, and released a souped-up collector's edition in 1999.  It still didn't have the Criterion commentary, but it had an impressive documentary.  They improved on that further in 2007, with a 2-disc Collector's Edition, this time with a wealth of new extras.  Then it was HD time, and in 2011 came their first Taxi Driver blu-ray.  They released it again in 2013 as a surprisingly barebones "mastered in 4k edition."  It wasn't until 2016 when they really got it right with the 40th Anniversary 2-disc set, which had the 4k master in HD and all the previous extras, including for the first time since laserdisc, that Criterion commentary.  And that was the definitive edition, until now, as Sony has released an ultimate 3-disc set in their Columbia Classics Vol. 2 box, with the film finally on true 4k Ultra HD, plus standard blu and with all the past extras (yes, including the Criterion commentary again).  This is it, assuming they didn't screw anything up.
1) 1999 DVD; 2) 2016 BD; 3) 2021 BD; 4) 2021 UHD.
So yes, like I said before, this film has been restored in 4k for a long time.  In fact, the Columbia Classic book tells us the OCN got its 4k scan back in 2010, and this latest release is still presenting that same restoration, albeit newly color timed for HDR on the UHD.  But first we have a slightly pillar-boxed, distinctly pre-4k 1.75:1 DVD.  The resolution doesn't matter so much when we're talking about a transfer that's going to get mushed down to standard def anyway, and the framing really isn't too different from the properly matted 1.85:1 BDs and UHD (just a little off the left and a bit of extra headroom).  As far as DVDs go, it's fine except for the heavy red push over the whole picture.  So it's nice to see that get corrected along with the much clearer HD boost of the BDs, and again, the minor framing correction.  There's also a slight vertical stretching that gets fixed.  But for 1999, you could've done a lot worse.

Now, the 2016 and 2021 BDs are exactly the same, right down to the 27.1GB encode.  But what's new is the UHD.  Yes, it's the same root transfer.  And it's also true that the previous BD's encode kicks ass, finely capturing grain without the frequent macroblocking.  But look at any portion of any of the UHD screenshots, and the grain is so much clearer and more distinct.  In terms of detail, there's not a lot more to pull out, but in terms of the image matching the original film as opposed to a pixelated digitization, the UHD really succeeds.  The only question is if you'll notice it in motion.  Like, just how big is your TV?  But the difference is there when you look closely enough.
The DVD just features the original audio in 2.0, but it's got a bunch (6) of subtitle options, including English.  The 2016 blu replaces that audio with a DTS-HD 5.1 remix, and adds 11 lossy foreign dubs and offers 22 subtitle tracks, including standard English and English HoH.  So here's where the UHD gets good again.  It adds a couple more foreign dubs and subs, keeps the lossless 5.1 mix, but best of all, it brings back the original mono mix - lossless for the very first time.
So the DVD starts us off with a feature length documentary that talks to just about everybody: Deniro, Scorsese, Foster, Brooks, Schrader, Sheppard, etc.  It's pretty great, and honestly, if this was Taxi Driver's only special feature anywhere, that'd be pretty fine.  The DVD has a couple other odds and ends, including the trailer, storyboards and most interestingly, a 9-minute photo gallery with an uncredited audio commentary by the DVD producer who relays all the interesting anecdotes that didn't make it into the doc.

Jumping ahead to the 2016 doc and the 2021 set (which have all the same extras, except the UHD adds a 20th Anniversary rerelease trailer), we now have everything.  Well except for that photo gallery commentary, but all of those anecdotes wind up getting told, and often retold, in the other extras.  In fact, it's kind of a real problem.  With the Criterion commentary restored, we now have three commentaries, the doc, seven featurettes, an intro by Scorsese, a 40th Anniversary reunion panel, five galleries and two trailers, plus the notes in the book.  So we here the same stories repeated again and again.  By the third or fourth time, it's no longer cute to hear how DeNiro drove a taxi in NY for a week to prepare for the role and was recognized by another actor.  I just wish someone who was overseeing these releases paid attention to what was in these extras and edited how all the redundancy... because there is a wealth of great stuff here, talking to pretty much everybody, revisiting the shooting locations, go over Scorsese's entire career, and even a few weird odds and ends, like a featurette where they interview working NYC cab drivers or talk to Ed Koch.  Some of that's a little excessive, too.  All told, it's both terrific and a real slog, but at least erring towards too much beats erring towards too little.
If you want the best, this is it.  The increased resolution and HDR give us the most authentic picture yet, if you have the set-up to appreciate it.  And even if you don't, getting the original mono track back is a nice little coup for the purists.  Or if you need Icelandic subtitles... those are only on the new UHD.  It may be annoying that this is only available in the box, but fortunately, the whole set is more than worth it.  Could be a good Christmas present for yourself.

Dueling Blus: Maniac Cop

So we've had Maniac Cop 2 and 3 restored in 4k, first on blu, and now UHD.  But where's the original?  I mean, it is on blu with a few solid extras, which puts it ahead of plenty of other great horror titles I could name.  But still, it feels pretty meager to have the original cult classic lagging so far behind its sequels.  And what's up with the blus we do have?  There's a Synapse and an Arrow disc, both over ten years old now, and the original DVD from Elite, all with different extras.  If we're not going to get a swag UHD, what edition(s) should we get in 2021?
1988's Maniac Cop has a bit of a different tone from its more kinetic sequels.  All three are written by Larry Cohen and directed by William Lustig, and several of the stars, including Robert Z'Dar as the titular maniac cop, are carried over.  But where the sequels are more action-packed slashers, this is more of a mystery thriller.  The first film has the big question, "who is the maniac cop?" to hang its hat on, where the subsequent entries are pushed more into "he's back!" revenge motifs.  It's not even clear if there's anything supernatural meant to be going on in this film, or if maniac is just one bad, tough dude.  Whereas, in the sequels, he's a full-fledged monster with a skull face ultimately powered by voodoo magic.  Think of the difference between Jason Vorhees pre- and post-Jason Lives.
Budget probably plays a factor, too.  The sequels clearly have more money to play with, allowing Lustig to create some wild set-pieces with exploding buses and a full-fledged assault on a crowded police station.  But a film having to rely a bit more on the wits of Cohen's pen is never a bad thing.  And to be fair, this film climaxes with an awfully impressive stunt.  Luckily, though, the original film has more great ideas to lean on, making it - arguably - still the best.  And like all three, it's packed with terrific character actors, including cult fave Tom Atkins, Shaft himself Richard Roundtree, Sheree North, Laurene Landon, Cohen regular Jim Dixon and Bruce frikkin' Campbell, hot off of Evil Dead 2 just the year before.  Sam Raimi even has a bit part.  It's got an iconic theme and a practically can't miss premise based on the fraught tension between the comfort of police's role as protector and the terror of their unchecked power over of us.  ...I say "practically," because 1989's Psycho Cop went on to prove that no concept is infallible in the wrong hands.
So Elite originally released Maniac Cop on DVD in 1998, essentially a port of their laserdisc, replete with the same special features including a terrific audio commentary by Lustig, Cohen, Campbell and composer Jay Chattaway.  In 2006, Synapse reissued it on DVD (the first anamorphic option) with a few more extras and some audio remixes.  It naturally followed in 2011, then, when Synapse gave the film its HD debut on blu.  But for some reason the commentary disappeared!  Arrow released their blu a couple weeks later in the UK, also without the commentary, but with some of their own unique features.  But which edition is better?  Is there much of a difference?  Let's have a look.
1) 2006 Synapse DVD; 2) 2011 Synapse BD; 3) 2011 Arrow BD.
Okay, so at first glance, we seem to be using the same master across the board.  It's all the same 1.84:1 AR with the same color timing.  Although looking a little more carefully, we see the DVD is cropped a bit tighter (check out Victoria Catlin's button).  Obviously, the DVD is also blurrier than its HD counterparts.  But how do the two blu-rays compare?  That's what we've got to decide between now.  Well, with the same master, the difference is basically going to come down to the encode, if there's any noteworthy difference at all.  So let's take a look at some enlargements.
1) 2011 Synapse BD; 2) 2011 Arrow BD.
[A quick reminder, whenever I provide these enlargements: they're just meant as handy visual aids for quick reference, so you can easily see what I'm, talking about.  The full-sized, original screenshots are posted further above.  You're encouraged to click through them if you really want to examine them properly.]

Neither disc is exactly cutting edge.  Grain is a bit light and neither option is free of macro-blocking.  That said, Arrow clearly has the edge with less blocking a slightly more distinct grain.  In the second set of shots, we see more of the threads in Victoria's gown, which are smeared out in Synapse's disc.  In motion, especially on a modestly sized screen, the difference might be practically invisible.  But there is a difference, so if you're fishing for the best PQ available, Arrow does pull ahead.  Also, their contrast is slightly higher, which I personally prefer.

So Synapse's DVD has the original stereo mix, plus its new Dolby 5.1 and DTS-ES 6.1 remixes.  All three tracks are carried over to their blu, though now as lossless DTS-HD tracks.  Arrow doesn't bother with the remixes, which is A-Okay in my book, but does preserve the original stereo in lossless LPCM.  More significantly, it is the only disc with optional English subtitles.  So if you have a use for those, the advantage shifts further to Arrow.
The mayor, as only seen in the Japanese TV footage.
Before we make any final decisions, though, we've got to look at those extras.  I've already explained the situation with the commentary.  It's great and a real shame neither blu has it.  Hang onto your DVDs, folks.  But there's more than the commentary at stake here.  Synapse's DVD also had a new interview with Z'Dar, deleted scenes filmed for Japanese television (featuring Leo Rossi and Ken Lerner!), plus a couple trailers, TV and radio spots.  Synapse's blu keeps all of that except the commentary, and adds a few more juicy bits.  The highlights are new, on-camera interviews with Tom Atkins and actor/ stuntman Danny Hicks, but there's also a couple more trailers and a stills gallery.  If it wasn't for that commentary, it would be a nice upgrade.

Meanwhile, Arrow has also chucked the commentary.  It's also missing those deleted scenes, which is a real loss, plus a couple of the foreign trailers.  But it does have a couple trailers and TV spots.  And much more critically, it has its own collection of original extras.  It has its own, different interviews with Atkins (who also provides a brief, spoiler-y intro) and Z'Dar.  And the real highlights: a couple nice on-camera interviews with Larry Cohen and Laurene Landon.  You know, the Z'Dar and Atkins interview are pretty interchangeable, but they're not interviewed on the other discs at all.  Arrow's release also came with a 16-page booklet, a poster, and one of those windowed-slipboxes allowing for your choice of four reversible artwork covers.
Meanwhile, Lustig has been pretty candid about how unhappy he is with how Maniac Cop looks on disc (skip to 22:31), "Maniac Cop is a sore spot for me because the company that put it out really did not do a proper job with the film," He explained on the In the Seats With... podcast, adding, "that lousy Synapse blu-ray is the only thing that stands."  Specifically, he objects to the color timing.  "The simple problem is we shot the movie in August with a film that's supposed to take place in the winter in New York.  And if you look at the original negative, it's got the warmth of summer, and it's still bright.  It's got a lot of brightness to it.  And so it needed to be graded for what time of year it's supposed to be; and it's supposed to be a darker looking film.  Because at times you actually can see the partial make-up on the maniac cop's face.  It's horrifying.  Things like that should've been corrected.  You also see the wires that could've been removed... things like that that just is, to me, terrible.  I mean, look, remove the wires, it costs nothing.  And yet it was just left.  So to me, I'm looking at it as kind of a bad behind the scenes.  It's horrible because we put a lot of work - a lot of people, not just myself - a lot of the people who worked on that worked hard and cared about it, and now it was put out by an idiot."

So okay, sounds like a new edition is in order.  Actually, some of that corrective revisionism I'm happy to have missed out on.  But still, there's obviously plenty of room for improvement.  Unfortunately, any prospects along those lines aren't looking too bright.  Lustig explained, "recently, I inquired about the negative of Maniac Cop and was told, unfortunately, it's lost.  So it's not preserved."  Meaning: we're probably stuck with what we've got, at least for now.  Given that, what should we make out of our current options?  Well, just in terms of the ideal viewing experience, Arrow is the go-to disc (especially if subtitles are a concern).  But if you're invested in extras, it's hopelessly complicated.  You've still got to hang onto one of the old DVDs for the commentary, and even then... well, frustratingly, serious fans are going to want all three.  You kinda can't win.  But on the other hand, I've seen far worse releases, and if you're willing to collect multiple editions, it adds up to a fairly stacked special edition.  To put it in perspective, remember Psycho Cop fans are stuck tracking down barebones, grey market DVDs.