Videodrome: All Hail the New 4k

1983's Videodrome is one of those films that simply has to be on DVDExotica, right?  So okay, it took me long enough, but here it finally is.  I guess I was just waiting for a new, ultimate edition to cover.  And what do you know, just this week it's debuted on 4k Ultra HD from Arrow.  Is it everything we want it to be, though?  Well, I've got previous special editions on DVD and blu to compare it to, and well... in many ways it's an easy choice, but there are a few interesting complications in the details.
David Cronenberg's demented sci-fi vision may appear on the surface to be a little dated, what with all its imagery of tube televisions and video cassettes.  But its ideas of the corruptive and overwhelming power of broadcast imagery over the human psyche are more pertinent than ever.  The technology may have gotten more digital, but otherwise, we're practically living the nightmare that James Woods' character finds himself sinking in.  A man who watches too much illicit media content losing his grip on reality and becoming an assassin for nonsensical political ideologies... sound familiar?  Heck, the Gersh talent agency would probably argue the real James Woods is fairly deep into the process right now. 😉  But whether you find Cronenberg's dystopian visions of the future all too real or utterly inscrutable, his nightmarish imagery still fascinate and unnerve with equal power.
This is kind of an interesting expansion of Cronenberg's infamous "body horror" (I mean, Woods does still grow a new, vaginal orifice in his stomach, in which to insert video tapes) into "brain horror" - I suppose an acknowledgement that the latter is just another gloppy organ pulsing away within the former.  Scanners already opened that can of worms, of course, but here we really delve into mind games and subjective hallucinations that we'd later see blossom into works like Naked Lunch, Existenz and Spider.  So it still has a habit of leaving viewers baffled (just look at some of the most liked "reviews" on Letterboxd), though if you pay attention, I think you'll find the character of Brian O'Blivion states the film's thesis pretty succinctly, which is a little more straight forward and simple than some of the film's then cutting edge special effects sequences might initially lead one to believe.  But man, those set pieces still pack a wallop, especially when compared with the hauntingly cagey performance by Deborah Harry and of course Howard Shore's surprisingly subtle score.
a shot only in the director's cut.
I suppose I should talk about the two cuts.  Videodrome was released cut in theaters, and in some video markets.  Even the US VHS restored the fuller director's cut though, as did the laserdisc and pretty much every DVD and subsequent release.  You'd have to go out of your way to find the cut version, but it is out there.  Not that there's any reason to.  There are no alternate takes or unique aspects; it's just missing stuff.  About two minutes worth.  Some of the "snuff" footage is cut, a few moments from the ear piercing scene is trimmed, and so is a tiny bit of the violence at the climax.  I bring it up mainly because Arrow has opted to include both the theatrical and uncut versions on their latest release.  According to their booklet, this is because "additional intermediate film elements" had to be used for the director's cut footage.  I have to say, though, you would never notice the shift in quality, so there's virtually no reason for the cut version's inclusion.  But hey, why not?  If Arrow wants to be extra thorough, that's always a plus, not a minus. 
Videodrome was first released on DVD by Universal back in 1998.  I no longer have my copy, but I can tell you it was non-anamorphic widescreen and barebones, so we safely can leave it in the past.  Criterion gave it its first proper special 2-disc edition in 2004.  I still have that one, so we'll start the comparisons with that one.  They bumped that up to blu-ray in 2010 (and Universal put out a barebones blu in the UK in 2011), but I held out for the 2015 BD from Arrow, mainly because that gave me a fresh set of special features.  There was a limited edition 4-disc DVD/ BD combo pack, which also included discs of his earliest short films (the latter of which have since been sold separately), and a standard single BD release, which still had everything but the shorts.  And now Arrow has taken it to the next generation with its 2022 4k Ultra HD debut.
2004 Criterion DVD top; 2015 Arrow BD mid; 2022 Arrow UHD bottom.
From the original 35mm camera negative, and as you can see, the framing is virtually identical down the line.  Criterion's DVD is very slightly squished to 1.82:1, while the HD discs are both exactly 1.85:1.  All three discs are described as being "approved by David Cronenberg," for what that's worth.  Surprisingly, Arrow's UHD is a single-disc release, and all of the extras are on the same disc as the film.  Don't worry, though, it's a 100GB disc, and the roughly 90 minute film gets a healthy 62+GB encode (the two cuts seem to be achieved by branching, not two separate, complete encodes).  Indeed, Arrow's encoding is top notch on both of their releases.  The grain is smudgy when it's there on the Criterion (not a mark on their encoding... it's an SD disc after all), but much more distinct and individualized on the blu, and each grain is perfectly rendered on the UHD.  The color timing is pretty similar across the board, too, with Arrow's HDR10/ Dolby Vision adding more depth and naturalism without getting too showy or super-saturated.  Videodrome is a largely dark and grimy film, after all, and Arrow clearly respected that.

Each disc just includes the film's original English mono track, though it's in lossless LPCM on the BD and DTS-HD on the UHD.  All three also offer optional English subtitles.
The extras are where things get interesting, because while there is some overlap, Criterion and Arrow have two full, but distinct sets of goodies.  So let's start with Criterion.  Two of their most prized assets are audio commentaries, one by Cronenberg and director of photography Mark Irwin, and the second one by stars Woods and Harry.  Then they've got a half-hour documentary on the special effects, the original 'making of' featurette, a 20-minute audio interview with effects artists Michael Lennick and Rick Baker, Cronenberg's short film Camera from 2000 that he made for the Toronto Film Festival (it's alright), and Mick Garris's 1982 round-table discussion with Cronenberg, John Landis and John Carpenter (the same one that's on Scream Factory's blu-ray of The Fog, and Turbine's releases of The Thing and An American Werewolf In London).  Then they have the full versions of the three Videodrome "snuff" films within-the-film in full.  Samurai Dreams has two commentaries, one by Cronenberg & Irwin and one by Lennick, Transmissions from Videodrome has one commentary by Irwin & Lennick, and Helmet-Cam Test has commentary by Lennick.  There are also two photo galleries and three trailers.  Plus there are four easter eggs, which include a deleted scene from the documentary entitled "Why Betamax," an extra photo gallery, two TV spots and an animated logo for the fictitious Spectacular Optical company.  Criterion's release comes in an extra-wide amaray case housed in a slipbox with a 26-page booklet.  I'll also note, though I don't own it, the Criterion BD has the same extras as the DVD, but with the new addition of a video essay by Tim Lucas.
deleted scene.
Now, Arrow's blu has some of that stuff.  They have Camera, the effects documentary (and the "Why Betamax" clip), Mick Garris's Fear On Film, the original 'making of' featurette, and the three trailers.  They also have two of the films-within-the-film: Samurai Dreams and Helmet-Cam Test, but not the third one.  And instead of Criterion's commentaries, each of those have alternate commentaries, both by Lennick.  More critically, they don't have the two commentaries for Videodrome itself, the audio interview with Baker and Lennick, the Lucas video essay, the photo galleries or the TV spots.  But they have their own, exclusive audio commentary with Tim Lucas.  Why's he included so often?  Because he was on set during the filming and wrote a whole book about it, so he has a lot of insight to provide.  And they have an exclusive, 20-minute documentary called David Cronenberg and the Cinema of the Extreme, plus all new on-camera interviews with Mark Irwin, producer Pierre David and author Dennis Etchison, who wrote the novelization of Videodrome.  And perhaps most fascinatingly of all, they have over 25 minutes of deleted and alternate scenes from the television version.  The special edition just has reversible artwork; but the limited edition, besides the extra short films disc (which also has an interview with Kim Newman as an extra), comes with a 96-page hardcover book and a thick slipbox.

The new UHD has everything the 2015 BD had (though not the short films disc) and comes in a similar slip box, with reversible artwork for the amaray inside.  Also inside is a 60-page full-color booklet with excerpts from Cronenberg on Cronenberg plus notes by several critics, a double-sided poster, six lobby cards.
So, it's an easy choice in terms of the presentation itself.  The new UHD is the only way to go.  But in terms of special features, Criterion and Arrow both have great stuff, much of which is exclusive.  Fans will probably want to get both.  It's a tiny bit disappointing that they dropped the short films disc for the UHD release, but bear in mind that one's since been released separately, so you can easily add that to your collection or not depending how keen you are on his earliest works.  That means buying multiple releases for the most complete set, which may or may not be worth the hassle and expense; but there's no doubt that Arrow's new UHD is now the essential baseline.

This Is The Year Of the Sex Olympics, Sex Olympics Year!

A couple years ago, The BFI quietly reissued Nigel Kneale's televised sci-fi classic The Year Of the Sex Olympics on DVD.  I already had the old disc, so I just ignored it.  But earlier this year, I noticed a reference to a short film I didn't remember being a special feature on my disc.  I went back and looked, nope, not on mine, but looking at the listing for the reissue, and it's got a bunch of new extras.  I guess it didn't get much attention, because who's scrutinizing SD-only reissues in the 2020s?  You just assume any noteworthy re-release is going to be on blu, and any DVD getting pushed back out by itself is an arbitrary cover change or the rights shifting from one studio to another.  But the BFI had clearly turned genuine attention to this title again in 2020.  Was there a new restoration?  If so, why no HD?  Just how revamped was this disc?

Oh right, answering those questions is my job.
The opening title card warns us that this semi-dystopian (I mean, I don't think I'd mind living in it) future is going to befall us "sooner than you think......."  And indeed, one of the things this 1968 scifi tale is praised for is how prophetic it proved to be, completely predicting reality TV (Survivor in particular should've cut Kneale a check) and the mainstreaming of pornography.  Heck, Gen X'ers might watch this and wonder what's supposed to be so futuristic or far-flung about it.  Kneale himself has said that working for the BBC gave him an advantage in seeing what was around broadcast entertainment's next corner.  But there are more interesting ideas afoot than just the advent of new brands of trash TV.  Besides obvious allusions to Nineteen Eighty Four, there's a really unique notion of social classes being divided between "high" and "low-drive" people, as well as some serious themes on the disruptive powers of art.  It looks quaint, but it's still a compelling drama and electrified satire, today as much as ever.
And speaking of looking quaint, I have to address these DVDs being in black & white.  Why?  Because the movie was shot and originally aired in full color.  As the BFI's booklet helpfully explains, "the original colour tapes were erased and all that remains is a black and white 16mm telerecording."  So sadly, these grayscale copies are all we get, which is a shame, because apparently this was a very colorful depiction of the future, with wild costumes, and the lead actors are actually painted gold.   I had no idea the first time I watched this, though you do get the impression that they're all wearing a lot of make-up.  It's worth noting that one of the interviews in the BFI's recent release of Kneale's 1984 adaptation teases a potential color re-release, but if the tapes were erased, well, fingers crossed but I wouldn't hold my breath.  The new DVD is very possibly the final word on this film, so let's see what we've got.
2003 BFI DVD top; 2020 BFI DVD bottom.
When I first popped the new disc in I thought, oh wow, yeah, look at that.  They have done a whole new restoration.  Why was this still a DVD-only release?  But now digging in and comparing, I can see, okay, not really.  If it's not the same scan at the core, it's a very similar one with pretty much all the same faults.  Neither disc is interlaced.  The big difference is just that the contrast has been toned down so that the brights aren't flaring out, giving the picture a more natural, less garish look.  And that's a definite improvement, but that's more like something you could do on your own set rather than a full-blown restoration.  Not that it's the only difference.  The aspect ratio has shifted from 1.33:1 to 1.30:1.  The original DVD is very slightly windowboxed, while the new image goes right to the edges.  I don't know if they've actually rescanned the old tape masters or just remastered the old one, but they've clearly done some work.  This new framing is actually slightly tighter, not just on the sides but along all four edges.  The older image is also very slightly wider.  And there's less compression noise, now.  Whether that's new to a better encode (both discs are DVD-9s), an updated scan, or even a dash of DNR, one can't say.  But the result seems to be a cleaner, less arbitrarily noisy image without loss to any actual detail.

Both discs offer the original mono track in Dolby Digital, but the new disc has added optional English subtitles, which the old one was lacking.
The 2003 DVD already had some quality special features, primarily a great audio commentary by star Brian Cox.  Some actors take an interest only in their scenes, and that means in audio commentaries you can be left with a lot of awkward silences as they have nothing to say about scenes they weren't on set for.  Fortunately, that's not the case with Cox, who has a lot to contribute.  There's also a brief (roughly 5 minute) introduction by Kim Newman to situate viewers into the film's basic history and themes.  Besides that, there's just a brief commercial for other BFI DVDs, a 2-page insert and liner notes by Newman.
The new DVD keeps all of that, at least the important stuff.  They ditch the commercial and replace the insert with a much flusher, 26-page booklet with four original essays (though not Newman's).  More importantly, there's a vintage audio interview with Nigel Kneale, which plays like an audio commentary over the first hour and ten minutes of the film.  It's pretty good, though Kneale enthusiasts will have him say many of the same things in other interviews.  There's also a short, 1979 doco-comedy called Le Petomane about a real French performer who became famous for farting creatively on stage in the 1800s.  That's the film that tipped me off to this being a new edition of The Year Of the Sex Olympics.  And if you're wondering what the heck is that doing on this disc, it's because it stars Leonard Rossiter (The Witches, 2001), who plays one of the antagonists in Kneale's show.  Anyway, it's pretty amusing.  There's also a vintage news broadcast from 1972 celebrating the BBC's fiftieth year (no connection to Year apart from it being a BBC program) and a stills gallery of the film's exotic costumes and production notes.
The Year Of the Sex Olympics is still a great, little film, and I suppose I can see why, even in 2020, this is still a DVD only.  I hope potential fans won't let that ward them off from picking this one up.  But if you have the original DVD, do I recommend upgrading?  Yes, but it's not a strenuous recommendation.  It's improved, but this film doesn't, and presumably never will, really look that much better.  Subtitles and the booklet help up the quality, and the new extras are a nice touch.  But the important stuff is already on the first disc, and some of the new bits feel downright frivolous.  The new disc is unquestionably the superior release, and I'm glad BFI took another shot at this; but I can see why it didn't make big waves when it hit the market.

The Martian Chronicles

The old fashioned look of The Martian Chronicles, the 1980 trilogy of television films, is sure to put a lot of potential viewers off.  In fact, I'll add, not just the look, but a lot of the old fashioned notions in the writing make this feel rather creaky and thoroughly un-hip.  But it's also so, so good that I would implore anyone, even if they're not explicitly science fiction fans, to give this a chance.  Especially since it's now readily available on a very affordable Blu-ray set from Kino.
This opening screenshot should give you an idea of what I'm talking about; our protagonists have landed on the surface of Mars and exited their spacecraft without spacesuits or any other method to address the atmosphere.  They just describe the air as "thin."  The Martian Chronicles was broadcast in 1980, but it's based on Ray Bradbury's 1950 novel of the same name, and much of is gathered from short stories first published in the 1940s.  So there's a lot of rough, early (mis)understandings of science in the material that the series' adapter Richard Matheston, himself a great science fiction writer, opted not to alter/ update for more modern viewers.  It's also surprisingly sexist (in an abandoned city, a man searching for a lone female survivor not only asks himself, "if I was a woman, where would I be?  Hmm... The beauty parlor!" but he turns out to be correct; the author agrees with the character).  These films are faithful, perhaps to a fault; but having made a study of it now, I completely concur with Matheson's decisions here.  I daresay, he's crafted these films even better than Bradbury would have himself.
So just to clarify, The Martian Chronicles is based on a series of short stories Bradbury had written about man's explorations and colonization of Mars.  The stories were compiled and altered, with many new additions, to shape it into what is essentially still an anthology, with different characters set in their individual plots, but which push a larger narrative of mankind's advancement, or failings.  Matheson's own talents come into play, then, as he very intelligently walks a fine line between anthology and a single narrative.  Characters come and go, their stories begin and end in a sometimes episodic way, but they all contribute to this one over-arching adventure, which winds up being more meaningful and impactful than the sum of its parts.  It's not about spectacle, although for a television production it's very ambitious and there are a bunch of cool visuals.  It has an impressive all-star cast, including Rock Hudson, Roddy McDowall, Bernie Casie (who's awesome in this), Demon Seed's Fritz Weaver, Bernadette Peters (albeit not in the most flattering role) and Darren McGavin.  Yes, the martians themselves tend to look like some of the cheesier aliens you'd see on Star Trek, but there's also some really cool and inventive production design.  And the theme music is cool in a very early 80's way.  But what's really important is just that this is really a great, classic science fiction story, expertly told, with a lot to say that still stands the test of time.
The Martian Chronicles debuted on DVD from MGM as a 3-disc set in 2004, though there had previously been a 1999 laserdisc set from Image and a series of different VHS releases in its day.  The DVDs were really the way to go, though, until 2018, when Kino treated us to a 2-disc blu-ray upgrade.  And it really is an upgrade.
2004 MGM DVD top; 2018 Kino BD bottom.
Honestly, when Kino's blu-rays were first announced, I wasn't expecting as much as we got here.  I figured we'd get the same old master on a higher resolution disc, and with a little luck, the interlacing might be cleared up.  As it's a vintage television broadcast program, so I wasn't even counting on that second part.  But hey, look, we've clearly got a whole new scan with greater clarity, more natural colors (arguably, maybe the blus are a little on the cool side, but the DVDs are over saturated, so this is a big improvement) and yes, the interlacing is gone - just look at that guy in the red & white striped shirt.  Both transfers are 1.33:1, though you can see the framing has shifted slightly.  But there's no way to judge, outside of implicitly trusting one release over the other, which is more accurate, as neither appears particularly better than the other, and it's barely visible outside of a direct comparison like this.  However, given how superior the BDs are in every other aspect, I am inclined to trust Kino on this change, too.

Both sets offer the original mono track, but the BDs have bumped it up to lossless DTS-HD.  Both sets also include optional English subtitles, though only the MGM also comes with optional French and Spanish subs.
As I said, though, MGM's release was completely barebones.  Kino's set is no packed special edition, but we got a little something.  Specifically, we got a very brief, but fun and insightful, on-camera interview with actor James Faulkner.  He talks about his experiences playing a martian, but unfortunately, he's unable to speak to so many of the broader topics that Martian Chronicles fans would like to know, about the history of the novel, how it differs from the show, how the show came to be produced, etc.  That's no fault of Mr. Faulkner's, of course - and I also appreciate that most of the key players: Matheson, Bradbury, Hudson, etc have passed, so they'd be limited as to who else they could interview - but even just an expert's participation would have been very welcome.  Still, this is a good, if small, step forward.  There's also a couple bonus trailers and reversible artwork (using the same imagery as the MGM cover).
The same moment in The Martian Chronicles and Ray Bradbury Theater.
Before I wrap this up, I have something else to address.  I said, perhaps rather boldly, that I felt Matheson adapted these films better than Bradbury would have himself, and I don't just say that because I appreciate and admire the work so much, but because Bradbury had his chance to adapt this material himself.  The Ray Bradbury Theater is a television series that ran through the late 80s and early 90s, for the first two season on HBO, and the later three on the USA Network.  Each of the 65 half-hour episodes is written by Bradbury, adapting one of his own famous short stories for the screen, often with some fun celebrity stars like Jeff Goldblum, Leslie Nielsen, Shelley Duvall and many more.  And eight of those are key stories from The Martian Chronicles.  What's fun about this is it includes two chapters that Matheson omitted, including the very dramatic Usher II, which brings Edgar Allen Poe to the space age.  Also, the whole first Martian Chronicles film was about three expeditions to Mars.  In the novel, there were four, and another TRBT episode is about that fourth expedition.

The others are alternate takes on chapters that were in the films; and honestly they're quite good and fun alternate takes on the material, with some noteworthy cast members like John Vernon, David Carradine and Patrick Macnee.  As stand-alone episodes without the macro-narrative, though, they feel more like Twilight Zone episodes: clever stories leading up to an amusing twist, but without the dramatic weight or substantive heft of the films.  Bradbury has taken the opportunity to update them - they wear spacesuits and female characters have actual utility.  And there are some clever details here that Matheson omitted.  And the other episodes in the series are fun, too.  Having recently rewatched the complete Tales From the Darkside, I'd say this series is generally better written with higher production values.  So if you liked that, you're sure to dig this.
2018 Kino BD top; 2005 Echo Bridge DVD bottom. Same scene.
Unfortunately, though, the home video options for The Ray Bradbury Theater are disappointing.  In short, Echo Bridge has them.  And they have released them on DVD, multiple times even.  You can get them as a full 5-disc set, a collector's tin, individual sets, and a more recent re-release.  My shots are from the original 2005 set, but they're all the same actual discs, and ugh.  These are low quality, over-compressed and noisy tape-to-digital transfers.  They squeeze too many episodes on each disc to save space, though the masters are poor anyway.  This series seriously needs remastering; it's a real mess.  And the episodes aren't even put in release order on the discs.  They're just randomly organized.  The 5.1 audio is clear enough, but there are no subtitles.  And no, there are no extras.
So yeah, if your idea of science fiction is the latest special effects and blockbuster actions, admittedly, you're going to be disappointed in The Martian Chronicles.  But if you prefer headier stuff and can look past superficial imperfections, The Martian Chronicles is actually pretty terrific.  And the Kino blu is by far the best they've ever looked.  And then I'd also recommend anyone who does come to love the films to check out the Ray Bradbury Theater episodes as excellent supplements.  But they're not the same tier works of art that the films are.

The Lost Highway Blu-ray Lynch Warned Us About Vs The One He Always Wanted

Well, having just revisited 1997's Lost Highway, I'm happy to report that it holds up just as strongly as ever.  You know, I was a little concerned with this being the bridge between David Lynch's more traditionally told narrative films (like Elephant Man and Blue Velvet), to his current style of mysterious films that ask to be deciphered (i.e. Mulholland Dr. or the current season of Twin Peaks).  I thought, looking back at this, it might come off as a bit simplistic, or a clumsy first attempt at what he's since perfected; and what was once impactful might now feel a little limp.  But no, it's still strong stuff.

Update 8/7/17 - 6/24/20: I didn't rush out to pick up this edition, since David Lynch himself came out publicly against it, but it doesn't seem like his desired restoration is behind any immediate corners, so what the heck.  Let's look at Kino's 2019 blu-ray edition of Lost Highway, still the only US option available in HD.

Update 10/13/22: But I did rush out to get this one, Criterion's new 4k BD/ UHD combo pack is the one we've all been waiting for.
That said, Lost Highway is a little simpler.  I can still see someone coming into Lynch's films cold being totally baffled by this film, but I'd say it's far easier to interpret than Inland Empire.  It's no less of a powerful work because of it, though.  The back of the Australian DVD (more on that in a minute) case describes it merely as, "the story of a killer who suffers acute schizophrenia."  For my money, that might be a little too specific a diagnosis; but that gives you the general idea.  We see a murder mystery start to unfold and then repeat, altered, with different people in each other's places.  And I'll just leave it at that, because I wouldn't want to spoil anything.
Despite being a little arch, as Lynch tends to be, with as much influence generated from old noir films as authentic human experience, the drama still lands, and the creepy imagery even more so.  I mean, that scene when Bill Pullman meets Robert Blake at the party may still go down as one of the most chilling horror scenes of all time.  Badalamenti's music plays backseat a bit this time, upstaged by some licensed songs and Lynch's always brilliant sound design, but it all adds up to a very consistent atmosphere.  And the cast is littered with greats.  Besides Pullman and Blake there's Patricia Arquette, Robert Loggia, Balthazar Getty, Jack Nance, Gary Busey, Richard Pryor(!) and Marilyn Manson.
Strangely, for the longest time, this film wasn't even available on a basic DVD here in America.  That's why I originally imported that aforementioned Australian DVD from Shock.  It was released in 2001 in anamorphic widescreen and with a couple interesting extras to boot.  Finally, Focus Features/ Universal issued it here on DVD... in 2008.  Barebones.  Jeez, guys, would it kill ya?  But there had been a number of additional DVDs and yes, blu-rays overseas.  The one I've got for us today is the 2011 German blu from Concorde.  Then eventually, this film did make it to blu here in the US, again barebones, although that wasn't originally the plan.  it wasn't the restoration Lynch and his fans hoped for, but Kino's blu isn't the same transfer as the Concorde blu either.  Finally, now in 2022, we do have the new 4k scan and transfer Lynched was waiting for, from Criterion.  And the benefit of us having waiting these three extra years is that we've got it on UHD now to boot.
1) 2001 Shock DVD; 2) 2008 Universal DVD; 3) 2011 Concorde BD;
4) 2019 Kino BD; 5) 2022 Criterion BD; 6) 2022 Criterion UHD.

All six discs are anamorphic, widescreen at just wider than 2.35:1, and thankfully free from interlacing or other image problems.  The colors look a little bleached on the Australian DVD, and are substantially darker on the older two US releases.  None of the pre-2022 discs bear any stamp of having been approved by Lynch or DP Peter Deming to say which is the most "officially" accurate... In fact, we know from his comments on this article that Deming was specifically kept out of the process by Kino.  So we had been left to choose based on our own personal preferences.  Perhaps the film truly was meant to be so dark and vivid, but the older US releases crush blacks and lose some visual information for the sake of that bold choice.  On the other hand, the imports look a little overly bright for the gloomy mystery Lynch is building.  There's a note on DVDCompare's page that the Shock DVD is "[s]aid to feature a less than adequate transfer," but I'd take it over the Universal.  The HD blus are naturally sharper and clearer than either of them, though, and both have nicely realized grain.  I was expecting smudgier, flawed masters showing their age, but am pleasantly surprised with how both blus look.

And now of course we have Criterion's edition, which freshly scanned the original A/B camera negative in 4k, and was indeed supervised by Lynch.  And when I first took a glimpse at it, I thought, oh boy, some fans are not going to like this.  We're back to the paler, cooler colors timing, much closer to the Au and DE discs than the US discs, which seem to be generally more popular.  But now we know where Lynch falls on the issue, so that's pretty much that.  The scan is cleaner, even just comparing the two 1080p blus, with more accurate representation of tiny detail and grain (there's more digital noise on the guard's face, for example), but of course you really get the benefit with the UHD's full resolution.  And, as always, the UHD is a little darker because of its Dolby Vision HDR, but the result is the colors do look a little more organic and less washed than its BD companion.

Australia's Shock DVD features the original stereo and no subs, while the US features a 5.1 remix and subtitles in English, French and Spanish.  Concorde's blu gives us the 5.1 in DTS-HD, plus a German dub, but unfortunately only has optional German subtitles.  While Kino came with both the original stereo and 5.1 mixes in DTS-HD, and optional English subtitles to boot.  Criterion's new disc has the same options (5.1 and stereo with English subs), but they've also been remastered with Lynch's supervision.
So now let's talk extras.  There's never a whole lot to speak of, but there are some, and they're interesting.  Oh, except not in the US.  Our Universal DVD is completely barebones, they don't even throw in the trailer.  And Kino announced a Tim Lucas commentary, an interview with Lynch and the trailer, but had to scrap them.  The Australian DVD doesn't have the trailer either, but it has almost 45 minutes of interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.  Pretty sweet, but Lynch fans might find it all a little familiar.  It's just footage excised from the documentary Pretty As a Picture: The Art of David Lynch.  That doc was filmed as Lynch was making Lost Highway, so while it isn't about Lost Highway per se; an awful lot of it centers around that shoot.  And Shock basically just cut out all the footage from it that pertains to Lost Highway and stuck it on their DVD as if they had five original featurettes.  But it's all taken 100% from there.  So, if you already have the film (Image released it on DVD way back in 1999), you're not seeing anything new.  Nice to have over Universal & Kino's abject nothingness, but still a little disappointing.
Concorde's interview.
Concorde doesn't have the Pretty As a Picture stuff, but it does have a few things, yes, including the trailer finally.  It also has a couple German-language bonus trailers, but more interestingly, it also has some vintage Lost Highway promo-material.  We get a five minute interview with David Lynch, seemingly shot on location (and I'm guessing this is the one Kino was going to include, too, since they obviously weren't working with him to record a new one), plus about ten minutes of behind-the-scenes footage, giving us a little glimpse of the film's creation.  Hearing little snippets of Lynch directing the actors could possibly help the die-hard analysts interpret a few scenes.  That's it, though; there's just those two things and the trailers.  Really not very much, under twenty minutes all together, but worth seeing for sure.
1) 1999 Image DVD; 2) 2022 Criterion BD.
And Criterion?  Well, it doesn't have quite as much as one would hope, but they've still won the day.  First and foremost, they've included the complete Pretty As a Picture documentary.  As you can see above, it's the same transfer as the old 1999 DVD from Image, except upconverting it to HD makes the interlacing much less destructive, which is nice.  And I was worried that Criterion would lose the 15 minutes worth of outtakes from that documentary that Image had on their disc, making us have to hold onto our old DVDs, but no.  They're here, too; so feel free to finally chuck your old DVDs.  Apart from that, they include about 25 minutes of vintage promo interviews, including some of what was on the Concorde (we did lose some of that B-roll footage, though, if you're a die-hard completist).  And the only new feature is a 45-minute audio-only reading of a chapter from Lynch's 2018 book, Next Door To Dark.  That's it.  Oh well.  It does include a nice 30-page booklet that mostly consists with another interview with Lynch about this film, packaged in a digipack inside a slipbox.
So here it is, the long-awaited definitive edition of Lost Highway, and it is pretty sweet.  I don't mind the Kino diversion, because we would've been double-dipping a Criterion BD only release for the UHD anyway.  It may not be quite as exciting as we imagined - some fans will surely gripe about the colors, and the extras are still light - but it's still pretty damn sweet.