Competing Killer Klowns From Outer Space

I was recently writing about a space invasion movie that was essentially created by a team of special effects artists who'd taken the reign to produce, write and direct themselves... which more or less explained why it essentially became sort of a bland, dumb, soulless movie.  Well, here's another case of the same thing.  This time the special effects team in question is The Chiodo Brothers (the brothers are, the team is; don't question me, Autocorrect; I know what I'm doing!), who'd made everything from the claymation Simpsons to the Team America puppets and most importantly, the critters for Critters.  For the first, and to date only, time, they decided to see their creative vision all the way through and write, produce and direct their own thoroughly original alien invasion story.  And it resulted in almost the complete opposite of that other movie.

Update 1/3/18 - 4/25/18: Is it time to throw all previous editions out the window? The new 2018 Arrow special edition blu-ray (not to be confused with the 2012 Arrow special edition blu-ray) is here! And this time, it's no mere reissue.

Update 5/16/24: We're fully into the 4k era now, and it's time for a new Klowns, and this time the ball's in Scream Factory's court.  It's always good to step forward a generation, but in this case, we seem to be taking a step back at the same time.
Killer Klowns From Outer Space is a title that evokes a lot of fun, crazy ideas.  But if you've watched a lot of films because of their alluringly outrageous titles, you're probably used to being disappointed.  Cat Women Of the Moon just consists of seven to eight stodgy television actors standing around gabbing in cardboard sets.  The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies is actually an excruciating exercise in tedium.  Gore-Met Zombie Chef from Hell doesn't even have a zombie in it, just boring dialogue and Halloween store special effects.  But Killer Klowns delivers, living up to everything your imagination casts up when it hears the title and taking you so much further than you'd even hoped to go.
First of all, the clowns themselves are a brilliant, iconic series of designs.  We're not talking actors in clown make-up but fantastic (in both senses of the word) clown monsters.  And we don't have to wait until seventy minutes into the film to see them for about ninety seconds of screentime; they're all over the place.  Very early on, we see inside their spaceship tent, and it's a beautiful glass matte shot right out of Forbidden Planet.  And practically every scene is a new idea based on the colorful premise of what if clowns were killer space aliens?  These clowns don't just lurk around dark corners stabbing people with knives, they twist balloon animals into living creatures that can attack, they cocoon victims in cotton candy and suck their blood through crazy straws.  Their popcorn's alive, they trap victims in ball pits, their puppet shows are deadly.  Each moment is another great idea carried out like I haven't seen in a film since the original Phantasm.
But objectively, is it actually a good movie?  Honestly, yes!  Sure, if you're looking for a movie to teach you how to love again, this isn't competing on the same profound level of an emotionally raw Bergman masterpiece; but it really is an all-around great film.  Naturally, the effects are terrific, and the silly plot is a constant pleasure.  But it film is supported just as much by its colorful production design (also by the Chiodos), iconic theme song by The Dickies and cult actor John Vernon expertly playing his role to the hilt.  Okay, a few of the more juvenile gags fall a little flat, and some of our lead actors, while taking cues right from the B-movie classic playbook, are a tad wooden.  But overall, it's just an all-around great film.  Like, this was 1988.  What won the Academy Award in 1988?  The Last Emperor?  I'd put this movie over that!
Killer Klowns From Outer Space wasn't exactly a sleeper hit in the horror community, so we were chomping at the bit for a special edition in the early days of DVD.  And in 2001, MGM gave us one as part of their budget-priced Midnight Movies line.  Often, those were no frills editions paired up as flipper discs; but they knew the fans would eat them alive if they didn't give us a nice, packed special edition DVD, which they did.  And eventually, in 2012, they bumped up the film to HD with an equally low-cost blu-ray, which thankfully retained all the extras from the DVD.  They even re-released it a couple of times with collectible lenticular covers [see mine, right].  Walmart even included a bonus Killer Klowns coloring book!  Meanwhile, that same year, Arrow released the film as a DVD/ blu-ray combo pack in the UK, with slightly different extras (you bet we'll get into that).  And in 2014, they reissued that as a steelbook edition, which is what I've got.  Then in 2018, Arrow took a new stab at it, instead of just repackaging the same discs again, they gave the film a brand new restoration with a fresh 4k scan from the original negative, plus additional special features.  But naturally, when a 4k scan comes out on 1080p, a proper UHD is nearly inevitable; and that day has come, though this time from Scream Factory, as a 2-disc BD/ UHD set.
1) MGM 2001 US DVD; 2) MGM 2012 US blu;
3) Arrow 2014 UK DVD; 4) Arrow 2014 UK blu; 5) Arrow 2018 US blu;
6) 2024 Scream Factory BD; 7) 2024 Scream Factory UHD.




Once you get past the original 2001 DVD, which is distinctly darker with heavier saturation (including a subtle blue filter for some of their night scenes that the later releases seem to have dropped); we're looking at a pretty similar master every time.  Each release before 2018 is slightly letterboxed to 1.85:1, with slivers of faded matting on the sides... an overscan area thing that really indicates an older master.  But it looks pretty good.  The initial HD is a nice jump up in clarity over the old MGM DVD, though it's still a little soft.  Arrow is clearly using MGM's master, and happily they didn't do any destructive tinkering to it, so effectively the two blus are tied in terms of PQ.  For whatever reason, though, Arrow's DVD came out a little paler.

But then we jump to 4k.  Arrow's new 2018 blu is again slightly matted to 1.85:1, but pulls out slightly further, revealing a little extra picture along all four sides.  The first thing you'll notice about this new transfer, though, is the grain.  It's positively dancing in every frame.  Some people might even be a little put off by it..  Like I said in January, the old blus look a little soft, and that's why.  This new transfer is super crisp.  And the colors aren't very different from their predecessors (and still no blue filter), but they do look truer.  It's subtle enough, though, that you'd only notice it in a direct comparison like this.  What isn't subtle is that sharper, grainier image.

Scream's framing, then, is exactly the same.  The look isn't quite as grainy, and just comparing the 1080p blus, I think I'd say Arrow has the better encode.  But then the UHD has a finer grain look but with a more thorough capture, reducing the "noisy" feel of the Arrow, but more film-like than the SF blu.  And both Scream discs, but especially the Dolby Vision'd UHD, boast stronger colors.  Skin tones and brights are more natural, while the crazy clownish colors are more vibrant, without crossing over to over saturation.  Fans will be impressed.
Now, the old DVD gave us a perfectly fine Stereo mix with optional French and Spanish subtitles.  The MGM has bumped this up to a DTS-HD stereo track, though I only really noticed the difference during the opening theme, and this time they offer optional English and Spanish subs.  Arrow has almost the same lossless audio track, with optional subs, but there is a difference.  The liner notes in their booklet mention "additional sync work" done in London, and with good reason.  Around the 17 minute mark, the dialogue noticeably drifts a little bit off on both the MGM DVD and their later blu and lasts for the duration of the scene.  The Arrow release has corrected it, or at least gotten it substantially closer, as I suspect it was a minor ADR issue in the first place.  So it's a small thing, but definitely an improvement.

And yes, thank goodness, the 2018 and 2024 releases retain the correct sync.  I was a little nervous about discovering that the problem that reverted, but no, it's all good.  And this time, in addition to the stereo mix (and English subs, which are still here),  both have added a DTS-HD 5.1 mix.  I'm not sure how big a deal that is, since it's revisionist as the stereo is the original mix, but it's nice that they added it for those who want it.
Speaking of improvements and retaining the good stuff, let's talk extras.  Now the original MGM DVD already laid all the serious groundwork: a very fun and thorough audio commentary by all three Chiodo brothers, an over 20-minutes 'making of' doc, multiple featurettes on the visual effects, score, the shooting process & even a look at the Chiodo's early short films, plus two deleted scenes (with optional commentary), bloopers, two galleries, the trailer and several fun easter eggs.  And again, they carried all of that over for their blu, nothing's missing.  It might look like they added a couple things, like "Klown auditions," but those are just the easter eggs from the DVD now laid out plainly on the menu.  Arrow 2012/ 2014, too, has included all of that great material - including, again, the easter eggs - but they've also created a couple new features.  We get on-camera interviews with stars Grant Cramer and Suzanne Snyder, as well as a short, 8 minute tour of the Chiodo Brothers' models and creations.  Arrow also made a nice little, 24-page booklet with notes by critic Joel Harley.  Oh, and they threw in another one of their postcards for another Arrow release: mine was Mark Of the Devil.
Africa Danny, 1970
And in 2018, almost all of that is carried over.  The old MGM stuff, Arrow's 2012 interviews, the easter eggs, even the Harley booklet and postcard (this time, mine was for Don't Torture a Duckling).  All they dropped was the short look at the Chiodos' early films.  And that makes sense when you see what they replaced it with.  First, there's a new featurette interviewing The Dickies about their unforgettable theme song, and then there's one on the Chido's early experimental Super 8 short films.  And finally, there's the six Super 8 films themselves (one of which features an audio commentary by the brothers).  This edition also includes a cool, double-sided Killer Klowns poster, a nice lenticular slipcover and reversible artwork.

Sadly, here's where Scream Factory falters.  They lose the Arrow exclusives, and not just the 2018 stuff, but the older ones, too, like the Suzanne Snyder interview.  And they haven't cooked up anything new.  It's just a big loss in the extras department.  The sole consolation prize is that seven minute look at the Chiodo's early films from the MGM disc, but obviously it's nothing compared to what Arrow had given us.  Scream's release does at least come in a slipcover, or is also available in an alternate steelbook version.  Pre-ordering direct from Shout could've also netted you three posters, an enamel pin set, five lobby cards, a sticker and a second slipcover.
So, okay, it's mostly easy peasy.  The blus naturally trump the old DVD edition, the old Arrow disc is just that little bit better than the MGM for fixing the sound and including those additional features, and then the 2018 blu is the best of all, right?  Yup.  But now in 2024, we have to make decisions.  Scream has the new, best transfer, and it's not one of those slim distinctions you need to zoom in 500% to see.  But it's also a substantially disappointing step back in features.  I can't say I was ever too involved in the short films the Chiodo brothers made as teenagers, but all the extras about Klowns are great, and the SF set feels light without them.  The obvious solution is to keep both the 2018 Arrow and the new Scream Factory, but if your budget's tight, you're stuck making a tough call.

Demon Witch Child!!! And Some Other Piece of Crap

So, ever since I first did a "Catch-Up" series on this site, I knew it was only a matter of time until Code Red's.  There's just all these great, older Code Red releases that need covering on here: great but overlooked DVD-only horrors and yes, a couple more DVD/ blu-ray comparisons.  And we start out with one of my favorite horror DVD, which I can't believe isn't better known and in more fans' collections.  I mean, don't get me wrong; I completely understand why it isn't in most peoples' collections and isn't regarded alongside mainstream horror classics like A Nightmare On Elm St or The Omen.  We're talking crazy, cult, obscure 70's insanity, not slick, streamlined, and glossy high production values.  This is for a select audience only.  But that select audience should be all over this disc.

Update 11/26/17 - 5/4/24: Aw yeah, now it's on!  Demon Witch Child has been restored and released on blu from Ediciones 79 in Spain.  Big thanks to Bruce of Cinema Arcana for hipping us to that in the comments.  And thanks to JMan for pointing out that Help Me... has also been released on blu from AGFA, but I don't think I'll be reviewing that one anytime soon.  😜
Since Code Red's disc is a double-feature, before we get to the neglected masterpiece, let's get the other film out of the way first: the "piece of crap" from this post's title.  It's a little film called The Possessed.  Actually, both films have been called The Possessed.  That's why they're paired up on the same disc.  Otherwise, they have nothing in common.

This The Possessed - on-screen title: Help Me... I'm Possessed - is an American film from 1974.  Screenwriter Bill Green also stars as a doctor of a sanitarium/ castle somewhere in Southern California.  He has a hunchbacked assistant, a mad woman for a sister and a new bride who begins to suspect unorthodox things are going on behind closed doors.  Patients are tortured and killed, and an unseen monster chases a nurse through the woods.  But things aren't nearly as interesting as that description makes it sound.  It's mostly long, droll scenes of conversations as characters stand around in front of a static camera.  It's just tongue-in-cheek enough that there's nothing to get invested in, but utterly fails in its attempts at humor with dialogue like, "who are you?"  "I'm fine.  How are you?"
I have to admit... I do love this location.
The police come and just... mill about the grounds aimlessly.  The premise and marketing promise sleaze and shocks, but that mostly just amounts to women in their bras pretending to be dead and a rubber leg or two.  It's absolutely Mystery Science Theater fodder-level (Season 14 show runners, take note), and deserves a little credit for trying to be an 'everything and the kitchen sink' movie where you never know what's coming around the next corner - mad scientist, hunchback, lunatic or off-camera monster?  But it's all just so flat and lifeless in execution, the fun the premise could offer just makes the film all the more disappointing.  If you're in the absolute right mood, and very patient, you might be slightly amused, in a laughing at it as opposed to with it kind of way.  But it's definitely not the reason to add this DVD to your collection.
2013 Code Red DVD.
...Of course, it's not a pristine, or in any way cleaned or remastered, film print.  This is another one of Code Red's patented "grindhouse" experiences, where the print is covered in dirt and chemicals, with green spots and lines everywhere.  It's also got a faded, washed out and soft look.  But it's still 100% more authentic and satisfying than any of VHS dub.  It's 1.78:1 (or more like 1.76 with the dead space in the overscan area's edges) anamorphic, progressive, and the mono audio, well, it matches the print.  There's a bassline soft hiss that isn't too distracting, with plenty of pops, but surprisingly robust library music and clear dialogue.  There are no subtitles or alternate audio tracks.
But the real gem is 1976's The Possessed - on-screen title: Demon Witch Child - a delightful killer kid film from Spain.  This one's written and directed by none other than Amando de Ossorio, the man behind The Blind Dead and Lorelei's Grasp.  But Demon Witch Child may have actually usurped all his other work as my favorite de Ossorio film.  It's just so much fun.  If you appreciated Cathy's Curse, oh boy, this is like its equally nutty prequel.

The premise is perfectly simple: the local police bust up a coven of witches, so their leader takes revenge by possessing the chief's daughter.  It starts off in some predictable Exorcist rip-off territory - not that that's a bad thing - with the girl floating out of her bed and a priest being brought in to chase the evil out of her.  But she quickly transforms into a delightful, balding foul-mouthed witch child, using her powers to wreak havoc on everyone in her life.  She laughs maniacally as she displays all kinds of fun magical powers and goes pretty psycho in some edgy ways that I'm super tempted to spoil right now, but I won't.
Meanwhile, everyone's trudging around in super 70's earth tones, and there's a melodramatic subplot where the priest's ex-girlfriend has become a prostitute.  The local townspeople form a mob and dig up graves, the bad-ass police captain, the parents, the priest and an ace reporter are all following separate paths to find the truth, and the witch cult comes back to help their crazy little girl kidnap a baby.

Admittedly, the pacing drags at points, with dubbed dialogue and scenes which can only be honestly described as bad writing.  The score is also clunky, though it concludes with a pretty dramatic, rousing number, that reminded me of Frizzi's main theme for The Beyond.  And Code Red clearly agrees with me, because it's the music they use for the DVD menu.  There's also a weird aspect to the DVD  presentation where the first minute of footage repeats with alternate credits over it.  Unsurprisingly, Ediciones 79 fixes that.
This print's been badly damaged, but we've got the fingerprint of the man responsible!
This time Code Red's disc wasn't the only release of Demon Witch Child.  It was included in one of those no frills budget packs of multiple films called Grindhouse Experience: 20 Film Feature Collection from 2007.  But that's reportedly another one of those 4:3 VHS-sourced editions.  Meanwhile, just like the other The Possessed, Code Red's got another, much more satisfying anamorphic widescreen transfer of a film print.  That was a nice, if battered, upgrade for its time.  But as of October '23, we've got a brand new 2k restoration clearly using superior film elements on BD (no, not BDR) from Ediciones 79, and it takes the film into a whole new world.
2013 Code Red DVD top; 2023 Ediciones 79 BD bottom.
Code Red's transfer looks just like their other The Possessed.  I could pretty much copy the entire paragraph I wrote about that transfer and it would apply equally to this one.  1.78:1 anamorphic, progressive transfer, with slivers of pillar-boxing down the sides making it more accurately 1.76:1.  Tinted and drained colors with washed exposure, and yes, plenty more green chemical damage all over the place.  But now, just look at it!  The framing has been tweaked to 1.94:1, which is a little curious, but basically just means there's more information on both sides compared to the Code Red.  The washed colors, over exposure, chemical damage, horizontal pinching... all of that is completely gone, giving this film a total make-over, now looking far more vivid and life-like.  Plenty of detail that had been missing is now visible for the first time... look out the windows in that second set of shots.  Grain is light and a little patchy; the encode could probably have been better.

The DVD's mono audio is about the same as the other The Possessed, too; except the crackly hiss and pops are just a little bit worse.  A word or two are dropped when damage causes the film to be spliced, but for the most part, you can get used to it.  You won't have to, though, with the new blu which is infinitely cleaner and clearer.  Edicione 79 gives us both the Spanish and the English tracks, though only the Spanish is in DTS-HD.  The English track is lossy.  And sadly, the only subtitles included are (removable) Spanish ones, so we're stuck with the English dub.  But, then, we always have been; and both tracks appear to be dubs, anyway.
There's basically nothing by way of special features on the double-feature DVD; we don't even get the films' trailers.  We just get the traditional Family Honor trailer on start up and a couple of Code Red bonus trailers.  But Ediciones 79 has some real goodies.  Unfortunately, the only English friendly one among them is the trailer.  That's nice to get, but some of the other stuff is so tantalizing and frustratingly untranslated.  Chief among them is a 20+ minute interview with the demon witch child herself, Marian Salgado!  There's also another brief featurette that talks to her a bit more at a film festival, and introduction by the Ediciones 79 guys, a longer discussion between the Ediciones guys about the film, and a short horror film from 2023 called Angustias, which also stars Maria Salgado.  Their release also includes fun, reversible artwork styled after an old VHS cover, and the first limited run of 666 copies also includes a slipcover, booklet and poster.
Code Red's presentations what they are: direct, un-restored standard def transfers scanned from a pair of beat up old film prints.  They sure beat the video-tape crapola that came before 'em, but we don't have to accept that as the best offer anymore; we have proper blu-rays now.  It sure is frustrating that the Spanish blu didn't throw in English subtitles (though understandable... it is a Spanish release, after all), but it's light years beyond what we've been stuck with up 'till now.

Lars von Trier's Kingdom: A Complicated History

Oh, boy. If you weren't collecting DVDs back in the early 2000s, you missed a lot of headache and over complication. Lars von Trier's The Kingdom (or Riget, originally) was and is one of the greatest, craziest television mini-series ever produced. It was released on a ton of different DVD editions in a ton of different countries, and they all had different things wrong with them, with each release fixing one or two issues, sometimes introducing another, and slowly inching our way to a respectable home edition. Forget double-dipping, we were quintuple-dipping! But we finally got there in the end.

Update 5/1/24: It's a big update for The Kingdom.  Trier has finally completed the trilogy, and now all three series have been compiled on blu from Mubi in one comprehensive set.
Until recently, there have really been two Kingdoms, Kingdom I and Kingdom II, a trilogy that went unfinished... due in large part to the passing of lead actor Ernst-Hugo Jaregard. The Kingdom was full of wild and wonderful characterizations, but Jaregard still managed to stand out as the greatest performance. But even without a perfectly satisfactory conclusion, The Kingdom is a hell of a ride. The "kingdom" of this story is a high-end Denmark hospital, which is not only haunted but staffed with such a colorful cast of characters, they manage to make the ghosts look pale by comparison. Captivating and endlessly entertaining, each Kingdom consisted of four, hour-long episodes... mostly.
Occasionally, the series was broken up into five episodes, depending on what country you ordered this from. And that's just one of the many screwy quirks that made the various DVD editions as almost as eccentric as the show itself. Unfortunately, I sold off a lot of my older copies as I upgraded them, so I can't present the ultimate library screenshot comparison. But it's really not that important, because so many of the older discs were so flawed and without lasting, redeeming qualities (meaning unique extras or something), there's really no reason to go back to them. Still, I did own them at one point, so I can briefly run down the deals for some of the important .

The first set of DVDs came from China. They were NTSC and had English subtitles, so they were the original go-to DVDs. Unfortunately, the subtitles were terrible. They had constant spelling errors, mis-translations, and would sometimes just go away, leaving entire monologues untranslated. They also cut two of Trier's closing monologues, where he would speak directly to the audience during the closing credits.

Then the PAL DVD came out from ICA Projects in the UK. That one I've actually still got, so we'll take a second look at it a little further down. But the basic story with this one is that it had better picture quality and subtitled Trier's monologues, plus it included Tranceformer, an excellent, hour-long documentary on Trier. BUT - and this is a big but - it's cut. Some sites report it as missing only a few seconds of graphic violence, but that's not true. It's missing a bunch of stuff, often completely innocuous material, which was probably just shaved for more commercial time. It's also the first release to edit the series into five episodes instead of four. And they only released The first Kingdom, so it left you hanging for Kingdom II anyway.

Seville released it next, in Canada. They still broke the show up into five episodes, but weren't missing all the footage the ICA Projects disc was. For a while, this was the best release. It had forced subtitles, no extras, and never got to Kingdom II. But at the time, you couldn't do better. Oh, and are you wondering how the show could have special monologues at the end of every episode, then be re-cut to include an extra episode and still somehow have a monologue for the end of each episode? They just repeated the closing from episode three on episode four and hoped nobody would notice it was the same thing twice. :/

Then, in 2003, Triers' own company, Zentropa Films, did it right. And that's the main DVD edition we're going to focus on here. There have been subsequent releases: Koch in the USA and Madman in Australia, which essentially mirror the Zentropa release. And in 2011, Second Sight reissued it in the UK, with all of the features and qualities of the Zentropa disc, plus Tranceformer.

And finally, Mubi has brought the series to HD, with a brand new, 7-disc set (four discs for The Kingdom I & II, and three for Kingdom: Exodus, which I'll swing back to later), in both the US and UK.  For years, I've known to be Mubi just a streaming platform that held a couple of interesting titles, like the new Kingdom, hostage behind their paywall.  But lately they've branched into physical media, and I'm excited to welcome them to the fold.  They've got all the episodes, uncut, with improved translations, and all the extras from the Zentropa set (except the music video).  One potentially controversial detail, though, they're re-framed everything to widescreen.
1) 2002 ICA Projects DVD; 2) 2003 Zentropa DVD; 3) 2024 Mubi BD.
So starting with the DVDs, the first thing you might notice is that even though ICA fixed the horrendous subtitles of the old Chinese discs, Zentropa still wound up producing still alternate translations. Both discs are slightly windowboxed, non-anamorphic 1.41:1 transfers (specifically, they're non-anamorphic full-frame 3:4 with slight letterboxing to matting them further down). The Kingdom II, which is only available in the Zentropa set, is given a slightly taller 1:34.1 frame. The Kingdom was intentionally given a funky, grainy look, so it's never going to look anywhere near pristine, but improved picture of the ICA disc has been pretty well duplicated on the Zentropa disc. Image quality-wise, they're about the same, except ICA's has a lower contrast, less saturated and more washed out look.

So, I had the opportunity to ask the head of remastering the first two seasons about the new framing on blu-ray.com, and he had this to say, "The original seasons were shot on super 16mm celluloid film which is closer to the 16:9 AR with 1.66:1. It was then cropped to fit the 4:3 AR of TVs. The remastered has more footage on the sides and a slight crop in top and bottom." And yup, that bears out.  In the shots above, we can see a bit more on the sides, with a little less along the top in the first set, and less along the bottom in the second.  It's nice that they took time to carefully re-frame things.  I still wish they hadn't taken the liberty to get all revisionist and change the AR, but I can't honestly say it bothers me that much.  And it's worth noting that the restoration was done by Zentropa, not Mubi themselves, which at least adds a little legitimacy to any creative adjustments made for these new transfers.

What will jump out at you much more distinctly than the aspect ratio when you first fire up one of the blu-rays is the grain.  Wow, is this grainy!  Makes sense for 16mm, and it's safe to assume the DVDs smoothed it all away just by virtue of being unable to render it all.  But when you zoom in close, there is a very pixelated look to the grain, suggesting some sharpening or other tinkering, which could be the result of the new remastering or something Trier did to the footage in the 90s.  I don't know, but it's not just natural film grain.  Looks like some edge enhancement, too, or the unsharpen tool; like they worked a lot to "fix" this footage.  But they also appear to have recovered actual, additional detail (look way down the hall), so for the most part you could call it a success.

Apart from that, the saturation looks more like the Zentropa than the faded ICA, with some of the original colors popping back up (i.e. the garbage bag in the second set of shots appearing the most visibly blue).  A welcome fix is to the video tape-y color separation.  Note the green haloing in the lights (and other spots) in the second set of shots.  That's been cleaned up.  In brief, I think most viewers will find it a much less soft, frustrating viewing on their modern sets, but they'll be saying, "WOW, is this grainy!"
And now, 25 years after The Kingdom II ended, we have the final chapter: Kingdom: Exodus - a move likely inspired at least somewhat by Twin Peaks: The Return.  Fans will be happy that this gives a satisfying conclusion, presumably close to what we would've gotten in the 90s, but with some accommodations for the leap forward in time.  Sadly, of course, some actors couldn't return, but many do, and we get some newer, younger doctors added to the mix.  Alexander Skarsgård drops by to play the son of his father's character, while the most exciting new cast member is surely Willem Dafoe.  I don't want to spoil any of the many surprises, so I'll just quickly say that this really is the third and final chapter, not just some new material tacked on.  And aside from Trier taking a few grumpy/ easy jabs at wokeism and a couple corny little comic misfires, it's great and everything fans have been hoping for.
2024 Mubi BD.
Exodus maintains the color-drained sepia look of the original series, as well as 1.78:1 aspect ratio if you're going with the blu-rays all the way through the run.  In fact, the new episodes start with the same bleach pit opening as the 90s episodes.  That's probably part of why they re-framed the old series to 1.78, to make all the Kingdoms feel of a piece.  Still, you'll immediately notice that Exodus isn't nearly as grainy as the previous series, and what grain is here looks like actual film grain.  Detail is now much clearer, so the new shows still have a distinct look.  You can tell they're starting with a much higher def image.

The audio situation is the same across all three Kingdoms.  ICA's subtitles are burnt in, but Zentropa's are optional, and they offer a plethora of language choice, including: Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian, Swedish and the English.  Mubi has the original audio in both 2.0 and 5.1 DTS-HD, with removable English subtitles.
Extras-wise, the ICA disc just has the Tranceformer documentary, but it's pretty darn good, and it's not on the Zentropa disc. That's actually the reason I've held on my ICA DVDs while I sold my other old sets. The doc was also included on Criterion's DVD of Elements of Crime, however; so if you've got that there's no reason to bother with the ICA anymore. And, as I said, Second Sight included it on their 2011 release.

But Zentropa introduced a bevy of Kingdom-specific extras. First, Trier provides an audio commentary, along with co-writer Niels Vorsel and editor Molly Stensgard. They don't tackle the entire 8+ hours, but they do sections of each episode, which can be directly accessed from the Special Features menu. It's not in English, but there are English subtitles for the commentary audio. There's also a 25 minute Behind the Scenes featurette, a second 40 minute one entitled In Lars von Trier's Kingdom, a collection of "outrageous" television commercials directed by Trier and starring Jaregard, a music video for the show's main theme, bloopers from that music video, and a collection of trailers for Trier's other films.
Mubi basically retains all the Zentropa extras, except for the music video and its bloopers, without adding anything new.  It's disappointing they couldn't have gotten any interviews or anything for Exodus.  But at least they include a full-color 24-page booklet with a new Trier interview talking about the new series.  You should definitely read it; as it answers a lot of questions (not in-story but about the thinking behind everything), and it's as satisfying as you could hope for outside of a proper video piece on disc.  They also throw in six art cards of Exodus images, and the whole thing is packaged in an impressive, fold-out digipack and outer slipbox.
The Kingdom is a fantastic series, and fortunately, the horrible state it was in on DVD has been corrected. The missing footage, broken subtitles, screwy-five episode format, etc were cleaned up in Zentropa's 4-disc set, and all subsequent DVDs have used their improved set-up, down to the extras. And then Mubi gave us HD remasters and, of course, Exodus, which is of course absolutely essential. You might, if you're a real stickler, want to hang onto one of the DVD sets (but nothing from before 2002!) for the sake of the original 4:3 aspect ratio.  But I'm completely happy with the new set and think the upsides more than make up for the arguable downsides.