Valentino, Goodbye, But Way Up In the Sky (DVD/ Blu-ray Comparison)

It's a good time to be a Ken Russell fan. New blu-rays are coming out left and right. Crimes of Passion from Arrow, many of his BBC docs over in the UK, Women In Love just came out in a finally anamorphic special edition blu (I know.  Blu-rays aren't technically anamorphic, but you know what I mean).  It's hard to keep up with them all. But one I just had to cover, if for the extras alone, was BFI's new dual format special edition release of Valentino.
1977's Valentino is another biopic, this time of silent film star and one of cinema's first sex symbols, Rudolph Valentino, played interestingly enough by Rudolf Nureyev, the famous ballet dancer known for defecting from Russia to become a worldwide star... but not known for, you know, being an actor. Valentino was a bit of a flop, theatrically, and did some damage to Russell's career.  And in different interviews, you hear him go from describing it as his best screenplay ever, to his least favorite film, to it rising again in his estimations (as I think it has for many critics and audiences in general).  Still, I think I see why it got flack - I myself wouldn't recommend it to many people who weren't already established Russell fans.
There's a weird, unreality to it.  And I don't just mean the usual flair for kitsch and exaggeration Russell displays in a lot of his work.  This time, it's more about the performances.  I actually think Nureyev is quite good as Valentino, and didn't deserve the derision he sometimes got; but it just seems like an awful lot of the dialogue was loosely ADR'd.  So when you've got the modern actors putting on broad period dialects with this added layer of disassociation, where it doesn't always sound like their voices are coming out of their mouths.  It gives the whole film a fake or cheap/ amateur feeling - like a local theater company production - which it really doesn't deserve, considering how lavishly and carefully it was otherwise produced (just look at the images in these screenshots!).  You have to be open and patient with the film to form any kind of connection with the characters because of this barrier, and that's just too much to ask of general audiences.
But if you are willing to meet the film halfway, it's pretty great. Russell's kitschy visual style is perfect for bringing this romantic vision of Valentino's rise to Hollywood stardom to life. It's got a great cast, including Seymour Cassel, Michelle Phillips, Carol Kane, and keep your eyes open for a young John Ratzenberger. And it's a smartly written story, riding the line between the truth and the legend, with a nice satirical touch. It opens with an authentic, vintage song dedicated to Valentino called "There's a New Star In Heaven Tonight," but later in the film we hear another song about him, which I'd always assumed to have been equally authentic until I heard on the audio commentary that it was written by Ken Russell for the film. And now that people are finally getting to see it in widescreen, as opposed to its VHS and early DVD life, we can see that it looks great.
So yes, this film spent many years only being available on a crappy UK-only fullscreen DVD from MGM.  Finally, in 2010, it got an updated master from an HD scan of the 35mm inter positive, which MGM released as an MOD here in the USA. Over in the UK, though, Optimum gave the updated version a proper, pressed disc, and that was the definitive release for a long time.  But finally in 2016, that 2010 HD master has gotten released on an actual, HD disc release in both the USA (from Kino) and UK (from BFI).  And for the first time ever, Valentino's also getting the special edition treatment.
Optimum's 2010 DVD top; BFI's 2016 DVD mid; BFI's 2016 blu-ray bottom.
Yeah, you can really tell the 2016 is using the same master as the 2010 disc; BFI's DVD is a very close match to the Optimum DVD. This is not a new scan; we're just finally getting it on blu.  But that said, it really does benefit from the increased resolution.  This film is full of detail that looks almost out of focus on the DVDs compared to the blu. And the framing is almost identical, except you can see the Optimum crops the top a tiny sliver more, giving it a 1.86:1 ratio, as opposed to BFI's 1.85.  But it's so slight you'd never notice it outside of a direct comparison like this.

In the audio department, the DVD gives you a nice stereo mix, but that's it. BFI's blu gives you the original mono track as well as the stereo mix. And both are naturally lossless LPCM tracks on the blu.  Neither release has subtitles, and if you're wondering, the Kino release doesn't either.  Sorry, hearing impaired fans!
Extras are where BFI's new release really shines.  The Optimum disc only had the fullscreen trailer.  But BFI's release?  Where to begin?  I guess Tim Lucas's excellent audio commentary would be a good place to start.  If you're familiar with his past commentaries (most famously on Mario Bava's early DVDs), you know he comes prepared with a lot of research that really pays off. Almost as good is a rich, substantial interview with character actor Dudley Sutton.  He only has a tiny part in this film (he was also in The Devils), but he's got plenty of great, funny stories anyway.  actress Lynn Seymour, who wasn't in Valentino but starred opposite the real Valentino, gives a brief but nice, audio-only remembrance of the silent film star as well.

Then you get into the vintage stuff, including a very interesting television interview with Rudolf Nureyev.  As for Russell himself, there's an 89-minute audio only interview which they play as a second audio commentary over the film.  He only briefly mentions Valentino, but for Russell fans, there's a lot about his other work, including Gothic, which he had just filmed at the time.  Then BFI goes definitive, giving you lots of extra odds and ends from their vaults, including 9 minutes of original newsreel footage of Valentino's funeral in HD, some of which was used in the film's opening credits.  And they give you the opening and closing credit footage with the titles printed over them.  And there's a stills gallery, two widescreen trailers and 6 TV spots (one missing sound). It also comes with an 18-page booklet, including notes by Paul Sutton, author of Talking About Ken Russell.
And even though I don't have the recent Kino release for a proper comparison, I'd be derelict if I didn't talk about it, because it has some exclusive extras, and unless you're region locked, you're surely wondering which version to get.  Well, I looked into it and confidently chose this one.  It has Tim Lucas's audio commentary, 3 minutes of Valentino's funeral in SD, two trailers and a stills gallery.  It doesn't have anything else from the BFI material above.  But it does have two exclusives: a Trailers From Hell version of the film's trailer and a vintage television program on silent films with footage of the real Valentino's work.  Personally, I'd say the BFI's package leaves Kino's in the dust (though I am a Trailers From Hell fan), and not only would I recommend BFI's blu over Kino's, I wouldn't even say Kino's exclusives are worth double-dipping for if you're a serious fan.  If you're region A locked, though, at least you get something, and the commentary is there.  Oh, also Kino's disc doesn't have the stereo mix, just the mono.  So there's that.
So this might not be one of Russell's greatest films, but I think it's much better that its unfair reputation as one of his worst (I mean, come on, did you ever watch Dog Boys?), with cinematography that really ought to be seen in a proper widescreen presentation. And BFI really came through for this film, even more than it maybe deserved.  A strong recommendation for BFI's release if you're even somewhat into this film, although if you're DVD-only and not the type to watch extras, I suppose you could do just as well getting the Optimum disc on the cheap instead, since it's basically the same transfer.  Just avoid the 2003 disc.

Do You Dare Enter The Tomb by Bruno Mattei?

In 2007, Uli Lommel, director of The Boogeyman films, made a low budget shot-on-digital and direct-to-DVD horror movie called The Tomb. It was kind of trash and I kind of disliked it, like - sorry, Uli - I've disliked pretty much every Lummel film I've ever seen.  Every couple of years, I feel like I'm going to have an epiphany like, "oh, this is why his films have an audience!"  I'm still waiting.  But, as an added consequence, seeing and writing off Lummel's The Tomb had me mistakenly write off Bruno Mattei's 2006 low budget shot-on-digital and direct-to-DVD horror movie called The Tomb.  It wasn't until this year, when I was looking at some of Mattei's modern, digital films that I realized I'd conflated two entirely different movies and that I'd never actually seen Mattei's.  So I tracked down the old DVD, which is still the best and only way to get it, and oh boy.  This is certainly something.
The Tomb is at least somewhat inspired by the Stephen Sommers' hugely popular mummy movies. The bad guy looks just like Arnold Vosloo, and just like in The Mummy, the film opens up with our evil high priest in ancient times. This time, he's specifically Mayan, and conducting a resurrection ceremony. He gets interrupted at the last minute, and of course then we cut to contemporary times, where a professor and his archeology students arrive in Mexico, looking for some ancient tombs to poke around in. Conveniently, the pretty blonde one looks just like the seventh sacrifice the high priest failed to complete two thousand years ago. So an evil stripper who just so happens to be the high priest's undying wife kills their guide and takes them to the deadly, trapped-filled tomb, where the dead rise to finish what they started.
Man, Mattei has not missed a step since his early classics like Rats and Hell Of the Living Dead. Everything that was great about them, and everything that was terrible and enjoyable amount them are still on hand in equal amounts. You've got some really well-shot scenes with strong colors and fun images. You've got a movie that definitely delivers on the cheap thrills, and you've got the same wonderful dubbing. I think I even recognize some of the same voices from the 80s! Is he still incorporating stock footage? I'd say he's even gotten more bold. Maybe you recognize that shot of the skeletons from Army of Darkness? And that's not the only instance. The production values are all over the place, from looking dirt cheap and plastic-y to actually impressive. The acting is delightfully over-the-top and scenes get downright silly as they try to play it all deadly straight. Some of the make-up effects are actually quite good, though. I wouldn't recommend this movie to the average viewer, but if you like Mattei, this is one seriously fun time.
So, like I said, the old DVD is pretty much our sole option. It's a 2007 disc from York Entertainment, and boy is it no frills. And to illustrate that, look at its crazy, home-made DVD menu [right]! I mean, technically there is also a 2006 Italian DVD from CVC, but it has no English language options, just Italian audio and subtitles. So that's out. I have to admit, though, I'd be curious to get my hands on a copy anyway, just to see how the video quality stacks up against our US edition, because man, is this edition troubled.
I mean, where to begin? How about non-anamorphic? Serious interlacing problems? Soft, murky and compressed, with cases of weird edge enhancement? It's all here. The picture has a weird aspect ratio of about 1.73:1, which is presumably incorrect. And they don't even crop the stock footage to match the rest of the film, getting even more black footage on the sides whenever we cut away to Army or Raiders Of the Lost Ark. And when I say serious interlacing problems, I don't just mean the every 5th or 6th frame thing we see on a lot of cheap PAL<-->NTSC conversions; every frame is interlaced for minutes on end.  I wouldn't be surprised if Mattei's original footage turned out to be interlaced because he shot this with a cheap home consumer camcorder, or his editors couldn't figure out the pull-down. But then again, I'm hesitant to shift the blame for anything off of York, because clearly zero care was put into this release.

We only get the English dub for audio, but it's surprisingly hiss-free, and there are no subtitles or special features, not even a trailer. Heck, there aren't even chapters on this DVD! Hit the skip ahead or back buttons, and it takes you right back to the generic menu screen.
But you know what? Who cares if the DVD sucks? It almost adds to the kitsch of the whole proceedings. I mean, yeah, I'd be interested in a quality special edition re-release for sure. This film was probably shot in HD, right? Maybe? I'd like to see what could be done with this one, and any extras would be a hoot, I'm sure. So, maybe 88 Films could put this in their Italian line, or Severin could take a whack at it, since they've handled a bunch of other, more recent Mattei films. But I wouldn't hold my breath. And in the meantime, don't let York's disc put you off. It's on Amazon for under a dollar, so go ahead and splurge. Just don't get the Lummel film, because that's 47 cents you'll never get back.

M.I.A.: Eyes of Fire, 18th Century Witchcraft From the Early 80s

Hey, did any of you guys watch this year's critically acclaimed horror The VVitch this summer and think: eh, pretty cool, but it would've been just that little bit more enjoyable if it had been an even weirder, obscure 80s film?  Well, then have I got news for you - it was!  It's call Eyes of Fire from 1983, and it's really pretty cool, even though it's somehow managed to never have been released on DVD or blu-ray to this day.
To be fair, The VVitch isn't really Eyes of Fire 2016, either in the sense of being an obscure remake or a rip-off.  But the former seems to owe enough to the latter to at least raise an eyebrow or two.  A strict, pious, but ruggedly individualistic early American settler is driven out of his settlement for religious reasons and forced to take his family to try and live out on their own.  They set up a tiny farm out away from anybody else, but things start to go wrong for them, and we see that it's due to subtle the influence of an evil witch living in the surrounding woods.  And what starts as a tragic, corrupting miasma of omens and bad fortune slowly builds into an ultimately fatal conflict, testing the family's faith and pitting them against each other.  That is the plot to... both films.
But of course, once you dig into the particulars, strong distinctions start to appear all over the place, and each can be safely said to be their own movie.  So let's talk about what sets Eyes of Fire apart.  The patriarch in Eyes is exiled specifically for objecting to the burning women as witches, and it's believed by many that at least one of the women in his company is a witch... and so when the family is cast off down the river on a rickety old raft and take up shelter in some burned down cabins they stumble upon in a valley (the lord provides, or huge "get out of there" red flag?), it's unclear whether the malevolence set upon them is coming internally or externally.  This film also has the extra twist that the family has been pushed into Shawnee Indian territory, and after an initial attack, it's never really clear whether any trouble happening upon them is the work of local Indians, a witch, or the two in league.  And I won't get too spoilery here, but I will say that when all is revealed, it's not a disappointment.
This is a pretty smart, original horror film.  It's not perfect - its budget shows at times.  It has some pretty great production values for the most part, with terrific locations beautifully shot.  But the cast,  which consists almost entirely of vaguely recognizable television character actors, one of whom had just recently won an Emmy, sometimes feel a bit modern despite their period.  And the special effects range from awesome to dodgy and dated... but always inventive. A wide variety of techniques are used, so it's always fascinating: disappearing, slightly inhuman figures in the woods, faces in trees, black skies.  Thankfully, the movie is played completely earnestly - there's nothing campy or tongue-in-cheek within a mile of this film.  Except for a cheesy French accent in the very beginning, the cast do a good job of maintaining period-style language, though it isn't quite as distant as what we got in The VVitch. There's some surprisingly good dialogue.  And despite all the television actors, this is not a made for TV movie, so while this isn't a terribly graphic, gory film, it's also not that predictable kind of exercise in PG-safe nobody will die affairs.  Overall, this film has the feeling of a first-time filmmaker's devout attempt at a masterpiece that was going to blow the world away; and although it never really succeeded, it's still pretty damn interesting in an off-the-beaten-track kind of way.
So yeah, like I said, this has never been released on DVD or blu-ray, in the USA or outside of it.  Well, apparently there is a rather poor DVD from Thailand that's sourced from a VHS; but apart from that, anything you're seeing out there are homemade bootlegs.  The best we've got is this here laserdisc, which like Looking for Mr. Goodbar, is so old it predates chapter marks.  It's fullscreen, and I've never seen this film in its original widescreen AR (though I'd love to!), but my guess this is a case of "chopped off the sides," not open matte.  Just a guess though.  Either way, I can only imagine how an HD transfer would look taken from the original film elements.  What we're looking at here, though, is alright by early laserdisc standards.  It's clearly taken from a print, complete with cigarette burns and occasional flecks and damage (that's a single frame only scratch on the last picture above, not a white light int he distance).  Predictably, there are no extras, no fancy 5.1 mix, no subtitles... I prefer it to a VHS, but that's about all I can say for it.
It's really a shame this film is still so obscure.  It's no masterpiece, but it's more compelling than a lot of horror films that've gotten the red carpet treatment from our favorite cult labels lately.  And if you were impressed with The VVitch, it's great to know there's similar material to seek out, albeit with no legit commercial option at the moment.  But maybe there's fresh hope, as the company that issued this old laserdisc back in 1984?  Vestron Video😎

Twin Peaks: Is the Entire Mystery Truly the Entire Mystery? (DVD/ Blu-ray Comparison)

Okay, CBS and Paramount have an amazing Twin Peaks boxed set out there, called Twin Peaks: The Complete Mystery, which happens to be going through a couple changes.  More on that in a bit.  But now, even putting aside the fact that Showtime has recently reunited David Lynch, Mark Frost and pretty much the entire cast to film two new seasons of the series, and those have yet to be released, so obviously they're not in this set, sure.  Even forgetting that, is the definitive 10-blu-ray disc set really 100% complete?  Or are there exclusive reasons to hang onto the previous DVD releases of Twin Peaks? Well, just the fact that this post exists should tell you the answer that question.  However, it's going to take some serious delving to untangle all of the enigmatic little details...

Update 8/13/18: Twin Peaks certainly wouldn't be complete without its new third season, The Return!  So we'll look at the DVD and blu-ray editions of that.  And we've got Criterion's new blu-ray edition of Fire Walk With Me as well.
Twin Peaks began as the ultimate television experience, combining the talents of the man behind Hill Streets Blue with the mad genius behind Blue Velvet. It was a dark, layered and strange mystery mini-series about the secret double-lives we all lead getting uncovered when an the FBI is brought in to solve the murder of the home-coming queen in an idyllic small town. Just about everything you can imagine is dug out of peoples' closets from affairs and prostitution to drugs and abuse to an alternate dream reality and afterlife that really no one could have imagined. It blew away everyone's expectations in both ratings and critical reviews, and the dubious decision was made to delay the resolution of the mystery and ride wave of success just a little bit longer.

Due to fan pressure, they finally had to solve the mystery, but the series went on for a second season anyway, with Lynch and Frost focusing on other projects and leaving the series in the hands of others, and the quality dropped like a stone.  It wasn't a total loss, you still had a fantastic cast playing the characters you loved, but everybody was treading water at best as bad decisions and plot points continued to pull the series apart until it was quickly cancelled. Lynch returned to direct the final episode, which showed a clear bump up in quality, but it was too little and much too late. Even at the show's lowest point, however, it was determined that if everyone who watched the series would pay to see a movie, it would be a predetermined success, so Lynch returned to the town of Twin Peaks once more for the feature-film Fire Walk With Me, which was a little patchy at points, but mostly a very engrossing and vindicating prequel.
Now, Twin Peaks history on home video is a little convoluted, so bear with me. At the very beginning, before people know what a cultural phenomenon Twin Peaks was to become, the studios decided to release just the Twin Peaks pilot, with the ending of the first season tacked on as an awkward resolution, as a stand-alone movie overseas. What this did is leave the pilot in the hands of Warner Bros, and the rest of the series with Paramount. So when season 1 was first released on VHS, and again on DVD, in nice boxed sets, it was missing the first episode... which, you know, is hugely essential to the series. So Warner Bros wound up releasing it separately on VHS, and there was a common import PAL DVD from Republic Pictures everybody copped in 2001, which thankfully excluded the false "European ending."  Other regions didn't have this problem, though, so you could get season 1 including the pilot episode as a full set if you imported from almost any other country. You'll see the German DVD set in this comparison.

So, okay, anyway, Artisan put out special edition boxed sets of season 1 (sans pilot) in 2002. That same year, New Line released Fire Walk With Me as a semi-special edition DVD.  Paramount initially released season 2 by itself in 2007 (as season 1 was already out).  But then later that year, the entire series was remastered, and CBS re-acquired the rights to the pilot episode, putting them all together in their Definitive Gold Box Set.  How "definitive?" Well, it had the pilot reunited with the series (which you can watch with or without the international ending), both seasons, and some all new extras, but it was lacking some features from the Artisan sets and still, didn't have Fire Walk With Me. Then, in 2014, we got The Complete Mystery set, which included both seasons, the pilot, and Fire Walk With Me, all in HD on blu-ray for the first time, and with all new extras, including the 90 minutes of highly sought-after deleted scenes from Fire.  But it still doesn't have everything from the Artisan sets, and it even lost a few things from the Gold Box.  Yeah, it's all pretty confusing.  But don't worry, we're going to nail it all down.  But first let's look at the restorations.
2002 German Paramount DVD top; 2007 Gold Box DVD mid; 2014 Paramount blu bottom.
2002 German Paramount DVD left; 2007 Gold Box DVD mid; 2014 Paramount blu-ray right.
So yes, looking back, the restoration between the two DVDs is quite clear.  The older discs really look pale and fuzzy compared to the Gold Box.  The blu-rays, naturally, are clearer still.  They're all framed at the normal 1.33:1 television ratio, although the Gold Box and blu-rays have slightly more information along the edges, with the old discs zoomed in just a sliver.  So I'm happy to report at no time were we being sold a bill of goods; there is an appreciable uptick in quality with each re-release.  Look at the waitress close-ups full size and you'll really see the benefit of the HD.

For the record, I used to own the original Artisan boxed set and the Republic DVD.  I no longer have them for the comparison, but the as I recall the Artisan set was a direct match of German set seen here, and the pilot DVD was about the same (FTR, the fingernail examination shots above are taken from the pilot episode), if not even a little worse.  The fundamental fact is that, image quality-wise, there's really nothing to go back for.

Audio-wise, the original sets and Gold Box all gave you DTS 5.1 mixes of the episodes, Dolby 2.0 on the pilot (excluding the Artisan set, of course, which doesn't have the pilot), a couple mono dubs, and multiple subtitle options. The blu-box gives you DTS-HD 7.1 and 2.0 mixes, plus foreign dubs and multiple sub options.
But we can't leave the audio discussion behind without talking about perhaps the most controversial aspect of the Entire Mystery set... audio sync issues.  At a few points, in episodes 3, 9 and the on some of the Fire Walk With Me deleted scenes, the sound goes out of sync.  Maybe.  On some players.  Some players will sync up if you adjust a frame-rate setting on them, and testing them just now on my PC, they seem perfectly in sync (and I'm looking at the specific scenes very closely).  So people have been asking for a recall for years, Amazon has pulled the set from their store multiple times, but it doesn't seem like anything has been done.  I guess it's sort of a player-specific issue, but a very common one, in that it will only work with certain brands or firmware... or maybe a quiet replacement was done, and newer editions are corrected, but I've seen no evidence of this besides wishful thinking.  The accounts I've read say the sync isn't too far out of whack, so casual viewers might not even notice if they're not paying attention.  But yeah, it's unfortunate, and something CBS really should have definitively resolved, especially considering the prices they charged for the set. But there it is.  Fingers cross, and it will play correctly for you, too!
New Line 2002 DVD top; Paramount 2014 blu mid; Criterion 2017 blu bottom.
Can't forget about Fire Walk With Me! Now, even the old DVD was anamorphic widescreen, but the second thing you'll probably notice on this comparison is that both are nicely matted to 1.85, but the new blus have a decent amount of additional picture on all four sides.  You shouldn't need me to even say what the first thing is: they've really done some changes with the color timing.  Some scenes are more subtle than others (i.e. the first set compared to the second set), but it's throughout the whole film.  I'll assume the blus are more accurate and what Lynch wanted, but I couldn't say for sure without cornering him in a room.  What I can say, though, is the the image is much clearer.  Grain honestly looks a little bit patchy, but it's a sure step forward without all the smudgy compression issues or edge enhancement the old DVD has.  And between the two blus?  Well, they're clearly using the same master, but Criterion's encode seems a bit more even.  In motion, it's unlikely anybody would be able to spot the difference, but in close-up comparisons, I'd give Criterion's new disc the edge.  But again, practically speaking, they're essentially identical.

Again, the old DVD gave us a 5.1 mix, 2.0, English subs, plus a French dub and some foreign subtitle options.  And the blus give us another DTS-HD 7.1 mix, plus 2.0 and English subs.  The difference between the two blus is just that CBS's disc also throws in many additional foreign dub (French, German, Italian, Japanese, Castilian and Latin) and sub (Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Castilian, Latin and Swedish) options.
Now let's get into the really complicated stuff.  The special features.  It doesn't help that plenty of the extras are presented almost like easter eggs, where you have to click on unmarked symbols to discover what will play, but let's do this.  First of all, the old Republic pilot DVD was barebones (except for some bonus trailers), and the German set doesn't give us any more or less than the English Artisan set in terms of extras.  They're identical.

So what did the original season 1 sets give us?  Firstly, the "Log Lady" intros to each episode (except the pilot), which feature the same actress from the series giving enigmatic intros to each episode and that were recorded for the Bravo channel when they reran the series back in the late 90s.  Secondly, and more importantly, every episode (again, except the pilot... basically, there are no extras for the pilot ever) has audio commentary by various crew members (directors when it wasn't Lynch, writers, DOPs and a production designer).  There are also on-screen trivia track notes and hidden interview clips with the people doing the commentaries for each episode. Then the set rounds out with a collection of interviews including: an interview with Mark Frost, a featurette on the Red Room's backwards talk, a 22 minute featurette on Lynch, a featurette on the Twin Peaks diner and on-camera "Postcards From the Cast" interviews with most of the cast.  All told, the postcards are a full hour's worth of interviews, and they're quite interesting, so it's worth clicking through them all.  There are a couple other easter eggs, but they're just DVD credits and special thanks stuff.  The old sets also include a booklet with notes and a text interview with Sheryl Lee (but if you import, remember your booklet may not be in English).

Paramount's initial season 2 set is a lot like Artisan's season 1 set, minus commentaries: Log Lady intros, a short interview on each disc, and about 40-minutes worth of additional interviews at the end.
Now we come to the Gold Box.  Interestingly, it loses almost all of the episode-specific stuff.  It has the Log Lady Intros, but none of the audio commentaries, trivia tracks, or easter egg interviews from the Artisan discs.  I've read it suggested online that Lynch didn't approve of commentaries and such, and requested they not be included, but I suspect it's more an issue of licensing from Artisan, as it also doesn't include the Postcards and other interviews and featurettes from their set.  Then again, it doesn't have the interviews from Paramount's early season 2 set either, which really seems strange to me.  But it does have a large collection of its own special features.

Disc 9 has a few deleted scenes and a stills gallery on it.  And then all the rest is on disc 10, including a feature-length making of documentary called Secrets From Another Place and a half-hour featurette called "A Slice of Lynch." Then there are two Twin Peaks sketches from Saturday Night Live with Kyle MacLachlan, a collection of featurettes about a Twin Peaks festival (some very short, but about a half hour total).  There's a music video for the theme song '"Falling," several galleries, and a huge collection of Twin Peaks commercials.  There are ads for the show when it was airing, but also amusing ads for other products that used Twin Peaks' IP including a series hosted by the character Lucy, and a long collection of spots for their 1-900 hotline. They also have the alternate ending for the pilot viewable separately, some unrelated bonus trailers, and it comes with an insert for David Lynch's coffee brand he was (is?) selling.
Finally, we come to The Entire Mystery. They also have both versions of the pilot and the Log Lady intros, plus they have the recaps and previews for each episode as options, which is a nice touch. A few of the episode discs have promos and galleries on them, but most of the special features is saved for the later discs.  Secrets From Another Place is here, the 900 number stuff, the festival material and other promos, etc.

One interesting change off the bat is the "A Slice Of Lynch" featurette from the Gold Box is here, but re-edited and about twenty minutes longer! They call it "A Slice of Lynch: Uncut."The deleted scenes are carried over, but there's also more of them, which is great. And there's a new collection of outtakes.  There's a new featurette on the filming locations and thankfully, all the interviews from the Paramount season 2 set are here. Even better, a lot of the Artisan stuff has now been carried over, including the diner featurette, the Mark Frost interview, and the hour's worth of "Postcard" interviews.

BUT... the Entire Mystery doesn't recover the entire Artisan ball that the Gold Box fumbled.  It doesn't have any of the audio commentaries.  Maybe the bit about Lynch objecting to them was right after all.  It's also missing the corresponding interview snippets with the commentary participants. And some of the fun stuff from the Gold Box is missing, like the Saturday Night Live clips, the music video, and a bunch of the funny commercials. Very frustrating.
CBS's Fire Walk With Me is completely frustration free, however. The original DVD had a nice half-hour featurette called "Reflections On the Phenomenon Of Twin Peaks" and the original trailer. Both of those have been carried over to the blu.  Also included, as I've already mentioned, are over 90 minutes of deleted scenes.  What's interesting is we see here that a lot more of the original television actors had minor parts and cameos that ultimately got dropped from the film.  I think the final film is better for it, but fans will definitely get a big kick out of seeing these scenes. Then there's a weird, almost 40-minute featurette called Between Two Worlds where Lynch talks to a bunch of the actors in character (a bit of a weird "where are you now" feature, with Mrs. Palmer especially perhaps giving us a little insight into what to expect in seasons 3 and 4), and they discuss aspects of their fictitious lives. There are two more half-hour featurettes where the cast and crew talk about the how the show got cancelled and became a movie, a brief collection of vintage EPK interviews, a couple extra trailers, a stills gallery and a collection of "atmospherics," which are like little video loops from the film.

As for Criterion's pass at the film, they include some of the extras, including the entire run of deleted scenes, a shorter version of Between Two Worlds, and the trailers.  All the vintage featurettes and interviews got dropped.  But in their stead, Criterion created two new, nice and in depth on-camera interviews with Cheryl Lee and composer Angelo Badalamenti.  One can't fault The Entire Mystery for not including these, since Criterion's stuff came out afterwards.  But essentially, fans who already have the box have to ask themselves if they need those two interviews enough to spring for the Criterion.
And speaking of stuff you can't fault The Entire Mystery for not including since it was released afterwards, there's a whole new season of Twin Peaks now!  It aired on Showtime between May and September of 2017, and came out on DVD and blu-ray just before Christmas.  Entirely directed by David Lynch this time, and co-written between him and Frost, I'm happy to report that this season doesn't go off the rails like season 2 did.  Nearly the entire cast and crew return for this outing, with a whole bunch of new, impressive actors added to the roster (like, oh say, Laura Dern, Naomi Watts, Matthew Lillard, Jane Adams, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth and Jim Belushi to name just a few), the series rejoins our characters 25 years later, still dealing with Cooper's dark doppelganger, who split from him and escaped the ledge at the very end of season 2.  Eschewing the conventions of the Dynasty-style television of the original seasons' era that it was in some ways sending up, or at least subverting, season 3 flies even further out into space and the idiosyncrasies of Lynch's artistry.  There were a few moments where I feel the tone slipped from their grasp momentarily (the green gardening glove was a bit too silly for my tastes), and it doesn't have the driving focus of solving Laura Palmer's murder like season 1 did.  But overall, it's as engrossing as Twin Peaks has ever been, and in a way, it's even more exciting for being one of the few cinematic journeys with a properly arcing narrative where you still cannot predict where it'll go next.  I know some viewers have criticized it for being too esoteric, or even nonsensical, but to them I'd say, give it a second watch, think about it, and I don't think it's any more indecipherable than, say, Mulholland Drive.
2017 CBS DVD top; 2017 CBS blu bottom.
The series is in 16x9 now, 1.78:1, and looks pretty great, settling in alongside its new "golden age of television" peers.  Unlike its predecessors, this season was shot digitally, so there's no point in trying to peck out film grain or anything.  I think it's safe to assume this is a more or less direct port of the DCP, with the blu-ray having a much crisper, more satisfying image than the noticeably softer DVD.  It was shot in 4k with an HDR-friendly camera, though, so it's a bit of a shame there wasn't any UHD.  But it's hard not to be happy with the blu-ray, which looks even a bit better than it originally aired.

The series is presented in Dolby 5.1, and TrueHD on the blu, with optional English subtitles.  And one neat thing about the DVDs and blu-rays is that, well, you remember when the series first aired, they showed the first couple of episodes together in two hour chunks, right?  And those eps were actually edited together into one seamless double-episode, with one only series of credits each and all.  Well, these boxes give you those episodes both ways.  So you can watch each episode as an individual hour with full credits, or the pairs edited together as they first aired.  Not a big deal, but just like the previous seasons giving you the options to watch the episodes with the bumpers and all, it's nice that they gave us all the options here as well.
Behind the Red Curtain
Fans should be delighted with its over 6 hours of special features.  Most of it consists of a series of behind-the-scenes documentaries called Impressions, which give you a wonderfully candid look at the making of the series as Lynch and company travel all around the country filming its various scenes.  Seriously, this is one of the best 'making of's I've ever seen on any disc.  It does have some cornball narration which I could've just as well done without; but the substance of the content is so great, at the end of the day, who cares?  Then there's an hour-long comic-con panel, hosted by the creator of Lost, with some of the series biggest stars.  It's alright, but nowhere near as interesting as those docs.  It's also nice that they kept the small series brief promo featurettes that were previously available when the series was airing On Demand.  And there's a stills gallery and a reel of company logos, for the one weirdo who cares about that.

So, all of the above are included in both the DVD and blu-ray sets.  But the blu-ray has almost another hour and a half of exclusive special features that were left off the DVDs.  There are two more half-hour docs by Richard Beymer (yes, the actor who plays Ben Horne), which are essentially just like the other 'making of's, but without that narration.  In other words, they're great.  Then there's another more traditional, but still quite good half hour featurette by the guy who directed some of the features for The Entire Mystery.
So ultimately, of course The Entire Mystery Collection is the way to go. It looks the best in HD... there's that unfortunate sync issue, but even if you get it on your player, it's probably better to live with that than the standard definition episodes. Plus, it has the largest collection of extras.  Just not all of the extras.  In fact, it's missing enough from the old set that I'd actually recommend picking up the Artisan season 1 set (or a foreign version with the same extras, like I did) for the commentaries.  You can find them used pretty cheap nowadays, and they're substantial enough extras to make it worthwhile. It's frustrating that they dropped some Gold Box stuff, too; but I wouldn't recommend getting that unless you're super rich or a Twin Peaks mega-fan, in which case I'm sure you've already collected every Twin Peaks VHS, laserdisc, DVD and blu-ray there is to have anyway just for the different covers.  And then you might as well spring for the Criterion Fire Walk With Me, too.

So, to be clear, all other previous editions, like the Paramount season 2 set, the New Line Fire Walk With Me DVD, and any screwy old pilot-only discs you have are totally obsolete.  Unless you're just collecting them as objects, you can go ahead and chuck those.  The Gold Box and Criterion Fire Walk With Me disc have some exclusive extras, but not a lot.  What I seriously recommend is The Entire Mystery 10-disc version, the season 3 blu-ray set, and Artisan's season 1.
But buyers beware!  The Entire Mystery set, which was originally comprised on 10 blu-ray discs in a stylish box, has been quietly replaced in the US market with a lower budget 9-disc set in a more standard plastic case.  As of September 20th, this new set's discs 1-9 are all exactly the same, but the 10th disc of extras has been dropped.  That's a lot of extras you won't get, so if you care about special features, make sure you're buying the 10-disc box, which is becoming harder to find and more expensive as time passes.  It's only going to get more difficult as stores replace their remaining copies with the reissued one and online sellers surely start confusing the two.