A Joke On the Children: Halloween III

Update 9/3/16 - 4/6/19 - 10/31/21: How many times are they gonna get me?  At least one more.  See, Scream Factory started re-releasing a bunch of their best selling titles in new steelbooks.  And I'm really not enough of a packaging fanatic to repurchase a disc I already own just because it's in a fancier case, especially as long as they insist on using their typical comic book style illustrations instead of the original promotional artwork.  But for Halloween III in 2018, they'd given the film an updated 4k scan and additional special features, and I was on the hook.  And now, in 2021, they've released it again, this time on UHD (and BD), and surprisingly, it features another, even newer 4k scan.  How could I resist?  Although I still wish they'd use the original artwork.
Interestingly, this is one of Scream's very first releases, Halloween 3: Season Of the Witch. Literally, their first two releases, on the same day, were Halloween 2 and 3 special edition blu-rays, and then they were concurrent steelbook limited editions (to 10,000 copies each) with new 4k scans.  I keep making this 4k distinction, because not all of Scream's steelbooks feature updated transfers.  Humanoids From the Deep, Night Of the Demons and Piranha are getting new 4k scans, and I think the first was the August 2018 reissue of Lifeforce; but then concurrent titles like The Howling and Army of Darkness just included the exact same discs from their previous, non-steelbook releases.  And that continued with subsequent releases like The Fog, They Live, Escape From New York, Assault On Precinct 13, The Thing and Prince of Darkness - all the old transfers.  So the ones with new scans were noteworthy exceptions.  "Were" because in 2021, Halloween 2 & 3 (and 1, 4 and 5) have been released concurrently again, with even newer 4k scans, and now on UHD to boot.
Ironically, Halloween 2 is a movie I used to think was really good as a kid, but now feels really flat and uninteresting to me; and Halloween 3 is a movie I hated as a kid; but now I love it.  To be fair, though, I mostly just hated it because I, like most viewers, went in with the completely wrong set of expectations - where was Michael Myers?  They totally placated me with Halloween 4 at the time; but now that my tastes are a little more refined, I actually wish they'd gone with John Carpenter's original plan of making Halloween an anthology series, with each new film a different Halloween-themed story.  Oh well.  Anyway, now Halloween 3 is the only film after the original I have any time for.  It's great.  I can't believe I once believed the fact that it's not completely formulaic and pandering was a failing.  But hey, we were all kids once, right?
So if this is the Halloween without Michael Myers, what is it actually about?  How about a Nigel Kneale story where Tom Atkins is a surgeon who stumbles onto a conspiracy by an evil toy company to play the best joke on Halloween night, "a joke on the children" (man, I love that speech).  Through a twisted mix of mass marketing and ancient Celtic magic, the president of Silver Shamrock Novelties (Dan O'Herlihy) has a plan to kill all the children of the world as part of an epic blood sacrifice.  And he's got some evil masks, killer tricks, an army of automaton assassins and even a piece of Stonehenge to help him do it. Slick anamorphic photography by Dean Cundey, who made the original Halloween so stunning, and a great score (I mean, even besides the hauntingly kitschy "happy, happy, Halloween" theme song) really kick in a lot of atmosphere to a fun, wild and occasionally gruesome story.  And look for an early appearance by Joshua John Miller (that kid from River's Edge, Class of 1999 and Near Dark) as one of Tom Atkins' kids, and a cleverly hidden cameo by Jamie Lee Curtis.
Halloween 3 was one of those titles that frustrated me the most because there was never a special edition for it.  I mean, I'd love a special edition of The Willies, too; but I kinda understand why there will probably never be one.  But Halloween 3?  How did the heyday of DVD miss out on that one?  I mean, at least there were uncut, widescreen DVDs from GoodTimes and Universal (non-anamorphic and anamorphic, respectively), but they were barebones.  Not even a trailer.  So I was pretty excited when Sanctuary Visual Entertainment released it on the UK with an audio commentary, but uh, you'll see why I still hung onto my Universal DVD after picking that up.  No, it really wasn't until 2012 when Scream Factory finally gave us what we basically always should have had for years and years, a proper special edition with a solid transfer and loads of goodies - and in HD to boot!  And of course, in October of 2018, Scream brought it back for their fancy, new steelbook and again in 2021 for their fancy, new UHD.  But how fancy are these new transfers?
1) 2003 Universal DVD; 2) 2002 Sanctuary DVD; 3) 2012 SF BD;
4) 2018 SF BD; 5) 2021 SF BD; 6) 2021 SF UHD.

So you can see why I wasn't too thrilled by that Sanctuary import, huh? What did you notice first? That it's faded, fuzzy, soft, in the wrong aspect ratio? The other releases are all around 2.35:1, but Sanctuary is 1.78:1, which to be fair, I suppose is probably the ratio it would've screened at in the UK. But it's definitely not Cundey's ideal composition, and it's not even an open matte situation.  They just chopped off the sides, and look how much picture is lost.  Speaking of lost picture, here's another fun fact about the Sanctuary disc: it's cut. See that shot above the comparison shots, with the guys standing in the moonlit junkyard? That's just one of the moments you won't see on Sanctuary's DVD.

But ruling that hot mess out, how do the blus compare?  Well, clearly Scream Factory originally used the same master provided by Universal.  So colors, framing, etc. are all the same as the 2003 DVD, just with the boost to HD sharpening and clarifying things up.  But the 2018 new scan of the original negative looks noticeably different.  It pulls back a little, revealing more picture along all four sides.  And yes, grain is captured more naturally.  You got a decent look at grain on the old blu, too, but you can see where the new blu remains a little more smooth and natural where the old one's a bit chunkier and more pixelated when you zoom in close (i.e. around the kid's mouth).  It's not a massive difference, but it's a little more controlled and authentic.  And speaking of more authentic, Scream has clearly taken another pass at the color timing, making things a little less green.

I was honestly surprised the 2021 release didn't just use the 2018 master, with additional color correction of the UHD's HDR.  But no, they've made another all new 4k scan of the OCN, this time pulling back even further from 2.35:1 (or 2.36 in the case of the 2012 blu) to 2.39:1, slightly resizing the picture rather than revealing anything further.  They've taken another pass at the colors (that hospital room shot is much less blue), and apparently Cundy has personally approved this one.  It looks even more subtle and natural on the UHD, while still being a distinctly colorful film, and of course the increased resolution smooths away the pixelation when you see it up close.  Check out the "Silver Shamrock" lettering in the second set of shots, for example, to see how less digital comes across in full 4k.  So I'd say it's inarguably the best yet, whether it's a big enough improvement that you'll really care, or even notice, will come down to the viewer and their individual set-up.
Interestingly, the UK DVD features a stereo and 5.1 mix, while the US DVD and both older blus exclusively feature the original mono (the blus in DTS-HD).  Of course, the mono's the important one, but I'm a little surprised Scream didn't keep at least the 5.1 on as an extra option... I suppose because that 5.1 mix was only made for the shorter, cut version.  Anyway, one point where Scream's 2018 really improves upon the 2012 is their subtitles.  The new disc has them.  Before, across the three previous releases, only Universal's old DVD included subs.

And the new 2021 discs?  They still have the lossless mono and English subtitles, which is ultimately all that matters.  But they've also cooked up a new Dolby Atmos mix for these, which should more than satisfy anyone who'd been longing for that long lost 5.1.
For special features, like I said, the US DVD had bupkis, as had every preceding release. But Sanctuary's disc, for all its faults, has that exclusive audio commentary.  No, it's not either of the ones on Scream's blu.  It's an expert commentary by Stephen Jones and Kim Newman, two names that you've surely noticed recur with some frequency on this site.  Sure, a good ton of the information they provide is also disclosed across the various extras of Scream Factory's edition, but it's still a good commentary track.  And while I'd never recommend anyone make Sanctuary's DVD their go-to Halloween 3 disc, serious fans might want to pick it up in addition to Scream's blu, just as a neat little supplement.  It was selling for well under a £ on AmazonUK the last time I looked.
And for all the Universal discs giving us nothing, Scream Factory turned around and gave us everything!  I said "either of the" commentaries on Scream's blu because they have two: one by director Tommy Lee Wallace, and one by Tom Atkins.  The Atkins one is okay, but more of a dry career overview.  The Wallace one, moderated by the Horrors Hallowed Grounds guy, is definitely the better of the two.  And speaking of Horrors Hallowed Grounds, there's an episode of that on here as well, which is up to their usually high level of quality.  But best of all is the original 'making of' documentary, featuring Wallace, Atkins and his co-star Stacey Nelkin, plus Brad Schacter who played the bratty kid, Dean Cundey, Dick Warlock, composer Alan Howarth, producer Irwin Yablans and costume supervisor Jane Ruhm. There's also the trailer (finally!), a couple TV spots and a stills gallery. The case has reversible artwork and a slipcover (too bad you can't reverse slipcovers, as they use their usual and tacky comic book style art), and if you bought it direct from Scream's site when it was new, also came with a poster.
And for the steelbook?  Yes, there's even a bit more.  You may remember when Shout released their massive 15-disc boxed set of all the Halloween films.  Well, that came after their 2012 Halloween 3 Collector's Edition.  So when they conducted a new on-camera interview with special effects artist Tom Burman for that set, us Collector's Edition owners missed out.  It wasn't even in their subsequent 10-disc budget version.  But now it's on here!  It's short: only six minutes including about two minutes worth of logos, opening and closing credits and film clips.  But what little we get is good, including Burman's own idea for how the film should've ended.  We also get a couple radio spots and a poster & lobby cards stills gallery that weren't on the 2012 blu.  And there's the steelbook itself.  You forgo reversible art and a slipcover of course, but you do get an insert which just barely fits inside the case with the disc.

As for the new UHD set, no, no new extras.  But it does include everything from the steelbook, including that Burman interview.  And instead of a steelbook in comes in a black case with reversible artwork and a hard slipbox.  Plus, if you pre-ordered it direct from Shout, you got a rolled poster and a 7" of new John Carpenter music.  Furthermore, if you bought it as part of their Halloween 1-5 bundle, you also received an exclusive enamel pin set.
You can't help but wince each time a label sells us another version of one of their own titles, especially when so many films don't even have a single decent release yet.  And you'll all have to decide for yourselves just how necessary a double-, or triple-dip this one is.   They're not exactly night and day differences.  But I have to admit, Scream has done a nice job creating a superior product here: each version is better than the last.  When I first wrote this post in 2016, I concluded with, "fans might expect a fresh 2 or 4k scan for this title, and yeah I can definitely see how this could look even better."  So I can't begrudge them giving us what I, and I'm sure many of us, were asking for.  And seeing as how the 2012 blu was one of their very first, I could easily imagine them longing to take a second shot.  So I'll just shut up and be happy with my final(?!) UHD edition... plus my little Sanctuary DVD.

Today's Stripes Wants to Join You

There were a couple films I couldn't wait to get the new Columbia Classics set for: Taxi Driver, Sense & Sensibility... The unrated debut of Fincher's The Social Network.  And a couple I didn't really care about that just happened to be in the set: Oliver, those animated shorts.  Stripes was somewhere in the middle.  A nice comedy I'd be happy enough to revisit when the set arrived.  The extras were possibly more compelling to me than the film itself, since I've seen Stripes enough times in my life already.  It raised the value of the box for me a bit, but it's not something I would've bought on its own.  I wasn't expecting just how impressive this would be.
The truth about Stripes is that it's an okay comedy.  This is the film Ivan Reitman, Harold Ramis and Bill Murray made together before Ghostbusters, but it ain't no Ghostbusters.  It's not nearly as inventive and clever.  It's a star vehicle at the right place and time, riding almost purely on the likability of its stars, who were just bursting with newfound popularity at the time.  And it is an amazing cast.  Besides the leads, we get supporting roles from John Candy, Warren Oates, John Larroquette, PJ Soles, Sean Young and Joe Flaherty, not to mention cameos/ pre-fame bit parts by Dave Thomas, Judge Reinhold, Timothy Busfield... apparently Bill Paxton's even floating around in there as an extra somewhere.  But the script doesn't really deserve them.  It has some solid lines (improved or not), but it also has long patches without any good gags, which it tries to coast through purely on the actors' charisma.  And "beloved comic joins the army" comedies like these are a dime a dozen, from Pauly Shore's In the Army Now or Ernest In the Army to Pvt. Benjamin, which was filming the very same year as Stripes.  Heck, Laurel and Hardy alone did it in Air Raid Wardens, The Flying Deuces and Great Guns (technically, one of those was the French Foreign Legion, but it's the same "acting goofy in basic training" trope).  It's safe, well worn territory.  And in fact, Reitman tells us in the special features that this film was originally written as Cheech & Chong Join the Army.  Just imagine.
But to be fair, Reitman did more to earn his cast than just strike rising star casting oil.  The production values are truly impressive; they were able to film on a real army base, and Reitman uses this to create a very real, grounded military environment.  Murray isn't just standing next to two or three green-shirted extras in a tiny sound-stage, the whole cast is sleeping on top of real tanks and marching alongside hundred of actual soldiers doing quite real maneuvers.  Warren Oates brings so much weight to his sergeant role he could be mistaken for Full Metal Jacket's legendary R. Lee Ermey.  All the silliness and ribbing plays twice as well just for being situated in an authentic setting... at least until the film goes completely off the rails in its wildly unnecessary third act where they invade Russia to impress their girlfriends.  They basically just needed one more script rewrite to fully excise the Cheech and Chong stuff.  If only they'd taken more time to flesh out their charming characters (in the extras, Reitman keeps saying how Reinhold was a repository for all the drug humor from the original script... but even in the extended cut, that amounts to just one 20-second scene!) and dreamt up a few more smart jokes instead of just relying on Murray mugging during drills.  Oh, and the sexual politics have aged just a little bit better than the blackface number in A Day At the Races.  At the end of the day, it's a bemusing comedy to catch on TV some evening, but it's always on the frustrating cusp of being great.
A sequence only in the extended cut.
Oh, did I mention an extended cut?  Yeah, it was originally created for the 2005 DVD re-release. To be clear, this is not a director's cut; in fact, Reitman and his editor comment sound off repeatedly in their audio commentary about how the film is better with almost all of the footage out.  And they're right.  The extended cut is over-long and repetitive, most notably featuring a bizarre seven-minute long segment where Murray and Ramis are captured by some kind of South American rebels (the film doesn't really specify) that would've probably made more sense for Cheech & Chong (the joke is basically that Ramis gets high, and then everybody gets high with him), but is wildly discordant here.  There are a few nice touches, though.  Amusing gags, and the crazy super-powered Winnebago in the third act plays a little bit better when you see the extended opening scene where Murray reveals his life-long dream is to cruise in a Winnebago.  But it mostly drags down a film that already struggles in the pacing department, and the best way to enjoy it is to watch the theatrical version and then see the extra footage as deleted scenes, which they were always intended to be.
Stripes was originally released on DVD all the way back in 1998.  It was a barebones flipper disc, with fullscreen on one side and widescreen on the other.  In 2005, it was upgraded to a special edition.  It dumped the fullscreen crap and replaced it with the extended cut (in addition to the theatrical widescreen version, not instead of it) and a great special features.  Stripes has been repacked multiple times, including in a bunch of bundles like the 80's 5-Film Collection and the Laugh Out Loud 3-Movie Collection, but in the US at least, it's pretty much always this 2005 disc, essentially the definitive DVD edition.

But DVDs are outmoded, and in 2011 it was released on blu for the first time (originally as a Best Buy exclusive, and then more broadly)... but only the extended cut - yikes!  That got them a lot of blow back, naturally, and in 2016 they eventually released the theatrical cut on blu... as a barebones MOD BDR in their Choice Collection - yikes!  Why can't they just give us Stripes properly like they did on DVD?  Well, they finally have... and on UHD with all new features to boot!  But it is only available as a part of their 2021 Columbia Classics Volume 2 14-disc boxed set.  So let's make sure it's worth it, shall we?
1998 fullscreen DVD.
1998 widescreen DVD.
2005 DVD.
2005 extended DVD.
2021 BD.
2021 extended BD.
2021 UHD.
2021 extended UHD.
2021 TV BD.
1998 fullscreen DVD.
1998 widescreen DVD.
2005 DVD.
2005 extended DVD.
2021 BD.
2021 extended BD.
2021 UHD.
2021 extended UHD.
2021 TV BD.
That's a lot of comparisons, but it's not that complicated.  I'm including the theatrical cuts and extended cuts to be completist, but each disc that includes the extended cut uses the same transfer as the theatrical.  So for all intents and purposes, they're essentially identical and redundant.  The original 1998 disc actually holds up fairly well, the fullscreen version is 1.32:1 and mostly open matte, and the widescreen version is almost the exact right AR (1.81:1 and just slightly window-boxed in the overscan area).  It's not interlaced and it is anamorphic.  Still, the 2005 is clearly taken from a new and improved master, with corrected colors, and more accurate (1.84:1) framing without the windowboxing.  I've read reports of it struggling to branch between the two cuts smoothly, but I didn't have any problem with that on my Samsung in 2021.

I never picked up the 2011 BD, but anyone who did and was disappointed will be glad to hear that this new Columbia Classics release is based on an all new 4k scan of the OCN.  It's exactly 1.85:1 and oh boy, even on the BD, the film grain is so natural and thoroughly captured.  The colors are much less stark; giving a much deeper, more photo realistic image.  And then the extra resolution of the UHD makes edges smooth and natural even on super huge screens, and the HDR is beautiful without betraying its authentic early 80s filmic roots.  Sony has really gotten it right.

And wrong.  Like with Halloween's latest UHD set, we've for some reason (novelty value, I guess, or just to show off how far they've come) circled around to the worst edition in the comparison with another TV version.  It's back to fullscreen (1.34:1, cropping just a little more than the 1998 fullscreen version), washed out and interlaced, plus it's SD despite being included on the BD, and the audio's lossy.  But hey, if you ever wanted to see this with the nudity clumsily edited out, well, now's your chance.  Anyway, it's pointless but painless so long as the other editions are available, as they are, so there's nothing to complain about.  It's just a silly bonus feature.
In the audio department, the original DVD did it right giving us the original mono track with optional English subtitles, plus a bonus French dub and subs.  Then the 2005 DVD replaced the original mono track (that the 2011 BD also left off, of course) with a new 5.1 mix.  It even dumped that French dub.  Thankfully, the new 2021 releases restores the original mono track, though it also preserves that 5.1 mix if you liked it, both in lossless DTS-HD.  And they created an all new Atmos mix, too.  There are optional English subtitles, plus a ton of foreign dubs and subs.  And yes, this is all for both cuts.  Perfect!

One slight caveat: I found on my player that whenever I paused and then un-paused the film, it would go out of sync.  And I would have to power off and on to re-sync it.  Further playing with the discs (both the BD and UHD) on my PC, it was reporting weird sync issues.  So something's going on there.  But it all plays perfectly in sync except when you've paused it, so I don't think it's a serious problem where we need to demand a replacement program or anything.  But it's a quirk.
So again, the 1998 DVD was virtually barebones.  It had an insert with brief notes and the trailer; that's it.  But the 2005 DVD introduced what are still the majority of Stripes' excellent special features package, starting with the aforementioned commentary by Reitman and his editor.  They do lag at points, but overall, it's a very informative track.  Possibly even better, though, is a roughly hour-long retrospective documentary that rounds up pretty much all of the key players for enthusiastic interviews.  The 2005 DVD also included the extra extended cut footage as separate deleted scenes, plus they slapped on a couple bonus trailers.

Thankfully, the 2021 set includes all of that, but there's more.  There's a fun reunion with Reitman and Murray (plus a short appearance by DP Bill Butler, which is a real highlight), which is a good 45 minutes long.  One drawback, though, is that multiple anecdotes are repeated, almost verbatim, in the commentary, the documentary and this new feature.  You're going to be sick of hearing their story of the time Ivan asked the cast to push Warren Oates into the obstacle course mud by the third time around.  But there are some good exclusive thoughts in here, too.  Better still is a feature that I think many people are overlooking, because Stripes has included the deleted scenes since the 2005 disc.  But this release includes more, newly recovered deleted scenes, not from the extended cut and that have never been released before.  This is must-see content for Stripes fans.  And I should add that its case, like all the other five features in the Classics box, comes in a stylish slipcover.  And that the set's impressive, hardcover full-color book includes a substantial section devoted just to Stripes.
So is it worth it?  Well, I don't know what kind of budget you're working with, but I can say that this new Stripes release is a master-class from Sony.  They get it all right.  Gorgeous new transfer from the OCN, both cuts of the film, the original mono is back and lossless plus a fancy new Atmos track, all the legacy extras and some very exciting new ones.  It's not just the best and definitive release, it makes everything that came before it look like junk.  And it's not like Stripes has been neglected on home video.  But wow, they nailed it.  I'm loving this frickin' set!

Yes, She Dies Tomorrow Is On Blu Now!

You might think it's crazy to be stuck buying a barebones new release DVD of one of 2020's best films.  720x480, still, in the age of 3840x2160?  Madness!  Well, let me reassure you, dear reader, this is no DVD... it's a DVD-R!  That's right, one of those M.O.D. video discs that's not even allowed to use the traditional DVD logo on its packaging.  Whomp, whomp.  But, yes, alright.  Something's still better than nothing.  I'm taking it.  She Dies Tomorrow is a literal must-have film; and considering how many other new films are simply being planted in various streaming service's walled gardens and left to rot these days, I guess I am still grateful to have an official, packaged release for my shelf, even if it is in SD.  I mean, it isn't like we're not still stuck with even worse editions of our other favorites.

Update 1/21/21 - 10-23-21: Woot!  Less than a year later, and everything's fixed.  Well, at least if you can play Region B discs.  Koch Media has released She Dies Tomorrow in Germany on DVD and Blu in a fancy-schmancy combo-pack mediabook.  Does it manage to be everything we fans disappointed by the DVD-R hoped for?
If you're not familiar with this one, though, and you're reading me saying things like "one of 2020's best films," "literal must-have" and calling it a favorite, maybe don't give it a blind-buy just yet.  First of all, I would not consider this a horror film, but it's being marketed as such.  The Indiewire quote on the front of the box calls this a "gripping apocalyptic thriller," and while I know what they mean, I don't think I could come up with more misleading marketing copy without overtly lying.  This film never once, for a split second even attempts to be thrilling.  If there's anything remotely scary about it, it's a sense of morose existential dread.  The closest film I can come up with to it, I guess, would be Lars von Trier's Melancholia?  Except even that film had its characters facing the ostensible threat of an on-coming planetary collision.  No such danger exists here.  And that's not a criticism, at least anymore than saying Schindler's List doesn't have any big belly laughs in it - it's just not that kind of movie.  I've heard a lot of frustrated comments from people expecting the next Babadook or Midsommar (ugh, thank you for not being another Midsommar), in entirely the wrong disposition to respond to a darkly witty drama whose strengths lie in subtle, sympathetic observations of human behavior.
I'm going to give you the quite concise, official description of She Dies Tomorrow right from the back of the box, because I watched this with someone who wound up feeling frustrated because they assumed this film was leading up to some kind of big reveal.  This is definitely a "journey not the destination" story, and I think being on the same page as the storytellers (because I'd read a bit about the film before diving in) really freed me up to engage with it right from the start.  So here it is:
"After waking up convinced that she is going to die tomorrow, Amy’s carefully mended life begins to unravel.  As her delusions of certain death become contagious to those around her, Amy and her friends’ lives spiral out of control in a tantalizing descent into madness."
See, because this film is being presented as a sort of elevated horror film, you can get stuck watching this film thinking all the dialogue and character work is some sort of slow burn building up to a climatic shock.  Like, at the end, aliens will be revealed.  Or even an ominous presence left vague, like It Comes At Night or (lol) Bird Box.  But the whole point this time is that there's nothing out there; this film's just about what people think is going to happen.  And that's not a spoiler.  The film tries to tell us that early and repeatedly.  It's right there in the two-sentence pitch that's also on the official film's webpage and everywhere else they can sow it.  They did their bit to let us know.
Writer/ director Amy Seimetz apparently agreed to star in the recent Pet Sematary remake to finance this film.  Who would've guessed in 2019 that something good would've come of that?  But here we are!  Kate Lyn Sheil, of Kate Plays Christine and Seimetz's excellent first film, Sun Don't Shine stars alongside the always wonderful Jane Adams (Happiness, Twin Peaks) as two friends who go on distinctly individual journeys during what they believe to be their last day on Earth.  This film swings easily from cutting to sympathetic and back as the film alternatively watches maudlin Kate self-indulgently replay the same Mozart record over and over and Jane overrun her sister-in-law's birthday party with her disengaged preoccupations to them finding joy and peace in the perfect ways to spend their final hours.  And we're treated to more and more perspectives and possibilities as everyone they come into contact with also become perfectly convinced that they will die tomorrow.  Fortunately, it's both too clever and sweet to become depressing, helped immeasurably by the cast, which also includes Josh Lucas, Jorge/ Jump Tomorrow's Tunde Adebimpe (boy, there's someone I haven't thought about in years!  But apparently he was in the last Spider-Man flick), horror director Adam Wingard and a refreshingly non-violent Michelle Rodriguez.
2020 Neon DVD-R top; 2021 Koch DVD mid; 2021 Koch BD bottom.
This film is left open at 1.78:1 on all three discs, but seeing as how the Neon Film Company seems to be releasing this directly through an MOD service themselves, I'm going to assume all matters of presentation are correct.  Like, if it was meant to be matted to 1.85:1, they'd have no one to blame but themselves.  And like I said in the intro, I've seen far worse DVDs.  This is not interlaced, pan & scan, censored, or troubled in any of the ways many of the films still stuck on old discs are.  Some scenes I'd say have an intentionally soft look to it, but the Neon disc is soft above and beyond that, drifting from a gentle mystique to flat-out murky.  Even the Koch DVD comes slightly more into focus... though it helps that it's also correcting a little vertical stretch, which also winds up revealing a sliver more information along the top and bottom of the Koch discs.  But yes, the blu looks decidedly sharper and cleaner.  Small detail that was, frankly, mush on the first disc comes into clear resolution on the BD, especially helpful in this film's many low-light scenes, where we're already on the edge of losing critical facial impressions in the shadows.

Meanwhile, all three discs provide a nice, clear 5.1 mix, but it's lossless DTS-HD on the blu.  The mediabook also includes a German dub, again in 5.1 DTS-HD, but loses half a point for not including optional English HoH subtitles like the DVD-R did.  They do provide optional German subs though, if that's helpful to ya; but this is small step backwards we have to accept along with our big steps forward.
Another point for the DVD-R, which is naturally pretty barebones, threw in the trailer, something MOD DVD-Rs don't typically bother with.  But Koch tops that handily enough.  First of all, they also include the trailer (and yes, in English) along with a couple German-language bonus trailers.  But then they include a sweet 23-minute 'making of!'  It's primarily comprised of an online conversation between Seimetz and her DP intercut with clips from the film, but there's also a brief visit to Seimetz's garage that still houses a lot of the stuff she used to make the film.  It's on the technical side, so don't come in hoping for Seimetz to unveil that it was really demons from the id the whole time; and the film clips run a bit overlong.  But it's pretty great.  Plus the mediabook naturally has the book element.  It's all in German, but still many pages of beautiful color imagery from the film tops the nothing that comes with the DVD-R.
It would've been nice to know this was pending back when the DVD-R came out, so we could've waited instead of wasting our money.  But this release is too satisfying for me to stay mad about even such a quick succession double-dip.  The new 'making of' was a nice surprise (the online listings I saw made no mention of it) that really helped take the sting out.  So obviously, yes, this is the version to choose now, and I'm just glad this movie finally has a release worthy of it.