Import Week, Day 2: Igby Goes Down

I get it.  If you're not one of the small circle who've seen 2002's Igby Goes Down, you probably have zero interest in it.  Rory Culkin might've grown up to prove himself as an actor in cool shit like Lords of Chaos.  But as a kid, we was just one of the "other" Culkins starring in what looks like a preening coming of age story.  I wouldn't want to watch it either.  But it's actually surprisingly good and I need it in my collection.  And for that, one has to import.
The only real hint we're given that there's more to this film is the supporting cast: Susan Sarandon, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Ryan Phillipe, Jared Harris, Claire Danes, Eric Bogosian, Cynthia Nixon, Jim Gaffigan and Amanda Peet, who actually can be good when she's cast in the right project (see: Please Give).  Any two or three of them could be slumming in god knows what trash production of the week, but finding them all grouped together suggestions something note-worthy's going on.  For one thing, it's a lot darker and cynically honest than whatever lame family film the poster suggests.  To give you a taste, it starts off with a man having a mental breakdown in front of his family, followed by two boys murdering their mother with a plastic bag.  This isn't another Home For the Holidays or Bend It Like Beckham sans soccer; there's a real Bret Easton Ellis twist to these proceedings.
Indeed, watching this, it feels very much like it's based on smart, contemporary novel that's just off your radar.  But no, it's actually a wholly original project written and directed by the actor who played Van the door man in The Last Days of Disco, Burr Steers.  He's gone on to a bunch of studio misfires I wouldn't recommend (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and some tepid Zac Effron star vehicles).  This was clearly his one, big passion project.  And now he's making a living as a gun for hire.  Good for him.  We'll always love Van.  But I can't help hoping he's still hiding another Igby inside him.
MGM released Igby on DVD as a new release in 2003.  It was a nice little special edition, but unfortunately the blu-ray update in the HD era never followed.  Except in Germany.  There, in 2020, Just Bridge released it as a fancy DVD/ BD mediabook combo-pack.  To this date, the usual standard edition BD in an amary pack has not followed, but that's okay.  We like mediabooks.  🙂
1) 2003 MGM DVD; 2) 2020 Just Bridge DVD; 3) 2020 Just Bridge BD.
So it looks like the same master at play here.  Even the two DVDs aren't strictly 100% identical, however, offering very slight improvements even before the jump to HD.  MGM's DVD is 2.30:1, which Just Bridge corrects to 2.35:1, which basically just fixes a little pinch.  Technically, it reveals a vertical sliver of info and takes away a horizontal one, but both are an arbitrary difference of a few pixels.  The newer DVD is also a shade darker in the highlights, which to me is more natural looking, but definitely a personal judgement call, and again nothing you'd notice without flicking back and forth between screenshots.  But then the BD is a nice little boost to high def.  The image is distinctly sharper with cleaner edges and natural, if light film grain in place of smudgy compression.  It's also another shade darker, even than the second DVD.

MGM and Just Bridge both give us the original 5.1 English mix, which is - wah, wah - lossy on all three discs.  Just Bridge's stupid German dub is lossless DTS-HD, though, if you care about that.  Anyway, MGM also offers French and Spanish dubs, plus optional English, French and Spanish subtitles, while Just Bridge, predictably, only offers optional German subs.
It's disappointing that Igby is DVD-only here in the states, but what isn't disappointing is the amount of extras they gave this neat, little film.  Steers give an active, informative audio commentary with Culkin in tow to lighten the mood and add a little more personal insight.  There's also a decent 17-minute 'making of' featurette that looks behind the scenes and a collection of deleted scenes, also with optional commentary.  And there's the trailer, a photo gallery and a couple bonus trailers.

Just Bridge's release includes all of the extras from the DVD except the audio commentary on the deleted scenes and the bonus trailers.  They made German subtitles for the audio commentary, and I guess they didn't feel it was worth it for the deleted scenes, so that's a little bit of a bummer.  As a mediabook, JB's set also includes a glossy, 20-page booklet, but of course the text is all in German.
So it's not perfect (lossy English audio, lost commentary for the deleted scenes), but it's a nice way to finally get this film in HD and with most of the bonus features.  Plus mediabooks are always kinda inherently cool.  It's a shame this didn't get a proper blu in the US, but if it hasn't gotten one by now, I'd say importing is probably the best shot we'll ever get, albeit holding out that slim hope that Kino will pick it up some day...

Import Week, Day 1: Vatel

Our planet may be incinerating in an unprecedented climate crisis while we suffer through war, economic crisis and burgeoning new diseases, but if you're here to read this, congratulations, you've lived to Import Week.  Import Week is a rather self-explanatory stretch of roughly six (still to be decided) posts where we look at blu-ray releases of films that are only available overseas.  I know the internet is worldwide, so apologies for writing from an exclusively American perspective, but hopefully all our foreign readers can take this "week" to cherish the moments where we here in the United States didn't get all the luck, because these essential releases are all only available overseas,
And as you're about to see, you'd be hard pressed to find a more necessary import that 2000's Vatel.  I mean, just to rattle off its credentials, Vatel is a gorgeous, Academy Award-nominated period drama by Roland JoffĂ© (The Killing Fields and the original Oppenheimer film, Fat Man and Little Boy), written by the ingenious playwright Tom Stoppard (Rosencrantz & Guidenstern Are Dead, Brazil).
GĂ©rard Depardieu
plays the titular, real-life 17th century French chef who served under Louis XIV (played expertly here by the late Julian Sands), famous for putting on the most outlandishly extravagant festivities.  But operating beneath the wild spectacle are torrid love affairs, diplomatic intrigue, betrayals and one of history's most famous suicides.  The costumes and production design are show stoppers, beautifully photographed, but it's a witty yet dark drama underneath.  The supporting cast includes first rate performances by Tim Roth, Uma Thurman, Timothy Spall and Julian Glover.  It's surprising this film isn't better known and appreciated in the US, but we can kind of thank two infamous film villains for that.
R.I.P., your majesty.
Because before we go any further, it is essential we talk about the alternate cuts.  By which I mean, the proper complete cut and the absolutely to-be-avoided hacked up version.  Unfortunately, the latter is the only one available here in the US.  As they were wont to do, Vatel's American distributor Miramax crassly cut the film for the US market (thank you, Weinsteins) by about fifteen minutes, so only the original European version is complete.  It has more scenes of the preparation, the lavish spectacle itself, a nude scene and a whole subplot with Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu, now of Emily In Paris fame.  You can spot if you're watching the US version right away - it adds a voice-over scene of Spall writing an expositional letter between Roth's introduction and the opening credits.  Curiously, you won't find much info online about the US release being abridged, but yeah, it's a problem.  So that's already a pretty definitive argument for importing this title.  But it's not the only one.
Vatel first came out from Columbia Tri-Star as a new release DVD in France in 2000.  That was quickly followed up in the US by Miramax in 2001, but it didn't have quite as many features (more on that below).  And more importantly, of course, it's the cut version.  It's also, apart from an identical Lions Gate reissue, still the only release Vatel's ever gotten in America.  Eventually, in 2015, we got it on blu, but only in France from Gaumont.  Luckily, it's the complete uncut version; and yes I checked, it's region free.
1) 2000 Columbia Tri-Star DVD; 2) 2001 Miramax DVD; 3) 2015 Gaumont BD.
(This shot is missing from the US cut.)
The good news is that all three discs are anamorphic, in at least close to the correct aspect ratio, and properly progressive.  Geometrically, the French DVD is closer to the proper AR than the US: 2.37:1 compared to 2.28:1.  But you can see the French disc zooms in tighter, cropping more of the image, especially along the top.  The BD widens the frame back out to 2.35:1, while actually pulling out to reveal more of the image than either prior DVD.  It also kind of splits the difference between the two DVDs color timings: the US is warmer, the French is cooler, and the BD is the most natural of all, and considerably brighter (though not overly so; the night scenes are still full of solid blacks).  It's also a substantial boost in clarity, bringing fine detail into focus, though it still feels like an old master, with film grain ranging from soft to absent.

The Columbia DVD gives us both the proper English track and a French dub, both in 5.1, with optional English and French subtitles.  The US DVD just, naturally, shaves off the French options, giving us the English 5.1 with optional English subtitles.  And the blu-ray gives us the best possible collection of options, including both the English and French audio, restored in their original stereo tracks, now in DTS-HD, plus the 5.1 mixes also now in DTS-HD.  And they give us both English and French subtitles - everything you could want.
First off, the French release offers us an untranslated audio commentary by the production designer and costumer.  Sounds neat, but unless you're fluent, you can factor that out of your equation.  It also has a half-hour 'making of' doc, which is more of a mixed bag.  It's kind of a promotional piece, but at that length manages to get pretty deep, interviewing not just the stars but a lot of the key cast members and giving you more than your standard soundbites.  But the problem is, the English people speak English (including JoffĂ© and most of the stars), and the French people speak French (including most of the crew), sans subtitles.  So there's a lot of good stuff and I'm glad we get it, but you have to sit through some frustratingly untranslated moments.  Anyway, there's also a brief look at the scoring of the film, and the trailer.

The US DVD doesn't have any of that, not even the trailer.  But it does have it's only, very brief (3.5 minutes) featurette, which is clearly using the same EPK interview and B-roll footage as the French doc.  But it includes multiple clips not used in on the French disc, so it does retain some value even if you have the French disc.  At three and a half minutes, though, that's some pretty thin gruel.

Finally, the blu-ray maintains all of the same extras as the French DVD, with no additions, subtractions or additional translations, though they did update the trailer to anamorphic.
So it's a shame about the untranslated extras, but it's still an absolute must-import.  Even the only partially-English friendly extras are better than the paltry US DVD.  More importantly, it's the only HD option, with a substantially improved transfer that's a lot more than just the same master on a bigger disc.  It also restores the original stereo track and overall has easily the most and best language/ audio options.  And, oh yeah, you have to import to see the complete, uncut version of the film.  You can't ask for more of a compelling mandate than that.

Three Handfuls of Dust

Here's one I've been obsessing over for a while: Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust from 1988, based of course on the 1934 novel of the same name.  I've always had just the crappy, old barebones and fullframe DVD of this film, until relatively recently, when I decided to investigate to see if there was anything better out there that might better live up to this highly underrated (I mean, it was nominated for an Oscar and a couple BAFTAs in its day) dark dramedy.  And... there kind of is.  I'm at least happy to say I've come up with something to show for my quest, even if it still isn't remotely satisfactory.
A Handful of Dust stars Kristin Scott Thomas and James Wilby as an extremely British, aristocratic couple whose marriage is just a little short on romance.  If you're worried this is going to be some stuffy, English screed that plays like a homework assignment, though, you don't know your Waugh.   It's another of his grand, globe-trotting plots full of colorful characters and more of his usual satiric edge than you would've found in more famous but atypical Brideshead Revisited.  It's directed/ adapted by Charles Sturridge and Derek Granger, who did the original Brideshead series, so you know they're capable of tackling the subject matter.  And if Scott and Wilby appear a little milquetoast, how about this supporting cast?  Rupert Graves, Anjelica Huston, Judi Dench (who won a BAFTA for this), Alec Guinness and a small part perfect role for Stephen Fry.  This is one of those stories where you might think you know where it's all headed, but I guarantee you do not.
I've always loved this movie and wish more people appreciated it, but one of the things holding it back in that regard is probably its life on home video.  Dust was first released on DVD by HBO Video here in the USA in 2004, which self describes it self as "14:9 letterboxed inside a 4:3 frame.  That was quickly followed by a UK release from Prism Leisure in 2005, that also identifies as "14x9 non-anamorphic."  Back in the US, it was reissued by Acorn Media, included in a 2010 boxed set called The Evelyn Waugh Collection.  The case for that one just says it's "4:3 letterboxed."  That sounds like all the same stats re-phrased, but these discs are not in fact all the same, and actually the distinctions get pretty significant.  So let's dive in.
1) 2004 US HBO DVD; 2) 2005 UK Prism DVD; 3) 2010 US Acorn DVD.
So the first thing you'll likely notice is that the UK disc is wider than the others.  Well, no, actually, the first thing is probably that they're all non-anamorphic, which is a real bummer, since I left the negative space around the first set of shots.  But we knew that from reading the back of their cases, as I wrote above.  And they're all kinda 14x9 like they claim.  The US discs are both 1.52:1, or 14x9.24, and the UK disc is 1.66:1, or 14x8.44.  The US discs aren't exactly identical, but in terms of framing, it's the difference of a handful (see what I did there?) of pixels.  But the UK disc is definitely matting the bottom of the frame a lot tighter.  Whether that's a good thing is a little more complicated.  Doing a little online research confirms that this film should be 1.85:1, and the UK's 1.66 is closer to that than the US's 1.52, purely by the numbers.  But, eh, let's put a pin in that.

Other differences include the US discs being interlaced, though the UK is not, which is a big mark in its favor.  And, just for the record, I'll also point out that the interlacing between the two US discs is slightly different, not that it will matter much to anyone, but you can really see it in the second set of shots.  I was also surprised by the lack of NTSC/ PAL time difference between the US and UK discs.  They all play at the same speed, which leads me to guess that the US discs are interlaced because they're PAL-sourced on NTSC discs.  Anyway, something funny is going on there.  The US discs also have warmer color timing, which I think I prefer and does appear to be more accurate judging by Shout's HD source.  Yes, let's find that pin now.
4) 2023 ShoutTV streaming.
In an incredibly frustrating turn of events, A Handful of Dust is available to stream in 1080, despite us only having non-anamorphic SD versions on disc.  A grabbed a screenshot from ShoutTV, since it's free, and ahhh... why can't they give us this on blu?  It's 1.78:1, showing even more on the bottom of the frame (suggesting the US's framing was at least slightly more accurate in leaving that on-screen) and considerably more on the sides.  It's certainly not interlaced, and just looks considerably higher quality.  And bear in mind, this is just a screenshot I took of the stream in motion; not even the downloaded file.  So it would probably look even crisper on disc.  I don't usually bother comparing screenshots from streaming services, because it's not relevant to the physical media in discussion here at DVDExotica, but I've done it here to show what we're being denied (and to better judge the US/ UK framing).  How annoying.
Anyway, getting back to the discs.  The HBO DVD has mono audio in Dolby Digital with optional English subtitles (IN ALL CAPS).  The Prism DVD has both the original Dolby stereo track and a 5.1 remix, but no subs.  Acorn just has the stereo track and brings back the subtitles (now in proper sentence case).

Before you pick a favorite, though, there's another big difference between the discs.  The HBO DVD is completely barebones, and the Acorn DVD isn't really any better with just a couple ads for other Acorn releases.  Well, that is unless you count the fact that The Evelyn Waugh Collection also includes a whole second film on a second disc.  It's 1987's excellent made-for-British-television (A Handful of Dust, to be clear, was a proper theatrical release) Scoop, based on the 1938 novel, with Denholm Elliott, Michael Hordern, Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus himself Herbert Lom and Donald Pleasence.  For the record, that disc is properly 4:3 but also interlaced.  The collection consists of two amary cases in a nice slipbox.
Prism's trailer.
But, in terms of proper extras, only the UK disc has our backs with a proper audio commentary by Sturridge, who has a lot to say and isn't exactly dishing dirt, but he's not afraid to be forthcoming either.  It's a good one.  At one point he expresses supreme confidence at being able to make audiences like an on-the-surface unlikable character, which he certainly pulled off for me here; but when you read criticisms of this film, that's usually where people get stuck.  Anyway, Prism also has some bonus trailers and a properly anamorphic theatrical trailer for the film itself, perhaps just to rub it in our faces.  Sure, Shout's still looks better, but why couldn't the rest of Prism's disc at least look like this?
So, at the end of the day, I'd give the slight edge to the Acorn DVD in terms of just the picture, and getting the Collection is a nice bonus if you don't already have Scoop.  Although if you have the HBO disc, it's hardly worth replacing it.  And you might very well consider opting for the UK disc instead because of the progressive transfer and commentary.  Or even buying that in addition to a US disc, since the good news about these DVDs is that they can all be had very cheap nowadays.  But man oh man, if Shout Factory is sitting on the home video rights to this film along with that HD transfer, I'm pleading with them to release A Handful of Dust on blu.  Preferably with the commentary.

Illuminating The Lighthouse

So, when Robert Eggers' The Lighthouse first came out, I saw it right away and liked it well enough, but I definitely wasn't its biggest fan.  I certainly appreciated the incredible performances of Willem Da Foe and Robert Pattinson, but I don't know... I was always more of a VVitch guy.  In fact, the only reason I have Arrow's brand new 4k Ultra HD release for review today is that it was a birthday gift for my mom.  But having now revisited it in 2160p, and diving deep into its supplementary materials, I've definitely come around even more to this picture, to the point where I feel now that it's my favorite Eggers film.
The story is pretty simple.  Two lighthouse keepers arrive on a remote island and slowly drive each other mad, especially when storms stave off the ship meant to collect them at the end of their stay.  Da Foe is the senior man, credited simply as Old, and Pattinson is his junior (Young).  I won't get into spoilers, but at least one of them harbors a dark secret and both their lives wind up at stake.  This is inspired by, rather than based on, a true story, and also a loose interpretation of an unfinished story by Edgar Allen Poe.  The imagery gets pretty weird (mermaids, severed heads, gulls possessed by the ghosts of lost sailors), and we're left to interpret what's a hallucination and what's "really" happening.  I daresay it's almost all the former, but there are plenty of interesting supernatural readings of The Lighthouse floating around out there by and for those who choose to follow their imaginations.
The Lighthouse was initially released on DVD and BD (separate releases) by Lions Gate in 2020.  But this year, A24 released it a special Collector's Edition mediabook on BD and UHD (separate releases) exclusively on their site.  Sweet!  But at the same time, Arrow released it on BD and UHD (separate releases) over in the UK, and they seem to have the most new extras (though that's debatable, as we'll detail later on), pragmatically sized packaging and the more reasonable price. And what with UHDs being inherently region free and all, and since the 4k "master data files were sourced from NBC Universal" in both cases, the smart money seemed to be on Arrow.  So let's take a look!
2020 Lions Gate DVD top; 2023 Arrow UHD bottom.
Yeah, so all these discs (present and not present here) are using Universal's masters.  This isn't another case like The VVitch, where Eggers and his DP were initially unhappy with the HDR on one release and got Second Sight to create a new transfer.  Here it's the same across the board.  Though, of course, the 2020 Lions Gate releases don't have HDR because they're in lower formats.  So the big differences you'll see here are the obvious: the leap from 720x480 resolution to 3940x2160, and the addition of HDR10 and Dolby Vision.  Both discs are presented with identical 1.20:1 framing, but the DVD is naturally a lot fuzzier, and appears brighter when comparing screenshots on an SD monitor.  Arrow's transfer delicately captures all the fine grain (yes this was shot on film) and brings all the tiny antique details spring to life.

Every release of this film presents the film in its original 5.1 mix, but of course it's lossy on the DVD and in DTS-HD on the UHD.  Both discs include optional English subtitles, with Lions Gate throwing in additional Spanish subs as well.
Things get a little stickier in the extras department, though.  So let's start with Lions Gate, who provide the staples right off the bat.  Eggers provides an insightful and forthcoming commentary that shouldn't be missed even if you're the type who frequently gives them a miss.  And there's a great, half hour+ documentary that interviews most of the key players in an intelligent, more-than-just-promotional discussion on the making of the film.  There are also four brief deleted scenes, the trailer and several bonus trailers that play on start-up.

Arrow keeps almost all of that, aside from the bonus trailers.  Eggers' commentary, the doc, the trailer... They add a couple key new features, too, including an expert audio commentary and documentary by married couple Guy Adams and Alexandra Benedict, and believe me, you will know that they're married by the end of their commentary.  They are giggle, flirt and talk about each other enough to drive you crazier than the characters on screen.  I don't think I've ever heard someone coo on a commentary track, but Benedict can't stop.  They're like two kids who should've been separated in class.  But it's not all bad - they do provide some great insight and background info in there, too.  For instance, the Promethean reading of Pattinson's character had never occurred to be, but now I can't not see it, and Benedict reads from Poe's original story.  On the other hand, Adams spends a lot of time quoting Eggers from the other extras also included on this disc, which is a little annoying.

But the good news is that everything they come up with in their new commentary they also say in the documentary.  Everything, often verbatim.  And it doesn't have all the nonsense.  So I highly recommend the documentary and avoiding the new commentary.
"Old Crying"
Also new is a visual essay by Kat Ellinger, who wastes a lot of time just listing other movies that could be considered folk horror, and then films with mermaids in them.  These titles will either mean nothing to you if you're not familiar with them, or if you are, you'll just be like, "yeah, I know."  It's just like those audio commentaries where they'd read out all the IMDB credits of each actor.  But it gets more insightful in the second half, so stick with it.  There's also a couple deleted scenes, a second trailer and an image gallery.  Plus, Arrow's release also comes with some impressive swag, including a double-sided poster, a bound 60-page book and six art cards.  It comes in a solid slip box, and the amary case features reversible artwork.

Did I say "a couple deleted scenes" just then?  Yeah, this is interesting.  It includes a literal couple: two.  Lions Gate had four, so curiously, we've lost two.  Now, none of these scenes are what I would be consider huge deals.  They're basically alternate scenes, with exclusive shots or extremely brief moments that weren't in the movie.  Casual viewers might watch them and think, "wasn't all that in the movie?"  But still, fans will want to see them.  And, I mean, the lost moment of Old crying (on the DVD but not the BD) is pretty intriguing.  But that's not all.  Were you curious what A24's website exclusive release has on their disc?  They have three deleted scenes, including one that's not on the Lions Gate or Arrow discs.  So, maddeningly, you'd have to collect all three releases just to collect the five deleted scenes.  Somebody behind the scenes is a sadist.
I don't have the A24 release, but I will point out that while it doesn't have the new Arrow extras, it has all the Lions Gate stuff (except for the two deleted scenes) and three new featurette interviews.  Everybody in those are also interviewed in the existing documentaries, so in that regard, I'd say it's a bit of an even wash.  Fans who choose one of the 4k releases will probably be just as happy as those who chose the other.  Either way, it's a great film with some great features that will really draw you in.  I'm super happy with mine.  ...I mean, my mother's.

The Total Creepshow Experience Just Got Totaller

Creepshow has always been released barebones in the USA. But in the UK, it had a sweet 2-disc DVD special edition. When it was time for blu-ray, Creepshow stayed barebones in the US, but the UK blu got even more extras! But finally, the director of the Creepshow documentary Just Desserts from the UK releases, Redshirt's Michael Felsher, put together an indiegogo campaign to release just his doc in the USA, even if it had to be by itself, as opposed to paired with Warner Bros' Creepshow discs. Well, that happened, and Synapse picked it up, including a bunch more special features. Just what's carried over from one special edition to another - and what isn't - can be a little confusing, so let's break it all down.

Update 10/14/18: And suddenly there's a lot more to the Creepshow story!  Scream Factory has restored the film in 4k from the original camera negative, and they've issued it in a fancy new special edition, with even more all new special features.

Update 7/1/23: And now that we're solidly in the 4k Ultra HD age, it only make sense that Scream Factory circle back around and release Creepshow on a proper UHD, which they've now done, in a brand new 2-disc BD/ UHD combo-pack.
First of all, Creepshow is a blast. It's one of those movies I loved as a kid and still get just as much out of today. You know, usually movies fall on one side of that line or the other, but this is one of those treats that fills both spaces. It's an anthology film directed by George Romero, written by (and co-starring) Stephen King, based on the old E.C. horror comics of the 1950s. That's already some top of the line talent, bolstered by the fact that they have a respectable (for a horror movie) budget and a big studio behind them. But then add to that the effects-work of Tom Savini and a terrific all-star cast, all delightfully shot and dramatically framed over-the-top, capturing the style of the original comic books perhaps better than any other, with the possible exceptions of much later entries like Sin City or Ang Lee's The Hulk. But unlike The Hulk, this doesn't suck, so it's really the best of both worlds.  ;)
Every story is great. You have a wrap-around segment where a young boy is forbidden to read his trashy comic books by his father, Tom Atkins. But he reads anyway, and each story is is one of our anthology's segments, starting with Father's Day, starring Ed Harris. He marries into a wealthy family who owe all their spoils to their deceased patriarch, but their lack of respect has him not just rolling in his grave, but crawling up out of it. Next, King himself stars as an over-the-top hillbilly hick who thinks his luck has turned when a meteorite lands in his backyard, but we all know things can't go as well as he hopes. Next, Leslie Neilsen exacts some morbidly fatal revenge on his wife and the man she cheats on him with (Ted Danson), but it winds up backfiring on him. And speaking of murderous solutions to marital problems, Hal Holbrook thinks he may have figured out a way to finally rid himself of his delightfully shrewish wife, Adrienne Barbeau, when he finds a mysterious crate in the basement of his university. And finally E.G. Marshall is a rich man who takes germophobia to new extremes in his futuristically designed penthouse apartment, but unfortunately for him, nature always finds a way.
Creepshow was originally released on DVD in 1999. I unfortunately sold it off long ago, so I don't have it for today's comparison, but it at least an anamorphic widescreen presentation. I got rid of it, though, because in 2007 Second Sight put out their loaded 2007 special edition 2-disc DVD set, which I do still have and am including here. Back in the USA, Warner Bros gave this film its HD debut with their 2009 blu-ray, but it was barebones.  Eventually in 2013, Second Sight gave us the best of both worlds: a special edition blu-ray. At the time, it was the champ.  But then in 2018, Scream Factory raised the stakes with a fresh 4k restoration from the original camera negative on BD.  And although that release had remained unchallenged to this day, SF are raising the stakes again, with an all new 4k scan of the OCN in Dolby Vision HDR, now released on a proper 2160p UHD disc (and a 1080p BD, too).
1) 2007 SS DVD; 2) 2009 WB BD; 3) 2013 SS BD; 4) 2018 SF BD.
So, by and large, it's the same root transfer on the DVD bumped up to HD on the original blus. It's got the same occasional flecks and dirt (look at the white speck at the top left of all three Halbrook shots), roughly the same colors etc. I say roughly, because the DVD's a teensy bit darker, but only so's you'd notice in a direct comparison like this. One more notable difference, however, is the framing. Second Sight matted it to 1.85:1 on the DVD, but Warner Bros left it open to 1.78:1 on the blu-ray, and so did they. Apart from that, though, they're pretty similar. What was a great looking DVD becomes an okay looking blu. It is a bit cleaner and more clear without the DVD compression, but it's still soft and generally feels like the older master that it is. A mild upgrade from the already pretty strong DVD.

But now the new blu!  First, to start off, the proper 1.85:1 aspect ratio is back.  And that white speck in the Halbrook shot is gone, along with plenty of others like it (though I did still catch a few specks).  The film's a bit darker, with more naturalistic colors, except in key shots where the impressionistic, comic book-influenced coloring comes in, and it actually goes a bit further in that direction.  Detail is improved and grain is definitely more distinct and natural by a wide margin.  The older blus didn't have any problems per se, crying out for correction; they're just older.  And Scream's edition brings Creepshow to the higher standards of quality on par with today's tech.
5) 2023 SF BD; 6) 2023 SF UHD.
And yes, in 2023, it's another new 4k scan, not just the 2018 transfer on a higher res disc.  Just comparing the two BDs, you'll notice the colors are a little subtler.  The encodes and grain distribution are clearly different, though it's hard to say one's really better than the other in that regard.  I was happy to notice, though, that the already very minor film damage, like a few tiny white spots behind Leslie in the sky there, have been cleaned up between the 2018 and 2023 releases.  And the UHD is, as you'd hope, an even bigger improvement, with much more consistent and thorough grain representation and more natural coloring and resolution of fine detail, notable, for instance, on his necklace.

The DVD gave us a choice between a 5.1 remix or the original Dolby 2.0 stereo track, plus English subtitles. The Second Sight blu gives us the same audio options, but bumps them up to DTS-HD and LPCM respectively. However, unfortunately, this time around they neglected the subs.  On the other hand, Warner Bros remembered the subtitles (and French ones as well), but left off the 5.1 option, leaving us with just the TrueHD stereo 2.0.  And Scream?  Well, its 2018 release claims "DTS-HD Master Audio Mono" on the back of the case, but that's a little incorrect.  In fact, both the 2018 and 2023 releases offer us the choice of a 5.1 Surround mix or the 2.0 Stereo track, both in DTS-HD.  And yes, they have English subtitles.  The UHD also adds a new Dolby Atmos track, not mentioned on the back cover.
Now, like I said, the US Warner Bros release is barebones except for the trailer and a lame ad for Warner Bros releases in general.  So just forget about that and let's start with the DVD, which provides all the key staples. First, there's a very cool audio commentary by Romero and Savini, who provide a lot of great backstory to this film. But topping that is the feature length documentary Just Desserts, making its debut here. This is a great, very upbeat retrospective which talks to all the key players. It's very well made, in Red Shirt's usual, top notch fashion. And besides those two key features, there's also fifteen minutes of deleted scenes, a featurette compiling almost half an hour of Tom Savini's behind-the-scenes footage, the trailer and a stills gallery. The DVD also came in a cool slip-sleeve box.

Again, the US blu-ray didn't pick up any of that and remained barebones. Well, except for the trailer. But Second Sight's blu-ray carried over everything from their excellent DVD set, right down to the stills gallery, even bumping Just Desserts up to HD. Then, they added an all new audio commentary. This one, isn't really a proper audio commentary, though. It's more a collection of audio interviews that are laid over the film, but not commenting directly on it. They talk to director of photography Michael Gornick, actor John Amplas (the father in Father's Day), property master Bruce Alan Miller, make-up effects assistant Darryl Ferrucci and Bernie Wrightson, the artist who did the poster and the awesome oversized Creepshow comic book that my best friend and I used to borrow from the library like every other week for years.  Plus, they added an additional vintage TV spot.

And then we come to Synapse's 2016 blu-ray release of just Just Desserts.
1) 2007 SS DVD; 2) 2013 SS BD; 3) 2016 Synapse BD.
So, not much has changed apart from what you'd expect. The DVD looks a little more compressed, naturally, being in standard def. All three are framed at 1.78:1, but the 2013 blu-ray looks a little bit lighter than the other two, and the DVD is a little heavier saturated. I think I like Synapse's middle-of-the-road look the best. But oh no, wait - there is a big difference here: the whole lower third label is missing from the DVD shot! Well, watching the doc through, that label is on the DVD version, too; it just fades out a little earlier. So I guess Felsher did a little tinkering with the edit for the blu-ray reissue? I didn't notice any substantial changes between the two versions, though, but there might be more subtle alterations and flourishes for the particularly curious to discover.
So anyway, you might think getting Just Desserts is great for the Region A locked who've been stuck with entirely featureless Creepshow releases, and it is. But Synapse has packed their release with additional features which might just tempt owners of the Second Sight special editions. First, though, let me cover the other stuff they included from the Second Sight blu, because they did do some of that. You remember that collection of Savini's behind-the-scenes footage I mentioned before? That's been ported over to here, as has the not-quite-an-audio commentary with Gornick, Amplas, Miller, Ferrucci and Wrightson, which now plays as a commentary over the documentary (again, they're not commenting on anything in particular, so it's the same difference). They also carried over the stills gallery.
Scream Greats: Volume One
But Syanpse's blu also has a bunch of new stuff. There's an audio commentary (for the documentary, not Creepshow) by Felsher, an on-camera interview with Michael Gornick (which is actually the same interview heard on that second audio commentary, except slightly re-edited and now we get to see him), extended interview clips from the doc with Romero, Savini and Wrightson (the last of which, like the Gornick interview, is the same as on the audio commentary). There's also a Creepshow episode of Horror's Hallowed Grounds (these are always a blast), and a vintage segment of the Pittsburgh public access show Evening Magazine that interviews Romero and shows some behind-the-scenes footage of the filming of the movie. Finally, but perhaps most excitingly, is Fangoria's old Scream Greats: Volume One documentary that they released on VHS way back in the day, interviewing Tom Savini in his studio. It's presented here, along with its own audio commentary track by Savini. I imagine some fans will find this release worth the purchase price for this alone.

Also, if you supported the indiegogo campaign, you got an exclusive booklet and poster.  Good on ya.
The original cell animations.
And what about Scream Factory's new blu?  They have an interesting mix of new features and older stuff they carried over.  So let's start with the old.  The two commentaries, deleted scenes, trailers, galleries and half hour of Savini footage from the UK blu-ray are here.  In other words, everything except the Just Desserts doc.  And the Horror's Hallowed Grounds from the Synapse Just Desserts disc is here.

So the new stuff?  It's mostly also by Red Shirt Pictures, and basically feels like a collection of every other little thing they missed with their Synapse disc.  There are great new interviews with the costume designer Barbara Anderson and animator Rick Catizone.  There's a round-table discussion with Felsher, Amplas, Atkins, Savini and Marty Schiff which manages to cough up a few anecdotes which I don't think were in the previous extras.  And there's a couple interviews where it really begins to feel like they're stretching it, including one with a guy who collects Creepshow props, and another with two guys who commission new posters for older films, including Creepshow, though none of them compared to the classic original posters.  There's also two new audio commentaries.  One by Michael Gornick, which was good but repeated stuff from some of his other interviews, and another with composer/ assistant director John Harrison and construction coordinator Ed Fountain, which was fairly low energy and frankly boring.  More interesting for me, though possibly not for more casual viewers just interested in the film rather than the technical stuff, were new interviews with Gornick and sound designer Chris Jenkins, who talked about the finer points of the new 4k restoration.  However, fair warning: purists may wince at some of the changes Gornick made that border on the revisionist.

Scream Factory's 2018 blu comes in a thick hardbox, with reversible artwork for the inner case, and a glossy, 40 page book by Michael Gingold.  Also, if you pre-ordered early enough, you got a limited edition poster and lithograph.  And their 2023 set makes no changes, additions or subtractions, to their extras package, but comes in a standard amary case with reversible artwork and a slipcover.  It also came with a poster if you pre-ordered directly from Shout.  And if you really went all-in, you could their flush set with two slipcovers, two posters, five lobby cards, five enamel pins and a prism sticker.
So, together, Scream's UHD set and Synapse's Just Desserts disc nets you everything.  If you have those, there's nothing left exclusive on the Second Sight blu, or any of the other past releases.  If you don't have Just Desserts, though, Scream's disc feels a little bit off in terms of extras.  Like you've got a lot of odds and ends, but they never talk to the major cast members or anything.  I feel like Felsher specifically designed this set of extras to work as a companion piece, in conjunction with the Synapse blu, rather than something meant to stand alone.  And that's fine if you're happy to get both, but could be a little annoying to fans who think just shelling out for Scream's Collector's Edition should be pretty definitive on its own (especially if you laid down the $140 for the full swag set!), and feel stuck watching a couple of hipsters showing off their drawings instead of Adrienne Barbeau and Ed Harris.  In the end, it's certainly worth it, though, with a smashing new transfer of the film and - again, if you get both releases - an incredibly comprehensive and enjoyable set of features documenting what's still one of the most fun horror movies going.