One of the great things about having a network of fellow Video Junkies is you can usually get your fix pretty quick. Last month I reviewed the underappreciated Christmas slasher SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT (1974) and mentioned the pitch black Paragon VHS transfer and the online chatter that the print of the film in the Chilling Classics horror set looked far better. Almost as quickly as I posted it, fellow movie buff (and amazing people locator) Bill Picard hooked me up with a copy of that print. Sure enough, the quality is a million times better. Now, keep in mind this is still a scratchy print and not the optimum release, but at least you could make out the important details in stuff like this.
And, of course, my favorite bit is where Mr. Towman (John Carradine) is killed. The Paragon tape was nothing but a swarm of black with the occasional white blip. Here, you can actually see Jeffrey Butler looking at the body and there is even a visible tiny waterfall in the background (it is still pretty dark in the DVD print).
Also, the less dark print gives more details in stuff like when Tess is killed and audiences get a quick glimpse at her severed hand on the floor. With the print not as dark, you can see the blood on the stump. Important stuff, I tell ya!
Even more exciting than a watchable print is the fact that the Chilling Classics version actually runs longer than the Paragon version (1 hour, 24 minutes and 57 seconds for the Chilling Classics versus 1 hour, 22 minutes and 34 seconds for the Paragon tape). Discussions found online chalk it up an edited ax killing (not true; both versions are identical) to a difference in NTSC vs. PAL transfers (possible, but not entirely). What I did find when comparing the Chilling Classics DVD version to the Paragon VHS version was that the better looking print also had three extra scenes in it.
The first and longest extra scene occurs after lawyer John Carter meets with the town folk about selling the house. In the Chilling Classics print, there is a 50 second segment of him and his paramour driving back to the house. Interestingly, this drive back to the house repeats two shots (passing a “no trespassing” sign and going over a bridge) from their first drive to the house earlier in the film. They arrive and John gets out of the car. The film cuts away to the inside to the killer rushing out of a room in the house, establishing they were already in the house watching them when the couple arrived. John then gets his girlfriend out of her side and she walks up to the house to unlock the door. The Paragon version starts with her already at the door.