Okay, I couldn't wait...
This is one of my all-time favorites, so I sloughed off a bit of my work today and had myself a matinee.
Overall: very satisfied.
There is definitely DNR, on the same level as HALLOWEEN. It didn't really bother me in most shots, largely since there is still so much grain remaining. Rest assured: it still feels "gritty" and "low budget", and does NOT look like it was shot on HD. In my opinion, this may be considered a "decent" use of DNR: cleaning up some grain while maintaining most of the fine detail and the photochemical "feel".
It's definitely a brand-new transfer. I've seen this movie in every format, starting with my crappy pan-and-scan VHS copy in the 80's (from Media Entertainment -- a company so low-budget that in some places on their packaging they listed themselves as "MEDA" and in other places "MEDIA".) Up until now, I'd regarded the 90's laserdisc transfer to be the best one yet; it's the one that seemed to get the overall brightness "just right". (I think the latest SD DVD release was too dark, by comparison)
This new transfer isn't perfect. It's too bright. There's definitely more detail in the shadows than you've ever seen before. But I quickly lowered the brightness on my Panasonic PT-AE1000 projector (and brought the color saturation down a couple notches too, since lowering brightness tends to saturate the colors) and everything fell neatly into place. The colors and skin tones are drab and dirty--just as you'd expect from this low budget "pulp" film... I loved it. I'm so glad they didn't "punch" the colors up too much or try to fight the natural faded look of the older negative.
The only other drawback of this BD transfer is that the enthusiastic colorist obviously wanted to "pop" some of the blues -- even when they weren't present in the lighting! It's particularly distracting around the scene when Cheney (the police officer, not VP) tries to go out to use his car radio. There are some definite "what the heck were they thinking" moments when the blue light looks entirely "pushed" and "electronic" rather than natural. Unfortunate... but it doesn't happen too often, mercifully.
Overall... like I said... I was very satisfied after I lowered the brightness on my projector.
This is definitely the best the film has looked at home. I live in Los Angeles and got to see a restored print at the Egyptian Theater a couple years ago (with John Carpenter and Austin Stoker as guests), and this transfer comes pretty close to capturing the feel of that film print.
I'm especially happy not to see any more macro-blocking in the stucco texture on the inside of the precinct walls (from the old DVD versions). That drove me crazy. Long live BD and its lack of artifacting!!!!
Enjoy; it's pretty freakin' good--warts and all.
EDIT--I only listened to the original mono track, which sounded clean and sharp.