30th June

Some terrific Region 1 news broke yesterday: Criterion are going to release a very special version of one of my favourite movies! The film in question is The Devil and Daniel Webster (aka All That Money Can Buy). The 1941 film is an adaptation of the Faust story. It tells the story of a young farmer who makes a deal with the Devil: his soul in exchange for seven years of prosperity. The film was edited quite ruthlessly shortly after it's original run, and for decades the only version that circulated was the much-abbreviated version, which was missing about twenty minutes of footage.

The new Criterion DVD, which is due in September, will present a 106- minute, digitally-remastered version of the film, apparently sourced from a recently-discovered fine-grain print. (Criterion's excellent laserdisc patched together a version of the film using a combination of 35mm and 16mm elements).  Bonus features for the DVD include the laserdisc's excellent commentary track (by film historian Bruce Eder and Bernard Herrmann expert Steven C. Smith), Columbia Workshop's radio adaptations of two Daniel Webster stories (both featuring music by Herrmann), and a gallery of photo's and promotional materials. New features include a video comparison of the "preview version" of the film, when it was titled Here Is A Man, which should be fascinating. 

28th June

As indicated yesterday, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will be releasing the Planet of the Apes TV series on DVD on the 18th of August.  The four disc set contains all fourteen episodes of the series, which was made in 1974, following the release of five very successful feature films. The set also includes promotional trailers for the Planet of the Apes movies box set, and the theatrical trailer for Tim Burton's 2001 remake. The discs include English subtitles, and are presented in their original 4:3 format, with mono audio. RRP is a very reasonable £19.99 (watch out, because most online retailers are currently basing their prices on an RRP of £24.99). Click here, or on the photo', to see a selection of menu screens from the new set.

27th June

This isn't exactly hot off the press, but it's been great to finally get in touch with British TV specialists Acorn Media UK Ltd, who have released some terrific material, including the excellent Lord Peter Wimsey BBC series.

On July the 14th Acorn are releasing the first volume of what, for my money, was the finest long-running BBC drama series of the 70s: When The Boat Comes In

The series is set in Gallowshields, Tyneside, just after the end of the Great War. The series' protagonist, army Sergeant Jack Ford (played by James Bolam), returns from the front to discover - as has so often been the case -  that the government's lofty promises aren't being fulfilled. Using his wits and considerable charm, Ford re-enters society determined to make a better life for himself. Acorn's two-disc set contains the series' first five episodes, originally broadcast in 1976: A Land Fit For Heroes and Idiots, Say Hello... ...Say Tirra, Fish in Woolly Jumpers, Swords and Pick Handles and Coal Comfort. The disc has an RRP of £19.99. If you can't find the disc at your outlet of choice, then Acorn will be happy to take your order on 020 8879 7000.

Here's an updated DVD schedule from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment:

18th August:

Planet of the Apes TV series 


1st September:

The X-Files - Season 7


8th September:

The Simpsons Classics


6th October:

The Simpsons - Series 3


17th November:

Futurama - Season 4

MGM have announced their August lineup, which includes five Francios Truffaut films (Mississippi Mermaid, The Wild Child, Pocket Money, The Man Who Loved Women and The Story of Adele H, all on August 4th, with an RRP of £15.99 each). 

They also have a range of "thrillers", including Sidney Lumet's adaptation of Peter Schaffer's play Equus, the 1956 version of A Kiss Before Dying, the Farrah Fawcett rape drama Extremities, Robert Aldrich's film noir classic Kiss Me Deadly, the overwrought Oscar-winner Reversal of Fortune, soft porn classic Two Moon Junction, starring Sherilyn Fenn and Bad Influence (still cut by the BBFC, for "dangerous imitable technique", but apparently about 30" less cut than the old Entertainment in Video VHS version). All of these titles have an RRP of £12.99, and, apart from theatrical trailers, no bonus features. (Apart from a few vague references MGM's press releases do not include technical spec's, the sample sleeves they supply aren't to be relied upon, either).

26th June

Yesterday morning, at some ungodly hour, I was lucky enough to attend a press screening of The Matrix Reloaded: The IMAX Experience at the bfi's IMAX theatre, next door to Waterloo station. Those of you who have already visited an IMAX screen won't need any introduction, or persuading that it's an astonishing way to see a film! Click on the photo, above, or here to read my special report.

Warner Home Video has announced a couple more new releases for July.

Joining their recent spate of Robert DeNiro releases and announcements (Once Upon a Time in America, The Deer Hunter and City By The Sea) is Michael Caton-Jones' 1993 film This Boy's Life, which also features moon-faced pretty boy Leonardo DiCaprio. The film will be presented in 2.35:1 ratio (no mention of anamorphic enhancement, but Warner rarely drops the ball when it comes to quality transfers) and stereo sound. Release date is 21st July, and the RRP is £12.99.

Warner Home Video launch three World War II classics in their War In The East collection on July 21st: Battle Cry (1955), Errol Flynn in Objective Burma (1945) and John Wayne in Operation Pacific (1951). 

The films will be available separately, for £12.99 each, or in a three-disc box set, for £29.99. Battle Cry boasts a 5.1 sound mix, and is presented in 2.55:1 ratio. The other films are full-frame presentations with mono sound. Each film is supported by a theatrical trailer, and Objective Burma also features two classic Warner Bros. wartime shorts.

Another Wonder Woman disc is being released on August the 18th. It will contain three more episodes: The Bermuda Triangle Crisis, Knockout and The Queen and the Thief. The disc will also include new text-based features, examining The History of Wonder Woman and The Many Faces of Wonder Woman, and a photo' gallery. RRP is £12.99. There'll also be a second volume of The Dukes of Hazzard (like I care). Curiously, though, there's no sign of a second Freddy's Nightmares volume.  

24th June

Warner Home Video have announced another two double-bill DVDs: Sweeney! and Sweeney 2, and two David Essex movies directed by Michael Apted: That'll Be The Day and Stardust

The two Sweeney films will have mono audio, and be presented in 1.66:1 aspect ratio. The two films are already available as a double bill from Anchor Bay, in the US, but it shouldn't be difficult for Warner to improve on their transfers, which have excessive DVNR smearing. No extras have been announced for the UK discs: the US discs at least include the theatrical trailers. 

That'll Be The Day (which features Doctor Who companion Deborah Watling) and Stardust (which doesn't) will have mono audio, and will be presented in 1.85:1 ratio.

Both discs are being released on July 28th, with an RRP of £15.99.  Here's a look at the awful cover art:

23rd June

If it's Monday, it's probably time for a new competition, right? Right! 

Today our competition gives you the chance to win a copy of the Spy Kids 2 - The Island of Lost Dreams DVD, courtesy of Buena Vista Home Entertainment. The film's a hoot for kids of all ages, and, especially, for anyone who's a fan of Ray Harryhausen-style animation. The disc also features a healthy selection of bonus material, including a commentary by director Robert Rodriguez.

21st June

Another hot review for you today, this time for the Region 2 version of Steven Soderbergh's remake of Solaris, which stars George Clooney. The film flopped at the box office, but does it deserve to find an appreciative audience on DVD? 

The DVD is modest by Fox's standards, but includes a very interesting commentary track and a couple of decent featurettes. The disc is released in a month's time, on July 21st, a week before the Region 1 release. RRP is £19.99. Click on the Clooney picture, above, or here to read the review.

20th June

Two more terrific soundtrack CDs have been released by the folks at Film Score Monthly magazine, and both are well worth picking up. The first disc pairs music from two classic seventies science-fiction movies: Fred Myrow's score for Soylent Green and Jerry Fielding's music for Demon Seed. The 1973 Soylent Green score includes several tracks that were recorded for, but eventually not used in, the finished film, including the cue originally composed for Edward G. Robinson's memorable death scene. (This sequence eventually featured a medley of classical music pieces by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Grieg, which is also included on the CD). Fielding's spiky music for 1977's Demon Seed, a mixture of electronic and treated acoustic recordings, is a fine companion piece to Myrow's more traditional orchestral score for Soylent Green. Both scores are taken from multi-track masters, and are presented in stereo (although some of the bonus tracks from Demon Seed are from mono recordings). The disc features about forty minutes of music from each score.

FSM's Knights of the Round Table two-disc set offers two Golden Age scores by the great Miklós Rózsa (the other is The King's Thief). Each disc offers more than seventy minutes of music, including alternate cues, and unused material. 

Both films were made by MGM in the wake of Ivanhoe's success, and so, naturally, it was Rózsa, Ivanhoe's composer, the studio turned to, in an attempt to repeat the formula. Although the score for Knights has been available before, it was a contemporaneous, but inferior, re-recording. Film Score Monthly's disc presents the original film versions, in stereo. The King's Thief is a lesser movie, and, arguably, one that didn't deserve the talents of its composer. Nevertheless, Rózsa turned in a rousing, typically lush score. Only short suites from The King's Thief have been released previously. This new disc presents the complete score, from the original recordings, in stereo.

Both titles are available in a limited edition of 3000 copies - the same quantity, let's not forget, as the label's now out-of-print, and now very collectable The Omega Man CD! - and come with lavishly-illustrated booklets containing comprehensive sleeve note. 

The discs are available from specialist retailers, or direct from Film Score Monthly's website

19th June

Warner Home Video will release a two-disc Special Edition of Michael Cimino's 1978 film The Deer Hunter on August the 4th. The film, which won five Academy Awards (Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Sound, Best Editing and Best Picture), will be accompanied by a commentary track (by Cimino), Realising The Deer Hunter (an interview with Cimino), Shooting The Deer Hunter (an interview with cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond), Playing The Deer Hunter (an interview with John Savage, who played Steven in the film), the theatrical trailer, a picture gallery and DVD-ROM downloadable press brochure. The film will have a 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer, and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. The disc will apparently be exclusive to the UK (the US rights to the film are held by a different studio). RRP is £19.99.

The decidedly offbeat comedy Human Nature, which stars Notting Hill's Rhys Ifans as a man who has been living in the woods since childhood, who is discovered by a pair of scientists (Tim Robbins and Patricia Arquette), will be also be released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on August the 4th. 

The film, which was written by Charlie Kaufman (who wrote the fabulous Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Being John Malkovich), will be supported by several bonus features which aren't on the American disc: a commentary track (by former pop video director Michael Gondry), a making of... featurette and ten "weird and wonderful" teaser trailers. The film will be presented in "16:9" ratio, with 5.1 audio. RRP is £17.99.

Here's the sleeve image for Carlton's Cult TV Legends DVD, which is due for release on July the 7th. For details of which episodes are included, see the news entry for the 4th of June, below.

The red corner legend refers to the number of episodes that haven't been previously released on DVD, incidentally, not the number of discs.

RRP for this disc is £9.99.

 16th June

I've got a red hot new DVD review for you today, to get the week off to a cracking start.

Fox Home Entertainment's  two-disc Daredevil Special Edition is one of the most highly-anticipated releases of the year. 

No-one is likely to be disappointed by the DVD, which offers hours of worthwhile bonus features, and one of the best audio mixes ever to be released on DVD. Click on the picture, left, or here to read the review! The disc is released on June 30th.

Don't forget that Trainspotting and Deathwatch are released today. Click here to read the Trainspotting review, and here for the Deathwatch review.

 14th June

A number of customers are reporting that their copies of the new Doctor Who disc, The Dalek Invasion of Earth (due for release on Monday) are missing the 4-page booklet. If you're picking a copy up in the next couple of days, I suggest checking to make sure that it includes the booklet! More worrying are reports that several makes of players are having problems reading the second disc.

Fans of The Shield might like to know that another Emmy "For Your Consideration" disc has been released. The new disc contains four episodes: the first season finale Circles, and three second seasons not yet commercially released: The Quick Fix, Dead Soldiers and Scar Tissue

There are a lot of Emmy promotional DVDs this year, although most are of the movie of the week variety. Other Emmy DVDs include a five-disc box set of titles from Dick Wolf's various Law and Order series (and episodes of his new, unrelated, series, Dragnet) and discs containing episodes of Third Watch, The West Wing and CSI: Miami

11th June

Momentum have sent over the discs for the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Season Two - Episodes 2.1-2.12 DVD set, which is due for release on the 28th of July. 

It looks like the set will live up to fan's hopes and expectations, (even if it won't completely make up for the lacklustre presentation of the first season sets). 

The discs are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen ratio, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (at 448kbps), and this time the main titles are accompanied by the The Who's familiar Who Are You? theme music. Click here to see some of the set's animated menu screens.  More details can be found in the news entries for the 21st May (the sleeve artwork) and the 8th of May (the spec's), both of which can be found here

Two more titles from the Sam Arkoff Film Library have been announced for a July 21st: The Brain Eaters and The She-Creature. As with the first batch of titles (War of the Colossal Beast, (Earth Vs.] The Spider, How to Make a Monster and Day the World Ended, which are available now), each disc contains an audio recording of a Guardian Lecture that Arkoff gave at the BFI, in 1991) and a selection of trailers. RRP for the discs is £12.99.

10th June

Fox will release Season Three of the Emmy-award winning animated series Family Guy on July 21st. The three disc set will contain twenty-two episodes, but will have the same RRP as the last, (two-disc) set: £24.99. 

It's been widely rumoured, but now it's official: The Matrix Reloaded will soon begin playing on the eighty-five foot wide, five-story high IMAX screen, at London's South Bank complex, which also boasts 12,000 watts of six-channel digital audio. 

The film begins screening on July 4th.  For more information on getting tickets, and show times, call 020 7902 1234, or zip over to the BFI's website.   


9th June

There's an ongoing conflict between adding content to the site, and tweaking the layout, and tidying up some of the glitches that annoy me so much, but probably go unnoticed by 99.9% of you. Adding content is usually my priority, but today cosmetic improvements won out! I'm sure most of you would rather have new content. There's probably an important life lesson in there, somewhere.

The Dark Angel - Season 2 Collection DVD competition closed yesterday... and the winners are Martin Hall and Paul Broughton. Congratulations to them, and my thanks to Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, who generously provided the prizes. The answer to the question "Which regular character is a new addition to Dark Angel season 2?" was Joshua. Thanks to everyone who entered. If you weren't lucky this time, there's still a week left to enter the Babylon 5 Season 2 DVD set competition. Click on the banner - above - for details. 

5th June - PM update

I've spent all day absorbing Universal's Trainspotting - The Definitive Edition two-disc special edition, which is being released on June 16th. Click here to read the Zeta Minor review. 

Now I've got that out of my system, back to what I had planned for today: A&E's Homicide: Life on the Street box set!

5th June

Columbia Tristar have announced that they will be releasing The Storyteller Collection in the US on August 26th. No further details are available, but let's hope that this includes the equally fabulous follow-up series, The Greek Myths

The BBC have announced their July lineup. The Dead Ringers - Series 1 disc will include the pilot episode, originally transmitted in 2002. Release date is July 2nd, RRP is £15.99. The remarkable series of monologues delivered by Joanna Lumley, Up In Town, is also released on July 7th, with an RRP of £15.99. The disc will contain extended episodes, dream sequences and a commentary track by Co-Producer Hugo Blick and Joanna Lumley. Finally, historian Michael Wood goes In Search of Shakespeare, in a four-part documentary series. The disc will be released on the 25th of August (the VHS version is due on July 7th), with an RRP if £19.99.

Here are sleeve images for the next Doctor Who DVD, The Dalek Invasion of Earth, and the Steve Coogan / Rob Brydon comedy drama Cruise of the Gods. For more details about these discs, see the news update for the 10th of May.

4th June

Carlton will release the first season of the gritty ITV police drama series The Vice on July 7th. The disc contains the first six fifty-minute episodes, which were originally broadcast at the beginning of 1999. These make up the first three stories: Daughters, Sons and Dabbling, Worryingly, the press release refers to these as the first three episodes (perhaps indicating that each two-part story will be compiled into one episode). With that in mind, the disc has a suspiciously cheap RRP of £12.99.

Two episodes of popular ITC adventure series that haven't been released on DVD in the UK headline Carlton's Cult TV Legends compilation DVD, which is also being released on July 7th. The disc contains the colour Danger Man episode Koroshi and an adventure for The Saint which pits Simon Templar against a mad scientist (in The House of Dragon's Rock, an episode directed by Roger Moore). The DVD also includes the opening episodes of The Persuaders (Overture) and The Prisoner (Arrival). The press release didn't include an RRP.

2nd June

A new competition today!  Huzzah!  Click on the banner above to enter the competition to win a box set of the second season of Babylon 5, courtesy of the nice folks at Warner Home Video. The Dark Angel competition is still open, but will close at the end of this week.

1st June

If you're looking for the lists of new Cinema Club budget DVD titles, or MGM's July lineup, you need the archived news for May, which you can find here.

There's a whole new section on the site today, something that's taken the last couple of weeks to put together. One of the aims of this site is to publish information about neglected archive TV series; programmes so obscure that there's virtually nothing about them on the Internet. 

The section on Catweazle more or less qualified, but there were already several sites that featured the show, and others have cropped up since Zeta Minor launched last year. Frankly, it only made the cut because I already had most of the material to hand. It's also the reason why I haven't yet added sections on Millennium or American Gothic - there are already a few excellent resources out there, so adding these series to my site is a low priority. 

I can safely say that there's nothing substantial on the Internet about the 1978-1980 LWT series Enemy at the Door, because I've followed about a zillion search links, all of them either linked to retailers selling the Enemy at the Door DVD box sets, or to biographies of Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Anthony Stewart Head, who featured in a couple of episodes. Although no-one would classify it as a lost classic, Enemy at the Door is a neglected gem. Well, no more! Visit the new section by clicking on the Cult TV button above, or on the Enemy at the Door logo.

Incidentally, I'm very interested to hear from anyone who has any additional information to add. Please get in touch if you have anything you'd like to contribute. 

I'd like to extend my thanks to Goldhil Home Media International, for releasing the series on DVD, and for graciously allowing me to use their synopses as the basis of the episode guide.

Check back tomorrow for an exciting new competition!


May 2003

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