ARCHIVE NEWS - 23rd - 29th AUGUST 2004

27th August 2004

There's a new film review for you today: Lee has reviewed one of the most eagerly-awaited films of the last decade: Alien vs Predator. The film seems to have met with decidedly lukewarm reviews, which is perhaps not surprising, since it would be difficult for any filmmaker to make a film as exciting as the one you could imagine, let alone a journeyman hack like Paul W.S. Anderson. To read the review, click on the sleeve image, left, or here. The film opens here on October the 22nd, so forget about any hopes you might have had that it will be released here on DVD before Christmas. This is bad news for American DVD buyers, who will now almost certainly have to wait until well into the New Year before it's released, making it one of the longer recent theatrical-to-DVD windows.

On Wednesday I attended the press screening of Spider-Man 2 at the IMAX cinema on London's South Bank. (You may remember that last year I reported on the IMAX Experience version of The Matrix Reloaded: you can read that review here). Most of what I wrote about The Matrix Reloaded applies to Spider-Man 2, too.

I wasn't very impressed with the original Spider-Man film, especially it's dodgy CGI effects, so I was very curious to see the sequel, which is generally regarded as a better film. I was especially curious to see how the new film's effects would stand up to the intense scrutiny that the giant IMAX screen offers.

The answer is, surprisingly well. The effects are much improved this time around: they're better integrated into the backgrounds, and generally much more fluid. It's certainly more difficult to tell where the pixels end and Tobey McGuire starts!

There are, however, one or two ambitious shots that looked absolutely terrible: a CGI version of Doc Ock that takes up a fraction of the frame is rendered virtually life-size on the IMAX screen, and the results look very shoddy indeed. There was also one very, very short shot where you could clearly see the individual pixels.

Of course, aside from the sheer spectacle on offer, the IMAX screen offers sundry other delights, like making it possible to read things like the newspaper headlines in the background in the Daily Bugle's offices, and the titles of the books stacked on Harry Osborn's coffee table! It also made Stan Lee's fleeting cameo (as "Man Dodging Debris") easier to spot. Despite that, though, I missed seeing John Landis, and didn't recognise Homicide - Life on the Street's Reed Diamond.

On the downside, it would have been hard to make Kirsten Dunst look any skankier than she does in this film, especially when blown up a hundred-and-twenty feet wide. Also, Tobey McGuire has a little horseshoe shaped scar on one cheek that's often very distracting: it also makes it very easy to see which shots have flopped back to front, for whatever reason. You'll also have fun trying to spot McGuire's contact lenses!

The IMAX cinema continued to impress me with it's effortlessly muscular twelve-thousand watt audio presentation. The cinema has better acoustics than any of the first rank West End screens (the main failing of the Empire's screen one, for example).

And the best news was saved until last: later this year the IMAX will be screening Peter Jackson's epic Lord of the Rings trilogy in a buttock-numbing triple bill! Start queuing now!

Spider-Man 2 is screening at the IMAX, London SE1 from August the 27th. You can book tickets on 0870 787 2525, or online at

Dreamworks Home Entertainment will release a Special Edition version of the 1998 asteroid-collision disaster movie Deep Impact on October the 11th.

The film will be presented in anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen format. The audio is encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 format (at 448kbps).

The new disc will feature a commentary track by director Mimi Leder and special effects supervisor Scott Farrer; four featurettes: Preparing For The End (9m), Making An Impact (12m), Creating The Perfect Traffic Jam (9m) and Parting Thoughts (5m). Preparing For The End wasn't mentioned in the press release, but it is definitely on the disc. The disc also features a theatrical trailer (the only bonus feature on the old disc) and a photo' gallery. The disc has English subtitles on the film, and for the bonus materials (including the commentary). RRP is £14.99. Menu screens from the new disc can be viewed here.

The third season of Black Books will be released by Channel 4 Video on October the 4th. The disc will include twenty-two minutes of deleted scenes, outtakes and trailers, as well as a black and white short scene titled Bernard's Letter, which features Bernard ranting in reply to a publisher's rejection letter. RRP for the disc seems to be £19.99. A set containing the first three seasons of Black Books is also due on October the 4th, with an RRP of £39.99 (according to

UCA (which seems to be an imprint of Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment) will release a four-disc box set of the Discovey Channel's Great Crimes & Trials series on September the 27th. The set will feature twenty-six episodes of the Robert Powell-narrated series: The Lindbergh Kidnapping, Lucky Luciano, Capone, Son of Sam, The Hillside Stranglers, John Dillinger, The Manson ‘Family’ Murders, The Jonestown Massacre, The Boston Strangler, The Yorkshire Ripper, The McKay Kidnapping, Jack the Stripper, Murf the Surf, The Black Panther, John Christie of Rillington Place, Haigh the Acid Bath Murderer, The Great Train Robbery, The Case of Dr Crippen, The Massacre of the Tsar, The Trail of Adolph Eichmann, The Case of Gary Gilmore, Ted Bundy, John Gacy, Neville Heath, The Trials of Dr Samuel Sheppard and The Green Beret Killer.

The first Italian feature film ever made, 1911's L'Inferno, long believed lost forever, is being released on DVD by Snapper Music on October the 11th.

The film, which apparently features some ground-breaking special effects sequences and "awe-inspiring" set designs, is loosely based on the first third of Dante Alighieri's 14th century masterpiece The Divine Comedy, and on Gustav Dore's equally acclaimed illustrations. The film has been restored - according to the press release - and features music performed by Tangerine Dream. RRP is £14.99.

You can see menu screens for Sanctuary's imminent Conan The Destroyer - Collector's Edition here. I'll have more information on this title tomorrow.

Entertainment in Video has delayed the release of two titles that were due for release on August the 30th. Willard and The Reckoning will now be released on September the 27th.

Entertainment in Video is releasing two box sets on September the 27th: a Rush Hour / Rush Hour 2 set and a Blade / Blade 2 set, both with an RRP of £19.99. The press release did not indicate whether these would be re-issues of the existing discs (with all the attendant bonus materials).

Metrodome is releasing Patty Jenkins' critically-acclaimed, Oscar-winning serial killer film Monster on October the 11th, which, as the press release takes pains to point out, is almost two years to the day after the film's subject, Aileen Wuornos, was executed. (These marketing people have no shame).

Punters who didn't buy the Region 1 version back in June will be rewarded by a two-disc Special Edition that will feature "maximum bit-rate encoding" (oh, really?); audio commentary by star Charlize Theron, director Patty Jenkins and producer Clark Peterson; a twenty-five minute documentary, Monster: The Vision and the Journey, with optional commentary by Jenkins; The Making of a Monster (UK exclusive 22m documentary); deleted and extended scenes (with optional commentary by Jenkins); Filmmaking demo ("create your own scene using dialogue or music or effects"); and an interview with Jenkins and composer BT.

The disc will have a choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS audio tracks. RRP is £19.99.

Fans of the genre should definitely buy themselves a copy of Jim Harper's book Legacy of Blood - A Comprehensive Guide to Slasher Movies. The book is officially published in November, by Critical Vision (an imprint of Headpress), but it seems to be on sale already, at places like The Cinema Store.

The book is broadly divided into three sections. The first sixty pages or so contain a number of essays, each focussing on a particular aspect of the genre, exploring its origins, and studying its conventions and clichés. The bulk of the book is comprised of about two hundred reviews, each averaging about two-thirds of a page. This obviously doesn't lend itself to in-depth analysis, but Harper succinctly covers the most interesting aspects of each production, whether they're plot-related, or, more usually, some nugget of behind-the-scenes information. The reviews seems to cover all the key films, but it's not hard to find unfortunate omissions (Anthony Waller's Mute Witness, for example).

The final section of the book presents a handful of useful appendices, including a list of the so-called video nasties, which indicates which are now available in the UK (and whether or not they're cut). Finally, there's a comprehensive index.

The book is illustrated throughout with film posters, photo's and video sleeves. The illustrations are in black and white, and reproduced as faithfully as the quality of paper they're printed on allows. The choice of images is not adventurous, and many are commonplace images that have been seen many times before.

24th August 2004

A couple of bargains cropped up at Roobarb's DVD Forum, just after I uploaded yesterday's pages, and they're well worth checking out.

Many thanks again to Analogueman for posting that Amazon have knocked the price of Star Trek - The Original Series: Season 1 box set down to £49.99.

Thanks to Lissa for posting that Play BBC Audiobooks' The Complete Sherlock Holmes CD Box Set for £119.99 (a whopping £60.01 off!) are running a promotion with the Sun at the moment, offering a free DVD. If you participate in this offer they'll also email you a voucher code for 10% your next order, so that's worth looking into. You can find more details about it in this thread at Roobarb's DVD Forum. Thanks to seagull for bringing that to everyone's attention!

American soundtrack label TVT has just released the soundtrack CD to shark thriller Open Water, a film that's gathering pretty decent reviews, and looks like being an unexpected smash hit. The disc is a "spooky combination of old Caribbean blues and chain gang songs, south pacific religious and celebratory hymns", and about eleven minutes of score material by Graeme Revell.

23rd August 2004

Let's kick off this week with two brand new DVD reviews!

I'm very pleased to welcome Andrew Foxley as a contributor to Zeta Minor. He's reviewed the new The Supercar Story - Full Boost Vertical DVD, which is now available to order. It tells the behind-the-scenes story of one of Gerry Anderson's most beloved series, and features a wealth of rare archive material and brand new interviews with cast and crew members.

Not to be outdone, fellow Roobarb's DVD Forum contributor - and popular man about town - Matt West has reviewed the Oscar-winning film The Snake Pit, which is being released by Optimum this week. The film, about a young woman committed to an insane asylum, stars Olivia de Havilland.

Click on the sleeve images, right, or here for The Supercar Story review, or here for The Snake Pit review.

Blue Underground has published the full spec's for their two September titles: two 1970s films starring David Carradine, Cannonball (aka Carquake) and Circle of Iron.

Trans-America Grand Prix action movie Cannonball, which also stars Hill Street Blues' Veronica Hamel, Deliverance's Bill McKinney, Phantom of the Paradise's Gerrit Graham and Mary Woronov, will be presented in 1.66:1 ratio, with anamorphic enhancement. (The film was shot by The Silence of the Lambs / The Sixth Sense's cinematographer Tak Fujimoto). The disc will have re-mastered Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Bonus materials will include Kicks and Crashes (interviews with Carradine, Woronov and legendary producer Roger Corman), a theatrical trailer, TV spots, and poster and stills galleries.

The kooky 1978 martial arts epic Circle of Iron (which was conceived by Bruce Lee, with acolytes James Coburn and prolific screen-writer Sterling Silliphant), is perhaps better known here as The Silent Flute. The film has been re-mastered from the original negative, and will be presented in 1.78:1 ratio, with 16:9 enhancement, and Dolby Digital (mono) audio.

The disc will feature an interview with star David Carradine, titled Playing The Silent Flute; a commentary track by director Richard Moore; a "History by Davis Miller and Klae Moore" titled Bruce Lee's Silent Flute; an alternate title sequence; a theatrical trailer; TV spots; poster and stills galleries; and a DVD-Rom presentation of the first draft script.

The two discs will be Region 0 titles, with an RRP of $19.99. Release date is September 28th.

Forthcoming Blue Underground releases include Jess Franco's The Bloody Judge (currently only available in the company's Christopher Lee box set), The Killer Nun, Michael Armstrong's Mark of the Devil and Aldo Lado's nasty Night Train Murders, in October, and Kathryn Bigelow's 1982 debut The Loveless and Susan Seidelman's debut Smithereens in November.

The release date for the first season of Without A Trace, originally due on August 30th, has been confirmed as October the 25th.

Nick (The Hole) Hamm's thought-provoking thriller Godsend, about the dangers of cloning, which stars Robert De Niro, Greg Kinnear and Rebecca Romijn Stamos barely caused a ripple at the UK box office. Pathé will release the film on DVD on November the 8th.

The film will be presented in 2.35:1 widescreen format, with anamorphic enhancement, with 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, and English HoH subtitles.

The disc will feature a commentary track, by director Hamm and cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau; four alternate endings (with optional commentary); cast interviews; storyboards; the director's video diary; TV spots and a theatrical trailer. The press release didn't mention an RRP.

Brace yourselves, folks, box set season is looming, as DVD companies hustle for your Christmas cash! Fox is releasing box sets containing films starring Marilyn Monroe, Shirley Temple, a set of Rodgers and Hammerstein films, and a Die Hard collection on October 25th. Each will have an RRP of £39.99, and will have English HoH subtitles.

There will be two Monroe box sets, each containing seven films. Marilyn Monroe: The Classic Collection Volume 1 contains Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Niagra, Bus Stop, River of No Return, Don't Bother To Knock, and two films new to DVD: the 1952 Ginger Rogers comedy We're Not Married and Love Nest. Volume 2 contains How To Marry a Millionaire, The Seven Year Itch, Monkey Business, Let's Make Love, and another two new-to-DVD movies, the 1951 Claudette Colbert romantic comedy Let's Make It Legal and As Young As You Feel.

The Shirley Temple set will feature colorized versions of six of her films, all making their UK DVD debuts: Heidi, The Stowaway, Captain January, Poor Little Rich Girl, Our Little Girl and The Blue Bird. Since we don't countenance colorizing movies, that's the last you'll hear about them here.

The Rodgers and Hammerstein set will feature Carousel, State Fair, Oklahoma!, South Pacific, The King & I and The Sound of Music. The press release doesn't say whether the set will include the bonus materials on the existing releases (The Sound of Music is currently available as a two-disc sets, for example), but does say, rather ominously, that they've been "exclusively repackaged and re-released".

Fox's six-disc Die Hard Trilogy box set will contain the existing three special edition Die Hard DVDs (Die Hard, Die Hard 2: Die Harder and Die Hard With A Vengeance), bundled with with a collector's booklet and a numbered, limited edition Senitype film cel. RRP is £34.99.

The third season of Roswell is being released by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment on October the 11th. The five-disc set will feature four episodes with commentary tracks: Secrets and Lies and Behind The Music (by executive producer / director Jonathan Frakes), I Married an Alien (by executive producer / writer Ronald D. Moore) and Graduation (by executive producer / writer Jason Katims). The set will also contain a featurette: Class of 2002. As before, the episodes will be presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. The set will have English subtitles. Fox has been using the pack shot shown here to promote the release, but it's probably the art for the US release.

A box set containing all three seasons of Roswell will also be released on October the 11th, with an RRP of £89.99.

Redbus Home Entertainment is releasing Sundance 2004 hit Grand Theft Parsons on DVD on September the 20th. The film, which stars Johnny Knoxville, Christina Applegate and Robert Foster, is loosely based on the legendary story of how the manager of country-rock superstar Gram Parsons, Phil Kaufman, stole Parsons' body, so that he could fulfil the singer's wish to be cremated in the Joshua Tree National Park.

The disc will be presented in "16:9 widescreen", with Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio tracks. The disc will feature a commentary track by Kaufman and director David Caffrey, as well as director and cast interviews, and a trailer.

As we guessed last week, Fox has confirmed that their recent eco-drama The Day After Tomorrow will be released here in two versions: a single disc edition and a two-disc Special Edition.

This follows the pattern established by Fox's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen release, which was released in the UK as a two-disc edition, but only as a single-disc edition in the US.

The UK version of The Day After Tomorrow will have a 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer, with a choice of Dolby Digital and DTS audio tracks. The disc will have English and English HoH subtitles. Other stuff we didn't know about: the second disc will feature three Day After Tomorrow trailers (the teaser and theatrical trailers A and B), and trailers and adverts for the Alien Quadrilogy, Alien Vs Predator, Independence Day and Man on Fire.  See last week's News for more details.

Due to some hitches with the bespoke packaging, Tartan's release of Heimat - Series 1 has been delayed until October the 25th.

One of my favourite films of last year - of the last few years, for that matter - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, will be released by Momentum on October the 4th. Their disc looks set to mimic the Region 1 version, which is due on September the 28th.

The UK disc will feature A Look Inside Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; A Conversation With Jim Carrey and Director Michael Gondry; a commentary track by Gondry and writer Charlie Kaufman; deleted scenes; the Polyphonic Spree Light & Day music video; and the Lacuna commercial, seen in the film. (None of this has turned up at the BBFC yet). The disc will have a choice of Dolby Digital and DTS audio tracks, and English HoH subtitles.


Hey everyone, the wanderer returns, and this week I’ve got some particularly juicy information for you. Apart from some very, very good TV titles that we’ve been waiting for now being listed, there are some fantastic bargains that have appeared in the past couple of weeks.

So, you guessed it, we’re starting with the TV titles added to Incoming

It’s DD Video to begin with and a title everyone has been hankering after for literally years. For some time we’ve known that it was on their slate, but it’s finally appearing on the retailers: Rudolph Cartier’s seminal production of Nineteen Eighty-Four for BBC TV in 1954. Nigel Kneale adapted the story (a year after he and Cartier made The Quatermass Experiment) and it starred Peter Cushing as Winston Smith and Andre Morell as O’Brien. Yvonne Mitchell also appeared as Julia with Donald Pleasance as Syme. The production comes from a time when television was ostensibly all live. It appeared in a play strand for BBC TV, where it was performed once on a Sunday evening and then again later that week on the Thursday evening. If the Sunday performance was seen as success a 35mm telerecording of the second performance was taken for posterity. This was certainly the case for Nineteen Eighty-Four, but more than that, like the Quatermass serial before it, it had a massive impact as and stretched the boundaries of what television could achieve. Not only in only in terms of the drama, but also in acceptable levels in taste – in this case psychological horror in the form of O’Brien’s torture of Smith in Room 101. As such it has long been held-up as a landmark in British Television. The rights to release the TV play have long been thought to be tied-up due to Michael Radford’s 1980s film production (due for release in its own right in couple of week’s time), as the BBC 2’s The Late Show team had to get special clearance to broadcast it ten years ago, in 1994. Thankfully these rights issues seem to have been resolved, or they’ve expired, and DD Video has stepped in release this classic of British television in its 50th Anniversary year. A commendable action! The release is currently being listed for 8th of November with an RRP of £16.99.

DD Video have also lined up two other BBC titles Fall of Eagles and Orde Wingate. Fall of Eagles was a thirteen-part 1974 BBC 1 costume drama based around three of the great monarchies of Europe in the lead-up to the First World War. It has a date of October the 18th and a listed RRP of £49.99 (not £39.99 as previously thought). The box set will also feature interviews with stars Gayle Hunnicutt, Charles Kay and director David Cunliffe, together with a forty-page full-colour historical companion booklet. The three-part BBC 2 serial from 1976, Orde Wingate, starred Denholm Elliott, Barry Foster and Nigel Stock, and was produced by Innes Lloyd, and centred on the exploits of the World War II soldier. The release has an RRP of £19.99 and a release date of October the 4th.

Next up we have some new titles from Network!

Monty Python luminaries Terry Jones and Michael Palin created nine episodes of the brilliant Ripping Yarns between 1976 and 1979, which used Boy’s Own Adventure-style material as the structure to hang their superb flights of comedic fantasy.

The episodes included Tompkinson’s Schooldays (a sort of Pilot episode, from 1976); The Testing of Eric Olthwaite, Escape from Stalag Luft 112B, Murder at Moorstones Manor, Across the Andes by Frog and The Curse of the Claw (all from 1977). In 1979 three further episodes were broadcast: Whinfrey’s Last Case, Golden Gordon and Roger of the Raj.

It’s been known for some time that Network were lovingly putting together a definitive collection of these episodes, and this has now appeared for October the 11th. There was a previous DVD release, from Revelation, a few years ago, but these were using the poor VHS masters they’d licensed from BBC Worldwide during the 1990s (which had originally been used for releases back in the late 80s), so the transfers in those releases were far from the best they could be. It’s known that Network is putting together some special features for the release. So far, it is known that Terry Jones and Michael Palin have recorded commentaries for Tomkinson's Schooldays, The Testing of Eric Olthwaite, Golden Gordon and Roger of the Raj. No doubt more details will follow. Choices Direct is listing the set for £24.99, which sounds a very nice price for what you’re getting!

Here’s something that will delight fans of Sid James. Network is releasing a mammoth box set that will contain the complete Series 1-4 of Sid’s ATV sitcom George and the Dragon, which ran for twenty-six episodes between 1966 and 1968. The series co-starred Peggy Mount and John Le Mesurier. This massive set has an RRP of £49.99, so hopefully there’ll be a series of individual series release, too (akin to what happened with the Every Decreasing Circles box set), which are yet to be listed. Otherwise, that’s a lot of Sid to fork out for all at once, which is bound to have an impact on sales from the casual buyer, or someone who doesn’t know the series and wishes to purchase a tester first. Perhaps the set will also include a sampler episode of Network’s recent Two in Clover DVD release?

A big thank-you to Roobarb’s DVD Forum member Analogueman for letting me know that the Series 4 and a complete Series 1-4 box set of The Sweeney are now being listed. The Series 4 box set (no word on extras yet) has a date of the 18th of October and the usual RRP of £39.99 and the Series 1-4 for set is due a week later on the 25th of October for £119.99.

A box set collecting together the previous releases of Series 1 & 2 of Chancer has also appeared. It’s listed for 13th the September at an RRP of £39.99.

More is now known about the special features that will be included in VCI’s release of Spaced - Definitive Collector's Edition, which is has a date of the 27th of September and an RRP of £24.99. The Series 1 disc will include the extras from the previous release (outtakes, trailers, a commentary track, cast and crew biographies and deleted scenes), combined with some new ones: a Homage-O-Meter (a feature that uses a subtitle stream to indicate which films, TV series and books are being referenced, which introduced for the old Series 2 disc), new outtakes and raw footage.

The Spaced - Series 2 disc features the same extras as its previous release: commentary, Homage-O-Meter, outtakes, deleted scenes, trailers, raw footage, biographies, photo gallery.

The meat of the new special features is on the new bonus Disc Three. These are music promo’s; extended cuts of cast interviews, and a seventy-minute documentary featuring interviews with cast members, (including Simon Pegg, Jessica Stevenson, Nick Frost), cameo actors (Bill Bailey, David Walliams, Mark Gatiss, Reece Shearsmith) and even journalists (Boyd Hilton from Heat and James Delingpole, from The Sunday Telegraph). The documentary also includes a tour made by Simon, Jessica and Edgar of different locations (featured in the show) with clips of archive footage from the very first programmes Simon and Jess appeared in together. The documentary also includes new footage which reveals what happened to Tim and Daisy after the second series! No sign of the rumoured script book – but not bad at all!

VCI has also let us know that they are planning a release of the Auf Wiedersehen Pet Christmas Special (due to be screened by the BBC at some point over the forthcoming festive period), on the 27th of December. It has an RRP of £19.99.

Universal have some more US TV titles now up. Listed for November the 8th are box sets of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century - Season 1 (thanks to JamieC460 for spotting this) and Quantum Leap - Season 1. The former has an RRP of £39.99. The nine-episode Quantum Leap - Season 1 box set has an RRP of £24.99 and some extras for it have been cleared at the BBFC: introductions to each episode and three Easter Eggs.

A week later on the 15th of November sees more box set releases, of the quirky detective series Monk – Season 1 (RRP £27.99) and Sliders - Season 1 & 2 (RPP £39.99). As these are Universal titles, don’t be surprised if they are quickly added into the ongoing Universal sales that do the rounds – see my summary to the update to the Offers page below…

Universal’s sub-label Playback also has some new titles up. August the 30th sees a release of Series 1 & 2 of the 1980s British sitcom, Brush Strokes, starring Karl Howman (who has appeared in The Sweeney and Blake’s 7 amongst other things, but is best known now for his Flash commercials). A collection of the previously-released Series 2 and soon-to-be-released Series 1 of Victoria Wood’s Dinnerladies is showing for November the 15th, with an RRP of £29.99. Series 1 of the sitcom is also expected on November the 15th. Finally, for Universal Playback, they are trying to squeeze some more sales out of their licensed series of A Touch of Frost they have a Series 1-5 box set listed for October the 18th (the same day as Carlton’s Series 6-10 box set) for the substantially reduced RRP of £39.99 (Play had the Series 1-5 box set as an exclusive earlier on in the year at the whopping RRP of £110.99).

Warner Home Video now has listed a Babylon 5 - The Complete Series 1-5 and Three Movies box set for the 1st of March next year. It’s has an RRP of £199.99.

Fremantle Home Entertainment is lining up a Region 2 release of US kid’s series from the late 60s H.R. Pufnstuf. The series is very psychedelic fare featuring the adventures of a young boy named Jimmy who gets stuck on Living Island, and is then helped out buy the local mayor - a six foot dragon named H.R. Pufnstuf. (Drugs? Who said anything about drugs? I didn’t say anything about drugs…). The series had a couple of airings in the UK during the 1970s and is quite fondly remembered by some. [Especially rich child psychotherapists, presumably – JK] The Complete Series box set has an RRP of £39.99 and is due on the18th of October. The box set has been out a while in the States and can be obtained cheaper from there. For example, you can pick it up brand new through Amazon’s marketplace for £17.41 – click here if you are interested!

Now a follow-up to a previous report: BBC Worldwide’s DVD re-issue of one of their old VHS compilations, The Best of Alas Smith and Jones, looks certain to have been put back to August of next year (the August slot has traditionally been BBC Worldwide’s release time for it’s Alternative Comedy titles). I wouldn’t be surprised if this was down to some problems with rights clearances, which have changed since the VHS release, but it may be that BBC Worldwide have revised their plans and are now prepping a full series releases of the comedy show (we can but hope, eh!?)

Originally scheduled towards the end of last year, with the complete The Chronicles of Narnia box set and the individual release of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, before being pulled, individual releases of Prince Caspian / Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Silver Chair have reappeared for October the 11th at £12.99 each. However, don’t forget that the complete The Chronicles of Narnia box set is being offered by Amazon at £19.97 – click here if you are interested!

Also up for release is a box set of Kenneth Clark’s epic examination of the cultural impact of art through the ages, Civilisation, which was originally broadcast by BBC 2 in 1969. This hasn’t got a label listed for it, but following the previously appearance of Alistair Cooke’s America which is definitely from BBC Worldwide, it’s likely that this is the same. The box set has an RRP of £49.99 and is showing for the 8th of November. The Alistair Cooke’s America box set has had its RRP revised, so it is now also £49.99. It’s gratifying that such important programmes as these are being released (having never been before), as it shows that the BBC are now beginning to fully appreciate the significance of all aspects of their archive material, as well as it tying in with their recent pledge of making quality programming and not chasing ratings anymore. 

There are some more titles from Delta, all of which are for October the 18th…

Series 4 of Lovejoy has an RRP of £39.99.

Those of you wishing for a fix of The Goodies before Network’s next release will be pleased to know their 1980s voiced cartoon series Bananaman is getting an Ultimate Collection release for the princely sum of £14.99.

There’s a second volume of The Mr Men and Little Miss Collection, with another 50 episodes, for an RRP of £19.99, and The Worzel Gummidge Collection – Volume 2 (which features Series 5 and 6 of the UK-based series, the A Cup O'Tea An' A Slice O'Cake Christmas special and Worzel Gummidge Down Under – Series 1 & 2) for an RRP of £29.99.

The Brittas Empire – Series 6 is up from Eureka for January the 24th 2005. It has the usual RRP of £19.99.

As a follow-up to my report about the appearance of the 1996 BBC adaptation of Iain Bank’s novel The Crow Road, the label releasing it is Second Sight and not BBC Worldwide as I initially thought.

Carlton’s release of the first series of Thriller (which includes the first ten episodes) is looking like it’s had it’s RRP revised to £24.99, as some of the retailers have change it to this. It’s possible that the set has had an extra disc added to it, to spread the episodes over more discs. Those companies still listing prices relating to the original RRP of £19.99, and therefore offering the cheapest pre-order price include: DVD Popcorn who have the set at £13.99, though they charge you credit card when you order (click here if you are interested!) and Powerplay Direct who also have the set at £13.99, but only charge on despatch (click here if you are interested!  If you’ve not heard of Powerplay Direct before don’t worry, there’s information about them in my summary of the update to the Offers page below.

Finally, for the TV releases, Prism is to release the 1984 TV dramatisation of the life of pioneering airwoman Amy Johnson. It features Harriet Walter in the lead role, with support from Clive Francis and the ever wonderful Patrick Troughton. It’s due next week on the 30th of August, with an RRP of £5.99.

Right, before we get onto the Film releases proper, on the cusp of both the Film and TV releases is the previously reported Méliès The Magician. This has now been confirmed as being a release of the 130m French TV documentary, The Magic of Méliès combined with fifteen of his films which have been restored.

These are:

1. The Four Troublesome Heads (1898)

2. A Trip To The Moon (1902)

3. The Infernal Cakewalk (1903)

4. The Scheming Gambler's Paradise (1905)

5. The Music Lover (1903)

6. The Infernal Boiling Pot (1903)

7. The Man With The Rubber Head (1901)

8. Playing Cards (1904)

9. Hilarious Poker (1905)

10. The Devilish Tenant (1909)

11. Untameable Whiskers (1904)

12. Imperceptible Transmutations (1904)

13. Bluebeard (1901)

14. Fat and Lean Wrestling Match (1900)

15. The One-Man Band (1900) - with original music by Eric La Guen

The release looks like it’s going to be a direct port of the US release as it’s listed as being Region 0 and in NTSC format. It’s due on October the 25th with £19.99 as its RRP.

Now, the Film releases…

The latest Harry Potter film, still pulling ‘em in at the multiplexes, The Prisoner Of Azkaban, is now up on some of the retailers for the 19th of November. There’s no word on the special features as yet, but Warner Home Video’s release has an RRP of £24.99.

While we’re on the subject of multiplexes, Will Smith’s adaptation of Asimov’s I, Robot is also up from Twentieth Century Fox for the 3rd of December. Again no word on the special features, but it will be available as a single disc Regular Edition (at an RRP of £15.99) and a two disc Special Edition (at an RRP of £24.99).

Entertainment in Video’s release of the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead has been put back to the 4th of October. Its RRP is still £19.99.

Arrow’s new releases of the original version Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead, which were due on the same day as the 2004 remake of Dawn… (the 6th of September) have also been revised. The extras listed for the original Dawn Of The Dead is now been changed to an audio commentary from director George A. Romero and producer Richard P. Rubenstein; The Dead Will Walk: a bonus documentary; biographies; filmographies; original radio spots; photo gallery and reviews. There is now some confusion of its RRP. It’s either £12.99 (according to Choices Direct and Sendit) or £15.99 (according to Play). There is also a Dawn of the Dead / Day of the Dead box set from Arrow now being listed as well, again with some confusion over its RRP: £15.99 (at Choices Direct) or £19.99 (at Play / Sendit). Arrow’s individual release of Day of the Dead is now not appearing at all! However, this is all academic as the four disc version of the original Dawn of the Dead, currently being prepped for release Stateside will be the way to go…

Delta has a three-disc set entitled Masters of Horror now showing for the 18th of October. This is listed as including The Ape Man (1943) starring Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff’s The Ghoul (1933) and Indestructible Man (1956) with Lon Chaney Jr. The set has an RRP of £9.99, so don’t hold out much hope for the quality. Be especially wary of their version of The Ghoul, which is unlikely be be taken from the practically-pristine elements used for MGM’s region 1 disc.

And, finally, for the Film releases…

Direct Video have five more titles being listed as part of The Arkoff Film Library range. These are The Bonnie Parker Story, Dragstrip Girl, Girls in Prison, Motorcycle Gang and Teenage Caveman (which stars a young Robert Vaughn). All five have RRPs of £12.99 and are listed for two weeks time on the 6th of September.

Right, now onto the update to the Offers page…

This week I’ve added a new retailer, the aforementioned Powerplay Direct. They are Guernsey based, and have a similar set-up to Play. They deal in DVDs, CDs, Games, and, though they are still clinging on to VHS, don’t let that put you off. The only ship to the UK at present, offer free P&P and only charge on despatch. For a lot of titles they offer some of the best pricing around: they have Dad's Army - Series 1 & 2 and Kenny Everett - The Complete Naughty Bits at £10.99 each; Filthy, Rich and Catflap, Going Straight, Hancock's Half Hour - Volume 1 and Steptoe and Son - Series 1 all at £8.99; Frankie Howard’s Up the Front at £6.99 and the Thriller - Episodes 1-10 set at £13.99 (a big thank-you to James Hemery for posting about this!) These are all a pound less than most other places.

Just as a reminder…

Powerplay Direct do have Open All Hours – Series 3, Porridge – The Christmas Specials and Yes, Prime Minister – Series 1 at £8.99 as well. But Sendit have them at this price also (but not Going Straight which is out at the same time, unfortunately) and, additionally, they are offering a Double Discount deal where you can purchase two of the three titles together for a further 50p off. See the individual entries of these titles at Sendit – there are links to them on the Offers page: here – for more information.

Now what else has been added to the Offers page...

Amazon has the Universal’s recently listed US TV box sets of The A-Team - Season 1, Columbo - Season 1 and Magnum PI - Season 1 at £26.24, with the Knight Rider - Season 1 at £37.49. Thanks to Mark Alridge for spotting that the Buffy the Vampire Slayer - The Complete Season 1-7 Collection is at £139.99 (£60.00 off). They also have The Charmer at £7.97; the Hellraiser set in the special Puzzle Box packaging for £22.49; Series 3 and 4 of Lovejoy, Minder – Series 9, Millennium - Season 3 and Murder One – Season 2 are all at £29.99 (£10.00 off); DD Video’s Oh Doctor Beeching – Series 1 is at £12.74; and Shaun of the Dead in the standard sleeve and an exclusive Amazon sleeve are both at £12.99. There’s also another Amazon exclusive in the form of the pairing of Spooks – Series 2 with the book Spooks: Confidential at £29.99 (£10.00 off the RRP and the same price as the standard version of Spook – Series 2, so you are effectively getting the book for free). Tenko – Series 3 is at £37.49. The new full version release of David Attenborough’s The Trials of Life is at £22.49. All nine season box set re-issues of The X-Files are at £29.99 each (£10.00 off).

In Audiobooks Amazon have the CD box set of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Collector's Edition, which includes the two original radio series, together with The Guide to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy documentary at £29.99 (£20.00 off). In Books they have Andrew Pixley’s newly published book on The Avengers, entitled The Avengers Files, at £11.19.

Choices Direct also has Shaun of the Dead and Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 for £12.99 each.

Play has re-jigged their Brilliant Box Sets sale, taking some titles out, adding some new ones and dropping the prices still further on others. A big thank-you to Martin Ball for spotting that Universal’s Battlestar Galactica (Standard Packaging) box set has been added at £24.99 (which is half the retail price). As this was only released in January of this year, it hasn’t taken that long for the price to drop. Universal titles have ongoing sales with many of the retailers (Play included), so if you’re interested in any of Universal’s recently listed US TV box sets it may be prudent to hold off until next year to wait for them to be added to these sales. Other additions / further price drops to the Brilliant Box Sets sale include Shogun at £17.99; Allo Allo - Series 3 & 4, As Time Goes By, Citizen Smith - Series 1 & 2, Citizen Smith - Series 3 & 4, Hi De Hi - Series 1 & 2, Bread - Series 1 & 2, Bread - Series 3 & 4, Solo, The Liver Birds - Series 2 all at £9.99; Northern Exposure - Series 1 at £9.99; the Cagney and Lacey Box Set at £9.99; and The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin - The Complete Collection at £25.99.

And that’s it for me! I’m off again next week (boo! hiss!). Yes, I know, I know… but please forgive me – it is the holiday season after all! And this week’s update has been quite a good one… hasn’t it? Keep an eye on the News page, though – I’m sure Julian will have some goodies for you in the meantime!

Previous Zeta Minor News entries can viewed here.




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