Crappy B-Movie Releases

 

I just went to review Attack of the Crab Monsters because it looked like a really goofy, fun movie. Imagine my disappointment when while looking up some info about it on Amazon.com I discovered in the reviews section that the DVD quality sucked! The more I read, the more disgusted I became. The company who released not only this film, but Day of the Triffids as well is called Allied Artists Classics. I spent over twenty bucks each on these two DVD's because they're classics and I was really excited to see them released. What did I get for my forty plus bucks? Utter and complete crap!

 

The transfer of Attack of the Crab Monsters is from a video tape. There's tracking lines at the bottom of the screen, horrendously bad sound with lots of audible hiss and disgustingly poor visual quality. The Day of the Triffids release was done in pan and scan full screen even though the film was originally shot in 2:35:1 widescreen. Apparently the transfer quality is really bad as well. So what does that mean? It means I'm out forty plus bucks and I'm also out two movies that I would have loved to review, but that I won't get to review until a reputable company cleans up these old classics and releases them the way they deserve to be released. This company's releases are a complete rip-off and should be avoided at all costs. The company's web page is non existent. I don't blame them. If I had that many people mad at me, I'd run and hide too. Avoid this company like the plague, and tell all your friends, relatives and acquaintances about this company as well so you can save them from making the same mistake I did.

 

This whole issue of crappy B-Movie releases has been eating at me for a long time now. When people go out and spend their hard earned money on a DVD, they shouldn't have to come home, shove it in their DVD player, and then realize that they've been shafted. And they truly have been shafted, because I can't think of anyplace that will take a DVD back once it's been opened. So basically you're stuck with it unless you can manage to pawn it off on someone else through E-Bay or somewhere else like that. I just got stuck with another crappy release from Passion Productions. They released a Godzilla vs. Megalon DVD that is actually curved at the top and doesn't fill the screen. The sound is horrible and the picture quality is ridiculous. Avoid this DVD and this company as well.

 

One of my biggest gripes about DVD releases of classic B-Movies, is when a company releases the DVD in full screen only. I realize that there are people out there who can't get it through their heads that when they watch a movie in widescreen, they're really seeing the whole movie even though there's black bars at the top and bottom of the screen. When a movie is released in full screen only, you're not getting your money's worth, because you're not getting to see everything there was to see in the original film. Some companies actually release DVD's with both widescreen and full screen versions of the film, and that's great. But to take any film, especially a classic, and chop off the sides just so people won't have black bars at the top and bottom of their screen is not only ridiculous, but it does a grave disservice to the film itself. These movies are mastered from old film reels. Some have been preserved well, and some haven't. Mastering these films digitally is the best way possible to preserve them forever. So think about it. Is this really the way these films should be preserved?

 

Some companies do a really great job of digitally mastering their releases. My personal favorite is Something Weird Video. This company throws one hundred percent effort into all of their DVD releases. There's almost always a bunch of really great extras and short subjects on each release, and the mastering is done beautifully. Never be afraid to buy any DVD from Something Weird Video, because when you buy one of their releases, you're getting a top quality product that will hold a coveted place in your video library for years to come. The nice thing about their releases is that even if the movie sucks, the extras make it all worth while.

 

Another company that has done just a beautiful job with it's releases is Synapse. They've released gorgeous copies of Beast From Haunted Cave and Castle of Blood, as well as many other old classics. Their mastering system does a beautiful job of removing artifacts from the video and the audio quality is the best that it can possibly be. Like Something Weird, they put full effort into making sure that every release is top quality. Kino Video has done an incredibly beautiful job in restoring and releasing many silent classics like The Golem, Metropolis, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and several others. They cost more than the cheaper releases of these films from Alpha Video and other companies, but the extra cost is worth it to get high quality releases of these silent classics. There are other companies like MGM, Image and Anchor Bay that do a good job on their releases as well. You can buy from any of these companies with confidence, knowing that you're going to get a good product for your money.

 

Now, there's also some companies out there that are a hit and a miss. Alpha Video and Retromedia both release decent to really good quality DVD's but often they have little or no extras. Alpha's DVD's are cheap, usually coming in at around $7.99, so you're usually getting more than you're paying for. They have a large catalog of releases, and for the general viewing public, these are a great choice. Retromedia has done both classic and non-classic releases, and their quality is more often than not quite good. Retromedia's DVD's usually cost anywhere between $14.99 and $17.99 depending on where you get them. I think the $14.99 range is a better price point for them because of the frequent lack of cool extras on the disc.

 

Some companies like Diamond, release sub-par cheap DVD's with little to no extras and more often than not, a bad video transfer. If you look at the difference in quality between the Diamond and Synapse releases of The Brain That Wouldn't Die, there's just no comparison. I would have never been able to get decent screen shots or a decent video clip from the Diamond release. It's just flat out bad.

 

When you're looking for quality classic B-Movies on DVD, stick with the quality names in the business and you can't go wrong. If you're looking at a DVD from a company that you don't know anything about, check out some reviews for the DVD on various B-Movie review sites and on Amazon.com as well. Many people talk about the quality of the release in their reviews, and it may end up saving you money and keeping you from making a big mistake.

 

 

- Duane L. Martin -
January 25, 2003

 

Unseen Things: Origins



My series of contemporary fantasy / sci-fi novels, Unseen Things is now available through the official website, Amazon, Smashwords and other online retail sites.

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