Weekly Wire
Austin Chronicle Video Box Sets

By Jerry Renshaw

DECEMBER 14, 1998:  All the warning signsare here: brightly colored lights on houses, plastic Kris Kringles leering from roofs, endless repetitions of "Silent Night," grinning deer figurines in front lawns, traffic jams (and fender benders) at the malls. Aliens visiting from another planet would be terribly confused and might assume that it is an everyday part of our culture (hmm, that could be a premise for a movie by itself), but we Earthlings know that (sing along with me) it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

So you've made the list, trying to steer clear of the boring old mundane gifts like underwear, socks, sweaters (useful about five days a year in Austin), checked it twice, don't give a damn who's naughty or nice, but you've still got one person who is just plain difficult to buy for. How about video box sets? They're the gift that keeps on giving, at least until video is completely superseded by DVDs.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Increasing numbers of people are opting for online shopping and avoiding the mano y mano, Greco-Roman, no-holds-barred, every-man-for-himself scene at the shopping malls. What's happening with Web sources for video?

Sinister Cinema


Sinister is offering up their "Lucky 7" sale this holiday season (buy any six titles and get the seventh one free), in the categories of horror, action/adventure, Edgar and Bryan Wallace, spaghetti/Euro-westerns, jungle thrills, spies/ espionage, mystery/film noir, and juvenile shlock. Also, there's Santa's Sinister Sale, guaranteed to score big points with that picky, picky, picky movie geek: buy four titles from the categories of sci-fi, sword & sandal, jungle thrills, or horror for $59 postpaid, complete with custompackaging. Hell, at that price, pick out one for yourself and don't tell!



Reel's offerings this year include a Jim Carrey collection (Ace Ventura/Dumb and Dumber/The Mask), a Pam Grier anthology (Coffy/Foxy Brown/Friday Foster), and three Frank Sinatra films (High Society/Anchors Aweigh/On the Town). Know any Trekkies who don't drive you nuts? How about the Talking Tribbles Gift Set, which includes the original "Trouble With Tribbles" episode from the Sixties, a Deep Space 9 episode with the profligate critters, and a free pet Tribble of your own! Test your friend's stamina with a seven-movie compendium of all the Star Trek films. The TV-minded might like The X-Files Movie Collector's Set, which includes a making of The X Files video, interviews with the stars, director and creator Chris Carter, three reproductions of the movie's poster art, and a 128-page collector's book. If that's not enough, it includes a copy of the movie script and a specially mounted strip of five frames from the theatrical print. Ultra-cool! Don't forget the John Waters box set, which features four classics of gross-out cinema: Desperate Living, Hairspray, Pink Flamingos, and Polyester. Maybe there's a Mel Gibson/Danny Glover maniac who can't live without the Lethal Weapon director's cut anthology, or the Mad Max collection.

Anchor Bay Entertainment


Anchor Bay provides some of the best quality video around, in terms of prints and packaging both, and their offerings this holiday season include a very nice clamshell-packaged set of the Hitchcock classics Rebecca, Notorious, Spellbound, and The Paradine Case. Also look for a Jerry Lewis four-pack (Cinderfella, The Errand Boy, The Patsy, The Bellboy), the five-part investigative series The Men Who Killed Kennedy (for any conspiracy nuts on your list), House/House II, Hellraiser/Hellbound, and the Charles Bronson two-packs of Assassination/Death Wish 4 and Messenger of Death/Murphy's Law, among others. Horror fans would appreciate the special Dawn of the Dead two-pack which includes an alternative soundtrack and domestic and international trailers, as well as 11 minutes not included in the theatrical release.

Rhino Home Video


Rhino's MST3K box set comes complete with boxer shorts!

Leave it to the Rhino weirdos to come up with something like the Ed Wood Angora Box Set; the trash classics Plan 9 From Outer Space, Glen or Glenda, and Bride of the Monster packaged in ever-so-fuzzy blue fun-fur angora. Feel like splurging on a Monkees fanatic? There's The Monkees set that includes all 58 episodes of the show (including the super-rare pilot episode), photos, a 48-page book, and complete plot synopses of each show (it'll only set you back a cool $400). A more conservative choice might be the Monkees Lunchbox; yes, a groovy tin lunchbox which includes a jigsaw puzzle of the plucky lads inside a Monkees cereal box, and a 110-minute video with the fellas introducing their fave TV episodes. There's also the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 set, complete with a pair of special Crow and Tom Servo boxer shorts to cram your sorry ass into. Or perhaps the Karloff box set of four films: The Torture Zone, Cult of the Dead, Alien Terror, and Dance of Death, as well as three tales of the supernatural hosted by the K-man himself. Rhino also offers up titles that are closer to the mainstream, all in splendid packaging (2001, Gigi, Singin' in the Rain, Frank Capra's WWII Why We Fight series, Casablanca). Rock fans may appreciate the video-and-CD sets of Iron Butterfly's Inna-Gadda-Da-Vida, Hendrix's Electric Ladyland, Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life, The Band, or the Grateful Dead.

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