CASPER’s HALLOWEEN CARTOONFEST (1992, United American Video)

     One hour of the usual public domain cartoon fare, but under a Halloween/spooky theme, with a rare appearance by Filmmation’s Groovie Ghoulies. (NOTE: I featured this tape last year, but this time, I was finally able to scan the box!)

POPEYE (Diamond Entertainment Corporation, 1994 and 2000)

     An all-Popeye title featuring the Halloween-themed "Fright to the Finish", a cartoon which turned 40 years old in 1994, when this tape was first released. As of this posting, the cartoon is now 60!

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)
1) Hal Roach Studios, 1985
2) Madacy Music Group, 1994
3) Madacy Music Group, 1996
4) Madacy Entertainment Group, 1997
5) Media Home Entertainment, 1982
6) Republic Pictures Home Video, 1992
7) RSVP “Movie Greats”, 199?
8) Star Classics, 1987
9) Video Treasures, 1985

     Nine more VHS releases using public domain copies, as seen on Amazon and Ebay. This wraps up our week’s worth of tapes dedicated that classic film. I hope you enjoyed it. Incidentally, which of these releases do you own, and how is the quality? Do you have any that have not been featured this past week?

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)
1) Alpha Video Distributors / New Age Video, 1991
2) Alpha Video Distributors, 1994
3) Anchor Bay Entertainment, 1998
4) Congress Video Group, 1985
5) Congress Video Group, 1986
6) Diamond Entertainment Corporation, 1991
7) Goldstar, 19??
8) Goodtimes Home Video, 1984
9) Goodtimes Home Video, 1990

     More public domain based releases from the VHS era, as seen on Amazon and Ebay. Some covers use photos or stills, while others use the movie poster or incorporate their own artwork. Which of these covers are your most and least favorite, and why?

Night of the Living Dead, 1968: colorized version comparison
L: Video Treasures, 1987 / R: Legend Films, 2004

     There were two different YouTube uploads of the opening graveyard scene, so for the sake of yesterday’s entry, I whipped this together. If you’d like to see more of these in the future, let me know. Also, which colorized version do you prefer, and why?

"NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD" revamps:
* Video Treasures, 1987 - original colorized version
* Anchor Bay, 1995 - 2-tape set w/Night of the Living Bread
* Anchor Bay, 1999 - “30th anniversary” w/added footage
* Legend Films, 2004 - DVD, new colorized version (plus B&W)

     Here are various ways in which the movie has been rejigged or added to during its long history on home video. The top version is a rather primitive colorization that made the rounds on TV and VHS during the eighties, with the Legend DVD’s colors being arguably better (and certainly more correct). The 1995 Anchor Bay set has the untouched black and white version, but adds a second tape with bonus content. The 1999 tape is John A. Russo’s “30th Anniversary” version with newly-shot scenes, new music, and in some cases, re-dubbed audio (so if you think colorization is a needless add-on, you’ll want to steer clear of this version as well).
     From what I hear, Elite’s “Millenium Edition” and the Weinstein Company’s “40th Anniversary Edition” are the best, most authorized DVD’s of the original black and white movie. Still, the Legend Films one, despite lack the Millenium bonus features, seems fine, too. The Legend one contains versions in black and white and color (with much better colorization than the 1987 version), plus the option to hear it riffed by Mike Nelson of Rifftrax (who later did a three-riffer version, which they performed live last year).

     (And you know what? If you’re really curious about those added scenes in Russo’s “30th Anniversary” version, go watch Phelous’ 2010 review of it. He addresses the added footage, and compares both versions of the score as well.)

BONUS POST: The VCR from Heck’s Halloween Mood Table 2014

     Inspired by Dinosaur Dracula (a.k.a. Mummy Shark) and their many fans, I decided to join the bandwagon and make a “Halloween Mood Table”. Christmas has trees, so Halloween has tables! However, not wanting the cats to knock things off our end tables of night stands, I decorated our TV stand instead. The key here was to decorate the table however we saw fit, using various Halloween or other spooky (and spooky-ish) items both old and new.
     I had a lot of toys left over from my childhood, but since they’d been tucked away for years, across numerous boxes in our basement, my choice of toys seen here was mostly first-see, first grab. If I’d wanted to do an all (“Real”) Ghostbusters motif, I surely could have. Nonetheless, the random assortment of He-Man, fake He-Man, Sectaurs, Real Ghostbusters, Filmmation Ghostbusters, Ninja Turtles, Blackstar, and Boglins would do nicely.
     Among the newer (or newly-acquired) stuff are various candy dispensers, Ernest (being scared stupid), Grandpa (or “Grampa”) Munster, Radu from “Subspecies”, Charlie Brown and Snoopy, a pin I got from a local screening of “Troll 2”, and an Ugly Doll named Dave. The other party favors are from various eras, with the centerpiece being a foam tombstone for wrestler The Undertaker, bought at a live WWF event in the early nineties.
     Topping things off, the Puffkin dolls on our DVD’s belong to my wife, who also decked out our living room windows with orange, purple, and TARDIS lights. (The Edgar Allan Poe and Purple People Eater are also hers.) Thanks to her help, this “mood table” is now the perfect place for not only my own bizarre holiday viewing traditions, but also other spooky shows and movies via the internet, our DVD shelf, and—of course!—our VCR….

     We now return you to our regularly scheduled “VCR from Heck” posts on VHS and public domain related nostalgia….

foxhack:

vcrfromheck:

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (Platinum Disc Corporation, 1998)

     Thank you to my friends Sara and Ryan for donating their copy of this tape to me, as it is the most creative yet dumbest-looking front cover that I have ever seen for this movie. The zombie(?) faces on the tombstone (and, on the box top, the moon!) are unintentionally funny to me, and the tag lines on the front cover are needlessly long. Also, there are no pics from the movie itself, but the moon appears five times (once with a face). And the irony of owning a VHS tape from a “Disc Corporation” is not lost on me. (And yes, they did put out DVD’s as well.)

Fun fact: Not many people are aware that Platinum Disc Corporation evolved into what is now known as Echo Bridge. Yes, the company that puts out all those super-cheapo DVD sets at Wal-Mart.

…and according to Wikipedia, United American Video’s output is now being distributed by Mill Creek. So, now we have the VHS origins of the two most prevalent companies in Wal-Mart’s bargain bins. (Though TGG Direct, which reissues Diamond Entertainment Corp’s old stuff, deserves a special mention.) Thanks for the tip!

Incidentally, the Echo Bridge DVD cover for this movie is a noticeable improvement….

.Echo Bridge DVD cover

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (Platinum Disc Corporation, 1998)

     Thank you to my friends Sara and Ryan for donating their copy of this tape to me, as it is the most creative yet dumbest-looking front cover that I have ever seen for this movie. The zombie(?) faces on the tombstone (and, on the box top, the moon!) are unintentionally funny to me, and the tag lines on the front cover are needlessly long. Also, there are no pics from the movie itself, but the moon appears five times (once with a face). And the irony of owning a VHS tape from a “Disc Corporation” is not lost on me. (And yes, they did put out DVD’s as well.)

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (Blockbuster Video, 1994 & 1993)

     Aside from renting out VHS and DVD titles, Blockbuster (1985-2013) also put out their own tapes of public domain and other material. At the time of these releases, VHS was still ten years away from being replaced by DVD as the go-to format for home video.
     Unintentionally or not, the cultural landscape shift between the early and mid-1990’s is on display here, with the 1993 tape having neon colors worthy of the Fresh Prince, and the 1994 having a more “grunge-worthy” red and black. Either way, you get the same photos, including the zombie girl who would grace the covers for every Anchor Bay release of this film.
     Incidentally, Blockbuster was a popular visit for me during my later college years (back when I still only had a VCR), and a place of employment during the final days of VHS. For these reasons, I get somewhat nostalgic for that blue and gold ticket logo, making tapes like this a welcome piece in my collection.