Tales From The Crypt - The Complete First & Second Seasons DVDs Review


This review was originally written on September 6, 2005 (updated February 14, 2007)
Bad Security Sticker Placement, Incomplete Episodes

I've been eagerly waiting for Tales From The Crypt to come to DVD in season sets. Unfortunately, there were a few bad decisions that kinda ruins the Season 1 and Season 2 sets for me.

(1) Who's brilliant idea was it to put the security sticker BEHIND the plastic disc holder and right on top of a photo printed on paperboard? Not only was it hard to get off without breaking the case, but the sticker glue ripped off part of the photo.

(2) Each episode is INCOMPLETE, as each episode does not have it's own series intro/title sequence (which featured the journey through the house accompanied by the Danny Elfman theme). They had only one intro/title sequence for all six episodes (at the start of the disc), and they even ruined that with a "Kill Intro" graphic overlay and having it go right into the menu (technically that intro is part of the menu). There is plenty of room for each episode to have it's own intro/title, as they didn't have to cram all six episodes onto Disc 1. They could have put episodes 1-4 on Disc 1, and episodes 4 & 5 on Disc 2, along with the two Disc 2 bonus features (which only total an hour or so).

If you're curious as to why the episodes on Seasons 1 and 2 are missing the title sequence, read this article.
Tales from the Crypt - Missing intro - Studio Explains
Posted by Gord Lacey (8/27/2005)

Some fans were upset with the first season release of Tales from the Crypt because the episodes didn't feature the standard intro to the series; a journey into the creepy house, down the stairs and then an encounter with the Crypt Keeper.

I called Warner Bros to ask about season 2, and whether we'll see the intro returned to the episodes. The second season will not have the intro, so I asked why. The removal of the intro was a specific request from the producers of the series for the season 1 set. Warner went back and asked about season 2, and the producers still wish to have it removed; no further explanation could be obtained.

The intro isn't missing from the set completely; it's featured in the menu for the disc. The intro is the same for each episode as well.

What the hell were the producers thinking! Why on Earth would they make such an odd request? What benefit could they have from not having the intro at the start of each episode? The same theme and almost all of the same footage appears under the end credits, so it can't be because they don't want to pay Danny Elfman for his theme music.

The series of videotapes released by HBO Home Video and Time-Life in the mid-1990s, featured an intro/title sequence on EACH of the three episodes contained on each tape. If it was done before, there's no reason it can't be done now.

Thankfully, enough fans complained to Warner Bros. to make the producers see the error of their ways. These two problems are now only resigned to Season 1 and Season 2. For Season 3 and onward the crappy Digipak packaging was replaced with slim cases in an outer sleeve, and each episode has its own series intro/title sequence - though it's missing the first two seconds showing the text "Home Box Office Presents" (white text on a black screen) over the low whisperings of the theme song.

Lilo & Stitch's Island of Adventures DVD Game Review


This review was originally written on September 28, 2004
Two "Lilo & Stitch: The Series" Episodes & A Board Game

The Lilo & Stitch's Island of Adventures DVD/Board Game is interesting, but even playing it with my family, I found parts of it to be rather embarrassing. If you don't have a problem getting up in front of people and doing goofy things, then this probably won't be much of a problem for you.


The two "full-length Lilo & Stitch adventures" advertised are really two complete episodes of Lilo & Stitch: The Series: "Mr. Stenchy" and "Clip". Since the series is not otherwise available on DVD, if you're a big fan, you may want to buy this game just for them. Of course, it's rather expensive for just two 23 minute episodes.


Hot Springs Hotel: The Complete Series DVD Review


This review was originally written on June 13, 2011
Off Sync Audio, Chopped Up Video, Third Disc Wasted

Hot Springs Hotel was a late night softcore adult comedy series that aired on Showtime in 1997 and 1998. I've always liked the show because of its wackiness and likable cast of characters. It didn't hurt that Samantha Phillips is pretty and hot.... or maybe just pretty hot :-) Oddly, the simulated sex scenes are the one thing that I really DIDN'T like about the show. I don't see the appeal in people *pretending* to have sex. Anyway, I taped all 15 episodes during the series original run and was hoping that this "Complete Series" set could replace those videotapes. It should be noted that prior to this "Complete Series" set, only 14 of the 15 episodes were released on DVD - and they were released in two-episode pairs at a considerably high price (even higher now since those seven DVDs are out of print). I was smart enough to avoid those individual releases. I really wish that I were smart enough to avoid this "Complete Series" release, too.

For most, if not all, of the episodes, the audio and video gets more and more off sync as the episode plays on. By the end it is SO off sync that it can't even be watched. A good example of this is in Disc 1, Episode 1 ("Money Trouble"). Go ahead to 22:12, which is near the end of the episode, and you'll see that the words are not matching the lip movements at all! None of the episodes I taped off of Showtime in 1997/1998 have this problem.

I've also noticed on at least two occasions some rather crude cuts where footage is repeated twice, thus making the audio and video even MORE off sync. Here are two examples:

* Disc 1, Episode 6 "Beauty Pageant" - At 22:17 footage is repeated and jumps around. The episode I taped off of Showtime in 1997/1998 does not have this problem. In fact, the Showtime TV broadcast episode uses different footage than the DVD in the spot where all the editing occurs. On the TV broadcast, the contestants are on stage as the winner is announced. On the DVD, the stage is empty, but all of a sudden is filled with the contestants when the winner speaks.

Here are two completely safe for work video clips that show the defect, and what the video *should* look like:

Play Video

Play Video

* Disc 2, Episode 1 "Theo & The Model" - At 20:55 footage is repeated as the transition is made from the couple having sex to them lying in bed talking. The episode I taped off of Showtime in 1997/1998 does not have this problem. In fact, after the transition, in the TV broadcast, the camera pans from the bedside table to the couple; but this panning is cut on the DVD due to the odd editing that happens.

I e-mailed Taurus Entertainment, the company that owns the show and made the DVD, to find out if these problems were fixed and new DVDs were made. After several weeks, and a few e-mails, they never got back to me.

I know that these defects are in all copies of the DVD set because I found some copies of the episodes online that were ripped from someone else's DVD set, and they contain the same defects.

I also find it odd that the episodes on the DVDs have shorter runtimes than the episodes I taped from Showtime, even though there's an extra logo screen added at the start of each episode on the DVDs that wasn't on the Showtime broadcasts.

Oh, and it was kind of silly to devote a whole disc to less than 11 minutes of footage. With Disc 2 having one less episode than Disc 1, surely the Behind the Scenes featurette and Photo Slideshow could have fit onto Disc 2. Speaking of the photo slideshow on Disc 3, the images are really bad quality, with lots of jaggies and other low-quality artifacts. The images Taurus Entertainment has on their website for the series, as small as they are, are higher quality than what's on the DVD.

After waiting 10+ years for the entire series to be released on DVD, for the quality to be this poor is an absolute insult. As a big fan of the series, and as someone who expects quality from the DVDs and Blu-ray discs that I buy, I'm highly disappointed with the Hot Springs Hotel: The Complete Series DVD set.

For those who may want to know, here's a list of the episodes on the DVDs and a brief synopsis of each.

1. MONEY TROUBLE (25:50)
Kat and Randy inherit the hotel from their Aunt Betty. We are introduced to Lacy, Kat's best friend and Theo, who they find hitchhiking by the side of the road. The initial excitement of owning this gorgeous resort is short-lived when they learn the back is ready to foreclose.

Randy's desire to book a group of cheerleaders into the hotel overrides his logic, as he offers them a health conscious weekend with absolutely nothing healthy to offer. Kat attempts to distract the Coach of the team into a romantic weekend for Kat, as she and the Coach raise a little spirit on the sidelines.

A good review from famed travel correspondent Travis Jones would go a long way for Hot Springs Hotel, but Randy has booked the Women Without Clothes club at the same time, on the same floor! Hilarity, and a little romance, ensues when Kat and Randy attempt to keep the two sides from meeting.

4. MOVIE PEOPLE (26:05)
Randy has cut a deal with a motion picture company for them to stay and shoot at the hotel. Only, he's arranged for their stay to be paid on deferment, which in Hollywood lingo means NEVER! Whenever Randy gets suspicious of them, they just give him a promotion on the film. How can he find time to argue with them when he's "auditioning" the most gorgeous girls in the world...and they're naked.

The "Queen of Takeovers" has aimed her sights on the Hot Springs Hotel. She's met her match in Kat, but unfortunately for the hotel, she takes full advantage of Randy's amorous ways and tricks him into signing away his half of the hotel, making a dangerous partnership between Kat and the Queen.

Travis makes a return visit when he stages the Miss Palm Desert beauty contest at the hotel. While Kat does all she can to keep Randy and Theo away from the contestants, her heart is being broken by the two-timing Travis.

7. ROCK STAR (26:01)
When a famous rock star want to lay low, Kat checks him into the hotel, incognito. If this works out, just think of the clientele that could grace these hallways. He's given a full line of credit and access to the entire staff; the place is his. Kat changes her tune when Lacey discovers out the rock star is flat broke. They immediately tell his fan club of his whereabouts and proceed to sell off every item they can get their hands on...right down to the very boxer shorts he's wearing.

Once upon a time, Lacey's best friend Stacy stole her boyfriend Chris away in the most devious manner. Now, years later, Stacy is engaged to Chris and has returned to rub it in Lacey's face by holding her bachelorette party at the hotel. The usually cool Lacey digs in her heels and goes toe to toe with her archenemy.

9. THEO & THE MODEL (25:55)
Lacey's sister Diane arrives for a visit, with her modeling agent, Dan. It's hard enough for Kat to keep Randy away from this attractive young girl, but Theo is spending his vacation at the hotel and she must divert his attention as well. Lacey would help but she is far too distracted by Dan. But things are not always as they appear, for it seems Diane is the little heartbreaker, and it is Randy and Theo who should watch their backs...and all their body parts.

10. TO YOUR HEALTH (26:00)
Heath Inspectors make a surprise visit to the Hot Springs Hotel and Randy and Kat have to convince them that the hotel can pass inspection...by and means necessary, and that's where the trouble starts.

11. HOLE IN ONE (26:02)
Randy books a group of sexy women golfers to play in Hot Springs Hotel's first annual golf tournament. One slight problem...they have no course! But between the hotel's famously potent drink, the Waki-Tiki, and Kat's ingenious plan to turn the grounds into a golf course, the tournament is a rousing success.

12. A.W.O.L. (25:43)
Randy comes to the aid of three adorable female soldiers who are out in the desert on maneuvers. He offers them and afternoon of sun, fun and Waki-Tikis. Meanwhile Lacy has insisted on Kat taking the day off and getting a makeover. Upon returning, looking gorgeous as ever, Kat is mistaken for one of the missing soldiers by their Drill Sergeant...and that's when the fun begins. War is hell, but peacetime can be oh, so sexy.

13. LAYOUT (24:50)
Randy comes up with the brilliant idea to shoot the girls of the Hot Springs Hotel for a promotional calendar. It is a very hot and steamy shoot, as the girls sensuously bare it all for the camera.

14. GIRLS IN THE BAND (25:49)
Always the humanitarian, Kat goes to great lengths to throw a formal benefit to save the roadrunner. The evening has all the makings of a rousing success, until Randy informs Kat he has canceled the chamber quartet and booked a country western band in their place. Can the smooth talking, sweet singing cowboy Chuck, right the reins or will Kat send everyone riding off into the sunset?

15. FANTASY (25:53)
The fantasies of Randy, Kat, Lacey, Theo and the girls are revealed in a very "special" episode of Hot Springs Hotel.

* Vintage Behind The Scenes Featurette (8:34)
* Slideshow (2:06, with 26 images)


Rugrats Go Wild DVD Review


This review was originally written on May 5, 2005
Why No Scratch & Sniff Cards With The DVD?!?

The Scratch & Sniff options on the Rugrats! Go Wild DVD relate to the "Odorama" stunt used during the film's original theatrical release. Special numbered cards, each representing a particular smell, were available with kids' meals at participating Burger King restaurants from 6/2/2003 to 6/29/2003, and separately at Blockbuster Video stores from 6/15/2003 until supplies ran out.


Participants picked up the cards, then took them to the local movie theater showing the film. When a particular number flashed on the screen, viewers scratched off the scent that had that particular number on it. Numbers flashing in red mean that the viewer should find the corresponding number on their card (glow-in-the-dark for their convenience), and be ready to scratch-and-sniff when the on-screen number turns green.

Sadly, Paramount Home Video decided not to include the cards with the DVD release. So unless you got a card when the film was originally theatrically released, you're out of luck.

Here are the numbers, DVD time codes of when the numbers first appear on screen, and description of the scent.

1 - 05:31 - strawberry
2 - 11:42 - peanut butter
3 - 22:41 - a flower
4 - 39:05 - smelly feet
5 - 48:50 - root beer float
6 - 62:58 - fish

(image courtesy of Jimmy Tyler)

Mr. Nanny / Suburban Commando Family Double Feature DVD Review


This review was originally written on August 18, 2011
4:3 Fullscreen Only, No Bonus Features - Get The Individual DVDs Instead!

Normally when Warner Bros., which owns New Line (the studio that made these movies), puts out a Double/Triple/Quadruple Feature of previously-released material, they simply use the disc images from those previously-released DVDs to make new dual-sided DVDs. For an example of this, look at any of their "Four Film Favorites" titles, or even the 2009 single-disc re-release of Miss Congeniality 1 & 2. I figured that would be the case with the Mr. Nanny/Suburban Commando Family Double Feature, but I was wrong.

Instead of containing copies of the two previously-released DVDs, this single-sided, dual-layer DVD contains both movies and nothing else. To make matters worse, the two films are presented in 4:3 Fullscreen ONLY! The individual DVDs of Mr. Nanny and Suburban Commando contain both 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen & 4:3 Fullscreen (open matte) versions of each movie, along with each movie's Theatrical Trailer. A useless "Pick That Flick" photo game, and an even more useless DVD-ROM menu that only takes you to New Line's now-defunct "Hotspot" website, are also included on those individual DVDs.

There is absolutely no reason to pick up this Family Double Feature. If you like both movies, buy the individual DVDs instead.