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Site created 12/15/97.

Doogan's Views at The Digital Bits!
page added: 11/14/01



I feel much better now...

There's nothing going on in my world or the DVD world. Some big titles came out this week and last and I'm still running around trying to pick them all up. Oh, and yes... I'm feeling much better now - thanks for all the well wishes. I'm still drinking fluids and taking my meds.

This week, we're going to take a look at some fine DVDs that will all be out by next week. We have a bouncy adventurer, a green Christmas stealer, Peter Jackson's first feature and a look at classroom shorts collected onto two DVDs. It's a good month to love DVD, I tell ya. A good month indeed.


Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Collector's Edition - 2001 (2001) - Paramount

Film Rating: C

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A+/A/A

Specs and Features:

100 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, Amaray keep case packaging, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:31:17 in chapter 12), audio commentary by director Simon West, Tomb Raider: Crafting Lara Croft featurette, 4 deleted scenes, Tomb Raider: Stunts featurette, Digging Into Tomb Raider documentary, Elevation video by U2, Tomb Raider: Are You Game? featurette, alternate main title sequence, visual effects featurettes: Time Storm: Husky, Droid, Clock, Knife, Stone Monkeys, Time Storm: Powell, The Brahman and Griffins, Easter egg interview with Angelina Jolie and Jon Voight, DVD-ROM access (featuring DVD Interactive Challenge, Tomb Raider Timeline, Chronicles game demo, web site archive and more), animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (12 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & DD 2.0) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned


It's no secret that I'm no fan of this film. I thought it sucked pretty badly. And don't think that I'm some sort of snob either - I'm a realist. I'm well aware that this is nothing more than an action film based on a popular video game, about a lady Indiana Jones running around with bigger... uhm, eyes... jumping from one tomb to the next raiding for treasure. I know Lara Croft has a built in fan base, who all know her back-story and know her various personality issues from playing the game. The problem is, the makers of this film didn't try to create a film franchise that would be accessible to everyone. They made a movie they hoped fans of the game would enjoy. It's a problem very well illustrated by this special edition DVD.

Tomb Raider is about Lara Croft (played by Angelia Jolie), a very rich girl who trots the globe looking for adventure. The adventure featured in this film involves a clock, and a machine called an Orrey, that can meld all time together and give whomever controls it infinite power. The secret organization known as the Illuminati want the machine and will do anything to get it. Lara must figure all this out, grab the pieces that lead to the Orrey and systematically stop Evil from triumphing over Good.

Now, that's really not a bad story to build a film on, except they (the makers of this film) felt they had to follow the lead given by the game, by jumping from action set piece to action set piece. That isn't the problem of the film because, aside from some poor computer animation, these pieces are fun for what they are. The problem is that you don't really give a flying crap about Lara. She isn't really a character, she's an image. The idea of character development in this film is: "Have you seen the game? Good, 'cause it's the same thing." And it shouldn't be that way at all. I mean James Bond, Indiana Jones... those are characters that rely on their personalities. I don't think I understand the point of Croft being the focus of this film, outside of that she's motivated solely by the fact that she loved her dad and he was an adventurer and he was ripped from her life. So being daddy's girl, she's followed in his footsteps. That's all well and good, but that doesn't tell me why Lara's good at what she does, or loves what she does.

I think, and this is just me thinking, that Tomb Raider would have been a much better film if they took Croft in the first film and did nothing but full on action, defining her character in that action environment. We could have all the same exact set pieces, but if we built her up as a great adventurer, who loves what she does and is good at it, it would have sucked the audience in more. Then in the second film (we all know the intention here was to make a franchise), we could explore her relationship with dad. We'd already be in love with her as a movie character, and the deeper psyche exploration would open her up more. As this is, this is just an empty shell of a film, because they tried too hard to make her a human (and she's not). Action movies are like water balloons: fill them with too little water and they bounce with no impact at all. Fill 'em up too much and they become overbearing and useless 'cause you can't do anything with it. But if you fill it with the right combination of water and air, it goes far and it hits just right, showering your enemy with all the water you need.

Tomb Raider is, at least, a great DVD. The picture and sound quality are top notch - maybe the best thing Paramount has ever done actually. Color representation is dead on with nice skin tones and a vibrant palette. The blacks show no signs of artifacting and there's little to no edge enhancement to be found anywhere. The sound is also pretty nice with Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 options. The surround speakers are quite active, bass is full and the dialogue remains centered and nicely audible. No complaints at all here.

The extras are also great, especially for Paramount, who have only recently begun releasing true special editions. The menu screens are nicely animated and fun. Centered around the Orrey machine, the special features jump from globe to globe. Most of it is fluffy behind-the-scenes stuff, with featurettes about bringing Lara from game to screen and making director Simon West's vision come to life. First off, West is given a commentary track, which is very well done... except that since I don't care for the film I didn't care what he had to say. He covers all the bases and he seems like he really enjoyed making the film and is quite proud of it. The featurette Tomb Raider: Crafting Lara Croft focuses on Jolie's training and mindset for the character. The Tomb Raider: Stunts featurette is about the stunts, with a lot of time dedicated to the bungee ballet. Digging Into Tomb Raider is a full on documentary about the making of the film and makes the movie actually look like it might be good. We also get four deleted scenes that don't do much for the film except one has a scene from the trailer (which isn't on the disc, huh?). You also get the oddly unnecessary Elevation video by U2, a featurette on the video game version of Lara entitled Tomb Raider: Are You Game? and an alternate main title sequence that would have been used if credits appeared on the front of the film (which they don't). The best thing on the disc are the visual effects featurettes - they're eight short looks at the time and computer know-how put into making the bigger effects scenes in the film. I have to say, pulled out of the film, most of these actually look pretty good. But for some reason, they mostly looked horrible in the film. The two that did look good: Time Storm: Husky and Clock are here and it's cool to see. Finally, there's an Easter egg interview with Angelina Jolie and Jon Voight (it's not hard to find, just click the "water" symbol under the main menu icon on the special features page).

The one thing that really kicks this disc up from being a standard special edition is a very sweet interactive DVD-ROM package. Along with featuring a Tomb Raider Timeline, the Chronicles game demo and access to the website archive, there's this very neat thing called the DVD Interactive Experience, which allows you to play the movie, essentially. You get trivia, skill games and best of all, you get to shoot a virtual gun (using your mouse) during battle scenes. I tried to kill Lara, which doesn't work. But it's still a very fun offering, especially for someone who doesn't like DVD-ROM content much.

There's a lot of stuff packed onto this DVD, especially for a Paramount disc, and if you happen to be a fan of the film, it's well done and interesting. I'd like to see this done on better titles more often from the Mountain. Tomb Raider - not a great film, but a damn fine DVD. Check it out if you're interested.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Buy this DVD now at DVD Planet!


Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas: Collector's Edition (widescreen)

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Encoded with DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1 Digital Surround

Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas (Widescreen)
Collector's Edition - 2000 (2001) - Universal

Film Rating: B

Disc Ratings (Video/Extras): B/A+

Audio Ratings (DD/DTS): A/A+

Specs and Features:

105 mins, PG, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, Amaray keep case packaging, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:06:48 in chapter 13), Spotlight n Location featurette, 6 deleted scenes, Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas: Gag Reel, Who School featurette, Make-Up Application and Design featurette, Seussian Set Decoration featurette, Visual Effects featurette, Where Are You Christmas? video by Faith Hill, "Wholiday Recipes", 2 Universal Theme Park commercials, By the Numbers fact sheet, theatrical trailer, production notes, cast and crew bios, recommended titles, DVD newsletter, The Grinch game trailer, DVD-ROM access (with game demo, website and screen savers), E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial 20th Anniversary preview trailer, Max's Playhouse section with Rhyme Time game, How to Find Things DVD menu instructional overview, Dress the Grinch game, The Care and Feeding of a Grinch story read-a-long, sing-a-longs for Where Are You Christmas and You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch, DVS (Descriptive Video Service) audible menu navigation feature, animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (20 chapters), languages: English (DD & DTS 5.1), DVS and French (DD 5.1), subtitles: English



Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas: Collector's Edition Interactive Playset (full frame)

Encoded with DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1 Digital Surround

Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas (Full Frame)
Collector's Edition DVD Interactive Play Set - 2000 (2001) - Universal

Film Rating: B

Disc Ratings (Video/Extras): B/A+

Audio Ratings (DD/DTS): A/A+

Specs and Features:

105 mins, PG, full frame (1.33:1), custom "pop-up" playset packaging, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:06:48 in chapter 13), Spotlight n Location featurette, 6 deleted scenes, Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas: Gag Reel, Who School featurette, Make-Up Application and Design featurette, Seussian Set Decoration featurette, Visual Effects featurette, Where Are You Christmas? video by Faith Hill, "Wholiday Recipes", 2 Universal Theme Park commercials, By the Numbers fact sheet, theatrical trailer, production notes, cast and crew bios, recommended titles, DVD newsletter, The Grinch game trailer, DVD-ROM access (with game demo, website and screen savers), E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial 20th Anniversary preview trailer, Max's Playhouse section with Rhyme Time game, How to Find Things DVD menu instructional overview, Dress the Grinch game, The Care and Feeding of a Grinch story read-a-long, sing-a-longs for Where Are You Christmas and You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch, DVS (Descriptive Video Service) audible menu navigation feature, animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (20 chapters), languages: English (DD & DTS 5.1), DVS and French (DD 5.1), subtitles: English


You're a mean one, Mr. Howard. You really are a heel. You remade a film that didn't need it, and expanded a story that was perfect. Mr. Hoooooooward. I wouldn't like this movie no matter how much Rick Baker make-up you threw in - latex! Molds! Paint!

All right that's a bit extreme, but still. Does this movie need to exist outside of paychecks for Mrs. Geisel, Ron Howard, his production company Imagine and Universal? No, I don't think so. And boy, did it make money. Oh, sure - but it would have to. Car accidents make money every Friday night on Fox during sweeps. Prurient interest is what I think it's called. It's like Where the Wild Things Are - to make a movie out of it, you'd have to rip it apart and it just doesn't need it. But then again, somewhere someone is doing just that and I'm very very afraid. When it comes to book-to-film features, they say that the book will always exist and could never be hurt by a film version. I agree with that. Only because that leaves me open to ripping this thing and not having to worry about my thoughts on the book.

Grinch is as it is. The Grinch (Jim Carrey) hates Christmas. And he'll do anything to stop it. So he hatches an idea to steal everything that makes Christmas Christmas, and he finds (initially to his dismay and then to his delight) that Christmas isn't about the baubles and stuff. It's about spirit and joy. Universal and company tell that version of the story, but they tell it with rocket power, subterranean lairs and big CGI. It's epic, it's wacky and it does its job. But the feeling afterwards... it's like sex with one of your friend's girlfriends. It feels fine at the time, but after it's all over, you feel dirty and shameful. You know that feeling? Well, it's just like that. If you like the film, I know why. It's funny, it's told well and the CGI and make-up look as great as you would imagine with the talent behind it. But I stand my moral ground and say that this live action adaptation is something that didn't need to be done.

But it was done and now it's on DVD. "What do you think of the DVD, Todd?" Oh, I think it's fine. Lots of fun, thanks. The DVD is available in a few versions (naturally being a Universal title), including a collector's edition in anamorphic widescreen and a full frame children's book-like playset. The video for both is very nice. The anamorphic widescreen is clearly the better of the two, because this is a big film. But the full frame is fine for kids and families that don't quite understand the point of "them black bars". Color accuracy and black levels are fine, but you might be a little disappointed by the transfer overall. It looks surprisingly soft. Not necessarily bad, just soft. Sound for both versions is available in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 options, and will both blow you away. It's a surround sound friendly film and the mix is very well done. It's active, playful and sounds great. Well played Universal, well played.

Both versions also feature the same extras. A short Spotlight on Location tells the fluffy version of the making of the film. Interviews, cast and crew hijinks - it's all here. You'll also find a nice selection of six deleted scenes that are pretty flavorful. Even more fun than seeing deleted scenes are the outtakes - the Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas: Gag Reel. It's funny, very funny. The Who School featurette is about the stunts and stuntmen. Make-Up Application and Design is a featurette dedicated to Rick Baker's work with interviews and shots of Carrey being very patient. Seussian Set Decoration explores the set and its decoration. Go figure. A featurette entitled Visual Effects goes into the CGI in the film, from set to background plates. For the fans of the upsettingly beautiful Faith Hill, we get the Where Are You Christmas? video. The throw away extras are a selection of "Wholiday Recipes", two Universal Theme Park commercials and a fact sheet called By the Numbers which puts the production into focus on a number scale. There's also the theatrical trailer, some production notes, cast and crew bios, recommended titles, DVD newsletter, The Grinch game trailer, DVD-ROM access (with game demo, website and screen savers) and a mandatory preview trailer for the E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial: 20th Anniversary Edition that appears on the front of the film (with chapter-through ability).

For the kids, there's a separate section of the DVD called Max's Playhouse. It's got a Rhyme Time game that lets you pick the right word to rhyme in the story (every time you get it right you get positive reinforcement from the film: "Brilliant!" exclaims the Grinch.) The How to Find Things DVD menu instructional overview is funny because it assumes kids don't know how to use a DVD player. Nice try marketing guys, but I think the kids figured it out long before Mom and Dad did. It should be geared towards them. The Dress the Grinch game isn't much of a game - it's more an interactive paper doll set. The Care and Feeding of a Grinch story is a read-a-long thing with the option to read it yourself. I'm a big boy so I read it all by myself. Finally, there are sing-a-longs for Where Are You Christmas and You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch, which come from the movie with big ol' lit up karaoke subtitles. There's also another link to Faith's video. There can never too many links to Faith Hill, in my opinion.

Finally, both discs feature the DVS (Descriptive Video Service) audible menu navigation feature. It's pretty much on everything from the film to the trailers to the menus themselves and it's a very nice feature.

If you choose to pick up the kid's Interactive Playset version, the inside of the package is a pop-up book that depicts three scenes from the film, complete with pulls, wheels and doors for the kids to play with. It's a very neat offering. I especially like the fact that the DVD is hidden in the pop-up in a separate plastic case instead of just slid into a cardboard holder. A very thoughtful move from Universal. The package is kiddie book sized and will definitely find a comfortable home on the kiddie bookshelves.

Grinch. Part of me appreciates it. I can't allow myself to actually like it, but it's there. I'm hard on the film because I feel like I should be. But if you like it without shame, the DVD is a very nice offering. Even the full frame, kid-friendly version is worth picking up for those junior DVDers in your life. Put it on your holiday list. If you've good this year, maybe someone will bring it to you.

Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas (Widescreen)
Buy this DVD now at DVD Planet!

Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas (Full Frame)
Buy this DVD now at DVD Planet!


Bad Taste: Limited Edition

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Encoded with DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1 Digital Surround

Bad Taste
Limited Edition - 1987 (2001) - Anchor Bay

Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Extras): A/B+

Audio Ratings (DD/DTS): A/A

Specs and Features:

Disc One: The Film
91 mins, NR, letterboxed widescreen (1.66:1), 16x9 enhanced, custom gate-fold packaging, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 52:03 in chapter 15), theatrical trailer, Peter Jackson biography, THX Optimizer test signals, animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (25 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 EX, DTS 6.1 ES & DD 2.0), subtitles: none, Closed Captioned

Disc Two: Good Taste Made Bad Taste Documentary
25 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), film-themed menu screen with sound, languages: English (DD 2.0), subtitles: none, Closed Captioned


Bad Taste rocks. I really like this flick. I first saw it in, I dunno, had to be 1992. It was on laserdisc, and I saw this alien giving me the finger from the racks. "Beautiful" I thought and picked it right up. Now, I have to admit... when I first popped it in, I thought, "Oh geez, a student film." It sorta starts off a bit shady. But I gave it a chance and let it keep spinning. That's when the gore kicked it and I was immediately hooked. It signaled the start of a love affair with everything Peter Jackson that lives to this day.

Bad Taste began its life as a 10 minute short that Jackson and friends were making to kill time. But Jackson started to see something in his little film and thought it might break him into the world of cinema. He was right. What was supposed to be a little short made over a few weekends became a 90 minute film made over many weekends - 4 1/2 years worth in fact. The story behind the camera, as fascinating as it is, pales to the one unfolding on the screen. A team of SAS-like commandos, whose only job is to protect the Earth (and the moon) from alien invaders, find themselves face to face with the bastards... the bastards being a clan of enterprising fast food workers from outer space, who figure out that humans are an untapped cash crop and come down and start harvesting. When Ozzy, Derek, Barry and Frank figure out this nefarious plot, they come a-calling with magnums raised, chainsaws primed and rocket launchers fully loaded. Plenty of body fluids fly and only one side can say they're the victorious in the end. Splat.

This film redefines gore, with more stomach churning debauchery packed into 90 minutes than any film of the 1980s. I don't think there's a gorier film out there. Well, maybe Dead Alive (internationally known as Braindead) is gorier, but Hell - that was directed by Jackson as well.

Bad Taste comes to us from Anchor Bay, and lately they're really showing a new and improved side. There are still a few quality control issues going on over there, but at least they're aware of them and trying their best to fix them. Bad Taste shouldn't fall victim to any problems though. There are two versions - a single disc movie only edition and a double disc special limited edition that includes a documentary. That last one is the one I got my hands on, but the other is exactly the same except for packaging and the disc count. The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen and looks incredible. Shot on 16mm, you'd think this film was shot on 35mm - that's how good it looks. There are a few source issues here and there, where you'll see grain or the film will look 16mm quality, but for the most part this is a flawless transfer. The sound is also pretty wonderful. We get a Dolby Digital 5.1 EX track, a DTS 6.1 ES track and standard Dolby Digital 2.0. They're all great. It all depends on what kind of equipment you have, but the quality is all the same.

Extras on Disc One (and the movie-only edition) include a trailer and a biography of Peter Jackson and that's it. A commentary would be impossible at this point, as would additional footage, but legend has it that Jackson has something like 6 to 9 hours of never before seen stuff on this film and would like to do something with it. So maybe we'll see that in the future when things get more even keeled for him. As it stands, the only meaty extra we get is on the Limited Edition, in the form of a 25-minute documentary about Jackson and the making of this film. It's a very well done feature and shows Jackson at home, and shows the artistry and wittiness it took to get the film made. He built everything you see in the film. From the guns to the house they blow up. It'll blow your mind and make your mouth water for the new Lord of the Rings. It'll also make you wish his retro King Kong film might still get made someday. The doc also features clips from shorts he's made over the years. Like I said, it's a great little piece.

Bad Taste isn't for everyone, but it should be. It's fun. It's brilliantly gross and it'll show you that no matter how "Hollywood" Jackson gets, he's still the guy that made this film. And that's a great thing indeed.

Bad Taste
Buy this DVD now at DVD Planet!


The Educational Archives Volume One: Sex & Drugs

The Educational Archives Volume One: Sex & Drugs
Various (2001) - Fantoma

Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B/C

Specs and Features:

141 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), Amaray keep case packaging, single-sided, single-layered, filmstrip entitled We Grow Series: Film 7 - Growing Things, animated film-themed menu screens with sound, short access (12 shorts), languages: English (DD mono), subtitles: none



The Educational Archives Volume Two: Social Engineering 101

The Educational Archives Volume Two: Social Engineering 101
Various (2001) - Fantoma

Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B/C

Specs and Features:

109 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), Amaray keep case packaging, single-sided, single-layered, filmstrip entitled Your Fight Against Fear, animated film-themed menu screens with sound, short access (10 shorts), languages: English (DD mono), subtitles: none


I'm really beginning to fall in love with Fantoma. I think everything they put out is worth owning. Plus, their upcoming stuff looks great as well. This newest DVD set of theirs is basically two volumes of educational shorts shown in classrooms in the past. The messages are don't do drugs, know your body, how to find your thingy and be socially aware of you and your environment. You can't go wrong with messages like that.

Volume One is focused on Sex and Drugs. You may think you know the subjects, but after you get a look at these shorts, you may change your thinking. I'm not one for drugs myself, but if any of the messages in these films are true, I may be missing something.

LSD: Case Study (1969) - The Case Study series is told through the use of hip and current music (for the 60s), psychedelic animations and still photos of the events with character narrations. There are four shorts in the series on this disc and this is my favorite. A young woman in pink capri pants and a green and brown blouse takes LSD and gets the munchies. Out on the street, she goes over to a vendor for a bite and is attacked by a screaming hot dog - the result of being high on acid.

Human Growth (1962) - This is your standard human development short. A typical nuclear family lounges in the living room and daughter tells parents that she's giving a presentation at school the next day on human development. Parents ask what she plans to say, cut to her saying it in front of class. Her presentation involves a series of questions (for us and the "film world" class) and we jump to the ol' film within a film device and watch the presentation with the class. Do we know the answers to the questions? Discuss and find out.

Narcotics: Pit of Despair (1967) - This one's for anyone who doesn't believe pot is a gateway drug. A leprechaun bearded guy brings down a young man with one puff of smoke and a hot slutty chick he's programmed to bring squares around to the dark side.

Know For Sure (1941) - This is a surprisingly glossy production from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (makers of the Oscars). It tells the cautionary tale of immigrants and teens getting syphilis and the results of such a momentary lapse of judgment. It's funny how it's always women that give the disease in these shorts. Hmmm.

Barbiturates: Case Study (1969) - Another Case Study short, this time on uppers. Off-setting happy, happy music illustrates the story of guy who tops out on marijuana and turns to reds, you know, barbiturates - something different. We find that he was given the drugs by some friends of his who are on "H" and who themselves topped out. The story goes on to tell how this poor schmuck falls asleep at the wheel of his car and an ill-informed cop lets him go and then after passing out at home during a conversation with Mom, he sleeps all night where he fell. Life lesson: if you're passing out high on drugs in front of your parents and they aren't concerned, it's time for a new hobby.

It's Wonderful Being a Girl (1968) - I dunno about the title of this one. I'm pretty happy not having to bleed every month, myself. This short is nothing more than a Modess (from the fabulous people at Johnson & Johnson) infomercial. It tries to be an educated lesson on the joys of menstruation, but if you can't bowl or swim whenever you want, what's the point?

Marijuana (1968) - This one's absolutely genius. Sonny Bono gives kids the "choice" on drugs by presenting the facts surrounding good ol' Mary J. Kids spout out their version of the truth, and Sonny comes back with the anti-pot reality according to government studies.

Amphetamines: Case Study (1969) - It's all about the horrors of being amped up on crystal as told by a big ol' fatty who gets groovy, loses weight and plunges into hell.

Social-Sex Attitudes in Adolescence (1953) - Bob and Mary are teens guided by good parents (or, for the well-rounded post-World War II world, a widowed parent in Bob's case). Their good upbringing forces them to make the right decisions in life and find each other and get married. As teens, Bob sluts around week by week and Mary goes through the typical lesbian teenager phase. But in the end, they learn that they're right for each other. It's close to 50 years later - I wonder whatever happened to Bob and Mary?

LSD: Insight or Insanity? (1969) - The late Sal Mineo talks to us about the horrors and the origin of LSD. It's pretty interesting because we're actually given the point of view that drugs are great, with doctors telling us they aren't. It ends up being a mixed piece of propaganda.

Heroin: Case Study (1969) - The Lockheed Series comes to a shattering conclusion. A peer pressured and rather comfortable pothead gets addicted to smack through his dragon chasing girlfriend at a mutual friend's party and finds, to his utter horror, that he can no longer get comfortable.

The ABC of Sex Ed. For Trainables (1975) - Jeeeeeeeee-sus. I'm not saying a word about this one because it would be so very wrong. I mean, how do you talk about this in mixed company? Planned Parenthood put this one together about discussing sex with mentally retarded/challenged adults and teens. The examples are full blown and the outcome is uncomfortably hilarious. Not because the people are retarded, but because it seems the educators are as well.

So that's the first disc. Volume Two of this series is on the social angle of life - Social Engineering 101. Cleaning, learning and being with others are the flavors of the day. Are you a shy guy? Or do you fancy yourself a rabbit killer? Look at these shorts and find out.

Lunchroom Manners (1959) - Mr. Bungle is THE original bastard. He never ever washes his hands, plus he makes a mess and a scene at the cafeteria during lunch. Do you want to be a Mr. Bungle? Yeah, me too.

Soapy the Germ Fighter (1951) - A bar of soap shows a young cowboy that it's not just sissies who get clean. Real men wash their heads, neck and face too.

Appreciating Our Parents (1950) - Little Tommy must think a magic fairy fixes up the house when he's away at school. So when he learns that Mom's the culprit, he starts to help out around the house. And guess what? He gets a 25-cent allowance raise. Good for him.

Shy Guy (1947) - Mike Wallace narrates and Dick York stars as an awkward teen who builds a record player and finds popularity. Still, building popularity and finding a record player would be better.

Why Doesn't Cathy Eat Breakfast? (1972) - Who the f**k knows? You won't either, even after you watch this short.

Right or Wrong? (1951) - This one's a moral test with no answers. A young kid running with the wrong gang gets fingered on a window-breaking scheme. After he's picked up, the cops try to help him but he won't squeal. After that, he has to spend the night with a guy from his church. Somehow, I don't see this scenario happening today.

Personality and Emotions (1954) - Apparently something called "emotions" were discovered in the early 1950s. This short explores how these so-called "emotions" play into human personality and how childhood development affects them. Whoever made this short should be taken to the edge of the world and kicked off.

Why Vandalism? (1955) - Oh, why not? A couple (three) kids with no social skills and bad upbringings wreak their school and accidentally set a rabbit (and horror of horrors it's one of their own rabbits) on fire. Who's to blame? Them, society or you!

Manners In School (1959) - An evil brat of a child gets a swift kick in the ass by a caulk drawing. I kid you not.

The Outsider (1951) - No, this one isn't about Soda Pop and Pony Boy. My first question is this: why does the eagle logo of Young America Films have a Russian hammer and sickle in its eye? When you pick up this disc, let me know if you see it. A short obviously made in the South (with quotes like this: "You girls bring the eats and I'll bring the records" and a girl wanting to drink a "Coke" - only Southerners and people from the south say Coke instead of pop or soda). It follows the exploits of young Suzy Jean. Suzy is a misfit outsider and no one seems to notice her. An odd voice seems to tell her what to do and questions those around her. This leads up to both a tragic chocolate ice cream cone incident and a miscommunication. When the voice tries to rectify things, it all goes horribly awry and the clique finds out who's who.

And that's Volume Two. The quality of the shorts themselves is varying on DVD. Some look great, some look just okay and others look like total and complete shite. But what are you to do? The transfers are great though, with no fault at all to the fine folks at Fantoma. The sound is also good. It drops out a lot due to the age of the shorts, but that adds a charm at the same time. I was kind of hoping there would be an alternate audio track of the sound as it might sound through a projector. Say a sentence and wiggle your finger over your lips while talking - that's the soundtrack to these films in my mind. The extras are light, with nothing more than a bonus filmstrip on each disc that you page through. I'm not too much of a filmstrip fan, but if you are, you'll find them fun.

For what they are, these are some great DVDs, chock full of American pop culture. A friend of mine noted that they sound cool, but who's going to watch them more than once. That's a good point, but I've already showed some of these shorts three or four times. So if you're like me (and God help us all if you are) you'll enjoy these discs.

The Educational Archives Volume One: Sex & Drugs
Buy this DVD now at DVD Planet!

The Educational Archives Volume Two: Social Engineering 101
Buy this DVD now at DVD Planet!


Well... that's it for this week. I hope you enjoyed our walk through the discs of time. I know I did. I'll see you next time. Same Doogan time, same Doogan website.

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com


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