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Headsup: Bad Fridays, Good Spies and The Cosmos

Friday the 13th Uncut DVD cover art
Friday the 13th: Part 2 DVD cover art
Friday the 13th: Part 3 3-D DVD cover art

One of the things we can at least count on when it comes to remakes and sequels and whatnot is re-releases. Sometimes you score with them; sometimes you don’t–it’s a mixed bag. Such is the case with the recent threefer of Friday the 13th re-issues. This new “Uncut” version of the first film…we should address the punny moniker first. It’s uncut in that’s the most egregious example of adding “unrated” footage as a marketing gimmick. Usually we’ll see a few minutes–here we’ve got a few seconds. Fantastic. There’s also a commentary cobbled together from various interviews featuring director Sean Cunningham and others involved with the production. That leads us to the reunion, a little over fifteen minutes of a session with folks like makeup guru Tom Savini and “Mrs. Voorhees” Betsy Palmer, then more of the same in another featurette, and then over to a featurette talking just with Cunningham. There’s also a head scratcher of a mini-movie sequel…something…called “Lost Tales From Camp Blood,” which is carried over onto the Part 2 DVD. On Part 2 as well, you get: a featurette on Crystal Lake Memories, the book about the franchise; a featurette on the attendance at horror conventions by members of the Friday ensemble; and a reunion of Jason actors, doing a Q&A. It’s in Part 3 that things get frustrating: the only feature is that it’s in 3-D. That’s it. They didn’t even retain the feature bits, including the commentary, that was on the big boxed set release of Friday films previously.

So do you need these? I think if you’re a slasher film junkie the first one might be worthwhile–but then again, you probably already own these. And how much replay factor will you find in the featurettes and commentary? You must decide. The other two…eh. Part 2 tries but Part 3 falls totally short.

Spy Collection Megaset DVD cover art
The Universe Collector's Set DVD cover art

One thing you have to say about the History Channel/A&E folks is that they know how to put together a big hefty box set. They call them megasets for a reason. Two of their most recent are the Spy Collection and the Universe Collector’s Set.

Spy Collection is basically, as I said in our contest for it, a big buffet of spy series. You get fifteen episodes of The Champions to start with, which is basically about three U.N. agents who are granted superhuman abilities, so it’s like a uber-60s TV version of The Doom Patrol mixed with, well, take your pick of the espionage shows of the day. You get thirteen episodes of The Persuaders, the show that put Tony Curtis and Roger Moore together for a season of international playboys fighting crime. There’s twenty-six episodes of The Protectors, the Gerry Andersen series that had Robert Vaughn among its stars–about a trio of detectives who fight the good fight. And lastly, The Prisoner gets four episodes. None of these series are complete, of course, it’s just like a major sampling. My only concern about this set is that if you get that many episodes (some of the series it’s about half), you’ve really gone beyond the sampler and into an appetizer for a party of six, if you get my drift. So whether or not you want such a thing, I leave to your judgement. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

The Universe Collector’s Set is quite complete, though. The centerpiece is the titular series, and that’s two seasons of The Universe, and the title pretty much says it all there. It’s not the most in-depth series ever, of course–it is The History Channel, and you know what you’re getting with them. If you want something more substantial, I’m sure you can find it. This is fourteen discs, of course, so it’s no slouch. It also comes with The Planets and How the Earth Was Made. This I feel better about recommending–if it’s your bag, of course–because it is complete and you’re not left out for certain episodes. While it is still pricey, you are getting a lot of bang for your buck. Good for a house with kids who want to learn. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)