(Visual) Notes on Culture
  DVD Boxed Set Summer
The school year is over and the summer is poised to start. As a personal note, I will be living and working in Raleigh. This time of year no longer has the eminently positive connotations that it used to have. Even under the seasonal-academic lifestyle, there is always work to be done. I am currently re-shaping an old essay on Alex Cox's Three Businessmen for an edited collection and continue to march forward on my edited collection of essays on Ken Russell. But, since I want to retain some semblance of my former (leisured) life, I will be doing some serious movie watching this summer. While I tend to do this even during the school year--I am, after all, a film studies student and need to stay on top of the game--the summer is usually a pretty ripe time for catching up on what one has missed, neglected, or avoided.

That said, I have a bad tendency to buy movies on "spec" when I don't have time to watch them, to sit on them until such a time as I am able to kick back and give them a go. Unless I acquire something that I've had my sights on for a while, the gestation period usually lasts a few months, especially since I still cycle through my Netflix cue. I assure you, I do in fact have a life, but have always been proud of my ability to make the best use of my downtime. I am not a YouTube browser (I mainly use it to put music videos on as "background" while I do other work) and have cut back on the number of websites I check everyday. So, the saddest fact of this post is that all the titles that I am about to mention are actually things that I own.

The most cost-efficient way to acquire some movies is via boxed sets. These curated, thematic collections have really taken off since the infant days of VHS and laserdisc. In terms of film, I have recently (last several months) managed to get through The Richard Lester Collection (UK import featuring The Knack, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and How I Won the War), British Horror Quadruple Feature (four Pete Walker movies from the early 1970s, during one of the "golden ages" of British horror cinema), and Mario Bava Collection Vol. 1 (five classic Bava films, nicely produced by Anchor Bay Entertainment). Recent TV boxed set viewings include Arrested Development Season 1, Martin Tahse's After School Specials Set 1, and Mr. Show Season 3, not to mention my compulsive re-watching of Peep Show Seasons 1-4.

So, what's left for summer? On the TV front, Arrested Development Seasons 2 and 3 seem like sure bets. On the slightly more oddball side (though AD is no casual stroll in normal city) are Dune (the SCI-FI channel 2000 miniseries, though I don't see how this could possibly hold a candle to the misguided David Lynch film) and Blue Murder, a critically-lauded Australian cop drama from 1995 that was lovingly issued by Subversive Cinema. To bring some brevity to it all, I've been saving up Chappelle's Show Season 1 for a rainy or unbearably hot day. As for films, well, here goes.

Though I've had my fill of British horror for the time being, there's Elite entertainment's old British Horror Collection which contains Tower of Evil, Inseminoid, Horror Hospital (a favorite from my late high school days) and Curse of the Voodoo. I have already seen each of the movies in Anchor Bay's The Films of Alejandro Jodorowsky, but not in several years, so it promises a few days of outre, warped entertainment. I also recently took a bite into (but have not finished) Optimum Entertainment's region 2 Julie Chrisite Collection, a nice set that contains bare bones editions of Billy Liar, Far from the Madding Crowd, Darling, and Joseph Losey's The Go-Between.

Classic "B" genres will certainly be a focus of my summer viewing. One of the first up will be Sam Katzman: Icons of Horror Collection, a group of four notorious stinkers from the height of the cold war. The paranoia is sure to continue with the inefficiently-titled The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection Vol. 1, a nice Universal package with winners like The Mole People and Monster on the Campus.

One big undertaking will be the Mario Bava Collection Vol. 2, this time packed with 8 later Bava titles across several different genres. If it is anything like the first set, it will be rewarding, powerful viewing. Expert Tim Lucas is on board for many supplements, and since this is my first time watching each of these films, I am sure to learn a lot. My most recent purchase (for less than $15, to boot) has been MGM's Roger Corman Collection, an eight film release that spans from Bucket of Blood to GAS-S-S. I am especially interested in watching The Trip, which has been on my "to-watch" list for nearly 8 years.

I certainly won't watch all of these. I hope to get through many of them. But for now, courage.
The Corman box set is a beautiful thing. I'll be curious to know what you think of Gas-s-s (or, It Became Necessary to Destroy the World in Order to Save It).... For me, the high note of the set is X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes.
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