Chilling 12 disc DVD Set

 

   (or- “How a 50 movie DVD Set can Change at a Moments Notice”)

 

 

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   Mill Creek Entertainment (that also shoots out titles under its Echo Bridge Entertainment) http://www.millcreekent.com/ has for the past few years been releasing multi-movie titles in all sorts of bunched grouping; anywhere from 5 and 10 movie sets all the way to 100 Movie Packs. Obviously the larger (20/50/100 Movie Pack) Sets are various re-packages and include titles already included in previous smaller Sets (I mean- there are only so many Public Domain flicks they can pull from), but I’ve accidentally discovered TWO DIFFERENT SETS of their 50 Movie Set “The Chilling” titled identically but containing different flicks entirely…

 

 

   First though, I’d like to give a quick overview of what constitutes the grey area of a Public Domain movie. Previous to 1998 any movie made in 1977 or prior that was not re-registered through the Copyright Office fell into PD. At that time, other than the occasional showing on TV, there was no real intrinsic value of holding Copyrights if you were a small company- it would require a Lawyer to file documents and cable and DVDs (let alone the VCR boom) were yet a gleam in Mega-Corporations’ eyes. This allowed a bunch of 40’s, 50’s and 60’s (most famously Night of the Living Dead (1968)) and even the 70’s (like Alice Sweet Alice (1977) to go into PD (though the two examples dropped into the grey area because of incorrect registering and not because of any “shelf life”). After the new Act was passed, however (thanks to both the nosiness of Sonny Bono (yeah- THAT ONE) and Walt Disney Entertainment- in fear of losing their many character holdings, like Mickey Mouse), the shelf life was extended, making it easier for producers and copyright holders to retain their Rights for a longer period of time (up to 120 years as opposed to the original 27 year (if not re-registered) life. But this is not a legal Blog (I mean- it’s LEGAL- just not about “Legal matters”), so I want to talk about something more relevant to us, the Consumers…

 

 

   I purchased the “50 Movie Pack Chilling Classics” 12 DVD set a few years ago for the bargain price of around $15 and have watched quite a few of them with various degrees of appreciation. Mill Creek has put this and other sets in a flimsy cardboard box and the 12 DVDs in individual sleeves accessed from the opening in the front of the case (and one that velcros open and closed- which means that I ripped it the first time I used it). And each sleeve had the corresponding movie titles and a brief description. The quality of the movies is almost uniformly weak or worse, usually taken from VHS dupes or some other sketchy source. My worse beef with the Company, however, is the “video bug” that they burn into the corner of the screen every 15 minutes or so- a habit started with some Something Weird Video releases that I find very intrusive and incredibly annoying. But most of these titles, unless appropriated by other budget companies, probably wouldn’t see the light of day (who would release, I thought, the High School-made Milpitas Monster?) (Come to find out the Director- see http://www.milpitasmonster.com/m_mm.html for proof) so it’s worth the investment. However- be careful WHICH SET you purchase…

 

 

   I was reading about one of the titles included on my Set on IMDB- Deadtime Stories (1986)– a pretty entertaining cheapjack horror anthology featuring Scott Valentine (best known as Mallory’s dumb boyfriend on the TV show Family Ties) and someone had mentioned in the Forums that this title was mistakenly classified as Public Domain. In the interim, Mill Creek had removed it from its future copies of Chilling Classics, so I was curious as to what they replaced it with- and the results were surprising and put me in “Video Watchdog” mode, as in ACTUALLY doing REAL LIFE research. Come to find out that in this new incarnation of the 50 Movie Set that SEVEN Titles were replaced. The Titles that were on the old Set were:

 

   * Christmas Evil (a 1980 title actually just as well-known as You’d Better Watch Out, which is a so-bad-it’s-funny killer Santa flick starring Brandon Maggart)

 

   * Crypt of the Living Dead (1973) (A weak Spanish vampire flick that was parading around Drive-Ins long after on a triple-bill that I sat through in 1981 at a Drive-in in Casselberry, Florida)

 

   * Deadtime Stories (Already covered above)

 

   * Memorial Valley Massacre (a late-arriving (1988) hatchet-wielding maniac on the loose flick that has both William (“Big Bill”) Smith and Cameron Mitchell in supporting roles)

 

   * Milpitas Monster (Made in 1974 but not released for a few years- this was a Milpitas California High School project that was reportedly made for around $40,000. The whole town chipped in to make this Giant-Monster-from-the-pollution semi-parody flick. And if you recognize the Narrator- well, you should… that’s the famous voice-over guy Paul Frees!

 

   * Snake People (1971- The Mexican living dead featuring one of the last (badly-edited) roles by Boris Karloff- who had actually been dead for two years prior to this coming out)

 

   * Virus (1980’s all-star international spectacle about germ warfare funded by the US and Germany for Japanese audiences and starring genre greats like Bo Svenson, George Kennedy, Glenn Ford and Sonny Chiba)

 

 

   (If you do have both sets side by side you will notice a listing on the old one for House of the Dead and the new one for Alien Zone- this is the same movie, an anthology flick made in 1978 and one that actually aired on Elvira’s Movie Macabre in the early 80’s. I’m guessing the re-titling has something to do with some legal-ese to keep it included in the set)

 

 

 

   You would think that someone over at Mill Creek would have run the titles past a paralegal or something to avoid the expense of a possible law suit or at least having to replace legally OK discs with the offending ones but I guess not. I’m sure this is not the only multi-disc set to suffer these setbacks (I know that some of these show up on other 50 and 100-disc sets from the Company) but, well, someone else with more time on their hands is going to have to do that legwork. And it wouldn’t just be the re-mastering of the discs; all-new disc sleeves and even the outer box had to be redone (I don’t have the new Set, but the old one includes paragraphs mentioning both Christmas Evil and Deadtime Stories– I’d be curious as to what the new blurbs say)…

 

 

   Oh, and just so you know- the replacement titles on the new discs (apparently copyright-free) are:

 

   * Devil Times Five (from 1974- psycho children on the loose- a movie that was recently released by Code Red DVD and one that I’m truly surprised has fallen into PD limbo)

 

   * I Eat Your Skin (a boring black and white jungle zombie flick from the mid-sixties)

 

   * Murder Mansion (A slow-moving Italian import from 1972)

 

   * A Passenger to Bali (Not really a movie, but an episode of the mid- 50’s Studio One television show from CBS and starring E.G. Marshall)

 

   * Shock (the 1940’s Noir starring Vincent Price- NOT the final Mario Bava that was sold over here as Beyond the Door 2)

 

   * Snowbeast (1977’s answer to all of the Bigfoot hysteria- Made-for-TV and starring our pal Bo Svenson)

 

   * Werewolf in a Girl’s Dormitory (Italian man-wolf nonsense; B&W from 1963)

 

 

   From all I’ve read there are still some old copies on shelves out their in RetailLand; you may want to try stores that have a slower turnover rate for DVDs- like Border’s Books for example.