- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 10, 2002

You don't have to be a hard-core animation buff to appreciate Spike and Mike's Classic Festival of Animation. While animation mavens Spike and Mike have been assembling collections for several years, their latest anthology fully lives up to its "classic" handle by concentrating on many of their best past selections. It's our …

Video pick of the week
"Spike and Mike's Classic Festival" (new from Slingshot Entertainment, $19.98 DVD) covers the entire spectrum of their past amalgams, from traditional cel-animation to pencil sketch, claymation and computer-generated imagery.
In the comedy arena, it includes Marv Newland's venerable Bambi Meets Godzilla along with a more recent homage to same, Son of Bambi Meets Godzilla. Ever-reliable surrealist Bill Plympton (known for "The Tune" and "I Married a Strange Person") contributes one of his non-sequitur-laden productions, while music fans will enjoy the syncopated puppetoon Graveyard Jamboree with Mysterious Mose. Lyrical fables like Panther and The Queen's Monastery, meanwhile, display a more serious fine-arts approach to the medium.
The DVD also offers a wealth of extras audio commentaries and behind-the-scenes featurettes designed to enlighten fans and lay people alike on how these expert animators go about achieving their often painstaking art. In short, as a sampler of contemporary animation styles, "Spike and Mike's Classic Festival of Animation" is a tough disc to beat.

Universal appeal
In collectors' news, Universal/Dreamworks Entertainment prepares an award-winning late-January lineup that's both classic and eclectic. It leads off with a pair of gladiatorial greats Russell Crowe in Ridley Scott's Gladiator ($14.99 VHS, $29.99 DVD) and Kirk Douglas in Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus ($19.98 DVD).
The label likewise proffers a trio of war-themed dramas: Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter ($19.98 DVD), starring Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken and Meryl Streep; Oliver Stone's Born on the 4th of July, with Tom Cruise; and Lewis Milestone's 1930 "Best Picture" Oscar-winner All Quiet on the Western Front, with Lew Ayres.
Completing the package are two features sporting imaginary creatures Harvey, starring James Stewart, with its giant rabbit; and The Lost Weekend, with Ray Milland, Jane Wyman and its hallucinatory spiders ($14.98 DVD, $9.98 VHS each) along with the fact-based epic Out of Africa ($19.98 DVD, $9.98 VHS), toplining Meryl Streep and Robert Redford; and the contemporary comedy/ drama American Beauty ($19.99 DVD), with Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening.

Tele-video
Next week, Warner debuts the 25th Anniversary Edition of the pioneering all-star miniseries Roots ($59.98 VHS/DVD), digitally remastered from restored elements. The DVD edition incorporates the behind-the-scenes documentary "Remembering Roots," along with audio commentary by Executive Producer David L. Wolper, special effects expert Stan Winston, and actors Ed Asner, LeVar Burton, Cicely Tyson, John Amos, Sandy Duncan and Leslie Uggams.
Elsewhere, 20th Century Fox goes the simian route with Planet of the Apes: The Complete TV Series. The four-disc set ($49.98) contains all 13 episodes of the 1974 series starring "Planet of the Apes" movie holdover Roddy McDowall as a cerebral chimp and newcomers Ron Harper and James Naughton as stranded astronauts. The set, presented in its original full-frame format and Dolby Digital mono, also includes a previously un-aired bonus episode, "The Liberator."
For "Buffy" buffs, Fox unveils Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Complete First Season ($39.98 DVD).

Slowly but Shirley
Enduring icon Shirley Temple receives a new lease on homevideo life with 20th Century Fox's DVD debuts of three vintage Shirley showcases: 1934's Bright Eyes, co-starring James Dunn; 1936's Dimples, with Frank Morgan (of "The Wizard of Oz"); and 1937's Heidi, with Jean Hersholt. Fox adds an interesting wrinkle by including both original black-and-white and computer-colorized versions on each disc ($19.98 each).

Camp antics
Switching gears and eras, fans of vintage Russ ("Vixen") Meyer-styled action can scope out William Winckler's campy, over-the-top caper Double-D Avenger, reuniting three Meyer starlets: Kitten Natividad, known for "Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens"; the mono-monickered Haji of "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!"; and Raven De La Croix. The title is available now ($29.95 VHS, $34.95 DVD) from William Winckler Productions (818/773-3230).

Phan mail
Dear Phantom: It seems that just about all of Paul Verhoeven's movies have made it to DVD, even most of those in Dutch. Why is the gritty medieval mercenary flick Flesh + Blood, featuring Verhoeven favorite Rutger Hauer, an exception? Is it likely to make it to DVD anytime soon?
Karl, via e-mail
Originally out on the defunct Vestron Video label, that excellent epic is no longer available in any format. Hopefully, an enterprising label perhaps Anchor Bay Entertainment, which recently reissued several of Verhoeven's Dutch titles will correct that oversight soon.

Send your video comments and queries to Phantom of the Movies, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002 or e-mail us at: [email protected] And check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.


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