Two things brought about this most recent article. First, a e-mail from VSoM (more later if you don't know who they are). Second, a sighting at BB of a box set of the 5 Tales of Voodoo DVDs. DVDs that I've heard nothing but terrible things about. We're talking DVDs reported to have VHS glitches, and not just tracking issues, but moments where the video goes to blue screen! Never one to let the opportunity for a good rant go to waste I set to typing. .
As long time readers of this blog know from articles like Perils of Collector's Video: Anatomy of a Bad Dub there is a gray area between legitimate DVD releases and bootlegs. For most consumers if it's a DVD, as opposed to an DVDr, and stocked in a brick and mortar store then it's a legit release. But just as there are gray areas so, too, are their shady releases. Budget label multi movies sets are cheap, but in many instances their "PD" titles are sourced from poor quality sources. Thus the real question is, or should be, To buy or not to buy?
As I point out in the latter article linked to above there are pros and cons to PD (Public Domain) releases. The main con being these PD titles, while they can often be freely accessed online, sadly aren't available in the best of quality. The pro being that if you want really good archival copies of a movie then buying a commercial DVD would seem to be the way to go. But not all DVDs are created equal. Some budget labels seem to have no quality control or oversight, thus what you may end up with could be video worse looking than what could be downloaded for free. It's a real crap shoot. (See the article Budget Label Bargain Bin DVDs: Bane or Boon? for examples.)
Alas the rules of the game keep changing. Once upon a time if you printed your own book it was viewed as an vanity publication and, sadly, in all likelihood next to no distributor would ever list it. Now small press publications are virtually the norm, with some books sold almost exclusively in PDF format with a POD option. But self-publishing is no longer limited merely to books. Some independent directors and even actors sell their movies direct, on DVDr, if you know where to look.
Are these movies any less "legit" because they are on a DVDr instead of an DVD? Some would say yes. But how can that be when they are being sold by the director or actors who starred in the films?
Consider: Recently I received an email news update from Video Search of Miami- actually I started receiving these a month or three ago after VSoM was sold- that states, in short, that they're in business to "preserve great films" and that "We have a subtitler, Anthony, helping up <sic> bring us Italian films that have never had English subtitles!"
Anime fansubs have existed for years. In fact there used to be, may still be, an entire subculture that traded dubs of fan subs. Yet, and I have to admit I never really thought about it, no one seems to have given foreign cinema the same attention or loving care. Sure there's always been vendors selling "collector's video" but did any ever offer subtitled dubs made in house? That's not to say fansubs of foreign cinema didn't exist but the only one I can think of was a Nth generation dub that was a headache inducing eyesore to watch. Besides no one seems to have wanted them.
I'm not sure what it says that people are more willing to sit through an animation with subtitles than a movie, yet it's true. There are people out there who wont go near studio releases of foreign language imports if they don't have an English language track. I've even read online reviews in which a DVD is slammed not for lack of quality or because a movie sucked but solely because the movie was subtitled.
Yet here we have an vendor of "collector's video" announcing they're preparing to subtitle certain titles in their catalog. Now the cynical out there may be thinking that there is no "Anthony" and all the vendor is doing is Googling for subtitles and re-authoring the DVDr to include them. Maybe there is no Anthony and maybe we didn't really land a man on the moon, but all I can tell you is what I know. And what I know is I received that bit of information in the latest e-mail update. Previously an update went out asking *gasp* for input about the site. I sent some and *gasp* got a response actually *gasp gasp* thanking me.
Since then the current owner of VSoM has added a link to this blog (though he forgot to put in the "CRYPT" portion of the blog name) on his front page. Awfully nice of the chap, eh?
I know you cynical types are probably thinking it's all part of a ploy to get me to give the full URL: www dot VSOM dot com to get people to visit the site and spend money. You're adults. Do what you want. The site (VSOM) does have synopsis of all the movies in their massive catalog. Might be fun to compare VSoM synopsis with IMDB, or not. Do with the information what you will.
But if you do buy something, or are a current member who buys movies, let us know what you think. What were the movies you bought? How was the video quality? How has VSoM changed since the business changed hands? What about the media? Any issues or concerns? As always. .