If I were a cynic (who, me?!) I'd probably insult the notion of selling the exact same product in 3 limited boxes with varying covers, but hell, the fact that each cover is limited to 66 - 333 pieces each means they're probably only pressing a thousand copies of anything at one time. If you can't sell out with numbers like that at 20 Euros, you're doing something wrong!
With covers like this, who needs English dubbing?
One of those offshoots is such a racket they're literally producing empty hardboxes. I swear, for ten euros you can get the French one-sheet of The Evil Dead on a sturdy case with no specifics for the disc specs and put your favorite DVD and/or Blu-ray copy in yourself. That's how crazy Germans are for these goddamn things. Imagine if Blue Underground charged you $15 for an alternate cover of The Nesting - the entire American market would shit themselves laughing and then never mention it again.
They've been slowly embracing Blu-ray by way of combo packs, and it seems they're finally ready to go whole-hog with High Def releases either later this year or early the next... details are sparse, but we know the titles lined up are as follows, with films of particular note in bold:
EIN ZOMBIE HING AM GLOCKENSEIL (City of the Living Dead)
PROFONDO ROSSO (Deep Red)
WOODOO (Zombi 2)
DER NEW YORK RIPPER
GEISTERSTADT DER ZOMBIES (The Beyond)
SADO (Buio Omega: Beyond the Darkness)
MUTTERTAG (Mother's Day)
DAS HAUS AN DER FRIEDHOFMAUER (The House by the Cemetery)
I have little doubt that all of these titles will be using the same materials offered to Arrow Video, Media Blasters and Blue Underground. The question is will these films end up with better transfers in the hands of XT Video? The Arrow BD for Phenomena is rife with DVNR, both releases of The Beyond can be described as unimpressive (with the initial release bordering on "fucking unwatchable"), and while the French transfer of Tenebrae was very nice indeed, the Arrow BD was... well, let's just call it 'less so' and move on. Though I suspect that in all instances Arrow was handed less than ideal materials to start with, it'll be very interesting to see if any of them improve in the hands of a label that may have a better understanding of what to do with less than stellar materials. Heck, Blue Underground encoded circles around Arrow Video with Deep Red, despite the US transfer having a 25% lower bitrate!
Go ahead. Try and tell me you don't need that as a poster.
"Sado" is, of course, Buio Omega/Beyond the Darkness, a title that Media Blasters fucked up the presentation of quite spectacularly. I honestly don'texpect the Germanic release to be properly framed, or have the missing sequence restored, but if they do both they've got one guaranteed order from me. Buio Omega seems to have been quite popular in and around Germany, so I can only hope they pull out all of the stops for it.
It's 3D. No glasses required!
The New York Ripper is a more... complex situation. The Blue Underground release is actually pretty damned good - I suspect it's a bit noisier and higher-contrast than it really should be, but it's likely the best looking transfer BU has minted for a Euro Horror release in the last 3 years. The issue is that there's a 15 second sequence (detailed HERE) that was missing from the Blu-ray. As this site shows, German dubbed prints were missing the scene, and while it was present on the Anchor Bay DVD from 1999, it was in a completely different spot in the film. This all leads me to assume that the scene itself is some kind of outtake, and with that in mind I don't consider the release "Cut" in the traditional sense. Anyway, the UK release on the Shameless label does include that scene, but it also removes what may be the film's single most infamous sequence to earn a BBFC approved "18" certificate, so I flatly refuse to import a release for 15 seconds of "guy looks over his shoulder" when it, in turn, is missing 20 seconds of "a whore's boob meeting a razor blade". The audio is all there, but they covered the footage up with cut-aways.
Of course, this begs a lot of questions; Will they be region locked? Will the English credit sequences be replaced with the more familiar German titles? Will there be English dialog provided at all? If a scene wasn't dubbed in German, will it be cut and shuffled off to the extras as a "Deleted Scene"? Will bonus features be presented in PAL? Could XT Video produce even worse transfers than Arrow Video?
And before you scoff at the notion, don't forget that X-Rated started this push to putting packaging and title recognition over absolute product quality. X-Rated were the guys who released VHS quality transfers of Caligula 2 and Female Vampire on DVD, uncut or not. Bethmann and his company would also regularly overlay ridiculous video-generated title cards seemingly just to fuck with people. No, seriously. I can find no other explanation for why the title for the X-Rated Kult Torso DVD looks like this:
...goddamn it, Bethmann...
(What's sad is they were STILL better than Mya!)
(What's sad is they were STILL better than Mya!)
But anyway, a little healthy competition can only help keep Blue Underground, Media Blasters and Arrow Video on their toes. It's just too bad that pretty much everything they've announced has already been released by the three of them. If these released don't at least meet the quality of the transfers already kicking around, then the only real advantage they'll have is for those who speak German. Well, and those who love them some hardboxes and mediabooks and digipacks and whatever else Germany's grooving on these days, packaging-wise...
Really? Germans actually buy these butt-ugly things?
Waitasecond, fucking Mothers Day too? Well, good for them I guess, but it looks kinda weird shoe-horned in between that much Fulci and Argento.
UPDATE: A dashing young Anonymous has informed me by way of the comments section that NSM Records is running XT Video, not X-Rated Kult! As such, the piece has been updated, but most of the points I've made remain valid enough that I'm keeping them.
That said, NSM re-released several X-Rated titles (like TORSO, PUPPET MASTER 3: TOULON'S REVENGE and ANTHROPOPHAGOUS). They've also re-released a number of shitty Laser Paradise "Red Edition" DVDs in hardboxes too though, so odds are any "former" X-Rated titles being in their catalog are mostly coincidental.