Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Alternative Amazon: Must Have Films

I love movies. If I had the money, I'd build a screening room in my home that would seat a dozen or so, and I'd have a film and DVD library to rank with the Library of Congress. I'd own the entire Criterion Collection, not just Straw Dogs and Gimme Shelter.

But I don't have my own private Xanadu, or a huge DVD collection. If I don't really need to own the DVD, and most times I don't, I get it from Netflix. If I need to own it, I try to get it used on or cheap on Ebay.

That said, there are many titles that have never made it to DVD, or VHS for that matter. There are a number of private collectors who are currently putting their rare and otherwise unavailable films up for sale as DVD-Rs via the internet.

This gray market is invaluable for completists like me. When I was putting together The Oliver Reed Film Festival, I scoured the internet for a copy of The Party's Over, from 1965, to no avail. I even had the poster hanging in my office, yet I'd never seen the film.

So when I came across Must Have Films, and saw that it listed The Party's Over among its titles, I had to place an order. I also picked up the non-horror Hammer flick The Crimson Blade, another early Ollie performance. The service was pretty quick, which given that MHF is located only a few hours away from Austin, was to be expected. The artwork was nicely done, even if the print quality on The Party's Over wasn't great (forgivable given the rarity of the title). However, I would suggest MHF adopt a letter-grading system for dubbing quality/image resolution. Due to the washed-out quality of the taped-from-British-TV source tape, the viewer misses at least 25% of Oliver Reed's sullen scowl, and 30% of his glowering rage.

The site deals exclusively in titles that are not commercially available, and will pull a DVD if it is announced for legitimate release. The fact is, most of these films will never be issued on DVD, so Must Have Films will continue to offer them.

Another cool site is Yammering Magpie Cinema, which deals heavily in film noir titles.

1 comment:

JM Dobies said...

Apparently, got shut down by the man, as their site no longer exists.

You know what they say: "Don't F-U-C-K with the M-P-A-A."