I have recently taken an interest in films made for TV, especially adaptations of classic horror stories. I have ordered the three Limited Edition “BBC Learning Special Interest” titles released on Region 2 DVD so far, but have yet to receive them: THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (1968; starring Peter Cushing and Nigel Stock), the John Osborne-scripted THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY (1976; starring Sir John Gielgud, Jeremy Brett and Peter Firth) and COUNT DRACULA (1977; starring Louis Jourdan and Frank Finlay). Other well-known TV films available on Region 1 DVD are 2 Double-Feature discs: MPI’s DRACULA (1973)/THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1968), both starring Jack Palance, and Anchor Bay’s THE NIGHT STALKER (1971)/THE NIGHT STRANGLER (1972), both with Darren McGavin and Simon Oakland. Coincidentally, MPI will be reissuing the two Jack Palance shows on separate discs next August, although it is not yet clear whether they will be any different from the present release. MPI has also released several DARK SHADOWS compilation DVDs and has just recently launched its first two 4-Disc Sets of this legendary, long-running horror show. Having said this, I do not intend to start buying TV series on DVD as I feel they would take too much of my time and money, not to mention an awful lot of space in my collection!! On Region 2, there is Nigel Kneale’s THE STONE TAPE (1972) and WHISTLE AND I’LL COME TO YOU (1968), both released by the BFI. I have never watched any of these: in fact, I was not even born when the majority of these were made and shown on TV, but browsing the internet for reviews of these films and their respective DVDs, I have found nothing but praise and this is what has drawn me to them, apart from being of course horror films, which is my favorite genre. Actually, some have gone so far as to claim that THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE is the second best adaptation of the novel after the magnificent 1931 version with Fredric March, while the BBC’s COUNT DRACULA has been called THE finest version – high praise indeed when considering the undisputed artistic value of both the 1922 and 1979 versions of NOSFERATU, the 1931 English and Spanish-language versions of DRACULA, and Hammer’s 1958 remake starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee! – so I guess I will have to decide for myself when I watch the DVD. Where the DVDs mentioned above disappoint is in the extras department: the BBC titles apparently only carry a few pages of text, albeit being quite thorough; the Jack Palance double-feature disc only contains a couple of interviews, while the Anchor Bay disc is bare-bones; THE STONE TAPE is perhaps the most satisfactory in this regard, including an Audio Commentary featuring writer Nigel Kneale in conversation with British film critic Kim Newman, as well as two complete screenplays written by Kneale, one for THE STONE TAPE itself and THE ROAD (1963) whose show, apparently, is no longer extant! Still, the WHISTLE AND I’LL COME TO YOU DVD features an introduction by Ramsey Campbell, who also reads M.R. James’ original story as well as one of his own, “The Guide”. On the non-horror front, the BFI has also released DELIUS: SONG OF SUMMER (1968) which includes a full-length Audio Commentary by its eccentric writer-director Ken Russell. Forthcoming BFI titles include Russell’s ELGAR (1962); Peter Watkins’ CULLODEN (1964) and the celebrated and controversial THE WAR GAME (1965); Ken Loach’s CATHY COME HOME (1965); the famous “revisionist” all-star adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND (1967) with Peter Cook, Finlay Currie, Sir John Gielgud, Michael Gough, Leo McKern, Sir Michael Redgrave and Peter Sellers; another Nigel Kneale show THE YEAR OF THE SEX OLYMPICS (1968); and M.R. James’ A WARNING TO THE CURIOUS (1972). If done right, they should prove interesting as well. The Mausoleum Club website (http://www.the-mausoleum-club.org.uk) is an excellent site listing the existing BBC TV films. While most of these are pretty obscure for me, there are some shows I would like to watch and have on DVD: Nigel Kneale’s QUATERMASS trilogy (1953-1958); George Orwell’s 1984 (1954) starring Peter Cushing; the star-making HAMLET AT ELSINORE (1964) with Christopher Plummer, Robert Shaw and Michael Caine; DOOMWATCH (1970-72); three more M.R. James adaptations: THE STALLS OF BARCHESTER (1971), LOST HEARTS (1973) and THE TREASURE OF ABBOT THOMAS (1974); John Wyndham’s THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS (1981); THE NIGHTMARE MAN (1981); as well as the remaining Sherlock Holmes episodes starring Peter Cushing. I would also love to see ITV’s adaptation of the M.R. James classic, CASTING THE RUNES (1968), which I hoped could have made it onto Columbia’s forthcoming Region 1 DVD of CURSE OF THE DEMON, the 1957 film version directed by Jacques Tourneur – but so far, very few details have been divulged about this release. There is another famous TV adaptation of another perennial horror favorite, FRANKENSTEIN: THE TRUE STORY (1973), directed by Jack Smight and co-written by Christopher Isherwood. It features an all-star cast including James Mason, Sir John Gielgud, Sir Ralph Richardson, David MacCallum, Agnes Moorehead, and in the principal roles, Leonard Whiting as Victor Frankenstein and Michael Sarrazin as The Creature. I think Universal owns the home video rights for this film; seeing that all these classic horror TV films have already made it to DVD, I guess it is only a matter of time before FRANKENSTEIN: THE TRUE STORY is released as well, hopefully in its full-length version of 200 minutes. All in all, not being a fan of TV movies, these great DVDs seem to have restored my faith in the medium somewhat and I hope more gems from the past are brought back to entertain us in the coming months and years!