Quality question on Alpha releases

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Mark To, Sep 20, 2004.

  1. Mark To

    Mark To Supporting Actor

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    Has anyone picked up any of their releases? I'm just wondering what they look like, what sources they use, etc. I see they are putting out a bunch of One Step Beyond titles and I'm wondering if their stuff tends to be off 16mm prints or do they just use whatever copies are available to them, VHS, or whatever.
     
  2. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    I have tons of Alpha releases, Mark - and it's all a roll of the dice. Some are taken straight from 16mm films, with splices and dialog jumps. Others are very nice looking and possibly "borrowed" from other sources (their MOST DANGEROUS GAME looks nice and curiously very much like the Criterion release). Some are taken from tape sources. You'd do best to ask about specific titles. Still, the price is cheap and if you cannot find a certain title in any other form, it's sensible to go with the Alpha.
     
  3. Bert Greene

    Bert Greene Second Unit

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    Alpha does seem to utilize a mish-mash of sources. I pick up a lot of their discs anyway, because they are cheap and offer a variety of fun but junky material that has long disappeared from tv-listings. As for their tv-show releases, the print quality has mostly been below-par. Their first "One Step Beyond" volume was pretty decent, as I recall. Also, their first two volumes of "Ramar of the Jungle" are of (surprisingly) excellent print quality.
     
  4. Henry V

    Henry V Stunt Coordinator

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    Joe, are there any other Alpha titles that you can recommend as having a good looking image? I bought "The Red House" and was very disappointed by the picture quality and have been reluctant to buy their product ever since, though you're correct in that they have many titles that you just can't get anywhere else.
     
  5. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    Henry, I've bought so many that I can't recall offhand. Also, I don't really know your tastes and preferences. I'm into a lot of the older horror material, so I found 1933's THE VAMPIRE BAT (as one example) to be the most workable quality I've seen for that film (it's pretty rough no matter where you find it). I also liked Alpha's THE MANSTER better than the more expensive Retromedia version. The best thing to do would be to bring up a title you're interested in buying, and maybe I or someone else who already has it can let you know.

    Being a Bela Lugosi fan, I've found some of their Lugosi titles to be lacking in comparison to other versions (especially ROAN's). Roan's version of THE HUMAN MONSTER (aka DARK EYES OF LONDON) is much better than Alpha's, for instance. Likewise, the Triton Triple Feature ("Bela Lugosi Collection Vol. 2") includes the best version of THE APE MAN I've seen. Alpha's APE MAN was dark.
     
  6. Henry V

    Henry V Stunt Coordinator

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    Joe thanks for the info on "The Vampire Bat", I already have a poor copy from another PD seller but I'll give the Alpha DVD a look since you've recommended it. Like yourself, I love classic B&W horror films and will be purchasing the silent version of "The Bat" that Alpha has just released since it's likely to be the only version available on DVD.
     
  7. James Landau

    James Landau Stunt Coordinator

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    I think I've only got one Alpha release and I wasn't very impressed with the picture quality. The luminance was too high (the whites were blooming) and there was very little contrast.

    But I too would like to know what their One Step Beyond titles are like. I picked up the VCI set last year because they said they were complete, being digitally restored, etc. Wound up being very disappointed. The picture quality was less than I was expecting (although considerably better than the SlingShot disc), VCI had superimposed the title of each episode over the video and, worst of all, they had replaced the opening credits. A couple episodes had the original Alcoa credits. The rest were, I assume, syndication prints. But instead of using the syndication credits, VCI replaced them with a 5-second ad-break bumper.

    Any idea who owns the original prints? I really wish whichever studio has the original negatives in their vaults would do a proper release. These public domain releases really leave a lot to be desired.
     
  8. Bert Greene

    Bert Greene Second Unit

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    A few more notes: The "Jack Benny" vol. 1 looks rather nice (4 episodes - 2 kinescopes/2 film). On the other hand, "Racket Squad" and "Decoy" volumes are pretty bad, unfortunately. The "Topper" prints are extremely grainy. The two "Dragnet" volumes are just fair, varying from episode to episode. The "Roy Rogers Show" volume is nice-looking. Volume 3 of "Ramar" is considerably weaker than the first two, printwise (although the 2nd-season 'India' episodes seem an improvement, entertainment-wise).

    Alpha does seem to have a heavy line-up of tv items in its next scheduled batches (many more than usual). Besides those aforementioned "One Step Beyond" volumes, I also see releases devoted to "Red Skelton," "Wagon Train," and "The Dennis O'Keefe Show," among others, on their website. Alpha's public domain oddities are a mixed bag at best, but at least they offer some diversions while awaiting fancy, legit dvd-sets of vintage material.
     
  9. Bert Greene

    Bert Greene Second Unit

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    For those so inclined, Alpha seems to really be cranking out yet more old-time (and public domain) tv oddities. Slated for upcoming release, according to a quick visit to their website, are volumes devoted to "Passport to Danger" (spy-adventure series with Cesar Romero), "Federal Men" (syndicated title for T-Men in Action), "Dangerous Assignment," "Lock Up," "Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion," "Gang Busters," "Secret File USA," plus additional volumes of "Racket Squad," "Jack Benny," "Topper" and such. I anticipate making a good-sized order.

    I know, I know. Alpha can be pretty scattershot on print quality (indeed, they should be horse-whipped for some of their releases; take a look at their copy of the b-western "Spook Town" ... jaw-droppingly bad). Videophiles seeking perfection might want to steer clear, or their heads may explode. But, nonetheless, I'm certainly glad Alpha (and "Critic's Choice" too) is out there, offering a smattering glimpse of 50s-TV beyond the usual handful of warhorses. And, quite cheaply, too. I've enjoyed a good number of their releases, particularly the volumes of "Dragnet" and "Mr. & Mrs. North." So, I do hope they keep this trend going.
     
  10. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

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    Media Play usually had a very large bin devoted to alpha releases unfortunately I hate wading thru bins. DVD Empire usually also has very good prices.

    Wagon Train Deserves Better
     

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