An Afro with Power !

Our next set of reviews begins with a stellar treat from MVD Visual.

What We Want, What We Believe: The Black Panther Party Library is perhaps the first real effort to bring archival documents, oral histories, and vintage films from the politically-charged group to the home video market, and while the recent interviews are very much of archival quality, the whole 4-disc package is a treasure trove of info that should present a far clearer picture of who the Black Panthers were and are today.

The hair is huge, the argot is vintage, and the politics are way up front, and those curious about the BPP will find the set from AK Press and the Roz Payne Archives to be a real treat. Yup, it runs 10+ hours, but where else can one find contemporary interviews with Bobby Seale, Kathleen Cleaver, and Donald Cox, plus some of the FBI agents involved in COINTELPRO?

From Maple, there’s the latest Lions Gate effort to further the Saw franchise. The third film amps up the torture porn factor, and should please fans who felt the rated theatrical version skimped on fetid pig viscera and super-chilled skin. A little longer and nastier, the DVD’s uncut version comes with dual commentary tracks, and detailed making-of featurettes.

Saw III is also the first in our new capsule review format, which focuses on the actual film instead of the extras. Just look for the shiny happy red and yellow pill icon.

Also new to the site are occasional film reviews (denoted by a little film strip icon), which enables us to integrate supplemental film reviews covered for related DVD & CD reviews, interviews, or profiles. At the time of writing, these titles were not yet available on DVD, and we’ve had to use ye olde VHS, Betamax (oh, stop laughing), laserdisc, and broadcast airings as review sources. The first titles to be integrated into our standard A-Z DVD review index are the propaganda films Wunschkonzert (1940), and Wort und Tat / Word and Deed (1938).

Also from Maple is Crank, which proved there are people with talent who can create a visually bonkers nouveau noir entry without being pretentious. Crank is a brilliantly nuts cartoon that unabashedly indulges in violence, sexism, and music by Twisted Sister and Billy Ray Cyrus in a wholly appropriate manor.


Film fans will probably recall the 1950 version of D.O.A. that nicely milked the concept of a poisoned man running through a city in search of his killer while his biological clock runs at hyper-speed, but another variation from the boob tube comes to mind: Strange World.

This 1999 show offered a really neat spin, and was co-created by Tim Kring, the genius behind one of the best shows on network TV right now: Heroes. Kring and co-creator Howard Gordon (co-executive producer of TV’s 24) tweaked the concept so that Our Hero, played by Tim Guinee, was always near death’s door until a stranger left a vile of medicine to keep him alive a little bit longer. Each act of servitude was rewarded by a dose of life. Guinee’s hot girlfriend was trying to find the medicine’s makeup when the show was turffed by the ABC network.

These plot basics are all from memory, as the show was given a good dose of advance promotion before it died after 3 episodes. Apparently a version of the show was resuscitated in 2002 for the Sci-Fi Channel for about a year, but it’s another example of a clever series stomped out before it had a chance to grow. Maybe with Kring’s Heroes passing the sleeper hit series mark, Strange World might get a new life on DVD.

Of course, I could go on with other favourite dead series deserving their own DVD set – the limited show Maximum Bob that vastly improved upon Elmore Leonard’s large print novel, the wry and dry Orleans, John Herzfeld’s The Fifth Corner, UPN’s seminal episodic series Live Shot, the cult favourite Max Headroom (which did get a laserdisc release in Japan, with isolated music & effects tracks) – but then we’d be getting into a rant.

Anyhoo, with a month of titles packed under the desk, check in regularly for more reviews, and several new interviews (and while I’m still a few feet away from a rant, you can check the aforementioned network casualties at www.epguides.com, and note how some even had unaired episodes. Ha-rumpf).


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Blacch! If you haven’t had a cold or flu in a long, long time, it’s easy to fall prey to the vain assumption that a special invisible shield is protecting your vessel, and no virus can possibly infiltrate your well-run system.

Well, the same holds true when a few years go by, and one’s anti-virus software and firewall have either kept marauding demons away, or caught infiltrators before they could enact any serious system damage.

First rule: never become heady, complacent, or self-assure.

Second rule: back up files on an independent format regularly

Third rule: do NOT click on the smiley face .exe file TWICE, and become a class A dope.

We’re now starting to upload the bulk of articles that have been idling on the hard drive for almost a month because four ugly Trojans – the evil Bagel branch – devastated the main computer that held, well, everything.

The first pair of reviews are up – Wendy O Williams and the Plasmatics, and The Wreck of the Mary Deare – and each day we’re gonna plop another handful until we’re up to speed again, along with three interviews that were held hostage by the Bagel quartet.

For the benefit of those curious or perhaps suffering from the same evil, here are some pointers:

1) if a software patch or plug-in is available gratis from the author or manufacturer’s site, don’t get it elsewhere, particularly if the file size is bigger than what’s available from its actual creator. Bigger means a potentially malevolent strain of cyber-DNA that waiting to hurt your computer

2) if you suddenly discover your antivirus software won’t load or displays an error message, you may have the sneakiest version of Bagel. Here’s what this non-poppy seed Bagel does:

- it knocks out your resident antivirus software
- it prevents the re-installation of the software and installation of any new software by corrupting the installation process as it nears completion
- it places an entry in your boot.ini file preventing you from rebooting in Windows Safe Mode
- it hijacks the browser by immediately loading it after a reboot, and forces it to go to a diverse array of junk sites mostly in Germany and the Czech Republic

In terms of your data, it seems to attack just the system files, and not your personal data (which you can still save before you decide to reinstall the whole operating system (as we did, over an entire week, due to software and antivirus re-runs for added safety and redundancy) or begin a Google search.

Type in the symptoms your system is experiencing, any error messages when the antivirus software fails, or the names of those sites you’re being hijacked to, and some primary tips should pop up from various sources.

We found info at the following links




but there’s a major caveat we gotta impart: some help posts will name other antivirus software that might fix your problem, and you’ll note you’ve never heard of them before. Some offer free scaled-down versions and might find one facet of the infected files or infiltrators, but the results may not help. Some of these companies you may not recognize, and your radar should go up if you notice they don’t offer precise steps to fix a problem, or offer to scan but don’t really describe what you have. In the latter case, they take the hopeful one (you) through various hoops and laborious scans that will either find a problem but not offer the ability to address it, or they will end the scan on a subscription page for further assistance. Worse, some may force a Yahoo toolbar into your browser, as some online scanners mandate the use of ActiveX. HomeSite’s online scanner is safe, but others tend to take advantage of those with infected machines.

Lastly, the main problem often lies in the registry, and while even a handful of programs might find one or two traces of the virus, the registry entries will ensure it will re-propagate after a reboot, so any changes to the registry should be made with great care.

And lastly, if you have XP, do not manually force the computer to reboot in Safe Mode, because the virus prevents it from following through the boot stages and running in Safe Mode. All that happens is your computer gets stuck in a perpetual reboot, and you can’t return to your desktop. Without Administrative privileges or the exact password, you’re screwed. If you attempt an XP reinstall or repair, it has a good chance of failing because that manual by-pass still stands, and the reinstall can’t complete because the system is still being forced to boot in Safe Mode courtesy of your manual fiddling; XP can’t install or re-install in Safe Mode, so, well, you’re screwed.

If you use XP, and your hard drive was formatted in NTFS, Windows 98 (either FAT16 or FAT32) will NOT see that drive, so you can only retrieve data using a system with NTFS. Our decision was to buy another hard drive and reinstall everything, as our decision to force a Safe Mode reboot made it impossible to access the damaged operating system.

We hope the above info will help others who have succumbed to the ills of the smiley face Bagel, and wish them luck, because boy, you’re gonna need it!

Coming next: A 4-disc doc on the Black Panthers, Crank, Saw III, and more!

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