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, and note how some even had unaired episodes. Ha-rumpf).


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