Season of the Witch / There’s Always Vanilla

dvd cover (image: Amazon)Preceded by the warning that “this film was transferred with the best available elements which unfortunately don’t measure up to Anchor Bay’s usually high standards” Anchor Bay set themselves up for a lot of ridicule on Amazon’s site.

There’s also a fierce debate as to whether “Season of the Witch” is anamorphic widescreen or hard-matted. Sadly, I have no idea what I’ve just written.
Nevertheless, ever since Mr Lustig left Anchor Bay and started up his own company (Blue Underground), Anchor Bay seems to have taken a tendency to release DVDs of lesser quality.

Is the Season of the Witch a major improvement on the VHS edition? Apparently not ‘major’, but don’t let a bunch of American VHS owners confuse you: in the past years I’ve only seen ONE non-US VHS tape of this film, so it’s pretty hard to track down. Also, if you don’t live in the US your VCR has to play the movie on NTSC playback (which also loses a bit of quality).

Furthermore, “Season of the Witch” is not necessarily the most important reason you’ll buy this DVD release. The DVD also features “There’s Always Vanilla”, a very rare Romero movie (which was never released before).
Now where Anchor Bay could’ve done a better job on “Season” itself, you’ll have to understand that with a movie as rare as “Vanilla” it’ll be hard to get an awesome copy. We’re now talking about a source that’s as easily available as the Turkish heroic movies Mondo Macabro has released last year.

And that’s not all: the DVD release also has a trailer for “Season of the Witch”, a different opening for “Season” (released as “Hungry Wives”), a trailer for “Hungry Wives”, the Romero episode in the AFI Directors series and a featurette called “The ‘Lost’ movies of Romero” where the director talks about his work.

So, to summarize, did we get a crispy new transfer of “Season of the Witch”? No. Did Anchor Bay somehow redeem themselves? Yes, by releasing “There’s Always Vanilla” and tons of extras they did. However, they know as well as I that this release would be purchased for the extras alone, so they probably thought they didn’t need to spend money on getting a perfect transfer for “Season of the Witch”. We’ll let this pass just this one time, okay guys? Next time… bad review!

As for the movie, if you also think that “Martin” was one of the better Romeros, check out “Season of the Witch”. It’s not as good (but still good) and a very interesting case study. And if “Season” isn’t your thing, hey, there’s always vanilla!

You should’ve known I would end with that pun.

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