If you're a fan of a specific film genre then I'm sure you've seen those bulk packages where you can get a ridiculous number of genre-specific movies in a single box for a price that seems too good to be true. For a long time Brentwood Home Video was putting out 10 movie packs covering horror, science fiction, martial arts, action, etc. One of the biggest contenders in this market now appears to be Mill Creek Entertainment with their 50 movie sets. The first question that ran through my mind when I saw these things was, "What sort of quality are we talking about here -- cheap or not, is this worth my money?"

Tim Lucas is Editor of the long-running magazine Video Watchdog-The Perfectionist's Guide to Fantastic Video, the best periodical on the stands (in this blogger's humble opinion) to deal with genre films on video. In between issues, Lucas posts regularly to his Video Watchblog covering a wide variety of topics. His recent post "By the Gods" takes a look at roughly half the films presented in Mill Creek Entertainment's Warriors package, a smorgasbord of 50 films from the sword and sandal (or peplum) genre dating from the '50s and '60s and hailing, for the most part, from Italy. You've got your gladiators, gods, monsters, and damsels in distress all in a single box. The posting places particular emphasis on the quality of the films' presentation, with some of the author's impressive knowledge of film history peppered in. For example, here is his description of Ursus in the Land of Fire:

"Another formerly Dyaliscope pan&scan print with no panning; there are several occasions when the actor speaking is not onscreen, as the framing stares down the wall between two actors. Grainy, muted color. This movie is nevertheless delightful as a catalogue of classic Italian Golden Age locations -- the Cascate de Montegelato waterfall from Hercules, the lake from Medusa Against the Son of Hercules, etc."

Lucas says he got his money's worth just based on the twenty-four films he discusses, and having purchased Warriors myself I have to agree. None are in pristine condition, having been presumably sourced from VHS masters, but many of these gems are hard to find elsewhere. As Lucas points out, some of the films, like Hercules Against the Moon Men, have been released in far better condition by other companies, but I think Mill Creek's collection serves as a great introduction to the genre.
categories Cinematical