Cartoon Crazys Christmas
WinStar Catalog WHE73017DVD
Released: November 24, 1998
Running Time: approx. 100 minutes
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround/Stereo
Color and B&W
No region coding
Standard "Cartoon Crazys" Review:
The "Cartoon Crazys" series of DVDs are collections of public domain cartoons similar to those ultra-cheap videos you often find in stores. The difference is that these are DVDs, and therefore are supposed to look and sound much better...
The picture quality of these cartoons is in fact pretty good considering that they are all public domain, and that the film prints have been around for decades. They would certainly look better if they were released by their current owners, but since most of them have not, this is the only way to see them on DVD. Any original title sequences that reveal the logo of another company (WB, MGM, Paramount) edits or blacks out those logos. In the case of Blue-Ribbon Merrie Melodies and some other cartoons, a fake video title card is created. But it's not the picture that makes these discs losers, it's the audio quality. These cartoons were made around 60 years ago, when all films had mono sound. The people at WinStar who produced this disc felt that mono sound isn't good enough for a high-quality format like DVD, so they altered the sound for each cartoon into stereo surround sound. Normally this wouldn't be such a bad thing if the original soundtrack recordings were used; DVDs of old movies like Gone with the Wind have been remixed for surround sound and they sound pretty good. But because these cartoons are public domain, the original soundtrack recordings are not available. The people at WinStar took the original mono sound and ran it through various devices which created a fake surround sound. They then recorded new sound effects and placed them into this fake sound mix, covering up the original sound effects. The new effects sound terribly fake compared to the original sounds, and the entire soundtrack often sounds as if it's emanating from a deep cave. Simply put, this modification of the original soundtrack is hideous. But it wouldn't even bother me so much if they had only included the original mono soundtrack as an alternate audio channel, which they obviously couldn't be bothered to do.
Each "Cartoon Crazys" DVD includes a preview of other volumes in the series, and a laughable "Cartoon Restoration Demo" that makes it look like they actually put some effort into making these cartoons look better. In reality they seem to be comparing the decent prints that they used on the disc to ugly, faded prints that other companies use for public domain compilations. Also included is a "Feel the Sound" demonstration, which helps to show just how awful the soundtrack mutilation really is. Most volumes also include a summary and a history of each cartoon.
The only reason anyone would want to own a "Cartoon Crazys" disc is if they are desperate to see some of these cartoons on DVD, or if there are certain cartoons on the disc that they have never seen before and cannot be found anywhere else. Otherwise, I strongly suggest that you avoid these discs and wait for someone else to release them on DVD with a little more respect.
Comments on the contents of this DVD:
I'm giving this DVD two stars because, even though the usual soundtrack mutilation occurs, many of these cartoons are pretty rare and were brand-new to me. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is a great cartoon made by Max Fleischer after Paramount booted him out of his own studio. "Hector's Hectic Life" and "Tarts and Flowers" (with Little Audrey) are two Famous Studios cartoons directed by legendary Disney animator Bill Tytla. "Santa's Surprise", another Famous Studios Little Audrey cartoon, contains more than a few racial and ethnic stereotypes. Max Fleischer's Color Classic "Hawaiian Birds" uses his famous turntable camera "3-D" process. "Snow Foolin' " is one of the Famous Studios Screen Songs cartoons, featuring a sing-along to Jingle Bells. "The Shanty Where Santy Claus Lives" is a B&W Merrie Melodie from the Harman-Ising period of WB cartoons. Three of these cartoons (the two by Van Beuren and the one Animaland cartoon) look and sound much better on their respective DVD compilations. And unfortunately, "Christmas Comes But Once a Year" uses a fake video title card. If it weren't for the awful soundtrack, I would highly recommend this DVD.
"Rudolph the Red-Nosed
"The Shanty Where
Santy Claus Lives"