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Monday, April 17, 2006

Cheapnis: Meet Brentwood

(Here's another one from the vaults, updated a little. My healing wrist isn't up for much typing today, so have a re-run.)

For my Cheepnis series, I'll touch on some companies I feel are worth mentioning for various reasons. The low end DVD market can be a very confusing place, but there are some people who put out discs that I feel merit special attention.

Among genre film fans, Brentwood (now known as BCI) is truly a company people love to hate. On one hand, they offer some fantastic films (as well as a bunch of crap ones) in cheap 4, 10 or 20 packs. There's a lot of stuff you'll only find on Brentwood discs as they license a lot of stuff exclusively (or so they say) in addition to putting out public domain flix. Their product has been easy to find, and they do a fairly good job of putting a "themed" collection together, at least for the 4 packs.

The flip side is, like most cheapie DVD companies, they use whatever master they have available. This means a lot of stuff is sourced from VHS and it's not uncommon to find pan and scan TV prints on a Brentwood disc. Additionally, many people question the legality of some of their releases, but it seems like someone is questioning the legality of releases from every low budget label.

At any rate, I own a ton of Brentwoods because they offer a lot of exclusive titles and you can get them dirt cheap through Amazon. If you're in to Kung Fu or horror, you really need to check some of their titles out. If you can get past the unpredictability of the prints, you're likely to find some gems.

I should note that since I first wrote this, Brentwood has started the process of rebranding themselves as BCI and upscaling their product line. They've entered the highly profitable area of old TV shows on DVD, though they are still skewing to a more cult audience. From what I understand, the quality of these discs is in line with what you'd expect from a mainstream DVD release, albeit with a price to match.

Though I don't think Brentwood/BCI is putting out the Mega-Packs anymore, they're still very easy to find and cheap to boot. I've also noticed they're breaking up many of the 4-packs into single discs and shipping them off to the dollar bins at Family Dollar. Here's a couple of Brentwood sites that you may find helpful, if you decide to brave these sometimes murky waters:

Brentwood Media/BCI Eclipse Shrine And Database

The Unofficial Brentwood Communications 10-Movie DVD Sets Shrine and Info Center

and for the opposing viewpoint...

Braineater vs. Brentwood: or, What's Up With Those Wacky Box Sets?

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