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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Detective > Drama > Children > Crime > Literature > British > Australian > Superhero > Action > Gang > Enid Blyton Adventure Series (1995/TV) + The Green Hornet (1940 Serial) + The Green Hornet Strikes Again (1941 Serial) + Oz-Ploitation Volume 3 (ABC Of Love & Sex/Australia After Dark/Barry McKenzie O

Enid Blyton Adventure Series (1995) + The Green Hornet (1940 Serial) + The Green Hornet Strikes Again (1941 Serial) + Oz-Ploitation Volume 3 (ABC Of Love & Sex/Australia After Dark/Barry McKenzie On His Own/Felicity/Les Patterson Saves The World/Mad Dog Morgan/Patrick; Umbrella Entertainment/PAL Region Free/0/Zero DVD Imports)


Picture: C+ (ABC C-)     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Episodes: C+     Serials: B-     Films (see below…)



PLEASE NOTE: These DVDs sets can only be operated on machines capable of playing back DVDs that can handle Region Zero/0/Free PAL format software and can be ordered from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment at the website address provided at the end of the review.



Umbrella Entertainment has some new releases that are pretty much new for them and their market, plus another installment in a successful compilation series of classic films they previously issued.


Though a featurette seems to claim that 1995 is the first time Enid Blyton’s book were adapted, a new four-DVD set called Enid Blyton Adventure Series is actually a quality TV remake (or continuation of sorts if you will) of an exceptional series of black and white Famous Five films made in 1957 and 1964, which we were luck to get a look at from a BFI Region 2 DVD import at this link:




Five On A Treasure Island and Five With A Mystery To Solve hold up very well and like black and white Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew material, this full color TV version is as well made and memorable as Universal’s full color TV take The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries (reviewed elsewhere on this site) from the late 1970s.  This 4-DVD set includes all 8 adventures produced for this ambitious series and the money spent is still on the screen, even if some of the effects do not hold up.


Their dog Timmy has been succeeded by a parrot named Kiki for some reason, but the casting is good, the pace is fine for a children’s TV program and it is done in an intelligent enough manner that it is child-friendly and was very much worth issuing on DVD.  In the eight shows, they solve mysteries on an Island, in the Woods, in a Valley, at Sea, in a Mountain, on a Ship, at a River and at a Circus.  Like the theatrical films and the 1970s series we have not covered, why this is not readily available in the U.S. is a odd, but if a new version was made now an d was a big hit, I bet that would not be the case.


The 1.33 X 1 color image may have some aliasing errors, detail issues, some staircasing and some video noise, but they look good for their age and in this format.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 sound is simple stereo at best.  The only extra is a 45-minutes long making of featurette.


With the new 2011 Green Hornet film (in 3D too) arriving to open a new year of blockbusters, Umbrella has picked up the underrated Universal Picture movie serials The Green Hornet (1940) and The Green Hornet Strikes Again (1941), which are now owned by The Green Hornet Inc., but Universal participated in the restoration just the same.  We previously reviewed both sets when they arrived in the U.S. form VCI entertainment and you can read about them at this link:





These are the same nice transfer masters they used with Video Black slightly better, but some slight cross color in the detail that the VCI edition did not have.  Still, those who might not enjoy the 2011 comedy take on the character will be surprised how effective these serials are.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono tracks are the same too, but extras are a little different.  The Umbrella versions lack a few extras VCI has.  While both have the same restoration comparison clips and bonus episodes of the classic radio show, paper pullout essays are not included in the Umbrella editions, as well as historical piece I Am The Green Hornet from the first set and stills, trivia and Keye Luke bio from the sequel set.  They do share the same nice cover art, though Umbrella lists info on each chapter inside the paper covers you can read through the transparent plastic case.


Finally, we look at the Oz-Ploitation Volume 3 DVD set which offers films we have mostly covered before in previous Umbrella releases.  Links are included with additional information where applicable….



ABC Of Love & Sex (1977) C+  and Australia After Dark (1975) C+  are a double feature disc with two semi-erotic programs that are highlights of this set with Dark being a weak 1.33 X 1 transfer as we get to see the “dark underbelly” of erotic living Down Under around the time of the Disco era, while ABC is a campy sex education film that tried to come up with an important topic for every letter of the alphabet.  It is presented in an anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 frame.  Both have good Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono and extras including stills, poster galleries, an interview with Dark director John D. Lamont called Confessions Of An R-Rated Filmmaker trailer for ABC and four trailers for similar product on Umbrella DVD including Felicity that ties this as the best DVD in this set.


Both Barry McKenzie On His Own (1974) C-  and Les Patterson Saves The World (1987) C-  follows the very unfunny Adventures Of Barry McKenzie which is available in the following Umbrella sets:


Australian Cinema Collection, Volume One


and Oz-Ploitation, Volume One (which we covered with Volume Two)



These must be acquired tastes, because despite star Barry Humphries comic talents, these all seem one-note to me and unless you like the first one, you can skip these altogether.  Just not a fan.  The films are presented in decent, anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 color transfers that booth look good and are from restored materials, while the audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 Sound, with Own monophonic and World in stereo.  Extras on Own include 6 TV Spots, 3 Teaser Trailers, feature length audio commentary by Actor Barry Crocker, 2003 Humphries interview and 1974 documentary Barry McKenzie: Ogre or Ocker in 16mm and black & white, while World has a PDF of its script for DVD-ROMs, stills, Radio Ads, Alternate Ending, Radio Interview with “Patterson” from 1985, a featurette by Humphries on his attempts to save the world (22:58) and trailers to four other similar Umbrella DVD releases.


Felicity (1978) C+



Mad Dog Morgan (1976) C+



This is one of two films the late, great Dennis Hopper made overseas that we covered in the link above, still deserving more U.S. exposure.  Hope this happens in his honor now that he has left us.


Patrick (1978) C




It is a good set, though you can get the ones you are interested in separately in this case.  For even more on Oz-Ploitation besides the link above for the first two sets, try the documentary Not Quite Hollywood at this link:





As noted above, you can order all these PAL DVD import sets exclusively from Umbrella at:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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