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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Adventure > Science Fiction > Western > Serial > Roan Group Serial Box (Flash Gordon/Tarzan/Zorro/Cmdr. Cody)

The Roan Group Serial Box


Picture: C     Sound: C     Extras: C-     Serials B-



The Roan Group goes out of their way to put out interesting titles, and that includes Serials.  They even have a couple that have gone out of print, but The Roan Group Serial Box has four name chapter-plays still available, though they are not the only company putting them out there.  Where we have previously reviewed the titles, we will not recap, but give comparison information.


Flash Gordon Conquers The Universe (1940) sets a record for us on this site by being covered in a third DVD version.  I covered the copies included in Passport’s decent box on this third and last Gordon serial, while Ron Von Burg covered the VCI special edition set.  It is the best of the four in this set and the picture and sound are on par with the other releases, including a few from other companies.  Ming The Merciless is back and Buster Crabbe as Flash is out to stop him.


The New Adventures Of Tarzan (1935) was also issued in a Passport box for Tarzan with other materials reviewed elsewhere on the site.  This version is a tad better than that one, but not by much, because the material is so old.  Who knows where the negative to this one is.  Further explanation is on the Passport box review, but this is the Herman Brix version where his “Tarzan Yell” ends up sounding more like a yodel.


Radar Men From The Moon (1951) has also been issued before, including in a no longer available copy from the former Whirlwind DVD label.  This is a bit softer than expected and is the first of two Commander Cody serials before the character when to TV.  You have no doubt seen the footage surface as stock footage and/or a video clip somewhere.  Consider if you have ever seen an earlier version of The Rocketeer.  Though the era of the Serial was eclipsing, this is one of the last that was made and remembered.  Clayton Moore of Lone Ranger fame also stars as robots and bad guys abound.


Zorro’s Fighting Legion (1937) was also issued by VCI as part of their Cliffhanger Collection reviewed elsewhere on this site.  This is the first and best of the three Republic made on the character, though there was a female Zorro by the third chapterplay.  As compared to the recent Zorro sequel with Antonio Banderas, this is still more entertaining.


The 1.33 X 1 image in all four cases is average at best, even though the source material is usually not bad for its age.  Quality can vary from chapter to chapter within one of them, and all but Radar Men are 2004-issue DVDs.  Radar Men is from 2000.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is not bad, especially considering than Roan used to do lesser 1.0 Dolby Mono before Troma took over the company.  That is an improvement, but the sound is still average, but yet in both performance aspects, competing versions from other DVD companies are not any better.  Therefore, you could get this set and expect mix performance throughout.  Extras include text on all four titles, with Tarzan also offering a Vincent Sherman interview and some text on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ evergreen character.


The shell it comes in is also fun, aspiring to spoof breakfast cereal boxes.  Troma has a good sense of humor and this is a good set for fans and those who have never seen these characters in action early on.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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