video monthly a guide to the best new releases

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The Independent Culture
You can tell that Christmas is coming by the sudden onslaught of box sets and triple-packs and limited editions hitting the shops. Already bought the Star Wars trilogy three times over? Never mind, here comes the wide-screen, digitally remastered version.

The Reservoir Dogs box-sets, however, you may not have anticipated. Not only does the film make its retail debut this month, it is being released only in two box-set formats, which is a bit cheeky. Even though devoted fans of the movie will have picked it up from some market stall or other long before it got a video rating, those obsessive types are PolyGram's ideal audience.

To give them credit, they have gone out of their way to devise some pretty unusual marketing ploys. As the trade monthly Timecode has pointed out, there would have been little point packaging the video with a screenplay or T-shirt because any Reservoir Dogs fan worth their salt would have bought those long ago. So, instead, the release takes the following forms: firstly, a collector's edition (of 50,000 copies) which, for around pounds 25, will get you the film plus a few car stickers and badges, a pen and a copy of Joe Cabot's Little Black Book thrown in. Then there is Mr Blonde's de luxe edition (running to 10,000 copies), which has a juicier incentive in the shape of a "Making of" documentary video filmed by Tarantino on the set. For your pounds 50, you also get sunglasses, an imitation Zippo lighter, hair grease, comb, dog-tags, a toothpick-holder... it's beginning to make Red Dwarf fans seem fascinating, isn't it? Should you need to unload your cash on these extravagances, you can do so from 13 November.

If, however, you have less money to burn, and more interesting relatives to buy for, there's a lot of quality retail videos on the shelves right now. Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas (Buena Vista, pounds 14.99) makes both its rental and retail debut on 13 November. It's a dark, unsettling and funny fairy-tale for (older) children and adults, told in stop-motion and computerised animation. And the fact that Burton recycles his usual plot (sensitive misunderstood misfit rails against a world that has no place for him) matters not - few movie fantasies for children or adults can match his imagination and energy.

If you must indulge in a box-set, the Wayne's World double-pack is a safe bet (CIC, pounds 15.99). And give David Lynch's Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (Electric, pounds 15.99) the benefit of your reappraisal - it now looks almost like a competent (if not coherent) modern horror. Also worth your dosh: Fassbinder's aching Fox and His Friends (Connoisseur, pounds 15.99); the hitherto unavailable Witchfinder General (Redemption, pounds 15.99); and the equally horrifying chat-show host Alan Partidge (played by Steve Coogan) available to haunt your living room like a vampire on Knowing Me, Knowing You 1 & 2 (BBC, pounds 10.99 each).