Wednesday, November 20, 2013

International Disney VHS Tapes

No Diamonds Across The Atlantic

In the UK, the Walt Disney Classics logo was never used for preceding the feature presentation of Disney's animated classics on video. The 1984 logo? Nope. The 1988 one? Nada… Same goes for pretty much all European tapes.

But wait, it did appear a couple of times!

For some reason, a few tapes released in 1992 containing a preview for The Great Mouse Detective (always titled Basil the Great Mouse Detective in the UK) use the 1992 distorted version of the Classics logo as an introduction to the preview…

Choppy Editing

While North American VHS tapes had their fair share of video editing errors, the overseas releases had some as well…

The 1992 UK VHS of The Rescuers Down Under has this little error…

Yeah, no time to breathe in the last couple seconds of Bruce Broughton's score and the sounds of the Australian wilderness. Plus, the way the WDHV logo fades in, it sounds like it's not playing at the right speed and it's being sped up to the correct speed!

Interesting to note that the Mouse Detective trailer being used is a slightly different version of the one used on the initial North American One Hundred and One Dalmatians and The Rescuers VHS releases.

Some other cool examples of inconsistent editing come from a few Argentine Disney VHS releases. In that country, they were co-distributed by Gativideo, much like how Disney VHS releases were co-distributed by Village Roadshow in Australia.

Whoa, talk about abrupt! That trailer just jumps right to the Walt Disney Home Video logo. And other releases from the era in this country do this too.

And here's another abrupt transition (it's after the Fantasia trailer) to the WDHV logo from a 1991 Finnish Disney VHS release

Get The Right Tapes

While warning screens were used on foreign tapes, some countries - notably the UK and Italy - used a screen that showed the video cover artwork and the shiny film camera sticker on the side, plus the Univideo (depending on the country) sticker to guarantee that's the official quality product.

This late 1990s advert for example, from the Hercules VHS…

Prior to that full one, this was used for tapes…

I guess bootlegged and horrible quality VHS tapes were a common thing in Europe, more so than in North America.

Also, what's with some UK tapes using a sped-up version of the Walt Disney Home Video logo? Especially when the tapes also use the normal speed one simultaneously? Other good examples are the VHS releases of The Jungle Book and Bambi.

I know of the PAL format speed up, but many UK Disney VHS tapes use a slower WDHV logo to bypass the speed-up… Yet a sped-up one is also used…

Our Own Logo

From the 1995 to 2001, European tapes used this logo…

A bright, cheery and colorful logo… It was rarely ever used in the US, at least to my knowledge. I've heard that it's popped up on more kid-friendly stuff later on in the 1990s, but I wonder: How come Europe had this logo almost exclusively yet barely used the 1991 WDHV logo?

Anyways, the logo does have a kiddie tone to it. No black backgrounds with low humming synthesizers, or Mickey appearing out of nowhere in the darkness in a blue spotlight for whatever reason. Colorful shapes and bouncy spheres forming Mickey's head… Yeah… Plus, "Disney Videos". Certainly doesn't sound as complete as Walt Disney Home Video, methinks.

British Case Study

Perhaps what's so unique about the UK Disney VHS cases is that they aren't the typical white clamshells that Americans are accustomed to. Instead, these cases remind me of the clear, plastic ones that my local state-only rental store used (I always went to that one, rather than some place like Blockbuster) but with slide-in artwork. A bit thicker and not as soft, that's for sure.

Disney probably used clamshells to begin with since families with kids would be owning these things, the artwork could be protected from a plastic coating. Though Disney's earliest clamshells had artwork that couldn't be removed or slid out, the slide-in clamshells introduced in 1986 were still durable enough. These are even tougher, wonder why Disney in North America didn't opt for those? Oh well, I love clamshells and still do. I think most American 90s babies like myself get nostalgic to some degree when seeing them.

Anyways, I only have one non-North America VHS tape in my collection: The 1993 UK VHS of The Jungle Book

The artwork is the same as the American 1991 release, usually the artwork was the same. These films usually arrived later in the UK because of the re-release timing. The Jungle Book was last re-released in North America in 1990, in the UK it got a re-release in spring 1993.

Then we open the case… And…

Look at that! Promos on the inside, rather than leaflets. Good way to save paper, haha!

And the label even shows King Louie, the American labels just showed the film title and occasionally Mickey Mouse next to a Walt Disney Home Video print logo. The title takes up the majority of the label, along with the BBFC rating.

Now I wonder why US/Canada Disney VHS tapes and UK Disney VHS tapes differed so heavily… Apparently Walt Disney Home Video had a European division back then as well, which would make sense given how many markets had home video in the 1980s and 1990s. Nowadays, Disney has Disney Home Entertainments for every country complete with Facebook pages. But still, why would they approach things differently?

Questions, questions...

1 comment:

  1. Yes, bootleg VHS copies were more common in Europe, especially in Eastern Europe during the 80s, when the Iron Curtain was still standing and American movies had to wait a couple of years to get the permission to be ahown in theaters (most of the time, they didn't get permission at all!), so bootleg VHSs were in the rise. They not only had bad video and audio quality, but extremely cheesy voice-over, as well! This is a nice compilation, you should check it out: