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Elite Entertainment LaserDisc Guide

Elite Entertainment began as the brain child of Vincent Bancalari and Don May, JR. Both worked within the Laserdisc industry and were frustrated by the lack of quality Fantasy/Horror material on disc, particularly the influental motion picture Night of the Living Dead which had languished for years in shoddy public domain releases. Don May eventually left Elite to form his own company Synapse Films, but the original Elite lives on through their current series of high-quality DVD releases.

Much of the biographical info about Elite and their releases comes from issue #100 of Fangoria, which featured a lengthy article on the company, their origin and future plans.

Baron Blood / Lisa and the Devil
Catalog # EE1234, Relased 8-1-95 / 2 Discs, CLV / 1.85:1 / Mono / Extras: Deleted scenes, Workprint of the trailer for Lisa and the Devil / $59.98

Through the suggestion of Video Watchdog’s Tim Lucas, Elite contacted the New York-based producer Alfredo Leone and acquired the rights to two of his most-famous productions from director Mario Bava. Baron Blood and Lisa and the Devil were also two of Bava’s most savaged films; Baron Blood was available for years only in severely cut versions and Lisa.. had been seen only in the heavily-edited, re-shot version known as House of Exorcism. Elite presented both films uncut for the first time in the United States.

According to Don May, the of the English cut of Lisa.. was particularly diffcult to restore given the heavy amount of dubbing in the film.”We’d sync up Telly Savalas and he’d look right and then Elke Summer’s words would start before her mouth moved,” May notes.

Dawn of the Dead
Catalog # EE6255, Released 12-96 / 3 Discs, CAV / 1.85:1 / Mono / Extras: theatrical trailers and Television spots, Radio promos; Scenes from the Dario Argento european cut; The original shooting script; Still photos, posters and collectibles, behind the scenes stills; Commentary by George and Christine Romero with Tom Savini / $99.98

This landmark relase of DOTD stated that it was the “director’s cut” on the cover when in fact it was discovered that the version presented was actually a very loose rough cut of the film with additional bits of footage and pieces of temporary score throughout the feature.

Dawn of the Dead
Catalog# EE3296, Released 10-96 / 2 Discs, CLV / 1.85:1 / Mono / $39.98

The Budget CLV release of Dawn, releasing before the special deluxe CAV edition.

Day of the Dead
Catalog # EE3291, Released 11-98 / 2 Discs, CLV / 1.85:1 / Mono / Extras: Teaser trailer; Behind-The-Scenes Footage / $39.95

This release of the final film in Romero’s zombie trilogy carried on in the collector’s spirit of the earlier two releases but it probably the smallest special edition of the three movies.

Devil Rides Out, The
Catalog # EE3384 / 1 Disc, CLV / 1.85:1 / Mono / Extras: Commentary by Christopher Lee; Trailers / $39.95

Another part of the “Hammer Collection” series of releases.

Dracula: Prince of Darkness
Catalog # / 1 Disc, CLV / 1.85:1 / Mono / Extras: Commentary by Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley, Francis Matthews and Suzan Farmer; Francis Matthews’ on the set home movies; theatrical trailer and combo trailer for Dracula: Prince of Darkness and Plague of the Zombies / $49.95

Another part of the “Hammer Collection” series of releases.

Evil Dead, The
Catalog # EE7264, Released 4-6-1999 / 2 Discs, CAV / 1.33:1 / 5.1 DD / Extras: Audio Commentaries; Alternative takes; behind the scenes footage; theatrical trailer / $89.95

One of Elite’s last special edition laserdiscs and the first Elite release to feature a 5.1 track. This release was presented 1.33:1 fullscreen, supposedly the director’s chosen aspect ratio given the 16mm origins of the feature. The initial Elite DVD contained the same 4:3 transfer but Anchor Bay’s subsequent “Book of the Dead” edition featured a new 16:9 transfer. Similar to the blood-red Evil Dead 2 ld, this disc was pressed in a special gold color.

Evil Dead, The
Catalog # EE7263, Released 11-3-98 / 1 Disc, CLV / Mono / Extras: Trailer / $39.95

The movie-only budget CLV release of Evil Dead.

Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn
Catalog # EE3845, Released 10/28/97 / 1 Disc, CLV / Mono / Extras: Trailer; Commentary by Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, Scott Spiegel; Behind-The-Scenes featurette / $49.95

The soundtrack was presented in mono on the release, supposedly because the original audio stems could not be found for a stereo surround mix. It seems as if they eventually did surface since Anchor Bay’s subsequent dvd features a stereo 5.1 audio tracks.

The first editions of this laserdisc came in a special “blood-red” (more like pinkish) color on the disc itself. It seems as if this red color adversly affected older vacum tube-base LD players and a small number of silver discs were pressed. All the other press runs were silver.

Frankenstein Created Woman
Catalog # EE3726 / 1 Disc, CLV / 1.85:1 / Mono / $39.95

Another part of the “Hammer Collection” series of releases.

God Told Me To
Catalog # EE5279, Released 11-26-97 / 1 Disc, CLV / 1.85:1 / Mono / $39.95

The second release of a Larry Cohen film on Elite lasedisc along with Q in addition to a film he wrote, Maniac Cop. This release was transferred from the director’s personal 35mm archival print. Eventually released on VHS from Video Treasures / Anchor Bay.

Horror Hotel
Catalog # EE0818 / 1 Disc, CLV / 1.85:1 / Mono / $39.98

Another early effort from Elite, one which has gone on to generate a small amount controversy. This disc was supposedly mastered from a very clean 16mm print which does not include at least one scene. VCI recently re-released the film as City of the Living Dead in a transfer from 35mm materials and totally uncut.

Invaders From Mars
Catalog # EE8623 / 1 Disc CLV / 2.35:1 / Stereo / Extras: Theatrical trailers and teasers / $39.98

Another excellent early laserdisc release from Elite.

I Spit on Your Grave
Catalog # EE7748 / 1 Disc, CLV / 1:85:1 / Mono / Extras: Trailer / $39.95

One of the first Elite LD releases to have a DVD release following closely behind it.

Lady in White
Catalog # EE5239 / 2 Discs; CLV, CAV / 2.35:1 / Stereo / Extras: Commentary by director Frank LaLoggia, Trailer, Still photo gallery, Promotional short, Behind-the-scenes footage

This film which eventually became one of Elite’s first DVD release. The DVD featured the gimmick of having the movie of side 1, cd soundtrack on side 2. The laserdisc version lacks the flash but remains a remarkable special edition release.

Lost Continent, The
Catalog # EE5678 / 1 Disc, CLV / 1.85:1 / Mono / Extras: theatrical trailer and TV spots / $39.95

Another part of the Hammer film collection. In his creation of this laserdisc, producer William Lustig found some 8 minutes of additional footage which he was able to reinsert into this version.

Catalog # EE1980 / 1 Disc, CLV / 1.85:1 / Stereo / Extras: Theatrical Trailers and TV Spots; scenes from Maniac 2: Mr. Robbie; The “deleted” dinner scene; Commentary by William Lustig, Tom Savini, Lorenzo Marinelli, and Luke Walter / $49.98

Another early release from Elite Given the willingness of director and avid home theatre fan William Lustig, this disc is packed with extras. One interesting alteration that Lustig made to the film was the removal of the dinner scene between Spinell and Caroline Munro, supposedly because he felt it was too unrealistic. Lustig made a number of similar and drastic changes in creating the laserdisc transfer for Alfred Sole’s public domain staple Alice Sweet Alice. In that case the alterations had to do with securing copyright. Could this be the same with Maniac? Ultimately the dinner scene was added as an extra at the end of the disc and the recent Anchor Bay DVDs of Alice.. and Maniac both present the original theatrical versions of both films.

Don May recalls that recording the commentary track for the laserdisc was quite an ordeal. “It was an all-night deal in a hotel room in new York. Thre wer people walking bakc and for outside, you could hear themopening and closing the doors…” May also notes that halfway through the DAT machine they were using to record brokedown. Bancalari went and found another DAT usde, one with an interesting pedigree. “The previous owner was Whitney Houston!” Bancalari recalls.

The eventual re-release of Maniac on DVD by Elite ported all of the extras from this release in addition to a new 5.1 Dolby Digital soundrack. A recent dvd release by Anchor Bay Entertainment features a new video transfer and a 5.1 DTS track, reinstates the dinner scene “deleted” from Elite’s version and drops the short Mr. Robbie presentation film.

Maniac Cop
Catalog # EE3425 / 1 Disc CLV / Dolby Surround / 1.85:1 / Extras: Theatrical Trailers and TV Spots; Commentary by William Lustig, Larry Cohen, Bruce Campbell and Jay Chattaway; Foreign and Domestic Theatrical Trailers and Television Spots; Additional Scenes for Japanese Television / $49.98

Another early Elite laserdisc release of a William Lustig film. The Eventual DVD release from Elite featured all the extras of the laserdisc and included an enhanced 5.1 Dolby Digital audio soundtrack.

Mark of the Devil
Catalog # EE6275, Released 12/10/97 / 1 Disc, CLV / 1.66:1 / Mono / $39.98

This version presents the controversial Mark of the Devil in it’s complete, uncut state.

Mummy’s Shroud, The
Catalog # EE6866 / 1 Disc, CLV / 1.85:1 / Mono / $39.95

Another part of the “Hammer Collection” series of releases.

Night of the Living Dead
Catalog # EE1114, Released 11-94 / 2 Discs, CLV, CAV / 1.33:1 / Mono / Extras: Two Commentary Tracks featuring George Romero and Others, Theatrical Trailer, Television Commercials, Duane Jones Interview, Industrial films, Television Commericals, Numerous biographical text info, excerpts from the “lost” Romero film There’s Always Vanilla / $89.98

This historic first release from Elite presented in this film in a superb remastered transfer. Coincidentally, the elements for this release were prepared at W.R.S. labs, the same facility where Night was originally processed.

Due to some print damage, Elite found it necessary to insert a few half-second short “freezes” to keep the video in sync with the audio.

Night of the Living Dead
Catalog # EE1115, Released 11/23/96 / 1 Disc, CLV / 1.33:1 / Mono / Extras: Trailer / $39.98

The budget, 1-Disc version of NOTLD which was released some time after the special edition.

Nightmare on Elm Street, A
Catalog # EE3733, Released 4-3-96 / 2 Discs; CLV, CAV / 1.85:1 / Stereo / Extras:Commentary, Trailers, Deleted scenes and Special Effects Tests, Photo Galleries and other Info. / $99.98

Early copies of this release were plagued with some mastering problems which created a very washed-out, contrasty image. Later pressings corrected this problem. Even though the packaging describing the analog mono track as containg the film original mono track, this is in fact just a downmix of the enhanced stereo track.

Nightmare on Elm Street, A
Catalog # EE3734 / 1 Disc, CLV / 1.85:1 / Stereo /Extras: Trailer / $39.98

The budget CLV release of NOES.

Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
Catalog # EE3562, Released 6-18-96 / 1 Disc CLV / 1.85:1 / Mono / $39.98

As part of their licensing deal with New Line Cinema, Elite was able to release the original Nightmare on Elm Street along with the first two sequels. One interesting facet of their of their Freddy’s Revenge LD was their use of the original theatrical poster art which was not used for the film’s original home video release.

Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
Catalog # EE3563, Released 9-25-96 / 1 Disc, CLV / Stereo / $39.98

Another Nightmare sequel licensed to Elite. Elite was only given the rights to the original and sequels for a short time. On December 31st, 1996,The Elm Street releases went on moratorium and were prized collectors items before New Line themselves released a special edition box set of all the Elm Street films on DVD.

Plague of the Zombies, The
Catalog # EE7524 / 1 Disc, CLV / 1.85:1 / Mono / Extras: Theatrical Trailer, Combo Trailer for Dracula: Prince of Darkness and Plague of the Zombies / $39.95

Another part of the “Hammer Collection” series of titles.

Prom Night
Catalog # EE7766, Released 10/01/97 / 1 Disc, CLV / 1.85:1 / Mono / Extras: Theatrical Trailer and TV Spot / $39.95

Another excellent remastered release from Elite, eventually released on vhs and dvd by Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Q – The Winged Serpent
Catalog # EE9464 / 1 Disc, CLV / 1.85:1 / Mono / $39.95

Another Larry Cohen film released by Elite on Laserdisc. Eventually re-released on an featureless DVD from Anchor Bay, a special edition DVD from Blue Underground with a Bill Lustig/Larry Cohen commentary track and a Blu-Ray from Shout Factory with a brand-new Larry Cohen solo commentary track.

Quartermass and the Pit
Catalog #EE7487 / 1 Disc, CLV / 1.85:1 / Mono / Extras: Commentary by Nigel Kneale and ard Baker; theatrical trailer and TV spots

Another Hammer release, aka Five Million Years to Earth.

Rasputin The Mad Monk
Catalog # EE7277 / 1 Disc, CLV / 1.85:1 / Mono / Extras: theatrical trailer, combo trailer for Rasputin and The Reptile/ $49.98

Another part of the Hammer collection.

Catalog # EE1323, Released 12-10-97 / 1 Disc, CLV / Mono / 1.85:1 / Extras: Theatrical Trailers and TV Spots; Deleted and Expanded Scenes (in 1.33:1);Trailers and Tv/Radio Spots; Selected “dream” sequence (in 2.35:1); Audio Commentaries. #1 – Stuart Gordon, #2 – Bruce Abbot, Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Robert Sampson, Brian Yuzna / $49.98

This release maintained Elite’s high-quality standards all the way from the meticulously-restored feature, incredible extras and beautiful gatefold packaging adorned with an illustrated cover by artist Dave Dorman (originally used for a series of Re-Animator comics).

Reptile, The
Catalog # EE7378 / 1 Disc, CLV / 1.85:1 / Mono / $39.95

Another part of the Hammer Collection.

Return of the Evil Dead
Catalog # EE8663, Released 3-25-98/ 1.85:1 / Mono / $39.95

This sequel to the earlier Elite release Tombs of the Blind Dead is the standard english-dubbed version which Atlas films distributes. This cut of the film removes a crucial scene where the bumbling idiot performs a rite which brings the Templars back to life. Despite this deletion, the transfer of the film is as great as Tombs and it’s still a very enjoybal film.

Anchor Bay eventually released Tombs and Return on a double-sided dvd.

Stepford Wives, The
Catalog # EE9433, Released 4-30-97/ 1 Disc, CLV / 1.85:1 / Mono / $39.98

Elite laserdisc was the first official home video release for this film, eventually re-released on VHS and DVD from Anchor Bay.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The
Catalog # EE0123, Released 12-4-96 / 2 Discs; CLV, CAV / 1.85:1 / Stereo, Mono / Extras: Trailers, Audio Commentary By Kim Henkel, Tobe Hooper and Daniel Pearl; Deleted Scenes and Outtakes; Blooper Reel; Theatrical Trailers and Television Spots;
Trailers for the TCM Sequels; Still Photo and Poster, Collectibles Galleries / $89.98

Another landmark release for Elite, remastered from original source elements in an excellent new transfer utilizing “super-scan” hi-def technology. There was also a great deal of digital cleanup and frame correction applied to this release that was missing from the later Pioneer DVD which was otherwise a direct port of this laserdisc.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, The
Catalog # EE8622, 9-11-96 / 1 Disc, CLV / 1.85:1 / Stereo / Extras: Trailers, Deleted Scenes / $39.98

This TCM sequel was also distributed on VHS from Anchor Bay/Video Treasures, and Anchor Bay experienced yet another one of their notorious screw-ups: early copies of the cassette were missing the two deleted scenes present on the Laserdisc.

Tombs of the Blind Dead
Catalog # EE8662, Released 3/12/97 / 1 Disc, CLV / 1.66:1 / Mono / Extras: Trailer / $39.98

This disc presents Armando Ossorio’s Tombs.. for the first time uncut (in spanish with English subtitles) in the US. The film begins with a computer-generated title dedicating the film to the memory of Armando DeOssorio, even though this laserdisc was released several years before he actually died.

Vengeance of She, The
Catalog # EE8364 / 1 Disc, CLV / 1.85:1 / Mono / $39.95

Another part of the Hammer Collection

Viking Queen , The
Catalog #EE8454 / 1 Disc, CLV / 1.85:1 / Mono / $39.95

Another part of the Hammer Collection

Witches, The
Catalog # EE9482 / 1 Disc, CLV / 1.85:1 / Mono / Extras: UK and US Trailers; combo trailer with Prehistoric Women (AKA Slave Girls) / $39.95

Another part of the Hammer Collection

Uncle Sam
EE7261 / 1 Disc, CLV / 2.35:1 / Stereo, 5.1 DD / Extras: Commentary by William Lustig and Isaac Hayes / $39.95

Another film directed by William Lustig and written by Larry Cohen that was released by Elite on Laserdisc (which coincided with their DVD release which is now out-of-print). Also another of their 5.1 Dolby Digital releases along with their special edition Evil Dead LD.

Unrealized Projects

Most of these supposed releases were discussed and even given half-page advertisements as “coming soon” in various issues of the monthly laserdisc guide “Image Prevue,” but for numerous reasons they never went into production.

52 Pick Up – This announcement was another post-Don May announcement but never materialized.

The Ulli Lommel Collection: Boogeyman / Demonsville Terror – A double feature release of these two Ulli Lommel classics were planned for both an Anchor Bay DVD release and an Elite laserdisc release. The DVD materialized but Elite cancelled their release, most likely due to lack or pre-orders. A catalog # EE8554 and $49.95 price were listed, with a preliminary street date of 12/16/98.

Challenge for Robin Hood, A – given a catalog # EE4663, 1 Disc, CLV,1.85:1, Mono, $39.95, cancelled before release.

Curse of the Voodoo (aka Curse of Simba; Lion Man) – Originally announced but left unreleased.

Eaten Alive – This Elite DVD release was originally planned as a dual Laserdisc release. A Catalog # EE3181 and $39.95 priced were listed, with a street date of 09/29/98.

Heartbreak Kid, The – Niel Simon’s film was eventually released twice by Anchor Bay on DVD but it was originally announced as one of Elite’s later post-Don May titles.

Horror Hotel – Eventually announced for a possible LD release but was given only a DVD release by Elite.

Inseminoid – Announced for a possible release on LD but eventually showed up on DVD from Elite.

Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires – Announced for release by Elite but eventually came out on Laserdisc from Roan.

Manhunter – Announced and slightly publicized (I Believe), but nothing concrete ever materialized.

Martin – Originally announced as an Elite title, Martin eventually surfaced as a special edition dvd from Anchor Bay.

Maximum Overdrive – Announced and delayed numerous time, supposedly due to scheduling conflicts around gettng Stephen King to record a commentary track. Eventually King declined recording a track but the disc never came out anyway. The Catalog # announced for this disc was EE5464 with a projected retail price of $49.95. Eventually released by Anchor Bay on DVD.

Psychic Killer – This Elite DVD release was originally planned as a dual Laserdisc release. A Catalog # EE7792 and $39.95 priced were listed, with a street date of 09/16/98.

Sleuth – Released (and re-released) by Anchor Bay on DVD, this was another post-Don May announcement.

Tower of Evil – Eventually announced for a possible LD release but was given only a DVD release by Elite.

Two Evil Eyes – Elite postively stated that they were releasing this in the Fangoria #100 article, but to my knowledge it’s release was never publicized.

Wild At Heart – Announced, given a nice big advertisement in Image Prevue but it kept getting delayed until the rights slipped away from Elite. Don May has recently stated that in his search for the source materials he found numerous interesting things, including the lost “Rough Cut” to the film. May can’t release it, however, so I guess it will remain lost. A catalog #EE9453 was announced with a projected price of $49.95

“The Jerry Lewis Collection”

One particularly interesting post-Don May announcement for Elite was the possibility of releasing a group of Jerry Lewis films that included.The Bellboy, Cinderfella, The Errand Boy, and The Patsy. All of these films were originally produced by Lewis for Paramount Pictures but in 1965 Jerry entered into unprecedented agreement that gave him the rights to many of his Paramount films after a period of 30 years. Elite Entertainment hid these Jerry Lewis titles within a barrage of other varied comedy and dramatic titles, many of which were never produced.

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