Serial DVD News: Return of the Lost Universals?

April 18th, 2019: More big news from VCI via Tom Weaver, even more exciting than the previous announcement, and so important that I’m reposting in full Tom’s latest announcement on the Classic Horror Film Board:

VCI wants the opinion of the Classic Horror Film Board: “How much interest IS there in Lost Universal Serials — complete AND incomplete?”

It would cost VCI a pretty penny, but they CAN get from Universal, in addition to all the serials they ARE getting, these super-oldies:
FINGER PRINTS – 10 chapters
HEROES OF THE FLAMES – 12 chapters
DANGER ISLAND – 12 chapters
DETECTIVE LLOYD – 12 chapters
JUNGLE MYSTERY – 12 chapters
Then, too, they can get these INCOMPLETE serials:
THE JADE BOX – Universal has 4 complete chapters out of 10
LIGHTNING EXPRESS – 3 complete chapters out of 10
TERRY OF THE TIMES – 7 complete chapters out of 10
SPELL OF THE CIRCUS – 2 complete chapters out of 10
CLANCY OF THE MOUNTED – 10 complete chapters out of 12
Part of the email I received from VCI honcho Robert Blair:
<< Do you think there is any value to releasing these incomplete serials? We did really pretty well when we released BRENDA STARR a few years ago. It was mostly complete, but missing sound on one chapter and picture on another, plus there was nitrate decomp sporadically. <<

He continues: 

<< I think everything that can be saved and mastered, should. I have been thinking of maybe trying to do a Kickstarter, or Go Fund Me campaign, to at the least, raise the money to do the mastering, restoring and authoring, but I have never done one of those. Maybe I’d start with just the complete serials. <<

How much support would WE (the CHFB) provide?

If any CHFBers contribute to serial message boards, perhaps they could post these lists there, and then report the reaction.

Following up on Tom’s suggestion in the last paragraph above, I’m soliciting my readers’ reactions to this proposal; if you’re keen on seeing these serials come out of the vault at long last, please post a comment and I’ll make sure that all reactions are shared with VCI.

38 thoughts on “Serial DVD News: Return of the Lost Universals?

  1. As a big fan of Tom Tyler, I am definitely interested in Jungle Mystery and Clancy of The Mounted (Jerry Blake (Daniel) has already helped me find the first six episodes of Clancy).

    I love the old serials so I would buy most or all of them, I’m sure!

  2. I’m in. I never thought this would happen!!
    I am completely on board for saving the partial serials and especially JUNGLE MYSTERY.
    I’m a big Buck Jones fan and GORDON OF GHOST CITY is a special favorite of mine. I would love to see that restored.

    • GORDON OF GHOST CITY is a Buck Jones serial I look forward to having restored! Did not think much of THE VANISHING SHADOW until I saw the VCI restored version and I was so overwhelmed that I have it among my top15 favorites! So I am on board for more serials lost or missing to be restored. I will gladly chip in $$$ t,for this cause.

  3. I am for restoring and preserving all the complete and partial serials. I would especially like to see Clancy of the Mounted (having seen the first 6 chapters). I was impressed with the Brenda Starr restoration which had mostly very clear video but I would suggest that missing audio be recreated and/or the use of sub-titles for dialogue. Missing chapters or video could be recreated by using animation like some recently released classic Doctor Who episodes or by using comic strips or motion-comics. Serials with only a few extant chapters could be released together on a compilation disc (or two) but please include a synopsis of the missing chapters such as was done with the partial Brenda Starr chapters.

  4. I would support this and buy many of these serials either to upgrade my collection or view the ones I do not have and would like to see, such as Jungle Mystery.

  5. I’d pitch in $500 just to see the chapters from Jade Box and Lightning Express. I saw the key still books years ago and they both looked fascinating.

  6. This would be terrific.
    VCI should get the licences to all of the serials. Complete or incomplete….maybe even with subtitles? 🙂

    So: Support from Oversea-good-old-Europe!


  7. There have been some severe medical expenses in the family lately which I have helped out with, but I am still in good enough shape to be interested in all the complete serials plus possibly Clancy of the Mounted if enough of the early chapters and the conclusion are available to make it coherent with a synopsis of the two lost chapters. Someone mentioned $500, which is a little rich for me, but I could certainly go $100 to $200 up front to help out.

  8. I am absolutely thrilled at all of the comments and the reactions from serial fans! This is very encouraging and makes me even more determined to release as many of these lost jewels as we possibly can and just as fast as we can! I especially appreciate the comments pertaining to the incomplete serials and will take all of the suggestions into consideration. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Bob Blair, VCI Entertainment

    • The British Film Institute has “Detective Lloyd” on its 75 MOST WANTED list of lost films. VCI should contact them to see if they could chip in on this one.

  9. I’d love to see the Buck Jones serials along with the Tom Tyler’s first. They all sound great. How long until we can buy copies?

  10. As JUNGLE MYSTERY has already recently been restored by Universal it should definitely be made available on dvd, please.

  11. Bob Blair, All serial fans are eagerly awaiting any news on the restorations. I never thought I would have a chance of ever seeing all these lost serials. I am also just as eager to see those serials that are incomplete. I will absolutely buy what you can get on SPELL OF THE CIRCUS, even if it is only two chapters

  12. Bob Blair, I will buy every single serial you release on Blu Ray or BD-R. I already have all of the serials you released on DVD in fact. I will be happy to upgrade some titles if I can only get them on DVD. As to the lost serials, complete or incomplete? Doesn’t matter. I will buy them and watch them eagerly. I look forward to buy 50+ serials from VCI over the coming months and years.
    In addition, if you put out the Republics and Columbias you have on Blu Ray or BD-R, I’ll buy them, too!

  13. I’m in for some of these for sure. I’m most interested in Jungle Mystery, but after looking into some of the others, they sound intriguing as well.

  14. Astonishing news – something I really hoped for but never thought would happen. I will buy every previously unissued serial complete and incomplete, without thinking twice. I am pretty satisfied with the versions VCI has previously released but there are a handful I’d replace. I’m no spring chicken, please make this happen as soon as possible Mr. Blair!

  15. This is the best film preservation news I’ve heard in a long time! I would by all of these serials, but am especially interested in “Jungle Mystery”, “Terry of the Times” and “The Airmail Mystery”. The son of James Flavin and Lucille Browne Flavin from the Airmail Mystery should definitely be informed of this. It is would also be great to finally see one of the lost serials with child star Bobby Nelson like “Heroes of the Flames”.

  16. I would love to see all these serials released to the serial loving public. From the stills and story synopsis I have seen of both Danger Island and Jungle Mystery, I would love to see them. My thanks and my money would quickly go to VCI for these two and more.

    • If you haven’t noticed, THE ROARING WEST from VCI, restored from the 35mm film master is scheduled for Aug 6 on DVD and Nov 12, 2019 on Blu-Ray.

  17. This is certainly great news for serial fans. I’ve always thought that the 1930 serials had a certain atmosphere completely lacking in the late 40’s and early 50’s serials. Actually, I’m quite surprised that Jungle Mystery isn’t available yet on DVD after it was shown at Cinecon a few years ago.

  18. I’m in, for buying any unreleased material, whether complete, or incomplete. Like another fellow mentioned, I’m also up there, in age, too, as I imagine many other serial fans are, so this project should be undertaken, as soon as possible.

  19. I’m in for all of them. Complete, partial, whatever. I’ll definitely support a release for each and all.

    Except for six chapters of CLANCY OF THE MOUNTED, I haven’t seen any of them. And I want to see them all.

  20. Oh wow, I’ve REALLY wanted Danger Island for ages! It’s reportedly a live-action riff on Jonny Quest, which makes it sound essential in my book. PLEASE get the rights to this!

  21. It’s been three years. Where are they? How about an update and it just siding with Bob that “oh well, guess it’s ok to promise the moon and not deliver.”

    • It’s been three years of socioeconomic chaos, so I’m not surprised the project has apparently stalled. I wouldn’t blame anybody for failing to “deliver” in the circumstances, particularly a comparatively small business like VCI. Let’s not play a blame game here.

    • All of us have been asking the same question. Before, Bill Blair did answer emails, but not any more. Tom Weaver did many posts, but nothing new from him either.

  22. At this point like Aesop’s fox I have entirely ceased caring. I do have around nine absolutely stunning new issues from VCI that I never thought I’d have, so if that’s it then I’m way ahead of where I was. Kudos to VCI for doing that.
    A little more customer contact would have been nice, after all VCI has a Facebook and YouTube presence, so a forum for updates is in place.
    The pandemic is probably a primary reason, and we can assume there are other difficulties in accessing and producing the products that the firm is challenged to overcome. I’m sure it’s not for want of trying or caring on Mr. Blair’s part.
    These days cinema fans have a wealth of other high quality silent and talkie reissues to enjoy, so despite my longstanding affection for serials if these films never leave the vault I’m not that much the poorer for it.

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