The pages of this site are full of opinions and analysis; this page, however is a little more practical: it tells where to find viewing copies of the chapterplays referenced on all of the other pages.
“Official” Serial Purveyors:
The preeminent seller of serial DVDs is VCI Entertainment, a small outfit, but one with admirable dedication to restoring and releasing old movies in general and serials in particular. The chapterplays they offer for sale on DVD are almost always the best available editions of those titles. They are a particularly good source for the Universal serials.
The Serial Squadron also does an excellent job, on the whole, of restoring serials, and offers a wide range of titles for sale–some on DVD, some on DVD-R. Its product is more uneven than VCI’s, however; the Squadron is a one-man show, and its proprietor sometimes make unilateral restoration decisions that are decidedly questionable (such as going to unnecessary pains to eliminate soundtrack hiss; the result of this tinkering creates a sort of bathtub echo that’s far more distracting than the original hiss). More seriously, the Squadron proprietor occasionally goes so far as to “improve” the serials he releases, editing them or adding digital effects.
Olive Films, which has the rights to at least part of the Republic film library, has recently made available pristine Blu-Ray and DVD prints of some mediocre later Republic chapterplays. One hopes that they will be encouraged to bring out some of the better Republics in the future, but I doubt that titles such as The Invisible Monster will sell well enough to lead to other releases.
Kino has just released a stunning print of Daredevils of the Red Circle on DVD and Blu-Ray, and has announced Adventures of Captain Marvel for the future; all serial buffs should be attempting to boost sales of these titles, in hopes of obtaining similarly excellent prints of other Witney and English classics.
Other notable “official” serial DVD and DVD-R sellers include Grapevine (which offers consistently good prints), Roan (likewise), and Alpha (erratic); other companies, such as Warner Brothers, Image, Mill Creek, Marengo Films, Madacy, Troma, Echo Bridge, and Sony, have put out a few noteworthy serial releases. Hermitage Hill Media is now sadly defunct, but put out some beautiful serial DVD-Rs in its time.
If a serial is not listed by any of these sources, Ebay is probably the best place to look; of the “gray-market” sellers there, I recommend Red Circle Media, which, unlike many other Ebay serial purveyors, puts its chapterplays on two discs instead of on one, and appears to take pains to use the best available print. The outfits “CheezyFlicks” and “AC Comics” have in the past put out Republic serial “DVDs” that were really just copies of the superior Republic Home Video VHS tapes; some of these prints still pop up on Amazon and Ebay. The AC releases received decent reviews from buffs, while at least some of the Cheezyflicks ones appear to have had various technical issues.
What follows is an alphabetical list of all extant sound movie serials, with DVD availability information following each title. I will only note gray-market availability where there is no other edition available; all serials may be found via gray-market sellers on Ebay. Likewise, since Alpha’s prints are generally either inferior or else copies of better prints, I will only note them below when they offer an unusually good print or offer the only commercial DVD of a particular title. I will also note, for Youtube watchers, which serials are freely available online–although serials on Youtube are always subject to removal without notice.
Ace Drummond: Available from VCI. Poorer prints of the serial may be found all over Youtube.
Adventures of Captain Africa: Only available on the gray market.
Adventures of Captain Marvel: As mentioned above, it’s been announced as coming from Kino, but no date has been set yet. Until then, it’s only available on the gray market or via Youtube.
Adventures of Frank and Jesse James: Youtube and gray-market only.
Adventures of Frank Merriwell: Available from VCI.
Adventures of Red Ryder: Available from VCI.
Adventures of Rex and Rinty: Available from Alpha, also viewable on Youtube.
Adventures of Sir Galahad: Available on the gray market only, although in much better shape than most Columbia serials.
Adventures of Smilin’ Jack: Available from VCI, and on Youtube.
Adventures of the Flying Cadets. Available from VCI, and on Youtube.
Atom Man vs. Superman: Available in a set from Warner Brothers, paired with the other Superman serial.
Batman: Available from Sony.
Batman and Robin: Available from Sony.
Battling with Buffalo Bill: Available from VCI (also on Youtube, but the prints there are dreadful–the VCI edition is light-years better).
Black Arrow: Gray-market.
The Black Coin: Available from Alpha.
Blackhawk: Available from Mill Creek.
The Black Widow: Gray-market.
Blake of Scotland Yard: Available from the Serial Squadron; once offered by VCI, it’s not currently on their website, but may still be found on Amazon.
Blazing the Overland Trail: Gray-market.
Brenda Starr, Reporter: VCI is the only source for this one–as noted in my full-length review, the print could not be wholly salvaged, and is missing a few portions of picture and sound.
Brick Bradford: Gray-market and Youtube.
Bruce Gentry: Gray-market only, although it was once offered in an excellent print by Hermitage Hill Media.
Buck Rogers: Available from VCI, and (in greatly inferior form) on Youtube.
Burn-‘Em-Up Barnes: Grapevine has the best print of this one; poorer prints are all over Youtube.
Call of the Savage: Available from the Serial Squadron, also on Youtube.
Canadian Mounties vs. Atomic Invaders: Gray-market only.
Captain America: Gray-market and Youtube.
Captain Midnight: VCI and Youtube.
Captain Video: VCI and Youtube. Only the VCI print has the planetary color tinting used in the original release.
Chick Carter, Detective: Gray-market only.
Clancy of the Mounted: The first six chapters (all that survives of the serial) are offered by the Serial Squadron.
The Clutching Hand: Grapevine and Youtube.
Cody of the Pony Express: Gray-market only.
Commando Cody, Sky Marshal of the Universe: Available from Olive, and on Youtube.
Congo Bill: Gray-market.
The Crimson Ghost: Gray-market and Youtube.
Custer’s Last Stand: Grapevine and Youtube.
Dangers of the Canadian Mounted: Gray-market.
Daredevils of the Red Circle: Kino Lorber.
Daredevils of the West: Available from the Serial Squadron; a missing soundtrack is redubbed in parts of four chapters.
Darkest Africa: Grapevine, Youtube.
Daughter of Don Q: Gray-market, Youtube.
Deadwood Dick: The Serial Squadron.
The Desert Hawk: Gray-market.
Desperadoes of the West: Gray-market and Youtube.
The Devil Horse: Grapevine, the Serial Squadron.
Dick Tracy: VCI, Youtube.
Dick Tracy Returns: VCI, Youtube.
Dick Tracy’s G-Men: VCI, Youtube.
Dick Tracy vs. Crime Inc.: VCI, Youtube. VCI offers a four-in-one set of the Tracy serials that I highly recommend.
Don Daredevil Rides Again: Gray-market.
Don Winslow of the Coast Guard: Once offered by VCI; no longer offered on their website, but still available in very short supply on Amazon. Also on Youtube, but the quality is greatly inferior.
Don Winslow of the Navy: Available, in very poor prints, from Alpha and on Youtube. Hermitage Hill had an excellent restored print, but that is, alas, no longer available.
Drums of Fu Manchu: Available from both the Serial Squadron and VCI.
Federal Agents vs. Underworld Inc.: Gray-market and Youtube.
Federal Operator 99: Gray-market.
The Fighting Devil Dogs: Gray-market and Youtube.
The Fighting Marines: The Serial Squadron, Youtube.
Fighting With Kit Carson: VCI, Serial Squadron, Youtube.
Flaming Frontiers: VCI, Youtube.
Flash Gordon: Image, Youtube.
Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe: Image, VCI, Youtube.
Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars: Image, Youtube. Image’s excellent three-in-one box set of the Gordon serials is unfortunately no longer directly available from Image, but can still be purchased “used and new” for rather steep prices on Amazon.
Flying Disc Man From Mars: Olive Films, Youtube.
Flying G-Men: Gray-market.
The Galloping Ghost: Alpha, Youtube.
Gang Busters: Serial Squadron, Youtube.
Ghost of Zorro: Gray-market, Youtube.
G-Men Never Forget: Gray-market, Youtube.
G-Men vs. the Black Dragon: Grapevine, Youtube.
Gordon of Ghost City: Gray-market, Youtube.
Government Agents vs. Phantom Legion: Gray-market, Youtube.
The Great Adventures of Captain Kidd: Gray-market, Youtube.
The Great Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok: Serial Squadron.
The Great Alaskan Mystery: Alpha, Youtube.
The Green Archer: VCI, Serial Squadron, Youtube.
The Green Hornet: VCI.
The Green Hornet Strikes Again: VCI.
Gunfighters of the Northwest: Gray-market.
Haunted Harbor: Gray-market, Youtube (you’ll find it there as Pirates’ Harbor).
Hawk of the Wilderness: Gray-market.
Heroes of the West: Serial Squadron, Youtube (the Squadron print is markedly superior to the YT print).
Holt of the Secret Service: VCI, Serial Squadron (with a dreadful commentary track), and Youtube.
Hop Harrigan: Gray-market, Youtube.
The Hurricane Express: Alpha, innumerable public-domain John Wayne DVD sets, Youtube.
The Indians Are Coming: Gray-market.
The Invisible Monster: Olive Films, Youtube.
The Iron Claw: Gray-market.
Jack Armstrong: VCI.
The James Brothers of Missouri: Gray-market, Youtube.
Jesse James Rides Again: Grapevine, Youtube.
Jungle Drums of Africa: Gray-market only.
Jungle Girl: VCI.
Jungle Jim: VCI.
Jungle Menace: Serial Squadron, Grapevine, Youtube (the YT print is greatly inferior to the DVD ones).
Jungle Queen: VCI, Youtube.
Jungle Raiders: Gray-market.
Junior G-Men: Alpha, Youtube.
Junior G-Men of the Air: VCI, Youtube.
King of the Carnival: Gray-market.
King of the Congo: Gray-market.
King of the Forest Rangers: Gray-market, Youtube.
King of the Rocket Men: Gray-market, Youtube.
King of the Mounties: Serial Squadron–a “reconstructed” print, with subtitles in place of sections of missing soundtrack and stills replacing a few sections of missing picture; this is the only extant print of this serial.
King of the Royal Mounted: VCI.
King of the Texas Rangers: Grapevine, Youtube.
King of the Wild: Alpha.
The Last Frontier: Roan, VCI.
The Last of the Mohicans: VCI, Serial Squadron.
The Law of the Wild: VCI, Youtube.
The Lightning Warrior: Alpha.
The Lone Defender: The Serial Squadron.
The Lone Ranger: The Serial Squadron. All existing prints of this serial are missing the soundtrack to Chapter Ten, and most have Spanish subtitles. The Squadron print eliminates the subtitles by dubbing the soundtrack from the subtitled print over a subtitle-free print that had been dubbed into French; the print suffers from the characteristic Squadron “bathtub” echoes in several places, and the new voices used to replace the missing chapter’s soundtrack are not very good, but the Squadron’s version is still the best available print of this serial. Prints can also be found on Youtube.
The Lone Ranger Rides Again: The Serial Squadron. This serial originally survived only as a very long Spanish-subtitled “feature,” with each cliffhanger ending and escape edited into single action sequences; the Squadron’s print does a valiant job of restoring the cut-down cliffhangers, and is the sharpest-looking one extant when it comes to picture quality. It also removes the subtitles–but, unfortunately, the cropping and freeze-framing used to do so often winds up being more distracting than the subtitles themselves were.
The Lost City: VCI, Youtube.
Lost City of the Jungle: VCI.
The Lost Jungle: Alpha, Youtube.
The Lost Planet: Gray-market, Youtube.
The Lost Special: The Serial Squadron.
Mandrake the Magician: VCI (the only existing print of this serial has some missing sound in the first chapter; the lost dialogue is redubbed–with varying degrees of success–by VCI).
Manhunt of Mystery Island: Grapevine, Youtube.
Man with the Steel Whip: Gray-market, Youtube.
The Masked Marvel: Gray-market, Youtube.
The Master Key: VCI, Serial Squadron, Youtube.
The Miracle Rider: VCI, Youtube (the YT print are immeasurably inferior to the restored VCI version).
The Monster and the Ape: Gray-market.
Mysterious Doctor Satan: Gray-market, Youtube.
Mysterious Island: Gray-market, Youtube.
The Mysterious Pilot: Gray-market.
Mystery Mountain: Grapevine, Serial Squadron, Youtube.
The Mystery of the Riverboat: VCI, Serial Squadron, Youtube.
The Mystery Squadron: Serial Squadron, Youtube.
The Mystery Trooper: Grapevine (DVD and Blu-Ray), Serial Squadron, Youtube.
The New Adventures of Tarzan: Roan, Youtube.
The Oregon Trail: VCI.
Overland Mail: VCI, Youtube.
Overland With Kit Carson: Gray-market.
The Painted Stallion: VCI, Serial Squadron, Madacy, Youtube.
Panther Girl of the Kongo: Olive Films, Grapevine, Youtube.
Perils of Nyoka: Available on the gray market, and (in very poor quality) on Youtube.
The Perils of Pauline: VCI.
Perils of the Royal Mounted: Gray-market; Hermitage Hill put this one out before it went defunct.
Perils of the Wilderness: Gray-market.
The Phantom: VCI (all extant prints are missing the soundtrack in one chapter; dialogue is unevenly redubbed).
The Phantom Creeps: VCI, Grapevine, Youtube (the YT prints are greatly inferior).
The Phantom Empire: VCI. The Squadron print should be avoided; it features an added music score and jarring additional special-effects shots.
The Phantom of the Air: Grapevine, Youtube.
The Phantom of the West: Alpha.
The Phantom Rider (Universal): Gray-market.
The Phantom Rider (Republic): Gray-market.
Pirate Treasure: Gray-market; the Serial Squadron has a restoration in the works, but its release has now been delayed several times.
Pirates of the High Seas: Gray-market.
The Purple Monster Strikes: Gray-market.
Queen of the Jungle: Grapevine, Youtube.
Radar Men from the Moon: Roan, Echo Bridge, Youtube.
Radar Patrol vs. Spy King: Gray-market, Youtube.
Radio Patrol: VCI, Serial Squadron (the Squadron print has the name of the Squadron’s proprietor inserted into the opening credits).
Raiders of Ghost City: VCI, Youtube.
Red Barry: VCI.
The Red Rider: The Serial Squadron, Youtube (both sources feature the really excellent Hermitage Hill print).
The Return of Chandu: VCI, Youtube.
Riders of Death Valley: VCI and Youtube; the YT prints are truly terrible, while the VCI one is pristine. However, the VCI print does feature a small logo that regularly pops up in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen.
Riding with Buffalo Bill: Gray-market.
Roar of the Iron Horse: Gray-market.
The Roaring West: Gray-market.
Robinson Crusoe of Clipper Island: VCI, Grapevine, Echo Bridge, Youtube.
The Royal Mounted Rides Again: VCI.
The Rustlers of Red Dog: VCI, Serial Squadron.
The Scarlet Horseman: Gray-market; an excellent Hermitage Hill print was issued.
Scouts to the Rescue: VCI.
The Sea Hound: Gray-market.
Sea Raiders: Alpha, Youtube.
Secret Agent X-9 (1937): VCI.
Secret Agent X-9 (1945): VCI, Youtube.
The Secret Code: Gray-market, Youtube.
The Secret of Treasure Island: the Serial Squadron.
Secret Service in Darkest Africa: Gray-market.
The Shadow: Mill Creek, Youtube.
Shadow of Chinatown: Sinister Cinema, Alpha, Youtube.
The Shadow of the Eagle: Marengo, Alpha.
The Sign of the Wolf: Serial Squadron.
Sky Raiders: Available on the gray market and (in a horrible tinted print) on Youtube. Hermitage Hill put out a version.
Son of Geronimo: Gray-market.
Son of the Guardsman: Gray-market.
Son of Zorro: Grapevine.
SOS Coast Guard: VCI, Serial Squadron, Youtube.
The Spider Returns: Gray-market, Youtube.
The Spider’s Web: The Serial Squadron, Youtube.
Spy Smasher: Gray-market, Youtube.
Superman: Warner Brothers (available in a set with the other Superman serial).
Tailspin Tommy: VCI.
Tailspin Tommy in the Great Air Mystery: VCI, Serial Squadron, Youtube.
Terry and the Pirates: VCI, Youtube. The only extant print has a few missing soundtrack portions with dialogue rather ineptly redubbed.
Tex Granger: Gray-market.
The Three Musketeers: Marengo Youtube.
The Tiger Woman: Roan, Youtube.
Tim Tyler’s Luck: VCI.
Trader Tom of the China Seas: Gray-market.
Undersea Kingdom: VCI, Grapevine, Echo Bridge, Youtube.
The Valley of Vanishing Men: Gray-market.
The Vanishing Legion: the Serial Squadron, with a caveat: the original Squadron release absurdly edited out a bit of first-chapter footage that the Squadron proprietor deemed “offensive” and presented it as an “extra” with commentary. Outrage over this censorship prompted a reissue with the footage reinserted. For a while, the Squadron offered both versions; their current blurb for the serial indicates that they only offer the uncensored one now, but it would be well to inquire before ordering it. All Squadron prints add an on-screen credit for Boris Karloff to the serial; this bothered some buffs, but has never really been an issue to me.
The Vanishing Shadow: Serial Squadron, Youtube.
The Vigilante: Gray-market, Youtube.
The Vigilantes Are Coming: VCI, Serial Squadron (the Squadron chose to retitle it “The Eagle.”)
The Whispering Shadow: Alpha, Sinister Cinema, Youtube.
White Eagle: VCI.
Who’s Guilty: Gray-market.
Wild West Days: Gray-market.
Winners of the West: VCI, Youtube (the VCI is much superior).
The Wolf Dog: Serial Squadron.
Young Eagles: Grapevine.
Zombies of the Stratosphere: Gray-market, Youtube.
Zorro Rides Again: VCI, Serial Squadron, Troma, Youtube.
Zorro’s Black Whip: VCI, Serial Squadron, Roan, Grapevine, Youtube.
Zorro’s Fighting Legion: VCI, Roan, Youtube.