Think of it as the ultimate insane markdown: typical cost to make a movie, $25 million. Typical cost to make a present of it on video, $25. But the bargain offered by video is only part of why the medium is ideal for playing Santa. With video gifts, the recipient can take second, third, and fourth helpings — and they’re nonfattening. Best of all, they’re infinitely adaptable. The Gap carries only so many shades of T-shirt, but with tens of thousands of programs on tape and disc, you can truly hand-tailor the fit. And since the real fun is matching just the right movie, documentary, music video, or how-to guide with just the right giftee, we’ve done more than pick some of the year’s most appealing video baubles — we’ve figured out who on your holiday gift list will most appreciate them.
For Aunt Crystal, who never lets anyone forget she was at Woodstock, even though she’s been a management consultant since 1978: The Flashing on the Sixties book and video set (Pacific Arts, $29.95) should take Crystal back to the glory days of patchouli oil and Wavy Gravy. The book collects the photos of Lisa Law, who had the knack of being present at just about every cultural watershed of the decade, while the video — subtitled A Tribal Document and also directed by Law — features stellar survivors like Dennis Hopper and a whole lot of groovy home movies of the era.
For lanky stepbrother Mike, who spends most every family gathering in the next room glued to hoops games on the tube: The Story of a Game—Collector’s Edition (Strand, $29.99), a two-volume history of basketball narrated by veteran sportscaster Jim McKay, highlights most of the game’s greats — up to and including hoop whiz Shaquille O’Neal — as well as the Harlem Globetrotters and the ’72 Olympics. The package comes with a 32-page booklet and three trading cards of San Antonio Spurs superstar David Robinson.
For delinquent, just-turned-teen twins Travis and Stephanie, who love to ruin holiday meals by discussing splatter movies in lurid detail: Give ’em a $ cartoon team to which they can relate — Ren & Stimpy (Sony Wonder, $14.95 each). Recently resuscitated twice nightly on MTV, Nickelodeon’s original cartoon rude boys are poised for rediscovery by the masses. The fluid, painstakingly designed, animated misadventures of the Peter Lorre-esque Chihuaha and his dopey fat-cat pal are now available on a series of tapes. They compile several episodes each under the appropriate titles: The Classics, The Stupidest Stories, and — how seasonal — Have Yourself a Stinky Little Christmas.
For aging UncleWilberforce, the Republican who’s still stubbornly, silently fighting the Cold War: Send him rocketing back to the bomb-shelter age with a hefty boxed laserdisc set of the first three James Bond movies, The Connery Collection (MGM/UA, $69.98, unrated). What could warm his sexist, Goldwater-in-’64-boosting, Commie-hating heart more than seeing a young, trim Sean Connery (still with his very own hair!) dissing Moneypenny in Dr. No, beating the crap out of Soviet agents in From Russia With Love, and stroking villainess Pussy Galore in Goldfinger? Politically incorrect overtones aside, the whole family will appreciate rediscovering the series’ best, leanest, most wittily violent entries, made before megabudget bloat set in.