If you're planning to order a videotape by mail for a Christmas gift, better act fast--some companies require that you obtain a catalogue first (so that you can give the catalogue number when ordering) and shipping times can vary. However, these obstacles may be worth overcoming if you want to open up your video-viewing--or that of a friend--to a wider scope of entertainment and information than local video stores.
VIDEO SCHOOLHOUSE: The second edition of this amazing catalogue, published by Sallyforth of Monterey, doubles the number of entries in the December, 1985, first edition (to 7,000 in 60 categories). The tape you want but can't find anywhere is likely to be here--if it's available and not a movie. This readable 265-page catalogue will introduce even the most jaded video hunter to new quarry: The expected is here (Jane Fonda workouts, et al.), but so are "Racquetball--Winner's Edge," "Positive Energy: The Wellness Series," "Emergency First Aid for Your Horse" ( lots of equine education videos--horses are one of Sallyforth owner Sally L. Lasater's passions), "Building a Patio Cover," "D. W. Griffith: An American Genius," "Video Fireplace" (only $19.95--"No logs to haul!"), "Basic New Orleans Cuisine," an "Enriching Your Marriage" series. . . .
Video Schoolhouse isn't perfect; in fact, it's surprisingly skimpy in such areas as children's viewing and gardening, and lacks an index, which would have been helpful. And the $3 compendium sometimes does not use its space well--the "Wisdom of Alan Watts" series is listed twice just five pages apart. But overall this may be the best source yet for documentary and how-to videos. Plus you can make arrangements to rent rather than buy. Information: (800) 345-1441 or (408) 375-4474; outside California, (800) 367-0432.
VIDEO ARTS INTERNATIONAL: For opera and dance fans, VAI offers a high-quality selection of related tapes; (212) 799-7798. Other good sources for classical-music videocassettes: KULTUR, (201) 229-2343; V.I.E.W., (212) 674-5550; HBO/CANNON, (212) 977-8990.
HOLIDAY: This company specializes in scenic tapes (video trips to major national parks, "King Arthur and His Country: Southern England") and several documentaries about space travel ("The Voyager Missions to Jupiter and Saturn"). Box 619, Whittier 90608; (213) 945-3325 (collect calls accepted on orders 7 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays). Other travel video sources: INTERNATIONAL VIDEO NETWORK, (800) 443-0100; TRAVEL VIDEO, (800) 826-5557.
VIDEO GUIDE: Casting call: This Santa Rosa company's catalogue covers several areas, but stresses fishing and hunting tapes. (707) 542-5555.
AVIATION FILM: Have an armchair pilot on your shopping list? This company offers more than 200 videos on flying, some very specialized. How about "Air Sighting by Apparent Motion"? The 65-page catalogue is $1. Box 1945, San Marcos, Calif. 92069. (619) 726-4442.
ARMOUR PRODUCTIONS: For the true car nut, just driving the things isn't enough. Here are videos on "Competition Corvettes," "The Early Birds" (T-Birds, that is), "Racing Ferraris." All $39.95. (714) 538-5811.
MORRIS VIDEO: Want to repair the living room after that crazy New Year's Eve party, or do any other fix-its about the house? This Redondo Beach business probably has a video that can show you how. (213) 374-4984, (213) 379-2414.
INTERNATIONAL HISTORIC FILMS: A free, 81-page catalogue lists hundreds of videos "about events that have shaped the entire world since 1910." Much of the material consists of government-made propaganda and informational films--mostly by our government but also including items "recently declassified from Britain, Germany and Russia." 3015 West 59th St., Chicago 60629. (312) 436-8051.
MOVIES, MOVIES, MOVIES: OK, you're so much into movies that evwn though your local store stocks thousands of them, you still can't find that obscure Japanese film of that F.W. murnau silent classic that you've heard is on video. Then try one of these mail-orcer sources: MOVIES UNLIMITED, (800) 523-0823; VIDEOTHEQUE, (213) 858-7600 or (800) 621-849, Ext. 430; BUDGET VIDEO, (213) 466-2431; VIDEO YESTERYEAR, (800) 243-0987; EVERGREEN, (800) 225-7783; HOME FILM FESTIVAL, (800) 258-3456.