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Two Fine Examples of Power of Lasers


Laser collector's sets are the perfect medium for the sublime and the ridiculous, as two fine recent releases reveal.

One of the most ambitious laser limited editions to be released is Pioneer's "Amadeus" ($160), the eight-Oscar-winning film of the Peter Shaffer play. The transfer from film to disc is state of the art and the music never sounded better. It was mixed separately for the startlingly new AC-3 discrete six-track and stereo-surround sound.

Commentary by director Milos Forman and writer Shaffer fills one supplementary soundtrack while a second track features the musical soundtrack alone.

A supplementary documentary, "The Last Laugh," provides a detailed look at the making of the film, including interviews with stars Tom Hulce and F. Murray Abraham, who won an Oscar as Mozart's rival Salieri, as well as Jeffrey Jones, who had a field day playing Emperor Joseph II. The hour documentary also includes interviews with Sir Neville Marriner, who conducted the soundtrack, and producer Saul Zaentz, who ended up releasing the soundtrack himself when others turned him down (he sold millions of records in the process).

For this set, the soundtrack has been remixed and remastered from the original session tapes and presented on a 24-bit CD, which is further accompanied by a handsomely mounted program designed to evoke the feel of 18th century Vienna.

And if all that isn't enough, a 50-page full-color supplement on "The Mozart Firmament" includes essays on the primary players plus beautifully reproduced paintings, engravings and prints on loan from museums in Salzburg, Vienna and Berlin along with 10 of Theodor Pistek's original costume designs.

And when you're ready to camp out in front of the set, with a dozen buds in outrageous costumes, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" 20th anniversary laser set (Fox Video, $125) should keep you satiated.

The eight-page liner notes accompanying the special THX edition even offer the "Official RHPS Prop List" for viewer participation, in case you've missed one of the midnight screenings over the last couple of decades.

What you never got at those screenings, you'll get here, including a "misprint" ending and deleted scenes that aficionados will be hard-pressed to do without, including cut songs, alternate takes and angles of a variety of scenes, trailers and stills.

A documentary offers archival footage and interviews with the cast and crew, including director Jim Sharmon and set designer Brian Thomson. There's also Sal Piro's "Creatures of the Night II," an oversize paperback that's essentially a scrapbook of the last two decades of "Rocky" midnight road shows and pictures of enough assorted memorabilia to curdle any fan's heart.

If that's not enough, there's a 24-karat gold CD soundtrack that offers the "Sword of Damocles" and other gems not included on previous soundtrack albums. And if that's still not enough, the film also comes with a supplementary audience participation soundtrack. Neighbors: beware.

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