Winner: Most Exciting Title for a DVD Release 2004
Do you like lighthouses? How about general information about American maritime history? Does that float your boat? Well, for the lighthouse DVD completist — if there is indeed such an animal — you’ll be down with Koch Vision’s 58-minute sojourn into lighthouse lore. Lighthouses of North America will scratch that itch for lighthouse lovers, but for folks who are uninterested, you’d probably rather retile your bathroom floor.
The presentation is fairly low-budget. The sound effects are cheesy (my favorite: the pseudo-ghost effects and creepy music played during a haunted lighthouse segment, followed by rudimentary screen effects to simulate, I guess, demonic possession?), the film quality is mediocre, and the on-screen attributes appear to be generated by an early-’80s Texas Instruments prototype. Oh, and where are the subtitles?
But aside from the chintzy presentation, Lighthouses of North America delivers where it counts. It packs its 58 minutes of run time with more lighthouse info than you can shake a stick at. From Maine to Florida to California to Utah (kidding), the program will take you on a tour that highlights all the lighthouse heavy hitters. In addition, you’ll get nautical historical tidbits, folklore, and even detailed analysis of the workings of various lighting mechanisms. I know what you’re thinking: (crickets chirping).
The highlight of the disc for me was the segment where a lighthouse actually had to be picked up and moved to anther place due to erosion. A bunch of salty construction workers let fly the logistics: jacking up the structure, stabilizing it, and rolling it through a massive trench. Definitely slightly interesting.
There’s not much else I can say; this is a disc aimed at lighthouse buffs and, perhaps, maritime history aficionados. If you don’t fall within that category, you’ll likely be bored sideways. But for what it wants to be, Lighthouse of North America is a very decent offering. It delivers all it claims in its title: You will see lighthouses, and they are indeed located in North America.
(Hmm, what else can I talk about? Mentioned the goofy ghost effects, noted the bulb mechanisms, moving the big-ass lighthouse — check. Oh, right — the technical aspects.) Lighthouses of North America comes with a full-frame transfer and a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio mix. Video quality is average, with the colors appearing quite — er — washed out.
(That was quick. Let’s see, what now? Think, Johnson, think! Right! Extra features!)
There are no extra features.
All right, here’s my last-ditch effort to stretch this thing out: a piece of short fiction about lighthouses.
“The Case of the Ghost Pirate and the Haunted Lighthouse”: A Short Story in the Form of a Hardy Boys Mystery
One day Frank Hardy and his brother Joe Hardy were washing their car when their best friend Chet ran up to them, breathless.
“Frank! Joe! I have something important to tell you!” Chet said.
Frank and Joe laughed at their plump chum.
Frank said, “Golly Chet, your face is red!” he said.
Joe said, “Gee whiz Chet, you sure are plump, chum!” Joe said.
Chet laughed and said, “Oh fellows!” he said, exasperated. Exasperated, he said, “Listen guys, you have to come with me to Bearclaw Lighthouse! I think it’s haunted! Fellows!”
Frank and Joe laughed at their plump chum.
Frank said to his plump chum, “Chet, are you trying to trick us?!” he said to Chet, his chum, who happened to be plump.
“No way!” Chet replied. He said, “You know the rumors! Strange sounds at night! And no plants or vegetation grow anywhere around that lighthouse!” he said.
“So?!” Joe exclaimed, exclaiming “So?!”
“But I just saw a ghost pirate lurking inside!” Chet, plump chum of Frank and Joe’s, said.
“You’re kidding, el plumpo chummo,” Frank said.
“No, I’m serious!” Chet said. Chet then said: “I’ll show you! Follow me to the foul fallow field, fellows! And don’t waffle!”
So Joe and Frank and Chet (he’s the plump one on the right) jumped into the Hardys’ car, Frank turned the key and started it, then depressed the accelerator, and the boys raced to Bearclaw Lighthouse, propelled by a combination of internal combustion and forward inertia. When they arrived, Frank stopped the car and turned off the ignition. The boys opened the doors and began to investigate the old lighthouse.
“See, chums, no plants or grass or anything!” Chet said, his eyes wide.
“Why are your eyes so wide?” Joe asked.
Suddenly, all of a sudden, a voice suddenly rang out, startling the boys with its sudden suddenness.
“STAY AWAY FROM THIS LIGHTHOUSE, WHICH HAPPENS TO BE HAUNTED!”
Chet screamed like the plump chum he was. The Hardy boys ran immediately into the lighthouse to find the source of the voice. As soon as they entered, they stopped, stunned by the odd-looking person standing before them. The man was glowing. But he wasn’t a pirate.
“Hey, it’s Admiral Woody,” Joe exclaimed.
Frank nodded, then asked, “Admiral Woody, what are you doing so far away from the docks?” he asked.
Admiral Woody had a wild look in his eyes. “STAY AWAY FROM THE WATERMELONS, BOYS! THE MONKEYS WILL NOT APPRECIATE YOU MEDDLING IN THEIR AFFAIRS!”
Frank and Joe ran from the lighthouse. Chet saw them and exclaimed: “Did you see the ghost pirate?”
The two boy sleuths laughed.
Frank said, “Oh Chet! That was just Admiral Woody. He seems to have contracted some radiation poisoning on his last mission for the Navy!”
“And that’s why there’s no grass growing here!” Joe said, snapping his fingers.
“Great job, fellows!” exclaimed Chet. “Another case closed! Let’s go get a chocolate malt!”
“Yeah, because you could really use one, you fatso!” said Joe, laughing.
“Please don’t make fun of my weight problem,” Chet said.
The boy sleuths laughed and laughed.