You don't have to be as old as Christmas to remember a time when giving a video as a gift was truly extravagant. For the holiday gift-buying season of 1991, it's gotten to the point where they can be stocking stuffers.
Just about any movie you can think of -- other than the latest releases -- is available for purchase on video for under $30; many can be had for less than $15. And, for those with deeper pockets, boxed sets bringing together popular movie series or stars are also on the market.
Space does not permit us to list even 1 percent of the gift-priced videos available this year. But here are some of the offerings that stand out.
*Rosebud roundup: 1991 was the 50th anniversary of Orson Welles' immortal "Citizen Kane," and Turner Home Entertainment offering a newly remastered tape of the film in several gift sets. The biggest is a $99.98 package that includes a second tape titled "Reflections on Citizen Kane"; a hard-cover book, "Citizen Kane: The Fiftieth Anniversary Album"; photo stills from the film; a theatrical poster, and a bound copy of the script. Another set, with just the two cassettes and the hardcover book is $49.98. The movie alone is $19.98.
*Box 'em: Among this year's special movie collections are: A set of "Die Hard" and "Die Hard 2: Die Harder," from Fox Video for $34.98. From MGM/UA Home Video at $49.98 each: The Gene Kelly Collection -- "Singin' in the Rain," "An American in Paris" and "On the Town." The Humphrey Bogart Collection -- "The Maltese Falcon," "The Big Sleep" and "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre." The Bette Davis Collection -- "Now, Voyager," "Dark Victory" and "Jezebel." The Greta Garbo Collection -- "Camille," "Ninotchka" and "Grand Hotel."
From Warner Home Video, sets of: "Gremlins" and "Gremlins 2 The New Batch" ($39.92). "The Neverending Story" and "The Neverending Story II: The Next Chapter" ($39.92). "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" and "The Witches" ($39.92). "Damn Yankees," "Pajama Game" and "The Music Man" ($59.92). "National Lampoon's Vacation," "National Lampoon's European Vacation" and "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" ($59.92).
*For children: Videos for youngsters continue to pour onto the marketplace -- some of them wonderful, most of them as dreadful as the trash they're exposed to on Saturday morning TV.
The Disney folks opened their vaults generously this year, with video releases of such gems as "Peter Pan" and "Fantasia." But there are more obscure titles floating around in some stores, or available by mail. Among the best is the Sugar and Spice Series ($9.99 each, Video Treasures). Disney was never like this, and parents and children looking for an antidote to Disney's florid visuals and serious tone may find it here.
As you might guess from the name of the series, they are mainly stories aimed at girls: "Alice in Wonderland," "Cinderella," "Heidi," "The Secret Garden," "Snow White" and "Thumbelina." They may be traditional folk tales, but there's a twist: The scripts are hip, up-to-date renderings of the stories -- the murderous hunter in "Snow White" is an Elvis impersonator, for example.
The animation is simple and a little silly, somewhat reminiscent of the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons, and, as on the R&B show, sly asides to adults abound. To order, call (800) 786-8777.