New Year; new posts…

 

Happy New Year!

With a new year and a new need to have some sort of creative output; I’ve decided to re-start this blog. Make sure that you keep checking here soon for more reviews and overviews, and as always- comments & suggestions are appreciated…

One more way you can follow me is through my radio show. The nice folks at Cult Radio A-Go-Go (http://cultradioagogo.com) have given me a half hour to do what I wish, so I’ve turned the empty time into “Kitschen Sink Radio”  airing on Saturdays @ 7:30PM EST / 4:30 PM PST (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kitschen-Sink-Radio/123873747678483) – a show about bad music and the people that put it out. Already we’re up to 17 shows and I’ve been happy with the response, so make sure that you tune in…

The start of something new…

  

 

   As a movie-obsessed kid at the dawn of the Home Video age, I was always fascinated that most VHS tapes were priced around $100 with the idea that the buyers would be Video stores who were going to turn around and rent them out. There was really nothing like “Movies-on-Demand”- your choices were you either rented what you wanted (and if you wanted to KEEP a copy then you either combed the ‘used tape’ bins of you Mom and Pop store or you rigged up an elaborate “tape dubbing” system), or you taped off of the Cable system you had (hoping that your parents would pay for as many ‘premium’ channels as you could talk them into. I remember talking my Mom into Cinemax because of the more obscure movies they would play, only to get it taken away when she found out they didn’t even start broadcasting until late every afternoon (I’m sure none of you younger folks remember, but there was a time when TV stations actually SHUT DOWN in the late evening/early morning hours!)…

 

   So the Video Age rolled on; stores opened up that were actually geared toward the home user, and movie companies started selling video tapes “priced-to-own”; meaning retailing in the under $50 and even the under $25 range. Library titles with favorites like “The Sound of Music” et al were available everywhere; along with your brand new ‘Styx’ album purchase at your local Peaches Records and Tapes store you could get a copy of “True Grit” for your family to enjoy (as long as the magnetic tape didn’t oxidize). But along with specialty stores, it seemed like everyone wanted to get into the act; soon you could get movies at drugstores, grocery stores, even discount chains. And the discount chains were the ones that broke it open for me…

 

   I went into a Zayre’s in the early 80’s and was pleasantly surprised by a whole dump bin of VHS movies (boxed in those oversized ‘clamshell’ boxes; some cardboard and some punched plastic) that were $7.99. These weren’t the normal mass-produced, family fare that I was use to seeing- these were the crappy “Creature Feature” movies that I grew up devouring on Saturday Afternoons and Late Night horror shows!  Sure, the labeling was of questionable origin (even then I could spot ‘grey-market’ vendors), but who cared as long as I could bring home for my own personal viewing such  low-taste/high entertainment value gems like “Twilight People” or “Bride Of The Monster” for my very own. Well, being a collector at heart (even then I was collecting old movie one-sheets; I had so many I would put the on top of other posters on my walls; they must have been three or 4 deep by the time my Mom got rid of everything) I would comb the crummiest stores in the hope that I would find a stack of PD and specifically ‘budget’ titles…

 

   So, as I got older my collection grew as it got easier to find the stuff I liked. I would spend whatever it took to get certain titles sometimes (especially from “tape traders”- collectors who would port 16mm copies of movies, public domain or not, for sale “from one collector to another”) but I would take the most satisfaction in getting tapes 5 bucks or under- I almost felt that it was too cheap (but, thanks to my hearty penny-pinching Irish heritage I quickly got over THAT). Qualities varied wildly; some prints looked like they were passed over a Brillo pad prior to being copied while others were at least UHF-broadcast like, but it didn’t matter- I wouldn’t have to wait months or years hoping there would be a late night showing of “Horror High”; as long as no one was using the VCR I was golden. Now during this time (after a particularly large tax refund) I splurged and got a Laserdisc player (in fact I still own it and it words almost perfectly) and would hit up Camelot Records for their cutout discs, where I could find some more of the drek I adore for under 10 bucks (and if Camelot was REALLY sick of some of the cutouts they had on hand, they could be has for as low as $1.98- that’s how I got copies of “Howling 3”; “Dr. Alien” and “Side Out”- the “Rocky” volleyball rip-off with C. Thomas Howell and Peter Horton!). I can’t really count laserdiscs in this discussion though- there weren’t any ‘budget’ companies or people duping off home-made copies. This DID lead, however, to DVDs…

 

   Unlike the lag when VCRs rolled out (and when Laserdiscs never did really have budget titles), the budget DVD market started almost as soon as DVDs rolled out. I have to guess there were a few reasons for this- the low cost of blanks and duplicating equipment almost immediately; the dearth of movies, made-for-TV flicks and TV shows out there, either in the Public Domain, in the “grey market” of “There might be rights-holders to this stuff but we can’t find ‘em” or the out-and-out brazen thievery of “Let ‘em try to sue me for stealing their movie and putting it out there”. I think another reason is that so many outlets need product to sell; you can go into any Dollar Store, Flea Market or check cashing store and find 99 cent DVDs as a draw (I’ve also heard that it’s popular with Adult Video stores- they’ll advertise “99 cent” DVDs in their windows or ads trying to lure people in and point them to these non-adult titles. Oh those porn purveyors- a sneaky lot they are!). So now there are thousands of titles available from seemingly hundreds of companies- how do you know what’s a gem and what’s a dirt bomb? Well, that’s why I started this little site- to weed through what’s worthy and what’s just plain worthless. A DVD treasure hunt, so to speak, and to share my finds (and hopefully get some feedback from like-minded readers). A few rules (which will, I’m sure, be broken at basically any whim I have):

 

   *  I’ve been trying to set a dollar figure as to what constitutes a “Budget” release; I think a buck is just too little but I didn’t want to go much higher than that. For now I’m going to set it at $5 and under. I’ve got a gut feeling this is going to drop (more of a challenge) but let’s see for now…

 

   *  I like all kinds of movies and I have to think that at some time or another I’m going to cover all genres, but because of my interests in the “Psychotronic”-type titles (thanks Michael Weldon for the perfect word) I have a gut feeling that my ramblings are going to cover more of the Horror/Sci-Fi/Drive-in type movies and less of the “Hollywood big-budget Musicals of the 40’s” (for example). Again- we’ll just see where this all leads…

 

   *  I would like to steer clear of markdowns, sales, and “loss leaders” of regular DVDs priced extra cheap as a sale. You can look in any Sunday issue of the newspaper and see that at least Best Buy and Circuit City are selling a stack of titles at $5 and under. Wal-Mart’s usually have giant dump bins of “2 for $10” DVDs as well- I would really like to stay away from that type of inclusion as it really isn’t in the spirit of this site. And yes, that includes the el cheapo “Black Friday” sales- let’s try to avoid those for now. Oh, and I would like to stick to “new” only- I’m sure there are all kinds of deals to be had at ‘second-hand’ places, but that’s not what I’m looking to cover here…

 

   *  I WOULD, however, like to include budget boxed sets. Makers such as Brentwood/BCI regularly put out 10, 20, 50 or even 100 pack sets, and even though the whole set exceeds the self-imposed $5 ceiling imposed, technically, for example, a 100 title set of Westerns selling at $37.95 comes in at about 38 cents a movie- well-within the spirit of this site. Now, does this mean a double feature disc that goes for $10 should count? Wellllllllll, we’re going to have to see. Again, I’m going to use as my Mantra for this “Spirit of the site…” and go from there…

 

   *  Finally- I have been saying “movies” throughout this whole thing, but I don’t mean to limit this to that. Of course, stumbling on DVD titles like “Hunting the 12-point Buck”; “Stereo installation for your ’77 Chevy” or “Bobby Vinton- Live in Concert” may have, uh, limited appeal. I will try to be self-censoring (while, hopefully, not offending those looking for the elusive “Catching, cutting and cooking the Midwest Crappie”)…

 

   That’s it- thanks for taggin’ along and I hope that both of us get something from this little experiment

 

   Jeff