Stealing DVDs for profit…

Stealing DVDs for profit
Big Lots ran a pretty nifty special in this past ad (depending how your area times it, it was either in the 7/26 (Sunday) or 7/29 (Wednesday) ad): assorted DVD Boxed Sets for $3 each. This goes with a special that they had a few weeks ago of similar savings; other boxed sets for $6 each. A little search of some of the stores around both here as well as reading various posts on forums like “DVDTalk.com” showed that these were all produced by Warner Brothers; one of the biggest arms in the Home Video market, and some incredible titles easily valued from at least 5 times the price. The previous haul had some nice finds like some Superman & Batman cartoons (as well as Scooby-Doo!); the entire Roots and Roots: The Next Generation deluxe boxed sets; Blade- The Series; and, the sweetest deal I got my hands on, the entire three season run of Wonder Woman (Ooooo- Lynda Carter!) boxed set! Six bucks was too hard to resist (the Wonder Woman set, for example, retails at $70+ at Amazon)…
…but it didn’t stop there- the more recent three dollar wave has had some pretty cherry things: The Flintstones seasons (I still need Season 5 of all six- anybody willin’ to help a brother out?) as well as the newer Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm series; a bunch of other Hanna-Barbera gems like Josie and the Pussycats entire series; Wacky Races series (and, separately, Dastardly and Muttly as well as The Perils of Penelope Pitstop); Top Cat series; Jonny Quest seasons 1 and 2 and others. They also had some live action things live the George Reeves Adventures of Superman (individual seasons); Tales From the Crypt (individually- still need seasons 6 & 7); and more recent things like various seasons of The War at Home; Lois and Clark; Everwood and Joey (Friends spinoff). There were also all kinds of cool, limited things that have been turning up (I’ve quickly come to cherish a boxed set of Popeye cartoons from 1933-1938)- but, like anything good it seems; there’s a hitch… It’s all stolen merchandise. From the Hollywood Reporter:
July 29, 2009
Warner Bros. lawsuit claims $10 million loss in brazen DVD theftBy Matthew Belloni
The home video arm of Warner Bros. has filed a $10 million lawsuit against a company the studio says agreed to destroy 2 million surplus DVDs but instead turned around and sold them on the cheap.
The complaint, filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges that Agoura Hills-based IWMB, Inc. and its president, Cal Jones, were subcontracted to dispose of the excess Warner Home Video DVDs and Blu-Rays but intead hawked them to a third party who put them on the market at discount prices that significantly undercut legit retailers. At least 750,000 of the stolen units were sold and 250,000 remain unaccounted for, according to the lawsuit.
Studios periodically destroy excess DVD product, which consists of unsold discs returned from vendors and defective goods. Here, WHV says it entrusted the product to Cinram Distribution, which has a deal with Warners to handle excess inventory (and which, surprisingly, is not a defendant). Cinram subcontracted with IWMB, which is alleged to have shown Warners a “fraudulent certificate of destruction” before going out and selling the DVDs and Blu-Rays on its own.
“The resale of the Warner Product at prices that undercut the prevailing wholesale and retail prices resulted in a substantial loss of revenue to WHV, believed to exceed $10 million,” the complaint says. WHV alleges fraud, conversion and violation of California’s business code. It seeks punitive damages as well as an injunction against further sale of the stolen product.
Neither IWMB nor Jones could be reached for comment.

Warners is repped in the case by White O’Connor partners Andrew White and David Fink and associate Hajir Ardebili.”

Now WHY WB does this is obvious- they don’t want to poison their own retail arm and if the market is flooded with their product at an impossible price point, their retail partners would surely start returning unsold merchandise hand over fist, causing all sorts of issues for everyone involved. Also, as Blu-Ray is the new favorite date of late, this would surely undercut that market as well- something the fledgling new media doesn’t need right now. This is truly an odd case, and one that I’ve never heard before…
My suggestion? Take a trek to a few of the Big Lots in your area and pick up any of the titles that they have on hand that interest you- I have a gut feeling that in the next few days they will be “Gone With the Wind”…
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K-Mart quickly becoming the Big Lots of DVDs…

 

 

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   I know that K-Mart has been in some financial mess for some time now and I’ve always hated shopping there, so I try to avoid the place like no one’s business (the stores are always a mess; they never have ad items, etc.); however, since I’ve moved from over-populated South Florida to the more sparse southern Tennessee, I’ve found that places to shop aren’t really “just around the corner”, so I find myself at K-Mart on occasion needing normal household items. Since I have to be there anyway, I end up drifting to the Electronics section and on my last trip stumbled into a nice little Collector’s niche (and, as always, Your Mileage May Vary)…

 

   First off they have a bunch of cheap Xenon titles. Xenonis a (basically) exploitation company heavy on “Blaxploitation” and Latin titles. They’ve been around for a long time, and are still pushing out “lower-rung” titles (third-tier National Lampoon titles; Urban karate titles), but hit their stride years ago releasing the so-bad-they’re good classic Rudy Ray Moore titles like Dolemite and The Human Tornado (one of the favorites in my collection is a signed copy of Tornado by the late Rudy Ray- he died in October of 2008. Oh, and he was born in Akron just like me!). So now, at $3.99 each, they had the following Xenon titles:

 

 

   * (Avenging) Disco Godfather– The last of his string of theatrical released flicks; probably his only PG rated flick has Rudy as the town’s hottest Disco record-spinner, who also acts as a one-man force out to stamp out “wack” (PCP). Crazy and funny- must be seen!…

 

   * The Human Tornado– The sequel to Dolemite and the only true follow-up to the original; this one is probably better than the first Dolemite(as in physically well-made) but still jaw-droppingly bad. Just try to watch this chubby guy karate-chopping guys left and right (missing them entirely and yet they still fall!) without laughing- it’s impossible…

 

   * Rudy Ray Moore: Rude– Rudy started off (and made his name) as a stand-up comedian (in the tradition of Redd Foxx- lots of filthy talk about various body parts and sex acts- at the time considered shocking but now just obnoxious) and this video is his act, filmed in 1981, interspersed with his buddies like Leroy and Skillet (setting back the black cause by thirty years)…

 

   * Petey Wheatstraw: The Devil’s Son-in-Law– An absolutely INSANE flick that has Rudy battling the Devil in HELL. Please watch sober; if you are impaired watching this it may actually cause permanent brain damage, and turn you into a drooling, blubbering idiot…

 

   They also have Penetentiary 1 and 3 (however, they don’t have #2- which is my favorite of the series and borderline-insane, and Mr. T’s first on-screen appearance); the prison boxing series starring Leon Isaac Kennedyas “Too Sweet” Cordone, who can gain his freedom by boxing in the joint. Pretty entertaining…

 

   K-Mart also has a bunch of Anchor Bay titles; these are all horror and most are out of print. They are classic titles; all single-disc, and are selling for $4.99 each. They have:

 

 

   * The Original Halloween

   * Hellraiser 1 & 2

   * The Original Dawn of the Dead(the Divamax edition- superior quality)

   * The Original The Hills Have Eyes (I HATE all these remakes- I shouldn’t have to by typing “The Original in front of all of these!)

   * Creepshow 2

   * Children of the Corn

   * Re-animator

 

 

   My opinion is that you can skip Corn and the Hellraiser ones (and some people are really polarized on Creepshow 2 and yeah, it’s not nearly as great at the original, but still pretty entertaining), but if you are any kind of  horror movie fan you have to own the others- they are our generation’s Frankenstein, Dracula and The Wolfman. Snap these up while you can!

More cheap stuff from Dolphin Video…

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I covered these guys on a previous post from January called “More BCI-ECLIPSE- this time wholesale” (https://budgetdvdhunter.wordpress.com/2009/01/29/more-bci-eclipse-this-time-wholesale%e2%80%a6/); they’re a wholesaler who seems to sell new DVDs from closed up companies or titles which DVD manufacturers must have lost the rights for so they’re liquidating. Some of the more interesting titles currently on-hand (again though, these go pretty damn quick so if you want something snatch it up) are:

Final Exam– This one really surprised me the most as this was a new release late last year. The movie itself is not very good (I saw it when it came in 1981 at a drive-in in Casselberry Florida and didn’t like it then); an example of 50,000 stalk and slash flicks that clogged theaters in the early 80’s. It’s pretty boring; the kills aren’t all that imaginative, and from up and down screams cheap. I ended up watching this when it hit my “Netflix” cue; not for the movie itself but for the extras (I’m a huge sucker for DVD extras and will sometimes purchase a disc just for the extras), which were some interviews with the cast (none of who really went on to anything else in the movie biz) and a pretty good commentary (however, no participation from the Director- which leads me to believe that he is suitably embarrassed by his efforts here). Brand new this goes for $18 on Amazon; Dolphin has it for $2.75…

Don’t Answer the Phone– Another one that I caught at the same drive-in; this one was better than the above movie (not necessarily TECHNICALLY, but it has a veneer of overall creepiness and teeth-grinding leading performance by the late Nicholas Worth (Swamp Thing). This is the UNCUT version and am looking forward to seeing it. It also has a Directors’ commentary, a “making of” documentary, stills and trailers. This one retails around $13, but is sold discounted here for $1.50…

Crypt of Terror- Horror From South of the Border Vol. 1– This is a weird collection of seven Mexican-made horror flicks that hadn’t been released on this side of the line until now. All are of recent vintage (well, by RECENT I mean within 20 years, as opposed to the 1960’s Mexican flicks I would watch on Creature Feature growing up), and most are in their original Spanish with English subtitles. A big bargain; this is going to $23 on Amazon and selling here for $2.50…

Worth mentioning as well are some $20 Paul Naschy “Best Buy Exclusive” two disc sets (Human Beasts with Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll; which is selling for $3.25, and Lorely’s Grasp with Horror Rises from the Tomb; which is for sale for $1.75 a set). Like dumb bimbo/silly sex comedies? They’ve got you covered with Advantage: Hot Cops & Good Girls; an 8-movie set that includes all six (!) Vice Academy flicks (starring in various versions Linnea Quigley, Ginger Lynn Allen and Elizabeth Kaitain) along with two other flicks- retailing for $12; selling for $1.50. Also, a bunch of other 8-10 movie “Advantage” box sets also going for $1.50 per set with titles like Creature Features (PD horror flicks); Demons & Witches (10 direct-to-video sex and blood flicks) and The Cult Fims of Roger Corman (a collection of, I would guess, every PD Corman flick out there like The Terror; Wasp Woman, etc.)…

Don’t forget their inventory changes all the time (still lots of chop-socky and kids cartoons as well); they seem to have picked up some older wrestling titles (included midget and masked Mexican!) so keep checking and something is bound to turn up that does interest you if this round doesn’t. Minimum order of $50 (I’d recommend going halvsies with a friend if you can’t meet the minimum) and shipping starts at $10. This is a one-man operation, so be patient when it comes to delivery (however, I got mine in less than a week). Happy cheap shopping!

http://www.cdplusdolphinvideo.com/

More BCI-Eclipse- this time Wholesale…

 

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  This will be the first time that I’ve covered Wholesale sources for DVDs, but I ran into this Company online: 

 

 

   http://www.cdplusdolphinvideo.com/

 

 

   The rules are simple- $50.00 minimum order and shipping starts at around 10 bucks. And what do you get for that? Well- some pretty cool stuff:

 

 

   * Saturday Morning 70’s & 80’s stuff– they have some great titles that BCI released a few years ago. Including ARK II; Jason of Star Command; Bravestarr, HE-MAN and SHE-RA sets. All come with some wonderful Bonus Features, including interviews with the talent and Making-of Documentaries. These retailed at around $20.00 each and are being sold for under 5 bucks each…

 

 

   * Karate and Kung-Fu flicks– sometimes you have to have a crappy dubbed action movie, you know? Well, they have lots of sets, including a lot of Sonny Chiba and Bruce Lee collections as well as some rarer, non-PD stuff…

 

 

   *Westerns– for some reason, lots of Westerns; old and new, TV and movies, have fallen into Public Domain. Some of the better collections for sale here are things like The Vigilantes (Volumes 1 & 2)- each has 4 movies on 2 discs and go for $1.25 each; Great Western TV Shows– which has 26 episodes of some good shows including Kit Carson; Bat Masterson, Bonanza and The Rifleman– going for $2.25 each; and Bad Boys of the West– 4 disc movie set for $1.50 each…

 

 

   *Horror– some great bargains, including: Toxie Blood Bank Ten Disc set– boxed in a weird tin and includes some second-tier Troma pick-ups like Evil Clutch, Scream Baby Scream and Play Dead– going for four bucks; Aztec Mummy Boxed Set– 3 absolutely ROTTEN Mexican Mummy movies in a nice set for $1.75’ Back From The Grave– 12-movie set with borderline PDs like Legacy of Blood; Slave of the Cannibal God and Murder Mansion for the micro price of $1.75 each; and Kiss of Death– another 12 movie collection with some old (Kill Baby Kill; House on Haunted Hill) and newer flicks (Little Corey Gorey; Slashdance)- this one is going for $1.50 a set…

 

 

   They show how many copies they have left, and from what I’ve read elsewhere these can come and go pretty quick, so if you find something you’d better jump on it. I found it very easy to hit the $50 minimum, but in case you don’t, you may want to go in with someone else to split the cost. I suggest that you poke around and see what you find- happy hunting!

 

 

 

 

 

Chilling 12 disc DVD Set

 

   (or- “How a 50 movie DVD Set can Change at a Moments Notice”)

 

 

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   Mill Creek Entertainment (that also shoots out titles under its Echo Bridge Entertainment) http://www.millcreekent.com/ has for the past few years been releasing multi-movie titles in all sorts of bunched grouping; anywhere from 5 and 10 movie sets all the way to 100 Movie Packs. Obviously the larger (20/50/100 Movie Pack) Sets are various re-packages and include titles already included in previous smaller Sets (I mean- there are only so many Public Domain flicks they can pull from), but I’ve accidentally discovered TWO DIFFERENT SETS of their 50 Movie Set “The Chilling” titled identically but containing different flicks entirely…

 

 

   First though, I’d like to give a quick overview of what constitutes the grey area of a Public Domain movie. Previous to 1998 any movie made in 1977 or prior that was not re-registered through the Copyright Office fell into PD. At that time, other than the occasional showing on TV, there was no real intrinsic value of holding Copyrights if you were a small company- it would require a Lawyer to file documents and cable and DVDs (let alone the VCR boom) were yet a gleam in Mega-Corporations’ eyes. This allowed a bunch of 40’s, 50’s and 60’s (most famously Night of the Living Dead (1968)) and even the 70’s (like Alice Sweet Alice (1977) to go into PD (though the two examples dropped into the grey area because of incorrect registering and not because of any “shelf life”). After the new Act was passed, however (thanks to both the nosiness of Sonny Bono (yeah- THAT ONE) and Walt Disney Entertainment- in fear of losing their many character holdings, like Mickey Mouse), the shelf life was extended, making it easier for producers and copyright holders to retain their Rights for a longer period of time (up to 120 years as opposed to the original 27 year (if not re-registered) life. But this is not a legal Blog (I mean- it’s LEGAL- just not about “Legal matters”), so I want to talk about something more relevant to us, the Consumers…

 

 

   I purchased the “50 Movie Pack Chilling Classics” 12 DVD set a few years ago for the bargain price of around $15 and have watched quite a few of them with various degrees of appreciation. Mill Creek has put this and other sets in a flimsy cardboard box and the 12 DVDs in individual sleeves accessed from the opening in the front of the case (and one that velcros open and closed- which means that I ripped it the first time I used it). And each sleeve had the corresponding movie titles and a brief description. The quality of the movies is almost uniformly weak or worse, usually taken from VHS dupes or some other sketchy source. My worse beef with the Company, however, is the “video bug” that they burn into the corner of the screen every 15 minutes or so- a habit started with some Something Weird Video releases that I find very intrusive and incredibly annoying. But most of these titles, unless appropriated by other budget companies, probably wouldn’t see the light of day (who would release, I thought, the High School-made Milpitas Monster?) (Come to find out the Director- see http://www.milpitasmonster.com/m_mm.html for proof) so it’s worth the investment. However- be careful WHICH SET you purchase…

 

 

   I was reading about one of the titles included on my Set on IMDB- Deadtime Stories (1986)– a pretty entertaining cheapjack horror anthology featuring Scott Valentine (best known as Mallory’s dumb boyfriend on the TV show Family Ties) and someone had mentioned in the Forums that this title was mistakenly classified as Public Domain. In the interim, Mill Creek had removed it from its future copies of Chilling Classics, so I was curious as to what they replaced it with- and the results were surprising and put me in “Video Watchdog” mode, as in ACTUALLY doing REAL LIFE research. Come to find out that in this new incarnation of the 50 Movie Set that SEVEN Titles were replaced. The Titles that were on the old Set were:

 

   * Christmas Evil (a 1980 title actually just as well-known as You’d Better Watch Out, which is a so-bad-it’s-funny killer Santa flick starring Brandon Maggart)

 

   * Crypt of the Living Dead (1973) (A weak Spanish vampire flick that was parading around Drive-Ins long after on a triple-bill that I sat through in 1981 at a Drive-in in Casselberry, Florida)

 

   * Deadtime Stories (Already covered above)

 

   * Memorial Valley Massacre (a late-arriving (1988) hatchet-wielding maniac on the loose flick that has both William (“Big Bill”) Smith and Cameron Mitchell in supporting roles)

 

   * Milpitas Monster (Made in 1974 but not released for a few years- this was a Milpitas California High School project that was reportedly made for around $40,000. The whole town chipped in to make this Giant-Monster-from-the-pollution semi-parody flick. And if you recognize the Narrator- well, you should… that’s the famous voice-over guy Paul Frees!

 

   * Snake People (1971- The Mexican living dead featuring one of the last (badly-edited) roles by Boris Karloff- who had actually been dead for two years prior to this coming out)

 

   * Virus (1980’s all-star international spectacle about germ warfare funded by the US and Germany for Japanese audiences and starring genre greats like Bo Svenson, George Kennedy, Glenn Ford and Sonny Chiba)

 

 

   (If you do have both sets side by side you will notice a listing on the old one for House of the Dead and the new one for Alien Zone- this is the same movie, an anthology flick made in 1978 and one that actually aired on Elvira’s Movie Macabre in the early 80’s. I’m guessing the re-titling has something to do with some legal-ese to keep it included in the set)

 

 

 

   You would think that someone over at Mill Creek would have run the titles past a paralegal or something to avoid the expense of a possible law suit or at least having to replace legally OK discs with the offending ones but I guess not. I’m sure this is not the only multi-disc set to suffer these setbacks (I know that some of these show up on other 50 and 100-disc sets from the Company) but, well, someone else with more time on their hands is going to have to do that legwork. And it wouldn’t just be the re-mastering of the discs; all-new disc sleeves and even the outer box had to be redone (I don’t have the new Set, but the old one includes paragraphs mentioning both Christmas Evil and Deadtime Stories– I’d be curious as to what the new blurbs say)…

 

 

   Oh, and just so you know- the replacement titles on the new discs (apparently copyright-free) are:

 

   * Devil Times Five (from 1974- psycho children on the loose- a movie that was recently released by Code Red DVD and one that I’m truly surprised has fallen into PD limbo)

 

   * I Eat Your Skin (a boring black and white jungle zombie flick from the mid-sixties)

 

   * Murder Mansion (A slow-moving Italian import from 1972)

 

   * A Passenger to Bali (Not really a movie, but an episode of the mid- 50’s Studio One television show from CBS and starring E.G. Marshall)

 

   * Shock (the 1940’s Noir starring Vincent Price- NOT the final Mario Bava that was sold over here as Beyond the Door 2)

 

   * Snowbeast (1977’s answer to all of the Bigfoot hysteria- Made-for-TV and starring our pal Bo Svenson)

 

   * Werewolf in a Girl’s Dormitory (Italian man-wolf nonsense; B&W from 1963)

 

 

   From all I’ve read there are still some old copies on shelves out their in RetailLand; you may want to try stores that have a slower turnover rate for DVDs- like Border’s Books for example.

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

BCI-Eclipse shuts down (R.I.P)…

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   I was hoping to squeeze in one more (semi-) review before the New Year (oddly-enough for one of their releases) when it was announced that BCI-Eclipse was being shuttered by their holding company Navarre. This is a pretty big announcement to those that collect not just budget titles (I know that Drive-in Cult Classics Volume 4 was due in January), but they also put out some great Saturday Morning TV shows like Isis; Ark II  and Space Academy  (all three are great sets for those who are as nostalgic about 70’s TV as I am) as well as some import product. Navarre says that they will still be operational and will be releasing some of the announced titles, but doesn’t go into specifics, but (as some rumor followers are saying) they’ve already cancelled some Game Show Compilation discs for “What’s My Line?” and “Tattletales”. Bummer- they might not have cleaned up their prints to immaculate shape, but they did have a sense on what some of their more fun titles should be like (like their Exploitation Cinema line- one of their newer releases was the Mausoleum/Blood Song double feature that even had a Commentary)- I hope that sense of goofiness is carried over should Navarre release any similar discs. It seems like the down-turned economy is even hitting the economy-minded vendors (*sigh*). The link to the Official Press Release is below:

 

 

   http://ir.navarre.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=105157&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1237333&highlight=

 

 

“Black Friday”- the Aftermath

 

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   OK- you’ve had some time to let the turkey and stuffing digest and the scratch-marks from the BF sales heal, so now it’s time to summarize…

 

   I only got to 2 of the retailers selling cheap DVDs. The first one, Wal-Mart, was the typical, semi-controlled chaos that it normally is after Thanksgiving and I did manage to pick up a few of the $2 gems offered, including genre fare like Identity SE; Dawn of the Dead remake (the “R” version); Slither (Full Screen) The Dark (the 2006 one- NOT the camp 1980 alien monster freakout); V for Vendetta and the Wal-Mart special “1+1” disc of the Omen remake. I also got some other non-genre flicks like the Borat disc (with the T-Shirt); HollywoodLand; Domino (fullscreen); Wedding Crashers and the bizarro-funny Let’s Go to Prison (Unrated)…

 

   Big Lots was next and they had all kinds of goodies. And so you know, some of them still have some of these lying around for the same $2 and $3 bucks- some really good genre titles like Swamp Thing; Carrie (the TV remake- not the 1976 Sissy Spacek classic); The Outer Limits best-of remake; The Believers; Interview with a Vampire; The Day After; & Bubba Ho-Tep. Some of the straight flicks that I couldn’t resist were Born In East LA; Imaginary Heroes; Bananas; and Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask. And don’t forget that your mileage may vary, so check around at different ones and load that collection up toot sweet!