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/

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

R.I.P. Ray Dennis Steckler- King of the Cheapies

 

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   Ray Dennis Steckler was probably the cheapest filmmaker out there (with apologies to Ted Mikels and the late Andy Milligan), and having passed away January 7th I figured that a few words would be in order…

 

 

   Just in my teens, I saw my first Steckler movie (and his highest-budgeted at $38,000)- The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-up Zombies at one of the last Saturday Matinees that was still around in the late ‘70’s in Orlando. I had already loved crappy movies as a little kid; my Mom and I shared very little in the way of interests but we would park ourselves on the couch to watch Tampa’s Channel 44’s “Creature Feature” With Dr. Paul Bearer and his absolutely gonzo double features. But “Incredibly” was something else- my first real “cult” movie; before I would trek religiously to Midnight Movies at least weekly to catch Rocky Horror; Heavy Metal or Dawn of the Dead. From then on I would look for any of his cheesy-yet-fun movies any time they would (very rarely) play on late-night UHF TV, and even called him (after lots of microfiche and out-of-town-phonebook research at the local library) just to let him know that I was a fan (he was curt but semi-appreciative before brushing me off with a quick “Good Luck, Kid”)….

 

 

   Eventually I was able to catch most of his films on VHS and later on DVD and became hooked by most of his 60’s output- The Thrill Killers; Rat Fink a Boo Boo (which was SUPPOSE to be titled Rat Fink AND Boo Boo but when the titles were made for the movie someone in the lab goofed and he didn’t want to spend the extra movie to correct them!) and especially Wild Guitar, which is an amazing rags-to-riches rock and roll story…

 

 

   Wild Guitar stars the fleshy-faced Arch Hall Jr. as the hayseed “Bud Eagle” a starry-eyed rock-and-roller with nothing but 15 cents in his pocket (he can’t even afford tax on his meal at a diner), a crummy guitar, a giant blonde pompadour and a dream to make it big in Hollywood. Ten minutes after arriving he meets the pretty blonde Vickie (Nancy Czar), who, as luck would have it, is just on the way to her big break- dancing on a TV Variety Show. After her jiggling and writhing, the singer who’s suppose to follow her gets so nervous that he bails, so a stage hand at the urging of Vickie (who, by the way has never seen her new friend sing), lets ol’ Bud go out there to sing- and after tripping onto the stage, regains his composure and belts out a song that, at the end of it, has the girls in the audience go nuts. This gets the attention of a sleazy Producer Mike McCauley (played by his real-life Dad Arch Hall Sr.), who insists that he A) “Call me Mike”; and B) will handle everything. Well, he does and HOW- soon Bud is a huge star on national tours and records but only has a rented apartment, six new suits and a shiny guitar to show for his efforts as fatherly Mike is cookin’ the books and pocketing a chunk ‘o change. After more drama Mike suddenly gets smart and, with a scheme that could only be dreamed up in a movie where someone becomes a national superstar after only being in town for eight hours or so, ends up with the money and the girl (and a recalcitrant Mike seeing the error of his ways). That this was made in glorious Black and White at a cost under $30,000 in 1962 is truly astounding, and a personal favorite of mine as a junk-food movie…

 

 

   Ray’s output slowed down in the 70’s on, and the dozen or so movies he did make weren’t quite as fun (he even delved into hardcore porn for awhile) but were even cheaper (it’s said that he never spend anything more than he did for “Incredibly Strange Creatures”!). He ended up getting a divorce from his wife (and featured performer) Carolyn Brandt, opened a video store and make the occasional movie until he died of heart failure in early January…

 

 

   As for his output on DVD- you can find a great sample of his best work on 2 boxed sets readily available at places like Amazon or Best Buy for under $20 each: “Midnight Movie Collection”- which collects Strange Creatures…; Rat Fink A Boo-Boo (probably my second-favorite of all his movies); The Thrill Killers and The Lemon Grove Kids (Ray’s take-off of The Bowery Boys with him as the lead “Kid” and looking very much like Huntz Hall); and “Midnight Movie Collection 2”, which has his more recent works like Blood Shack; Body Fever; and his almost-silent soft-core horror dual features The Hollywood Strangler Meets the Skid Row Slasher and The Las Vegas Serial Killer. Each movie is on their own disc and cased individually, all with commentaries by the engaging Steckler as well as interviews and promotional materials…

 

 

   Don’t wanna spend 20 bucks? Break open the piggy bank and spring out 4 quarters and head to your nearest Walmart; Dollar Tree or check cashing store; ‘cause you’ll probably find Digiview Productions DVD of Wild Guitar there (along with a 2nd great feature The Beatniks; another singer-plucked-from-obscurity feature (this time from a dirty beatnik gang) starring a pre-“Big Valley” Peter Breck acting particularly crazed). Granted, the picture isn’t the silvery- B&W you would find on a carefully restored Criterion disc, but some movies, like Ray’s, can be enjoyed through the splices and scratches just fine- thank you very much. RIP Mr. Steckler- I just wished that I had the chance to shake your hand or have something signed; that would have been a true honor …

 

   PS- One more way to get his movies would be through his web site (http://www.raydennissteckler.com/) but I’m not sure if the Store is operational now that he’s passed- at least you would know if it IS that some of the money would be going to his family…

 

 

   Wild Guitar– (4* out of 5)

 

 

 

“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!

 

 

 

Sleepaway Camp

 

 

 

   I haven’t even written it, but this is going to be my favorite review yet. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Sleepaway Camp (1983) from its TV showings or various video releases, the story goes like this- in an after-credits sequence, a boating accident kills a father and a little boy, leaving the daughter as the lone survivor. Shipped off to live with her Aunt, the painfully-shy little girl Angela is sent to Camp Arawak with her cousin Ricky. And that’s when the killings start happening- by decapitation, archery impalement, pillow and hair accessories (among others). The kids are scared; the counselors don’t know what to do, and who is that wielding that ax?…

 

 

   This movie was a pretty big deal when it was released and made some nice money through the years as well as gained a cult-y reputation. It spawned two sequels which were made back-to-back by a different cast and crew than the first (Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers & Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland); an aborted third sequel (Sleepaway IV: The Survivor) that only has a 20 minute workprint left after being abandoned; and a long-time-coming completed third sequel (Return to Sleepaway Camp) which will be released straight to DVD in October 2008 (IMDB also has an announced ANOTHER sequel- Sleepaway Camp Reunion for 2010- but there seems to be some disagreement if that is an actual movie being targeted for Production). The Director left the film biz to become a lawyer (only to go back to Directing for the 3rd sequel). The fan base is so big that there is, in my opinion, two of the most impressive web sites ever created for a movie that cost around $300,000 to make (http://www.sleepawaycampmovies.com/ & http://www.sleepawaycampfilms.com/ ). All this based on, let’s be honest here, a pretty weakly-made flick with (mostly) poor acting, a dredge-like pace, and an unoriginal premise even at the time of its release…

 

 

   What DOES it have then? Well, it has a damned-creepy atmosphere- something comes off the screen that is almost palpable. The SFX (by Ed French; who’s done a ton of these kinds of movies) are simple but effective. A few of the actors have a screen presence, if not exactly acting chops- specifically Angela (Felissa Rose– a role that gets, uh, more difficult as it goes along) and Aunt Martha (played by Desiree Gould– who has the most bizarre chirpy cadence to her voice; the actress HAS to be a real-life nut-case). And, most famously, the freak-out ending that comes from left field. I don’t want to throw out any spoilers for those who don’t know (or WANT to know!), so I’ll do something a little cute here right now- just highlight the line right after the asterisks below:

 

 

   **The chick is a DUDE!!

 

 

   This is a budget DVD review blog, and that’s what I have- this time by the folks at Canada’s Legacy Entertainment, Inc. (SURPRISE! Web Site is “Under Construction”). The whole series of movies have been released legitimately a few different times; on VHS from Video Treasures and a great boxed set from Anchor Bay (with the special packaging and “lost” 4th disc only available at Best Buy– OOP and I proudly own) with a bunch on nifty special features. And what does the Legacy release bring to the table? A HORRIBLE full-frame VHS dupe that is so dark that it almost ruins the shock ending (it doesn’t appear to be the Video Treasures’ tape release as that was edited; this seems to appear fairly complete compared to the AB DVD version- it could very well be a copy of a taped-off-of-the-air copy). The most boring menu on a DVD I have yet to review. Box art that is home-made and cheap (and also kinda gives away something that it shouldn’t). They even drop the ball on the TRAILER- instead of a promised movie clip instead you get a scroll of the other titles available from Legacy (*yawn*). There is no way that this is licensed product, though it’s available at places like FYE and (where I picked this up) D.D.’s Fashions- a low-rent version of Ross clothes, but not only that, but Legacy released ALL THREE movies in brazen bootleg form; all with bad art and even worse transfers. If you DO insist on getting this weak version of the movie to save a few bucks, then at least look for Legacy’s “Night of Horrors Volume 1” which includes this and Lucio Fulci’s House by the Cemetery also in badly-duped tape copy on a flipper DVD. It’s rated “R” for killings, nudity, etc…

 

 

   The upshot is- if you don’t already own it and want to fill out your collection (and can find it cheap- I paid $1.99 for this copy) then go ahead and get it. Then watch it and see if you like it- if you do then pick up the REAL release of this; and if you DIDN’T like it…uh, well… there’s always eBay…

 

 

   Sleepaway Camp– 2-1/2* out of 5

 

   Legacy’s quality- 1* out of 5

 

 

Bargain titles abound!…

  

 

   (First post of the new Blog and I’m already breaking the rules! Oh well- my blog so I guess that’s OK. Besides, this IS a pretty sweet deal) Make sure to check out your local Big Lots as soon as you can- they have a hundred or so MGM titles at 3 bucks each! Along with the ‘straight’ catalog ones (things like “Salvador”, “Bright Lights, Big City” (a REAL guilty favorite of mine!), “Semi-Tough” and 5-6 of the “Pink Panther” movies, they have a bunch of genre titles. From my sweep of three different stores I ended up getting:

 

   Konga

   A Bucket of Blood

   Howling 2- Your Sister is a Werewolf

   Amityville 1, 2 & 3 (AND the 2005 Remake as well!)

   Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) -(BOTH versions of the artwork for all you TRUE collectors out there. Note though that this ISN’T the ‘Special Edition’ issue)

   The Brood

   Rollerball (both the 1975 version and the remake)

   Scanners

   Burnt Offerings

   ‘X’- The Man with X-Ray Eyes (Midnight Movies)

   Sinbad of the Seven Seas (with Lou Ferrigno!)

   Frogs

   The Fall of the House of Usher (Vincent Price!) (Midnight Movies)

   The Dunwich Horror (Midnight Movies)

   Flesh + Blood

   The Fog (both the 1980 Special Edition and the remake)

   Body and Soul (Leon Isaac Kennedy)

   Swamp Thing (the recent re-release; NOT the ‘pulled’ “nudity” version)

 

   I’m guessing that this has something to do with the recent Warner Brothers buy-out of the MGM library; as they say on late-night TV ads “Our loss is your gain”- but it’s a shame that it seems like now some of these titles will probably not be in circulation for awhile. I would recommend that you go out and buy up at least any of the “Midnight Movie” titles that you find- some of those have come and gone and end up being hard-to-get collector’s items down the road. Oh, and get “Frogs” too- every house in America should own THAT movie…

 

   Jeff