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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Carmen Electra IS an “American Vampire”

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   I was GOING to review American Vampire (released in 2006 from Digiview Entertainment and, apparently, known in some parts as An American Vampire Story) but I can’t bring myself to do it. I spent a whole buck on the DVD and feel like I was cheated for 97 cents- it is totally unwatchable, and I turned it off after 15 minutes (and you are talking to someone who’s seen thousands on movies and have only walked out of two of them- (9 to 5 and Time Bandits). It has Adam West- the Original (and still the best) “Batman”; Sydney Lassick (the uber-creepy guy who basically upstaged Jack Nicholson in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and creeped out Carrie in “Carrie”) and the afore-mentioned Carmen, but it is just so bad that it can’t be believed. It’s basically about kids at a beach house vacationing, who get more than they bargain for when they run into some hot blood-suckers. And it’s not bad in a Plan 9 kinda way- like in a nuclear meltdown disaster. PLEASE- for the sake of sanity for you and everyone that you know and love, approach this movie ONLY with a HASMAT suit and Teflon tongs…

 

 

   …it’s THAT bad…

 

 

American Vampire– ZERO out of 5*

 

 

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.

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

“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