Category Archives: Bargain Bin(ge)

Bargain Bin DVDs and places from whence they came

Bargain Bin(ge): Basement Records (Knoxville, TN)

Knoxville, Tennessee is a lovely city in East Tennessee, famous for being the home of the Tennessee Valley Authority and the University of Tennessee. It is also only a few miles from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

knox5Recently, I took a trip to the area, and my route took me right through the heart of Knoxville. As always, I decided to take some time to check out a record store in town. In this case, I spent a little portion of my trip digging around in a shop called Basement Records.

knox6 knox3Basement Records is, to start off with, a cool little shop. The folks working the front also seemed like pretty cool people, which is a boon for a little shop like this if you ask me. It is adorned with all sorts of posters and playbills that cover seemingly every inch of wall space, and boxes of records sit everywhere you look. An entire row of boxes are dedicated to soundtracks, which is always cool to see. There were also a handful of DVDs and VHSs in the shop, but they were primarily concerts, performances, and music documentaries. For those that weren’t, the price just wasn’t right for me. As I recall, DVDs were $4 a pop, which is pretty far from a steal for older, used stuff. Still, it made for some fun sifting, even if I didn’t ultimately walk away with any movies.

knox2 knox4

However, digging through the soundtrack selection yielded some interesting and off-the-wall stuff, as you can see below.

Cobra

cobra1

I have a full feature written and queued up about this cult classic Sylvester Stallone flick, so I won’t go into too much detail here. However, I will say that I recommend checking it out. Also, it has an interesting soundtrack that varies in style, and hybridizes pop music of the 1970s and 1980s. It features artists like Miami Sound Machine, Gary Wright, and Gladys Knight, just to name a few. The score was composed by Sylvester Levay, who wrote the 1975 hit single “Fly Robin Fly,” and also composed music for Mannequin and Hot Shots.

1941

19411

1941 is regarded as one of the few career missteps of Steven Spielberg, and has a place etched in cinema history because of it. In spite of an all-star ensemble cast, the movie is incredibly uneven, and lacks the comedic core necessary to hold it together. I did a whole write-up on it some time ago that goes into a lot of detail on it if you are curious. However, it notably features a score by the legendary film composer John Williams, and it is a damn good one. I remember playing the memorable march from the movie with my high school symphonic band, and the whole score is really worth a listen for people who like wind ensemble and marching band style music. If that is your bag, you have to check it out.

They Call It An Accident

accident

They Call It An Accident is apparently a French movie from 1982 that was written, directed, and prominently stars French actress Nathalie Delon, but good luck finding out anything else about it. At this time, it has a whopping 7 total user reviews on IMDb. Despite that, the movie’s soundtrack boasts the likes of U2, Steve Winwood, and Wally Badarou, which is really something for a movie that apparently no one has ever seen. My girlfriend is the one who pointed this one out to me from the stacks, mostly because of the strange album art. Despite my best efforts at this point, I still have no idea what this movie is about, or how someone could get a hold of it.

Every Which Way But Loose

ewwbl

Every Which Way But Loose is a Clint Eastwood action/comedy movie that co-stars an orangutan. It is kind of like a combination of Over The Top and Road House, but with an orangutan thrown comedically into the mix. 1978 was a weird time for the world.

The primary reason that this particular soundtrack stood out to me is because I have heard the film’s theme song, which is way catchier than it should be.

The music for the movie was conducted and mostly composed by Steve Dorff, whose mixture of pop country music and television score writing has earned him a handful of Grammy and Emmy nominations. He has also done a fair bit of film scoring, such as for Dudley Do-Right, Pink Cadillac, and Pure Country. He is also interestingly the father of actor Stephen Dorff.

 

Bargain Bin(ge): The Rhythm Section (Gatlinburg, TN)

This past weekend, I took a trip with my family to spend Thanksgiving in the tourist destination of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, right in the midst of the Smoky Mountains.

During the time that we were there, a small fire in Chimney Tops burned in relative containment in a section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, just a few miles away from the city. We even drove past it on Saturday, and took photos of the smoke from a nearby park road, assuming it was essentially under control. Less than 24 hours after we left Gatlinburg to go home on Sunday, extreme wind gusts spread the fire rapidly through the dry forest, and brought the blaze into the town at an unprecedented speed. At the time of this writing, I have seen a handful of images and videos of the damage done to Gatlinburg, but the real extent of the fire isn’t entirely clear. Currently, there are 3 confirmed deaths in association with the fire.

https://i1.wp.com/bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/thedailytimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/9/ff/9ffc03bc-e6c3-58e0-bff4-774456ce5448/583c545107858.image.jpg
This is what the Chimney Tops fire looked like when I saw it on Nov 26

Before this tragedy erupted, I did the same thing that I do with any location I visit: I stopped by a local record store to take a look at their movie and soundtrack selections. In the case of Gatlinburg, I was a little surprised to find a little shop called The Rhythm Section. The town itself is quite small, so I assume this little spot has survived on the heavy tourism traffic in the area as opposed to consistent local patronage. In any case, the shop is as charming as it is compact, and might be the most space-utilitarian record store I have seen.

rhythm3Unfortunately, the shop has a specific policy banning photography in the store, so I don’t have my usual photographic coverage for this post.  However, I will say that the selection of posters, buttons, t-shirts, and other miscellaneous items was off the charts, even if the selection of records wasn’t as fleshed out. The DVD selection was also pretty impressive: there were a fair number of cult and foreign flicks in their stacks, including a mixture of Hesei and Showa Godzilla features that you wouldn’t stumble across terribly often.

rhythm2However, as the name suggests, The Rhythm Section is definitely a music-first shop. If that is your passion, then this is a place that deserves some dedicated time. For movie fans, their selection is interesting and entertaining, but not terribly deep or thrifty. I’d still recommend picking up something, even just a patch or a button, because the place is just such a welcome sight among a plethora of cheap, confederate flag peddling junk stores.

rhythm1In the wake of the fires that have done such immense damage to the region, and Gatlinburg in particular, I’m sending all my best to the folks at The Rhythm Section, and the other residents of the impacted area. If you want to help, I’ve seen some recommendations to support the organization Friends of the Smokies.

Bargain (Bin)ge: Finders Records (Bowling Green, OH)

Recently, I took a trip up to Detroit, MI to attend a John Carpenter retrospective concert (which was, for the record, awesome). While I was up that way, I decided to take a couple of days to explore the area. This included, of course, going on the hunt for physical media.

As with many other areas I’ve visited, I wasn’t able to find any accessible specific movie shops in the city limits of Detroit, so I decided to hit up a handful of local record stores and book shops in the city instead. What I found didn’t include a whole lot of VHS or DVD selection, but I wound up with a handful of soundtracks at least.

On the way up to Detroit, I took a quick detour based on my girlfriend’s recommendation. Bowling Green, OH, known for being the home of Bowling Green State University, has quite the local record shop: Finders Records.

finder15 finder16Finders Records is almost the perfect platonic ideal of a record store. It has a massive selection of both used and new vinyl, and the atmosphere and decor are easily unparalleled. It consists of three large rooms, each roughly the size of your typical record store, and they are all absolutely packed with media. The vibe of the place had me wondering if Liv Tyler or John Cusack would wander in the front door with some sort of angsty life problem.

finder17 finder14 finder13 finder12Unfortunately, as with many record stores, the DVDs were limited to concerts and music documentaries. However, the soundtrack selection was pretty stellar. Plus, there was a small buy/sell/trade down the block with a decent enough selection of movies and video games, though it wasn’t terribly much to write home about.

finder11 finder10 finder9 finder1 finder2 finder3 finder4 finder5 finder6 finder7 finder8If you happen to find yourself around Toledo/Bowling Green in Northwest Ohio, you need to do yourself a favor and check out the impressive Finders Records.

Bargain (Bin)ge: Dr. Disc (Windsor, ON)

Recently, I took a trip up to Detroit, MI to attend a John Carpenter retrospective concert (which was, for the record, awesome). While I was up that way, I decided to take a couple of days to explore the area. This included, of course, going on the hunt for physical media.

As with many other areas I’ve visited, I wasn’t able to find any accessible specific movie shops in the city limits of Detroit, so I decided to hit up a handful of local record stores and book shops in the city instead. What I found didn’t include a whole lot of VHS or DVD selection, but I wound up with a handful of soundtracks at least.

At one point over the weekend, my girlfriend and I took the scenic jaunt across the Detroit river into cheery old Windsor, Ontario, Canada. From what I saw, there isn’t much to the town, but there is a little two-story record shop called Dr. Disc.

8 7 1 6According to their website, Dr. Disc traces its lineage in Windsor back to 1982, which is pretty impressive. The space itself is quite cool, and decorated with everything from independent movie posters to a fishing net lined with vinyl records. There is another shop in Hamilton, ON with the same name and apparent branding, but they appear to be totally independent of each other. Maybe there used to be a chain of these at some point, and these are the last two survivors? Who knows?

10As far as selection goes, there’s a little bit of everything at Dr. Disc. There are obviously tons of records and CDs, but there’s also a good number of DVDs and Blu-Rays. Most interesting of all, though, was the tucked away corner of VHS tapes on the second story.

9 5 4 Proving without a doubt that Windsor is, indeed, Canadian, I saw more Don Cherry tapes and DVDs than I actually thought existed in the entire world. I’ve always known about him from being a hockey fan, but I had no idea that the tacky-suited loudmouth hockey commentator had an extensive line of DVDs and VHSs. On top of that, there were a handful of non-Cherry hockey blooper tapes that go back to the age of the Quebec Nordiques, OG Winnipeg Jets, and green-trimmed New Jersey Devils.

3 2

 

Bargain (Bin)ge: People’s Records (Detroit, MI)

Recently, I took a trip up to Detroit, MI to attend a John Carpenter retrospective concert (which was, for the record, awesome). While I was up that way, I decided to take a couple of days to explore the area. This included, of course, going on the hunt for physical media.

As with many other areas I’ve visited, I wasn’t able to find any accessible specific movie shops in the city limits of Detroit, so I decided to hit up a handful of local record stores and book shops in the city instead. What I found didn’t include a whole lot of VHS or DVD selection, but I wound up with a handful of soundtracks at least.

The first place I want to spotlight is People’s Records, which has been around in Detroit at one location or another for well over a decade. The vibe of the place definitely reflects Detroit itself: it is artistic, creative, grungy, and worn. I absolutely dug it.

peoples3 peoples4 peoples1Unfortunately for me, this is a pretty pure record shop, and there were no tagalong VHS tapes or DVDs to be found. However, there was quite an eclectic selection of soundtracks on vinyl, which I can always appreciate.

Specifically, I came out with a couple of soundtrack records which I was delighted to pick up.

Iron Eagle

peoples5Ah, Iron Eagle. I haven’t thought about this flick in quite a while, but I couldn’t help but jump at the opportunity to have the vinyl soundtrack. Not only does this have tracks from Queen and George Clinton, but it also has the King Cobra theme song, which boasts one of the most 1980s music videos imaginable.

Tilt

peoples6I had no idea what this movie was, but I couldn’t very well *not* buy this album. Just look at that cover art! I did a little bit of digging, and it appears that this was a very early Brooke Shields movie from 1979. It is a teen-focused flick that I initially assumed was trying to co-opt the popularity of the film version of Tommy, but it was behind the curve if that was the intention.

Bargain Bin(ge): Movie Exchange (Houston, TX)

Movie Exchange is a local buy/sell/trade media chain with six locations around the Houston, TX metropolitan area. Like many other similar stores around the country, it has a selection that includes DVDs, Blu-rays, and a smattering of video games, but also notably still has a significant stock of VHS, which is rapidly becoming a rarity.

1 5 7 8

The deals on movies were generally pretty good, but I was much more enthralled with the selection of more rare and off-the-wall features (which ultimately comprised most of my haul). Just check out some of the BBC DVDs of old school Doctor Who features below.

2 3Likewise, I was surprised to see a copy of Lucio Fulci’s The New York Ripper, which isn’t a DVD that you would casually stumble upon every day.
6Anyway, on to the handful of movies I actually walked away from Movie Exchange with:

The Changeling

changeling1

The Changeling stars George C. Scott (of Patton and Dr. Strangelove) in one of the most memorable haunted house movies you’ll ever come across, or so I’m told. I’ve never actually seen this movie, nor have I ever come across a DVD copy of it in my travels. I’m a big fan of horror movies that are done well, so I am eager to give this a shot.

Straw Dogs

dogs

Straw Dogs is probably the most controversial movie in Sam Peckinpah’s notoriously violent filmography, and that is really saying something. Dustin Hoffman and Susan George star as a couple who are new residents in a small town, and rapidly become the targets of intense harassment from a gang of vicious locals. This movie taps into a fear that I don’t think it used enough these days in features: the sinister potential of the every-man. Your neighbors, if they were so inclined, could turn your life into a living hell in a mere instant. I can certainly say that Straw Dogs makes a compelling case to avoid the remote countryside at the very least.

Targets

targets1

This movie kick-started the feature film-making career of one of the New Hollywood luminaries: Peter Bogdanovich. While his career has been one with pronounced highs and lows, his first Roger Corman produced b-movie influenced the future of the entire horror film genre by shaking it to the core. It may not be the pinnacle of his career, but I’d dare say that Targets has has about as much influence on film as a whole as any of his later features. This has been a movie on my list to dig up for a long time, and I can’t describe how thrilled I was to finally find a copy of it out in the wild. Keep your eyes peeled, because it will wind up back on the blog before too long.

Zeus and Roxanne

zandr1

Look, I don’t really have much to say about this. I honestly felt like I had to leave the store with something at least a little light-hearted after picking up Straw Dogs, The Changeling, and Targets. I mean, that is one hell of a trio of dark violence and depression. So, here is a Steve Guttenberg movie about a cross-species relationship between a dog and a dolphin. If that doesn’t sound like a winner, I don’t know what does.

Bargain Bin(ge): McKay Used Books (Chattanooga, TN)

Ah, McKay Used Books. I covered the Nashville location a while back, but this time my travels took me to the Chattanooga location of the immense media store.

mckay10The chain is very small, with only three locations throughout Tennessee. It is distantly related to the similarly-titled Edward McKay Used Books chain in North Carolina, though the connection is apparently tenuous and ancient at this point.

McKay is distinguished both by its immense size and low prices: all of the locations are two stories, and packed to the gills with used media of every fashion. The bargain section for DVDs even features massive laundry bins filled with movies on sale for less than $2, which is about as good as a deal is going to get.

mckay8 mckay9As always, I came away from McKay’s with a nice little haul of movies:

Death Race 2000

mckay1

Death Race 2000, for those not familiar with it, is one of the key Roger Corman classics. It includes an early appearance of Sylvester Stallone, David Carradine in top form, and some social commentary scattered amid the gory action. There was a remake in 2008 by Paul W.S. Anderson that wasn’t entirely terrible, but missed the oddball tone of the original. If you haven’t seen it, definitely give it a shot.

Fortress 2

mckay7

Fortress 2 is a sequel to Stuart Gordon’s Fortress, which I covered a while back. I don’t know anything specific about it, though apparently the premise is that the jail is in space this time. I can only hope that things careen into something resembling an episode of Superjail!

Kingdom of the Spiders

mckay6

This is another off-the-wall find. Kingdom of the Spiders is a little cult classic creature feature starring William Shatner just before Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I regard it as the middle ground between “young” Shatner and “old” Shatner, like the missing link in the evolution of Captain Kirk. Also, the movie features a boatload of live tarantulas acting as the monsters. No camera trickery or rubber suits here.

The Mangler Reborn

mckay5

At first, I assumed that this was the sequel to The Mangler, the infamous tale of a murderous laundry folding machine. Unfortunately, this is actually the third movie in the series, and rounds out the inexplicable Mangler trilogy. I may have to dig up a copy of Mangler 2 before I give this one a watch. I mean, what if I miss some important plot information?

Assault on Precinct 13

mckay2

I absolutely love this movie, and it has proven to be a surprisingly difficult DVD to dig up. This was regarded as the professional debut of John Carpenter, who wound up conquering the late 1970s and 1980s with highly-regarded cult movies like Halloween, They Live, Christine, Escape From New York, and The Thing. However, the shock of Assault On Precinct 13 is what launched him into notoriety. This movie is high tension action at its best, capturing the menace and claustrophobia of a modern siege situation like no other movie has. Also, the soundtrack is fucking awesome.

Pocket Ninjas

mckay3

Pocket Ninjas is regarded as one of Robert Z’Dar’s most terrible movies, and that is saying a lot for a guy who made an impressive career exclusively out of being in shit movies. I haven’t seen it, but I am expecting something nearly unwatchable if the IMDb rating of 1.5 is to be believed.

Jack Brooks Monster Slayer

mckay4

Jack Brooks Monster Slayer is a horror comedy that I know nothing about, but apparently Robert Englund shows up in it at some point. I could see this going in a lot of different directions in regards to quality, but I figured that it was worth the gamble.

Bargain Bin(ge): Unclaimed Baggage / Nerdtopia (Scottsboro, AL)

Scottsboro, AL is approximately in the middle of nowhere. I’ve grown up with a family lake house nearby, so I’ve been going in and out of the small city for many years. However, I’ve never considered it much of a location for DVD hunting, so I never expected to cover it here on the blog.

One of the city’s few claims to fame (outside of racism) is Unclaimed Baggage: the mythical place where all lost luggage items from airlines eventually go to stay. As you might imagine, it has an interesting collection of media and electronics (as well as one of the creatures from Labyrinth, weirdly enough).

unclaimed2

unclaimed3

However, the downside is that the store doesn’t exactly discriminate based on quality, so the selection is mostly special features discs and single discs from dvd sets. If you have the time to spend, you might find something decent in the muck. For example, I picked up an old Doctor Who dvd there for a couple of bucks once. However, on this particular round I didn’t have a lot of time to kill. That said, I still found a little something amidst the stacks:

The Kid Stays In The Picture

unclaimed4

This is an acclaimed documentary about Robert Evans, one of the key figures of the New Hollywood era. He had hands in movies like The Godfather, Chinatown, and Marathon Man, among many others. However, he is definitely a polarizing figure, and his interactions with Coppola on The Godfather are particularly legendary (depending on who you ask about them). I’ve read a bit about him in an assortment of books about the era, but I’ve never actually gotten around to this documentary. I’ve heard plenty of good things, so picking it up for a buck or two seemed more than worth it.

Elsewhere in Scottsboro, a new little store has popped up: Nerdtopia, located right on the town’s square.

nerdtopia1

While it didn’t provide much of a selection for movies, it is certainly a spirited little eclectic store. It was filled with comics, trading cards, vintage toys, albums, tabletop games, video games, and even a little box of ancient pre-laserdiscs (!) that I didn’t even recognize in the corner. I considered picking up the Tron one just to act as a piece of wall art.

nerdtopia2

I did wind up picking up a solid compilation of classic bad movies to give them some support, but this place is worth checking out in spite of the limited movie selection. These little nerd shops off the beaten trail especially need support from their local geeks and passers-through, so I recommend dropping by there if life ever lands you in Scottsboro, AL.

nerdtopia3

Bargain Bin(ge): CD Warehouse (Marietta, GA)

Marietta, GA sits just Northwest of the Atlanta, GA beltline, just on the edge of the greater metropolitan area. It home to one of the few remaining CD Warehouse locations in the area, along with sister shops in Duluth and Roswell. I’ve been to a few different locations of the chain in Tennessee and North Carolina over the years, but they have been rapidly dying off in recent years as they have generally failed to adapt to the new landscape of the business.

ware14

As far as quality goes, it has always been a crapshoot with CD Warehouses for me. Sometimes they would have terrible selections and awful prices, and other times they would have a wealth of off-the-wall flicks on sale. After wrapping up at DragonCon, I decided to drop by the Marietta, GA location on my way home to see what they might have laying around. (Side note: conventions like DragonCon are garbage for DVD hunting. You might find a bootleg of a rare video, but you are just as well-off hunting online for how much vendors will charge and how bad the quality will be. Unless you want the novelty of directly purchasing a movie from Troma, don’t buy movies at cons.)

ware15Lucky for me, this turned out to be a fantastic haul, and probably the best I have ever pulled out of a CD Warehouse.

ware18

ware16

ware17

Death To Smoochy

ware11

With the death of Robin Williams last year, I feel like people have been going back to give this movie another shot. Critics at the time panned it, but it has gained some cult acclaim over the years after running on Comedy Central through countless late night blocks. This may very well have been a nail in the coffin of Danny DeVito’s directing career, as he has since careened into the world of self-parody. However, I have always liked the twisted take on the competitive world of children’s entertainment, and personally regard it as on par with (or better than) DeVito’s other directorial works. That said, it has been a while, and I’ll be interested to see how it holds up now.

Robot Jox

ware9

Until the Shout! Factory release of a Blu-Ray this summer, it was not particularly easy to come by a physical copy of Stuart Gordon’s Robot Jox. Back when I reviewed it, I happened to come across the flick on YouTube, but I won’t deny that I desperately wanted a physical copy of this cult classic robot beat-em-up. Sure enough, I finally have myself a copy of the original DVD release! This is a movie that I can’t recommend highly enough, and it is nearly mandatory viewing for fans of good-bad movies. I might still pick up that blu-ray soon as well…

Gamera: Guardian of the Universe / Gamera 2: Attack of Legion / Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris

ware12

This is a collection of the Hesei era Gamera movies, also known as the Gamera trilogy. I did a marathon of the hilarious Showa era Gamera movies last year, but I have been hearing that these Hesei flicks are actually pretty fantastic watches. Now that I have copies (on Blu-Ray no less), I’ll have to finally give them a watch.

Batman: The Movie

ware10

We all know this movie. The feature-length spotlight on Adam West’s campy version of Batman is unforgettable, from the cast of villains to the giant bomb to the shark repellent bat spray. At the very least, this movie is a nostalgia trip of the highest order.

Wolfen

ware7

This is arguably the most under-appreciated werewolf movie out there, and it is also a flick I have never had the chance to sink my teeth into. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it, but had never come across a copy of it until I spotted it here.

Bad Influence

ware8

James Spader and Rob Lowe are two guys that I just can’t help but like, regardless of the movie or television show they pop up in. David Koepp, the writer on this movie, has been responsible for everything from the Dolph Lundgren cult classic I Come In Peace to blockbusters like Jurassic Park and Mission: Impossible, as well as the tragically underrated Nic Cage / Brian De Palma movie Snake Eyes. Director Curtis Hanson went on to helm flicks like L.A. Confidential and 8 Mile, so I have every reason to believe that this is going to be a movie that is worth my time. It made some money back when it released, but never got big enough to enter the public consciousness, which is probably why I have never heard much about it. The premise and casting has me curious though, so I’m eager to see what it has to offer.

Reign of Fire

ware6

The career of Matthew McConaughey in the era before the McConaissance was a dark and strange place. Back in 2002, he starred alongside fellow future-stars Christian Bale and Gerard Butler in the bizarre dystopian fantasy film Reign of Fire. Some people remember this flick fondly, but critics and audiences at the time widely panned it. That said, reviews seem to have softened over the years, indicating that it may be time to give it another shot. I have’t watched it in roughly a decade, so I’m curious to see how it holds up.

Catch Me If You Can

ware5

Catch Me If You Can is one of my favorite Steven Spielberg movies, if not my hands-down favorite. Really. I think it is John WIlliams’s best score (or at least in the running), one of both Leo’s and Hanks’s best performances, and is one of the best biopics out there. It blends suspense, comedy, drama, and style effortlessly, and is a rare movie that seemed to please audiences and critics alike. For whatever reason, it often gets shoved aside when discussing the career of Spielberg, which I think is unfair. The movie is one of the most well-balanced films in his filmograpy, which is made of up of a mixture of man-child indulgences (E.T., 1941, Hook), blockbuster fodder (Jurassic Park, War of the Worlds) and excessively heavy dramas (Amistad, Schindler’s List, Munich) with not a whole lot in the middle ground. Catch Me If You Can showcases every side of Spielberg: his flair for drama, his love of child-like wonder, his heart for adventure, and his ability to create a film with the widest possible appeal. The more I think about it, the more I look forward to re-watching this flick.

Creepshow III

ware4

I know what you are thinking: “there was a Creepshow III?” As a matter of fact, there was! And no one in the entire universe gave half a damn, because it is absolute garbage. The movie released nearly 20 years after Creepshow 2 to absolutely no acclaim, and currently holds an abysmal score of 2.9 on IMDb, along with Rotten Tomatoes ratings of 0% from critics and 11% from audiences. The only things I know about it are that it exists and that it is nearly unwatchable, so I’ll be giving it a go soon enough.

Raising Cain

ware3

Brian De Palma has had a career filled with ups and downs. 1992’s Raising Cain released immediately following what was arguably his lowest low: 1990’s The Bonfire of the Vanities. It also immediately preceded a bit of a De Palma revival with Carlito’s Way and Mission Impossible, along with a personal favorite of mine, 1998’s Snake Eyes. I don’t know anything about this particular flick, but I’m interested to see where it falls on the wide spectrum of Brian De Palma’s career. From another angle, I’m interested to see how John Lithgow is in this movie. Audiences today can certainly buy him as a menacing presence since his acclaimed role on the television series Dexter, but 1992 was a very long time ago for Lithgow’s career. People might have recognized him from The Twilight Zone movie, or Harry and The Hendersons, or perhaps from Footloose. At this point, he hadn’t even become recognizable for his role on 3rd Rock From The Sun. Given his next role after this was as a villain in a Sylvester Stallone action flick (Cliffhanger), I’m pretty sure this didn’t break any boundaries for him. I’m sure it’ll be an interesting watch for his performance all the same, because he is not a man who is known for phoning it in.  I mean, just watch the trailer for this movie. Somehow, I think Lithgow will keep things entertaining.

Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassins’ Ball

ware1

Smokin’ Aces is, if you ask me, a damn fun crime movie. It isn’t a masterpiece by any means, but I’ve never not had a good time watching through it. Smokin Aces 2, on the other hand, is a very different story. I remember watching this on VOD when it first came out, and I’ve never gone back to it since. Honestly, I only remember brief flashes of it, and the feeling of unsurprising disappointment when all was said and done. Looking back at the cast list now, however, I’m curious to give it a re-watch. Ernie Hudson? Tom Berenger? Michael Parks? I recalled Vinnie Jones, but not the rest of these folks. Maybe there will be more to redeem it on this go-around?

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead

ware2

The combination of director Mike Hodges and leading man Clive Owen worked wonders in the cult classic, Croupier. A few years later, the tandem tried to re-bottle the lightning with I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, with a supporting cast that included Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Malcolm McDowell. Despite a few positive heralds, it generally didn’t fly with critics or audiences at the time, due primarily to its perceived dullness and a convoluted ending. I remember seeing this go in and out of my Netflix queue a few times over the years, but I never had a chance to sit down to watch it. I generally like Clive Owen’s work, particularly in crime dramas, and I am also a big fan of Malcolm McDowell when he isn’t phoning in a role for a paycheck. I’m interested to see if this slow-burner is deserving of its negative reputation.

Bargain Bin(ge): The Music Box (Pensacola, FL)

Pensacola, FL is a top-notch beach-going destination for the southeastern United States, and is perhaps the gem of the Florida panhandle. Not only that, but it is also home to the acrobatic airplane team The Blue Angels! Unfortunately for the pasty and nerdy of us, that is about all there is to the city.

musicbox15
This is pretty much all of Pensacola in one image. This is even from the city website.

Lucky for you fellow film geeks, there is some DVD hunting to be had in Pensacola! Specifically, there is a little record shop called The Music Box with a significant selection of eclectic films (interestingly set aside in a glass-cased room), as well as a ton of soundtracks on vinyl. I honestly lost count of how many rare flicks and IMDb Bottom 100 entries this place had copies of, because most of them were things I personally already own. That said, I still came out with a nice little haul to round out my collection.

musicbox1

musicbox7

musicbox8
The DVD chamber

musicbox9

Bad Taste

musicbox4

For those who don’t know, Peter Jackson’s origins are a bit…strange. Bad Taste was his first feature back in New Zealand, and is true low-budget comedy gore in its purest form. It isn’t particularly easy to get a hold of at this point, so I was happy to find a copy here. If you haven’t seen it, it is an interesting forerunner for Dead Alive and Meet The Feebles, which both improve on various elements introduced in Bad Taste. Also, Jackson cuts a rubber alien in half with a chainsaw at one point, which is awesome.

Trick or Treat

musicbox5

At this point, I think more people are familiar with the similarly titled 2007 cult classic Trick ‘r Treat than this earlier flick from the 1980s. However, Trick or Treat certainly has its following, particularly among classic rock and metal fans. As you might deduce from the box art, Ozzy Osbourne and Gene Simmons both pop up in small roles, and have been used significantly to try to sell the movie in recent years. I’m curious to give it a watch, because the plot reminds me a bit of the lawsuit against Judas Priest that popped up a few years later, alleging that subliminal messages were put into their albums encouraging harmful behavior. Otherwise, I have heard mixed things in regards to its entertainment value, but I’m more than willing to give it a shot. Look forward to a review of this flick in October.

Showdown in Little Tokyo

musicbox6

Dolph Lundgren and Brandon Lee is one hell of a duo. This is another one of those action movies that is clearly up my alley, but has managed to somehow evade me over the years. I’m looking forward to finally catching it, as I assume it is as magical and wonderful as it appears to be.

Warriors of the Wasteland

musicbox3

Enzo Castellari is a name that deserves a lot more attention in the bad movie world. He is one of the masters of the Italian knock-off, with works like The Shark Hunter, The Last Shark, 1990: The Bronx Warriors, and Inglorious Bastards to his credit. Warriors of the Wasteland (aka The New Barbarians) is yet another one of his b-movies with a dedicated following, focusing on the aesthetic of post-apocalyptic flicks like Mad Max. I’ll be interested to see how it stacks up next to other Mad Max knockoffs like Hell Comes to Frogtown, which starred the late Roddy Piper. The involvement of Fred Williamson (Black Caesar, Hell Up In Harlem, 1990: The Bronx Warriors) here has me plenty excited to check this thing out as well.

Teen Wolf / Teen Wolf Too

musicbox2

Teen Wolf is considered a classic of the 1980s, and I imagine that everyone has at least heard of the defining werewolf teen sports comedy of the age (though Full Moon High had its moments). The popular re-imagining on MTV has kept the idea in the public consciousness at the very least, even for those who don’t recall Michael J. Fox’s hairy basketball career.  Teen Wolf Too, on the other hand, goes among the rankings of the most maligned and unnecessary sequels in movie history. Jason Bateman (who was at the time just a recognizable child actor) has succeeded in his career as an adult in spite of the hiccup, but it still looms over him like a black cloud for people who are aware of the film.

As I mentioned earlier, The Music Box also had an interesting selection of soundtracks. Of course, I picked up a couple of notables that I couldn’t turn down:

Xanadu

musicbox12

Xanadu is a deeply polarizing movie, with die-hard fans and staunch detractors all carrying passionate opinions on its value. Whether you consider it a cult classic or a bad movie of the lowest order, nothing defined this flick quite like its soundtrack. Here, I managed to dig up a vinyl copy of the ELO-helmed album, which I’m happy to have in my collection. Again, this is a movie that I feel will make for an inevitable blog post, as it was a winner/loser in the very first Golden Raspberry awards, and made a significant impact on the public consciousness. Not only that, but it also released on one of the most infamous double bills of all time with the unarguably wretched pseudo-biopic of The Village People, Can’t Stop The Music.

Mannequin

musicbox11

Not too long ago, I had a request to cover Mannequin, one of Cannon Group’s many odd contributions to the 1980s. If there is anything that has stuck with the public consciousness about this flick, it is the hit song “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” by Starship. As opposed to being a full album, this one is just a single, but I figured it was still certainly worth picking up. I’m thinking it will go nicely on one of my walls, even if it never comes anywhere near my record player.