On this entry of the Bargain Binge, I’m going to spotlight one of my favorite little used media chains: Edward McKay used books of North Carolina!
Not to be confused with the similarly-named regional chains “McKay Used Books” or “Mr. K’s Used Books”, “Edward McKay Used Books” has locations throughout North Carolina, specifically in Fayetteville, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Raleigh. I have been to three of them (the only exception being the Fayetteville store), and I absolutely adore the wide selection of DVDs they typically have had to offer.
I have most recently visited the Raleigh location, which seems significantly smaller than the others to me. It also is located right next to one of my favorite bargain hunting locations: “Trade It!”, and it is probably hurt by the direct comparison. That said, the chain has a unique charm to it, and I always aim to pick something up when I go through. I mean, just look at these t-shirts:
If you ever find yourself traveling through North Carolina, definitely seek out a local Edward McKay. I have found some great obscure and rare stuff in their cult section before, and almost picked up the Hasselhoff “Nick Fury” movie on my most recent visit. They are mighty cool spots with decent prices on DVDs, books, and albums, so you are bound to find something you’ll like there. They also usually have an extensive DVD bargain section of movies between 3-5 dollars, which certainly isn’t bad.
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of doing some travel around the country for work. Whenever I get the opportunity, I love to dig around in new locales and find their local used DVD shops, and see what specific cities have to offer. In fact, I have done enough of this recently that the activity inspired this specific section of the blog. I started the “Bargain Bin(ge)” feature in order to spotlight local physical DVD shops and the hauls I pick up from them, particularly in the aftermath of the fall of BlockBuster Video.
One of the areas that I hit on this most recent trip was Washington, D.C.: the U.S. Capital, and one of the major metropolitan areas in the states.
Given the size and population of the DC Metro area, I expected to find a wealth of used DVD and physical media stores. Unfortunately, this was not at all the case. While my initial Google-ing yielded a number of results, it didn’t take long for me to find that almost all of them had closed. In particular, I found out that the DC area was once home to an expansive local video rental chain called “Potomac Video”, which only shut its doors in May of this year.
That really is a shame, because it looked like quite a fantastic place from all of the pictures that I have seen.
I am curious as to what became of the extensive stock of these Potomac Video stores, as it doesn’t seem that any heirs have popped up in the area. I have noticed that a number of thrift stores bought out the stocks of local BlockBusters as they fell, and I can’t help but wonder if that may have been the same case here. In any case, I didn’t find any promising DVD shops in the DC Metro area, which I was really disappointed by.
On a whim, I decided to check out a record shop in Arlington, VA on my way out of town. I have noticed that record shops will sometimes carry a decent stock of DVDs, but it is never really a sure thing. Luckily, in this case, CD Cellar had a small, eclectic collection of cult movies and rare finds.
One of the coolest finds here was a copy of Larry Cohen’s early mob feature “Black Caesar”, starring Fred Williamson. If you haven’t seen this movie, I highly recommend it. I think it far surpasses “Scarface” (1983) on just about every level while dealing with similar themes, and it predates that film by a whole decade. It might be my favorite movie to chronicle the rise and fall of a gangster, and that is saying something for this low-budget feature. It is worth noting that this was the first time, outside of Atlanta’s rental location “Videodrome”, that I have found a physical copy of this movie.
Apart from “Black Caesar”, there were some great cult deep cuts like “Head of the Family”, “The Ice Cream Man”, and “The Mangler” that don’t make your typical DVD store catalog. That said, the prices were far from stellar, but I wasn’t particularly surprised by that. I still walked out with a few DVDs, even though none of them were what I consider “bargains” (most DVDs were 6 dollars and up, a handful got down to 4). Regardless, I was happy to not leave the DC area completely empty-handed.
I am hoping that perhaps MovieStop or another chain will make its way to the area before long to pick up the slack in the wake of Potomac Video, or maybe someone else will get something started locally. I’m sure that DC could use a reasonably priced movie shop, or even a eclectic video rental shop along the lines of Atlanta’s Videodrome or Seattle’s Scarecrow Video. As for right now though, the area is regrettably a desert for people looking for bargain DVD shops.
Ah, The Exchange. This is yet another one of my local Huntsville, AL haunts for digging up used DVDs, and boy is it a doozy.
The Exchange isn’t nearly as pretty, as friendly, or as cheap as MovieStop, but it does have a peculiar charm to it. I have found some truly off the wall movies here, including most of Hulk Hogan’s filmography (including that one time he played Zeus). It also has an unparalleled ambiance, wedged between a dollar store and a sex shop in a run down Wal-Mart parking lot. This is the place you picture when you think of bargain DVD spots, and it lives up to its appearance.
As opposed to MovieStop, The Exchange does not deal exclusively in movies. However, they only carry used DVDs, so almost their entire stock is bargain bin in price and quality (in this context, that’s a good thing).
The Exchange doesn’t quite have the dirt prices of MovieStop either (at least in the bargain bins), but it is a rarity to find anything priced over 10 dollars in the entire selection of DVDs available.
In general, I choose MovieStop over The Exchange when I go hunting for movies. However, The Exchange is no pushover in regards to pricing and the obscurity of their collection, and I do find myself dropping by there pretty often because of it.
If you happen to be in Huntsville and are looking for something horrible to watch, this is a place to look. They also have some really dreadful posters on the wall from notoriously flopped movies such as “It’s Pat!” and “Red Tails” that are for sale, in case you are into that kind of thing. I can’t image who would be though.
MovieStop has got to be my favorite location for digging up DVDs. It doesn’t have the local charm of a lot of places, but they make up with it with their massive stock. I’m never quite sure what I’ve going to find in a MovieStop, but I always know that I am going to dig up something excellent / obscure (and that I’m not going to injure my wallet in the process).
As you might gather, MovieStop is essentially a GameStop for movies. It was, in fact, previously run under the same company, but has since branched out into independent operations. And personally, I’d say the service you find at MovieStops is far and away better than what you would find at your average GameStop.
Based out of Atlanta, the company has already done a lot of expanding in the Southeast. I have actually been to just about every MovieStop in the region through my travels, and they have been pretty consistently impressive. Currently, they are still only operating out of 10 states, but I have seen (and heard) every indication that further expansion is just around the corner.
Ever since I have been going to my local MovieStop in Huntsville, AL, they have been running a bargain bin sale: movies on the rack are 2.99, and ‘buy one get one free’. Rarely can one find a better deal than that. I have picked up a ton of features for this blog through that sale alone, and have quite the impressive backlog because of it. (Also, MovieStops consistently have used BibleMan DVDs in stock. Except for the Huntsville, AL one, because I bought them all)
Last but not least, MovieStop stores are almost always pretty. Most DVD spots are usually run down and dingy, sometimes even located next to sex shops…
…or tagged as a juggalo hangouts.
So, MovieStops kind of nicely break up the typical pattern. They even go above and beyond on some of the design and frills in the stores:
So, if you are ever traveling through (or live in) an area with a MovieStop, I highly recommend checking them out. They are not all equal in quality (the Tuscaloosa, AL one is particularly disappointing), but in general they are great places to find movies: obscure foreign films, classic B-movies, indies from the 90s, current Blu-ray releases, and just about anything else you might be looking for.
I love covering the many movies I dig up at bargain bins around the country, but I don’t often spotlight the bargain locations themselves. So, here are a few photos from one of my favorite spots: McKay’s.
McKay’s is a small chain of cavernous used media stores, located throughout Tennessee. As you can see from the following photos from their Nashville location, their bargain bins are literally giant, re-purposed laundry bins.
Their prices are reasonable even on non-bargain items, and they have just about everything under the sun: movies, music, games, books, audiobooks, comics, etc. I will say that it definitely leans for quantity over quality in most departments, but it is great for finding things you may not have seen or heard of before.
Last but certainly not least, the Nashville McKay’s has the most excellent, adorable coffee chop I have ever seen parked out front. I mean, just look at it.
Howdy loyal readers! Unfortunately, I’m going to have to take some time off from the blog over the next couple of weeks due to a bunch of work conferences and a cross-country move. I’m going to try to keep putting out a couple of IMDb Bottom 100 entries weekly through the end of July before I get cooking daily again.
In the meantime, here is another quick sampling of features I’ve dug out of bargain bins in recent months. We have a DeCoteau version of “The Wolf of Wall Street” from 2002, a notorious Ted V. Mikels flick about cat food, Roddy Piper in an urban dystopia, old Dolph Lundgren doing something involving casinos, and more! Check them out!
Welcome to the latest installment of Bargain Bin(ge)! I spend a lot of time in the bargain bins of used DVD shops all over the country looking for potentially forgotten or overlooked cinematic atrocities, and I document all of the highlights here.
Today I’m featuring a spectacular failure to adapt a popular (and personally beloved) anime to film, a local 80s movie that has rightfully been forgotten to time (but “launched” a lauded film career), a low-budget deep-sea creature-feature, and a Lucio Fulci “Django” knock-off. Let’s get started!
I am a huge fan of the “Mobile Suit Gundam” anime franchise, and have been for well over a decade. That said, I have been aware of this live action stinker from 2000 for quite some time. Like most Gundam fans, I try to pretend it doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, it does, and I found it in a bargain bin just a couple of weeks ago while I was on a business trip. I’ve never watched it before, but just from the trailer I can tell that this is going to be a painful experience. I think there should just be a standing policy that anime shouldn’t be translated into live action unless someone really knows what they are doing. Director Graeme Campbell still does a fair number of made-for-TV movies and work on various series, but it doesn’t seem that he’s been able to cut it in the big time. Likewise, the writers have credits on Sci-fi shows like “Mutant X” and “Tripping the Rift”, but not much else to speak of. A number of the actors have gone into voice acting or B-level TV and movie work, which are the most successful stories to come out of “G-Savior”.
For those unaware, the “Mobile Suit Gundam” franchise has a following in Japan not unlike “Star Wars” does here. It is absolutely huge, and has been consistently produced in one form or another since the original series debut in 1979. A number of the series were cut in order to be released theatrically in segments, and are actually pretty impressive. So, to have a live action “Gundam” whiffed on so badly was a huge disappointment.
Realistically, you just couldn’t do a convincing mech live-action movie until pretty recently. Stuart Gordon’s “Robot Jox” in 1989 wasn’t quite impressive enough with audiences, and that was the best mech movie on the table for decades. With the recent successes of “Pacific Rim” and (ugh) “Transformers”, I’m curious if we’ll see someone pick up the baton and try another go at “Gundam” on the big screen in the not-too-distant future.
This one is a bit of a local stinker. Filmed on location in my hometown of Huntsville, Alabama at the US Space and Rocket Center, the whole film oozes the essence of the 1980s, including featuring an unnecessary robot companion a la “Rocky IV”. Both of the screenwriters have almost no other credits before or after this, outside of a couple of unimpressive Christian movies. Director Harry Winer has done a fair amount of TV work in the decades since this film, but never managed to break out in films (I expect for good reason). Proving that some were capable of getting away from this beast with a successful career, this was cinematic debut of Academy Award nominated actor Joaquin Phoenix. How about that? The cast also includes such sort-of notable names as Kelly Preston, Lea Thompson, Tate Donovan, Terry O’Quinn, and Tom Skerritt, who have all had at least respectable acting careers. I’m mostly just looking forward to that good ol’ child acting from Joaquin Phoenix. Here’s a taste:
To give you a sense as to how successful this movie was, director Dan Milner only directed one more movie after this feature (of his three total), and then concluded his career as an editor for “Popeye the Sailor Man” and “Bozo: The World’s Most Famous Clown”. So, it didn’t exactly take off. However, this lowest-of-the-low B-movie supposedly has a lot of entertainment value to it, along the lines of a Roger Corman flick. I’m always on board for a cheap monster movie, so I’m hoping this has promise.
Ah, Franco Nero. What a beautiful, beautiful man. I’ve talked about him way, way back when I covered “Django (1966)”, but haven’t really come across him since then. However, he is in “Omega Code 2”, so the isn’t the last I’ll see of the gorgeous original Django. As for “Massacre Time”, this flick came out stateside in 1968, despite being made in 1966. Directed by infamous filmmaker Lucio Fulci, who would a decade later film a zombie fighting a shark in his notorious cult classic “Zombie”, and written by prolific Italian filmmaker Fernando Di Leo, this movie looks as spaghetti as spaghetti movies get. As you would expect given the success of “Django”, this movie was sold and distributed as a clone/knockoff to play off of Nero’s leading role in the film. The movie even went by such names as “Django: The Runner”, “Django: Der Hauch des Todes”, and “Djangos seksløber er lov” in various foreign markets. I’m quite looking forward to this one, and have my fingers crossed that it will be a good (massacre) time.
In my latest foray into my local movie store’s bargain bin, I managed to turn up an interesting DVD, titled “The Animated Passion”:
Of course, I had to pick it up. It is a Bargain Bin(ge) / (God)Awful Movies crossover!
It turns out that the DVD is actually two different short animated movies. They appear to be sort-of related, despite one having a 1988 release and the other 2004. They also look pretty much identical in style, with only minor differences. They are similar enough that I had trouble distinguishing them as different movies, especially given that “He Is Risen” occurs chronologically immediately after “Worthy is the Lamb”. With a little cutting, they could be the same movie easily. Seriously, tell me if these two clips look like they are from different movies:
Both movies are directed by Richard Rich, who is mostly known as one of three directors on “The Fox and The Hound”. Most of his career since that time has been dedicated to religious animated movies like these. Judging from the quality of these movies, I’m not so sure that was by choice. The biggest surprise I found, primarily because there is no promotion of it on the box whatsoever, is that “He is Risen” was written by acclaimed Sci-Fi / Fantasy author Orson Scott Card (of “Ender’s Game” fame). According the IMDb, he did a fair amount of that back in the 80’s. I suppose that isn’t so surprising given his much-maligned opinions on homosexuality, but I was still taken aback to see his name on screen.
As soon as the first film (“Worthy is the Lamb”) started, there was a lengthy disclaimer on screen about the fact that people from multiple faiths would be depicted, and that no offense was intended to anyone. That sent up a red flag off the bat for me, as it would anyone. As it turns out, it was quite justified. The depictions of Jewish people in this movie are, to say the least, not good. The voice actors go way over-the-top, and the character designs / animations are not flattering. All of that said, the fellow voicing Caiaphas was one of the few highlights in the whole film. He was capital-A “ACTING”. The only people who ever came close to him in hammy-ness were the guys doing Pilate and Judas, fulfilling the age-old tradition of over-the-top bad dudes. In contrast, the guy voicing Jesus sounded like he was about 85 years old. He was soft-spoken, elderly, and was about the least charismatic voice in the cast. This seems to be a running problem with depicting Jesus in just about anything: he always comes off as incredibly boring. I guess that’s the Christian idea of perfection?
The animation in both of these movies is…sub-par. In particular, most of the male characters have identical beards/mustaches, which makes telling people apart nearly impossible. There were also a lot of moments where the motions seemed jarring, like they were cutting corners by skipping frames. There were instances where the animators clearly didn’t know what they were doing, such as when anyone’s feet were in motion on screen, or if any characters were depicted crying. There is also a horrifying moment where sheep are shown in a state of panic during an earthquake. The animators’ attempt to depict sheep mouths looks like nightmare fuel.
While watching these, I specifically remarked that this is the worst animated feature I had seen since the Titanic animated movies. After doing research, it turns out that the voice actor for Caiaphas was in BOTH of those Titanic animated flicks. Even better, he was the rapping dog. Really.
The next huge problem with these movies requires some context. Check out this passage from the back of the box:
Your family will enjoy these two movies, appropriate even for young children…These high-quality, scripturally accurate stories will completely captivate children
Let me break down the issue into two key phrases from that passage: “scripturally accurate” and “captivate children”. These movies pull scripture and dialogue straight out of the King James Bible. There are no colloquialisms here, and no attempts to make the features kid-friendly outside of not animating blood. These movies are pretty damn verbose, and astoundingly boring to boot. Outside of the unintentionally entertaining voice acting by the bad guys, this was a chore. I watched these with a couple of friends who I’ve been riffing on movies with for years, and the room was silent for most of the running time. If we couldn’t find much entertainment here, kids are going to tear their eyes out.
If you happen upon this DVD in a bargain bin, I can loosely recommend picking it up. Both features are pretty straight-forward at face value, but the voice acting and animation are bad enough to get some amusement. Also, there are some horrid sing-a-longs on the DVD that use the same animation. In fact, they seem to be discarded scenes from other features, because the characters move their mouths as if they should be speaking, but there is no dialogue for them. Instead, the sing-a-long track is playing, which at first made me think that the characters were singing. I suppose that is one way to make up for a lost audio track or a spare bit of footage? I think they are only on the DVD to fill up all of the empty space on the disc, because combined both features probably don’t crack an hour of run time.
My goodness, that’s one hell of a creature design! According the the IMDb trivia, the costumes for the “leeches” are basically thin plastic suits with the “suckers” sewn on. That’s some classic low-budget monster work there, perhaps worthy of Ed Wood. As with many of these movies, there is a fantastic alternate title that was used for some of the foreign releases that I absolutely adore: “The Diabolic Marsh”. There isn’t a whole lot to glean about the film’s plot from the trailer, but there also isn’t much information doled out at all. I think the biggest takeaway from the trailer is getting a solid look at those pathetic leech costumes. I’m willing to bet that those suits see way more time on film than they by any right should. Someone put some time into sewing on all of those suckers after all, and they’ll be damned if those suits don’t get some solid screen time! I’m cautiously looking forward to this one, because I have a feeling that this may be one of those movies that has a dull, dragging plot and way too much overexposure of the monsters. Then again, it looks mighty cheesy, and could make for some good unintentional laughs.
I’m surprised that I haven’t been able to find a formal trailer or many clips from this. I have heard it mentioned a number of times as one of Peter Cushing’s lowest points, and I was pretty excited to finally find a copy of it in a monster movie collection with the likes of “The Creeping Terror” and “Eegah!”. I’m also eager to see how Donald Pleasence is in this flick, as the last thing I caught him in was the dreadful “Pumaman”, which he apparently said on record was the worst movie he was ever involved in. I guess that means he thought more highly of this movie then? Apparently this was originally titled “The Devil’s Men”, which sounds like a more accurate title from what information I can piece together about the plot. I’m a little surprised they didn’t go with that title, so I have to assume that someone had a hangup about using the term “devil” somewhere along the line. That would be pretty strange for folks making a B-movie, and I certainly don’t see any reason why someone would think a Minotaur title is more marketable that one about the devil. I don’t seem to recall there being a big boom in Minotaur movies at any point.
I was really surprised to find a Klaus Kinski appearance in a bargain bin collection of old science fiction movies. The only exposure I’ve had to Kinski is through his stellar work with Herzog, and those films are about as far as you can get from the movies I typically feature here. Never the less, here he is. After some further reading, it looks like Kinski did a handful of European exploitation films early in his career, but this one was oddly and unfortunately one of the last movies he did before his death. The film seems to be a sci-fi interpretation of a knight versus dragon tale, which seems interesting enough in concept. Kinski plays the “dragon”, and Harvey Keitel stars opposite him as the knight named “Klever”. I haven’t been able to find a trailer or clips for this one, but I did locate the theme song. The writer/director has quite a few credits in Spain, but not a whole lot that stands out or saw much of a wide audience. I’m looking forward to seeing how this movie goes horribly, horribly wrong.
This is a shark movie from The Asylum. It is pretty hard to go wrong there. The Asylum makes their money doing two things: making CGI shark movies, and ripping off current blockbusters. I’m not expecting something on the level of “Sharknado”, but this one does seem to have a dumb plot to contend with the best of them. There’s a cheesy villain as well, and that is pretty much all I need to justify the one dollar I spent on this.
This looks like a pretty promising B movie to me. However, the Red Letter Media folks apparently found it to be incredibly boring on “Best of the Worst”. This might be one of those cases where the trailer is crafted in such a way that it can fool you, but I am really curious to try this one out for myself. At the very least, I can see how my tolerance stacks up against the Red Letter Media crowd. I also love that the super cyborg prototype looks like the evil robot version of Sonic the Hedgehog in “Sonic the Hedgehog 2”.
Oh my. I can’t express how excited I am to watch this movie. Not only is there a silly plot about our dark future of christian persecution, but this stars both Mr. T and one of my favorite overactors, Corbin Bernsen. “The Dentist” is still one of my favorite underrated shitty movies, and Corbin Bersen tears up his gums throughout that piece of trash from gnawing on all of the scenery. This trailer has me even more giddy about getting to this one, because the dialogue sounds just awful. I particularly like the line “I call to the stand…Jesus Christ”. That’s just gold.
I remember watching this movie on FearNet a number of years ago. It is a pretty run-of-the-mill slasher movie, apart from the snowboarding focus. I do seem to recall a semi-interesting twist/whodunit plot that set it somewhat apart from the pack, but overall it was your typical gory slasher movie. Again, it has been a number of years, so I am interested to see how much I might have forgotten.
This is a movie about a farting child. It co-stars Rupert Grint of “Harry Potter” film franchise fame, and the marketing unsurprisingly focuses squarely around him. His involvement is probably the only reason this has as wide of a DVD release as it does, hoping to cash in his popularity. It seems similar to how recent releases of “Mazes and Monsters” really emphasize the fact that it stars Tom Hanks, even though no one knew who he was then. In any case, this is a family-friendly movie about farts, so that’s pretty much what I am going to expect to see here. Lots of fart jokes.
Danny Bonaduce starring in a movie is pretty hard to believe, but that is an easier pill to swallow than the CGI on the supersized Bigfoot here. Why did they feel the need to make Bigfoot so large for this anyway? I expected more of a typical Sasquatch movie, but this is pushing more into King Kong territory. In any case, I’m looking forward to the typical monster movie cheese here. I’m also curious if they push the environmental message to “Birdemic” levels, and if they will find some way to make destroying Mt. Rushmore interesting.
This movie will make you wonder how Tom Hanks ever wound up with a career. This absolute stinker of a movie plays off of the paranoia surrounding the popularity of “Dungeons and Dragons” back in the day, and comes out somehow more nauseating than the classic Jack Chick tract on the subject. Tom Hanks hams it up throughout the movie as the lead character, and has a number of notable scenes in this one that are hard to forget. All of the dialogue in the movie is atrocious from what I have seen in reviews, but I haven’t actually sat through this monster myself. I’m looking forward to rolling the dice on this one.
I mentioned in a previous Bargain Bin(ge) that there are a number of shitty movies out there with the title “Slipstream”. As luck would have it, I have now found the other two movies with the title (there is a fourth as well according to IMDb, but I don’t think any copies actually exist).
This one seems to me to be Anthony Hopkins’s dream project. Anytime someone writes/directs/stars, you have to wonder if they might have too much invested in the movie to cut at it objectively. Some people apparently really appreciated this as a surreal film, but the general consensus is that it doesn’t quite hit the mark, and is just a confusing and jumbled mess. I am really curious about it myself. The concept sounds really cool, and the cast is all pretty competent (maybe not Slater), but I could see how it could trip over itself.
Another “Slipstream”! This one is more of a straight B-movie than the previously mentioned films of the same name. This one features Bill Paxton and Mark Hamill in a futuristic wasteland, and strikes me initially as being a pretty interesting movie. The chemistry between Paxton and Hamill seems pretty solid from the trailer, and I like how this movie seems to be drawing from multiple genres for inspiration. I am pretty surprised I hadn’t heard of this one, because it looks like it has some great potential for unintentional entertainment at the very least.
I’ve never caught this one before, but it looks like more or less the usual Roger Corman fare. I actually found this the day after I watched the above commentary by Corman on this film’s trailer. There isn’t a whole lot of information about the film revealed in there, but it is nice to know that Corman enjoyed his time filming in Hawaii. I am curious exactly how one “controls” a shark, though.
Reviews/Trivia of B-Movies, Bad Movies, and Cult Movies.