Category Archives: Bargain Bin(ge)

Bargain Bin DVDs and places from whence they came

Bargain Bin(ge): Replays Gameware (Tuscaloosa/Northport, AL)

Tuscaloosa, AL isn’t a particularly big or interesting place. Unless you’re there for football, school, or the unimaginable combination of the two, there isn’t a whole lot to soak in. I would know, because I lived there for a while.

That said, there are a surprising number of used media stores in the area for how modest the population is. I’ve already covered the MovieStop chain quite a bit, which has a prominent location in Tuscaloosa. However, the real gems in the area are two sites of the small franchise Replays Gameware & DVDs, which you will seldom see outside of small towns and modest cities like Tuscaloosa.

replayttown6

While the selection isn’t outstanding, these shops aren’t afraid to hold blowout sales to clear out their stock, particularly for their DVDs (as they are primarily vintage gaming shops).  If you catch them during one of those (as I did), the deals are very solid. There is also something to be said about the atmosphere at these shops: they are far less sterile than many of the larger buy/sell/trade chains, and hold on to the intimate and casual ambiance that a lot of people miss from the days of video rental. For people who are into that, Replays has never failed to deliver that for me.

Getting on to the actual haul, let’s start with the central Tuscaloosa location:

replayttown4

Evolver

replayttown3

Holy shit! It’s my favorite William H. Macy-voiced killer robot: Evolver! I covered this particular flick as part of Killer Robot Week, but this is actually the first time I had come across a DVD copy of it. Of course, I had to pick it up. Why wouldn’t I? If you want to know more, go check out my earlier review of it. Or, better yet, just dig it up on Netflix without any primer.

Action Jackson

replayttown1

Action Jackson is a movie where Carl Weathers (Predator, Rocky, Arrested Development) plays a super-cop, which is all I need to know about it. Also, Vanity of Never Too Young To Die and The Last Dragon co-stars alongside him, in case I needed extra incentive to pick this up (I didn’t). This is another one of those movies that I have just never gotten around to, so when I spotted it on sale, I decided that it should come home with me. I have a feeling that if I throw that movie in my DVD player, I’ll have a mean stew going.

The Thing With Two Heads

replayttown2

Gosh, where can I possibly start with this bizarre b-movie? It is about a racist white man whose (functioning) head is grafted onto a black guy, which results in a movie’s worth of hilarious, action-filled hi-jinks. Academy Award winner Ray Milland did this flick in 1972, the same year in which he featured prominently in the outlandish horror movie Frogs, which I covered here previously. I first heard about this flick when Stuart Gordon did a spotlight on it for Trailers From Hell, and it has been on my to-watch list ever since.  Keep your eyes peeled, because this sounds like a lock for me to cover at some point in the future.

While the Tuscaloosa location did yield me those three much-appreciated finds, the Northport location just outside of town really gave me some fuel for the bad movie fire:

replaynp5

The Crippled Avengers

replaynp1

Martial Arts films definitely aren’t my strong suit, and my knowledge base is admittedly pretty lacking in this department. However, this is a flick that I heard about recently via The Cinema Snob, and I was a little surprised to see it with a DVD release at all given how obscure most of his picks are. I hear that this is actually a pretty decent action flick, but I may just cover it anyway for its cult appeal.

Children of the Corn II / Children of the Corn III

replaynp3

This is a franchise that I have no experience with outside of the original. However, I do know that people hate these two movies with a burning passion, and that I have never seen them. Thus, this was an obvious pickup for me.

The Substitute / The Substitute II / The Substitute III / The Substitute IV

replaynp4

There are three sequels to The Substitute? And they all star the zombie-cop  Treat Williams? There is absolutely no way that these movies are good, and the fact that I had no idea they existed makes me absolutely giddy. I can’t wait to dig into these, and I hope they yield something worth covering here on the blog.

The original The Substitute was featured on the We Hate Movies podcast not too long ago, which made me give consideration to picking it up at some point. I vaguely remember seeing it as a kid, but it was really easy to get confused with The Principal, one of the finest films in the history of cinema. Regardless, I am baffled that this flick managed to spawn so many sequels, which has me deathly curious as to how the story continuity works between them.

Fright Night / Monster High / The Craft / Brainscan

replaynp2

It is hard to resist the allure of a cheap compilation DVD. In this case, cult classics Fright Night and The Craft anchor a couple of lesser-known flicks that leech onto their sides like barnacles. The one that initially caught my eye was Brainscan, which was on my shortlist to cover back during Killer Robot Week. However, I have a hunch that Monster High is going to be the highlight of the bunch, because it sounds absolutely wretched, and holds an unenviable IMDB rating of 3.3.

Bargain Bin(ge): Tape Ape VHS Swap Meet

Tape Ape VHS Swap Meet

Yesterday, I decided to check out a local VHS market that I heard about recently. Tucked away in the back of a semi-dilapidated building, boxes upon boxes of VHS tapes were laid out on tables, brought in from people all around the region. I usually stick to DVDs, but I wasn’t about to pass up this opportunity to find some rarities and flicks that haven’t made the jump to a disc or streaming release. And, sure enough, I found some cool stuff.

5 4 3 2

On to the actual haul: here is a shot of all of the tapes I procured together. You can look forward to a good number of these popping up here on the blog for full reviews before too long, particularly the Larry Cohen flicks (“Deadly Illusion” and “Perfect Strangers”).

1

Santa With Muscles

220px-Santa_With_Muscles

I’ve covered this Hulk Hogan holiday flick before at length, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to finally snag a physical copy of it. This might be the only Mila Kunis movie worse than “American Psycho 2.”

Carnosaur

carnosaur

“Carnosaur” was Roger Corman’s answer to “Jurassic Park,” and is a flick that I have been meaning to catch for a long time. I’ve seen a bunch of clips from it over the years, and can’t wait to see that adorable little dinosaur in action. Interestingly enough, I also almost picked up “Tammy and the T-Rex,” but decided against it.

Stay Tuned

staytuned

I first heard about “Stay Tuned” from an episode of “We Hate Movies,” and the concept behind the story sounds pretty interesting to me.I mean, of course Satan would be involved in show business somehow, right?

Space Camp Adventure

spacecampvid

This is a promotional video for Space Camp from 1994. From what I can tell, it was made at least in part in my home town of Huntsville, AL. At the very least, this is going to be packed with some solid nostalgia fuel. If it is anywhere near as ridiculous as the movie “Space Camp,” I will be very happy.

House

house

“House” is a bit of a horror-comedy cult classic, but it is one that I have never actually gotten around to before. I’m expecting it to be very much up my alley, though. I mean, Steve Minor directed “Lake Placid” and “Soul Man,” so surely this is going to be on point! /s

Body Parts

bodyparts

This is another flick that I know thanks to We Hate Movies. It sounds like a bizarre little body horror flick that I knew I had to track down after I heard about it. It reminds me a little of the Christopher Lambert “Se7en” knock-off “Resurrection,” which is another flick that I absolutely need to hunt down again soon.

Shark

shark

“Shark” is a Samuel Fuller flick with a lot of interesting back story. A stunt worker was killed by a shark during the production due to a tragic error, and Fuller ultimately abandoned the production entirely due to the producers’ shenanigans. The film is supposedly awful as a result, in spite of a hefty dose of Burt Reynolds in the lead role.

Perfect Strangers

perfectstrangers

“Perfect Strangers” is a Larry Cohen movie that I don’t know much about, but it has not been easy to track down thanks to the immensely generic and oft-used title. The fact that it has been such a pain in the ass to find leads me to believe this is probably one of his lesser films as far as quality goes, but I might be surprised.

Communion

Communion

I didn’t know anything about this movie until after I bought it. You have to take risks in life sometimes, and I am willing to gamble on a movie about Christopher Walken being abducted by aliens. The director was apparently responsible for a couple of the sequels to “The Howling,” as well as something called “Pterodactyl Woman From Beverly Hills,” so I think I may have a winner here.

Deadly Illusion

deadlyillusion

“Deadly Illusion” is another one of those Larry Cohen films that has been a pain in my ass to track down. It stars Billy Dee “Lando” Williams and Vanity (which is awesome), but it is apparently not about a serial killer magician like I had initially hoped. Still, I always have high hopes for Larry Cohen to pull out the stops to create an interesting story. Maybe a magician will be involved after all.

1990: The Bronx Warriors

broxwarriors

I have heard an awful lot about “1990: The Bronx Warriors,” and all of it leads me to believe that I am in for something special with this thing. Fred Williamson’s presence gets my attention for just about anything, but just look at that ideal box art. It is “The Warriors,” but with less money and more nonsense. Perfect.

 

 

Bargain Bin(ge) Las Vegas: Record City

Welcome to the newest installment of the Bargain Bin(ge), where I cover used DVD stores from around the country and the various movies I have plundered from them.

Earlier this week, work took me out to fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. With the limited free time I had, I decided to check out some used media stores in search of DVDs.

lasvegasOne place I checked out was a little hole in the wall on Sahara Ave. called Record City, which proved to be a pretty spiffy spot for digging up DVDs, VHS tapes, and records.

recordcity5 recordcity6 recordcity4 recordcity3 The thing that most stood out to me about Record City was the significant stock of VHS tapes, which is becoming increasingly less common to see. I didn’t wind up picking up any as they are a little unwieldy for air travel, but a VHS copy of “Heavy Metal” definitely stuck out to me on a cursory look-over of the section.

The DVD prices weren’t too bad, but the selection left a little bit to be desired. I still managed to find plenty to walk away with, but it was probably the least impressive of the three shops I visited in Las Vegas, at least from a DVD standpoint.

Apocalypse

7From the looks of it, “Apocalypse” is a lower-budget “Left Behind” knockoff, which leads me to hope that it will make excellent fodder for a (God)Awful Movies segment. From the looks of the trailer, this is going to be an absolute hoot to watch through.

The Vampire Bat

8“The Vampire Bat” is an old vampire movie from the 1930s directed by Frank Strayer, who was behind a ton of horror movies from 1920s through the 1950s. It should make for an interesting watch from an era in horror that I don’t typically cover.

Mitchell

9 10I already wrote about “Mitchell” back as part of the IMDb Bottom 100, and I even already have a copy of it. I just couldn’t resist picking up this obviously fake DVD copy of the movie. What are the odds that “Mitchell” is even on the disc in this box?

Bride of the Gorilla

12“Bride of the Gorilla” is a b-movie about a man who is cursed into becoming a gorilla. It is one of countless movies out there to feature a man in a gorilla suit as the central monster. The writer/director, Curt Siodmak, was a prolific screenplay writer best known for penning “The Wolf Man,” and Lon Chaney, Jr. even pops in for a role in the feature.

The Undead Express

13“The Undead Express” is apparently a movie about vampires living in the New York subway system. From what little I have read, it sounds like it was catered to a younger audience, which certainly isn’t clear from the trailer. Ron Silver of “The West Wing” and “Timecop” leads the cast, which also features a bit role by Wes Craven, which the DVD box advertises as much as possible. I’m not sure what to make of it, but I’m planning to give this movie a shot at some point.

 

Bargain Bin(ge) Las Vegas: Zia Record Exchange – Eastern

Welcome to the newest installment of the Bargain Bin(ge), where I cover used DVD stores from around the country and the various movies I have plundered from them.

Earlier this week, work took me out to fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. With the limited free time I had, I decided to check out some used media stores in search of DVDs.

lasvegasI wound up visiting two locations of Zia Record Exchange, a chain of used media stores in the Southwestern states of Arizona and Nevada. This particular segment covers the Eastern Avenue location in Las Vegas, a little ways off the beaten path.

ziaeastern8 ziaeastern9As with the Sahara Ave. location, the Zia on Eastern is very much defined by its ambiance. I will say that it isn’t quite as distinctive as the Sahara location, and that it is a little better spaced out (I think the floorplan may be a bit bigger). This location proved to have an equally impressive movie selection, and plenty of good deals to go around.

ziaeastern1ziaeastern2ziaeastern3ziaeastern4ziaeastern5ziaeastern6ziaeastern7As you might expect, I came away with a pretty good haul after spending some time scouring through the bargain bins and shelves. Here’s are the flicks I came home with:

Destroy All Planets / Attack of The Monsters

14I am a total sucker for old kaiju movies, and these are two of the most ridiculous entries into the infamous “Gamera” franchise. I marathoned all of the classic ones a while back, and I thoroughly recommend checking out the MST3k treatment for “Attack of the Monsters” (“Gamera vs Guiron”).

The Beast of Yucca Flats

15Here’s a flick I covered as part of the IMDb Bottom 100: “The Beast of Yucca Flats.” It is usually in high consideration for being one of the worst films ever made, and the director, Coleman Francis, is easily one of the most notoriously awful filmmakers in history. Tor Johnson of “Plan 9 From Outer Space” stars in it, making it a sort of perfect storm of awfulness. I recommend checking out the MST3k treatment if you want to watch it, or else it is not a pleasant experience.

Gamera: Return of the Giant Monsters / The Magic Serpent

16“Gamera: Return of the Giant Monsters” is better known as “Gamera vs Gyaos,” and is one of the classics in the “Gamera” franchise. “The Magic Serpent,” on the other hand, seems to be a more obscure kaiju creature feature that leans more towards being a fantasy ninja epic. I’m curious to see how it is, because the few reviews out there about it seem positive.

It’s Alive

17“It’s Alive” is a cult classic from Larry Cohen, and a movie that I have had a lot of trouble finding on DVD. I’m a pretty big fan of the Cohen stuff I have seen, so this one has been on the top of my “to watch” list for a while now. Also, it is about a ridiculous killer baby. I am totally down with that. It got a remake a few years ago that I have also been meaning to check out. Keep your eyes peeled, because this one is for sure going to be popping up on the blog soon.

Active Stealth

18“Active Stealth” is a movie that stars Daniel Baldwin of “Car 54, Where Are You?,” “King of the Ants,” and “Vampires.” I think of him as a modern version of Joe Estevez, in that he is related to a famous person that he kind of looks like, and uses the similarities to rack up endless b-movie acting gigs. As for “Active Stealth,” director Fred Olen Ray has over 130 directing credits on b-movies like “Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers” and “Super Ninja Bikini Babes,” so I have to assume that this is a quality action flick.

Bargain Bin(ge) Las Vegas: Zia Record Exchange – Sahara

Welcome to the newest installment of the Bargain Bin(ge), where I cover used DVD stores from around the country and the various movies I have plundered from them.

Earlier this week, work took me out to fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. With the limited free time I had, I decided to check out some used media stores in search of DVDs.

lasvegasI wound up visiting two locations of Zia Record Exchange, a chain of used media stores in the Southwestern states of Arizona and Nevada. This particular segment covers the Sahara Avenue location in Las Vegas, not far from the touristy allures of the casinos and hotels.

ziasahara11 ziasahara10 ziasahara8 ziasahara9 ziasahara4 ziasahara3 ziasahara2 ziasahara1The first thing that stood out to me about Zia was the cool ambiance to the place. The walls and signs are all well-decorated and hip, making for a top-notch atmosphere. As the name suggests, it is primarily a record store, but the inclusion of movies is hardly an afterthought: the selection was really fantastic, and I wound up finding a number of films I haven’t been able to find anywhere else in the wild. “Weekend at Bernie’s 2” comes to mind, though the price wasn’t right for me to walk away with it. Likewise, they had copies of “God Told Me To” with Larry Cohen commentary and “Leviathan,” although both were outside of what I wanted to pay.

ziasahara5ziasahara6ziasahara7

All of that said, I still found some good deals, and walked away with a nice stack of DVDs. If you find yourself in Las Vegas, it is worth your time to check out the selection at Zia Record Exchange if you are a fan of rare and cult films.

Cloned

1“Cloned” is a television movie from the early 2000s starring Bradley Whitford (“The West Wing,” “Cabin In The Woods”) and Elizabeth Perkins (“Weeds”). I’m a big fan of Whitford, but I haven’t seen him do much outside of his snarky, comedic comfort zone. The same goes for Perkins, who became mostly a comic relief player in “Weeds” in the later seasons. This looks to be a pretty heavy drama laced with sci-fi elements, so I’m interested to see how they work with a more somber backdrop.

It Lives Again / Island of the Alive

2I was rather delighted to find a combined copy of Larry Cohen’s sequels to the 1974 classic “It’s Alive,” partially because I have never seen copies of them before, and party because of how outlandish the premises are. Larry Cohen has a knack for finding the sweet spot between horror and comedy, and is one of my favorite b-movie directors along with Stuart Gordon for doing it so well. I’m planning to go through the whole “It’s Alive” trilogy soon, maybe in a multi-week spotlight on Larry Cohen much like I did with Gordon.

Special Effects

3This is another Larry Cohen flick that I was pleasantly surprised to find a copy of. I don’t know much about this one, apart from that it is a twisted homage to Hitchcock’s thrillers. The premise of a movie director making a film about a murder he got away with is certainly intriguing, and I’m interested to see how Cohen pulls it off. He can certainly write suspense if “Phone Booth” is any indication, so this should be an interesting watch.

In Too Deep / Glass Shield / Cry, The Beloved Country / License To Kill / Malevolent / A Rage In Harlem / Road Ends / Ice

4I always love grabbing discount movie collections, because you always get your money’s worth in screen time at the very least. As opposed to most horror box sets composed of amateur flicks with awful effects, this action/crime set seems to be mostly built from TV movies featuring bankable stars (Ice Cube, Dennis Hopper, Forrest Whitaker, and Denzel Washington to name a few in here). The most prominent of the bunch on the box is “In Too Deep,” which was directed by Michael Rymer, who has since made a name for himself producing and directing on the hit TV shows “Hannibal” and “Battlestar: Galactica.” I’ll be interested to do more research into this lot, and see if there is some blog material in here.

Roadie

5“Roadie” is apparently a musical comedy starring Meat Loaf. I didn’t read any further into it than that, apart from finding out that the director, Alan Rudolph, was behind the “Breakfast of Champions” film adaptation. I’m assuming that this movie is going to be just awful, but I’m planning to buckle in for the experience.

Transformed

6I don’t know what this movie is, but it involves Fred Williamson, drugs, and martial arts, so I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt. This may have been a mistake.

Bargain Bin(ge) New Orleans: Louisiana Music Factory

Welcome to the latest installment of the Bargain Bin(ge), where I cover used DVD stores from around the country and the various movies I have plundered from them. This past weekend, I took a trip down to New Orleans: one of the most unique and interesting cities in the United States. Of course, I managed to take some time to dig into a couple of local used media spots between enjoying the cajun food and the sights.

nolaThe Louisiana Music Factory is a used media shop on the edge of New Orleans’s French Quarter, sitting on the extreme end of the increasingly popular Frenchman Street. As the name suggests, LMF is primarily a record store, and also has a little stage for live music. That said, it does have a little DVD section that I decided to peruse.

musicfactory6 musicfactory7 musicfactory5 LMF is a cool spot with an interesting ambiance, and shouldn’t be missed if you find yourself in the French Quarter. It is worth the short hike down Decatur. However, you shouldn’t be going for the movies: this is a pure record store, and that’s what you should spend your time digging into here. Unfortunately, records aren’t easy to pack in carry-ons, so I was out of luck. Regardless, I wound up tilling up a couple of worthy DVD finds there.

Caddyshack II

Frankly, this is a movie that absolutely shouldn’t exist. Caddyshack II is a truly reviled sequel that suffered immensely from behind the scenes tensions during the early days of the production. Chevy Chase is the only returning cast member, and he only rarely appears. Rodney Dangerfield backed out before filming, Harold Ramis wanted as little to do with it as possible, and notorious hair-stylist turned producer Jon Peters had a heavy hand in making sure the movie got made in spite of every omen that it shouldn’t be. It is often said that there is nothing worse than bad comedy, but the sheer amount of trivia behind this disaster has me curious to give it a watch.

musicfactory1

Sister Street Fighter

Here is a little spinoff that I actually had no idea existed: Sister Street Fighter. I don’t typically cover martial arts movies, but I’ve had my eye on the Sonny Chiba “Streetfighter” series for a while now (not to be confused with the JCVD video game adaptation). “Sister Street Fighter” is apparently a parallel story to “Street Fighter,” and briefly features Chiba. I’m expecting some extreme b-movie violence, and hopefully an enjoyable watch here. Expect a review on this flick sooner or later on the blog.

musicfactory2

Bargain Bin(ge) New Orleans: The Mushroom

Welcome to the latest installment of the Bargain Bin(ge), where I cover used DVD stores from around the country and the various movies I have plundered from them. This past weekend, I took a trip down to New Orleans: one of the most unique and interesting cities in the United States. Of course, I managed to take some time to dig into a couple of local used media spots between enjoying the cajun food and the sights.

nolaFirst up is an old haunt of mine from my college days at Tulane University: The Mushroom.

mushroom10The Mushroom is sort of an all-purpose alternative interest center: part head shop, part record store, part eclectic emporium. It sits on the corner of Tulane University’s campus, on the second floor of a building that houses both a college bar and one of the most delicious crepe restaurants in the country. Of course, the Mushroom also boasts a significant used DVD section, which I have spent a lot of time digging in over the years.

The most distinctive aspect of The Mushroom, much like New Orleans itself, is the atmosphere. Just check out some of the art on the exterior walls:

mushroom5 mushroom9 mushroom6Did I mention it is also a head shop? In any case, I love the unique flair of the place, both on the inside and the outside. The DVD section is specifically surrounded by t-shirts branded with classic horror and sci-fi movies, which is a nice touch. I picked up a Godzilla shirt there a couple of years ago that I absolutely love, and I was tempted to dig through to find another one. Maybe next time. mushroom8The DVD prices in The Mushroom could be a bit better. However, I came out with 5 dvds (6 movies) for about 15 dollars, which isn’t too bad. The biggest problem is that they usually know when they have something rare or obscure, and they mark them up accordingly. You aren’t going to find any steals here in general, but you will almost certainly find something interesting.

mushroom7

Shocker / The People Under The Stairs

So, on to the movies I picked up at The Mushroom. First, there is a Wes Craven double feature of “Shocker” and “The People Under The Stairs.” Neither of these are exactly considered highlights in Craven’s career, but they both have fan followings for sure. Also, I haven’t seen either of them, nor did I have copies of them previously. I recently missed a screening of “The People Under The Stairs” at Gateway Film Center, so I’m going to specifically look forward to giving that a watch.
mushroom2

Iron Eagle

The next find is a bit of a forgotten flick, mostly because of how overshadowed it was by a better film with a similar concept. Years before “Volcano” vs “Dante’s Peak” and “Armageddon” vs “Deep Impact,” there was “Top Gun” vs “Iron Eagle.” I think that this is the first time I have run across a DVD copy of this film, and this is another one I haven’t seen before. I might do a back to back of this and “Top Gun” as a sort of retrospective comparison. Speaking of which, I’ve been meaning to do that with “Catch-22” and “M.A.S.H” too. Keep your eyes peeled.

mushroom4

How To Make A Monster

Here is a movie I considered early on as a possibility for Killer Robot Week, but I knocked it out partially because I couldn’t find a copy. So, I was understandably pretty surprised to find a copy of it in the wild. “How To Make A Monster” is a television movie from 2001 that surprisingly features effects work from the legendary creature creator Stan Winston, who certainly had no business working on TV that late into his legendary career. I’ll be interested to see if there is some reason for his involvement, but I’ll save that for a proper review. What is more important to note is that this is a television movie from 2001 about a killer video game, so it is bound to have awful CGI and dated references to controversy over violence in video games. Sounds like a good time to me! The writer/director, George Huang, also did the movie “Swimming With Sharks,” which is basically “Entourage” without the central cast or comedic elements (so, better). It features Kevin Spacey as the intensely abusive and reprehensible super-agent character, and you can just feel how much Piven pulled his character of Gold from the performance. I haven’t seen it in a few years, but I liked it on the initial watch.

mushroom1

Predator 2

When it comes to sequels failing to live up to the potential of their concepts, “Predator 2” has to be towards the top of that list. Moving the stealthy alien hunter from the jungle into an urban environment sounds like a winner, but then again, so did the idea of combining Predators and Xenomorphs on screen. I haven’t seen this flick in years, but I don’t recall hating it when I saw it years ago. I was just…disappointed. I’ll be interested to see what this movie is like for me now, because it has been at least a decade since I last saw it.

mushroom3

Virtual Assassin

Here a flick I don’t actually know anything about: “Virtual Assassin” or “CyberJack.” From what I can tell, it is a “Die Hard” knock-off with a sci-fi, high-tech twist. The director, Robert Lee, primarily works as an assistant director, and has been in the crew of such flicks as Uwe Boll’s masterpieces “House of the Dead” and “Alone in the Dark.” The film stars Michael Dudikoff, who is best known as Cannon’s “American Ninja.” He’s had one hell of a b-movie career, and his presence was enough to sell me on giving this thing a shot.

mushroom11

Bargain Bin(ge): Cincinnati

This past weekend, I found myself in Cincinnati, OH for HorrorHound Weekend. I had a little bit of free time to kill on Sunday, so I went on a good ol’ fashioned DVD hunt around the city.

Buybacks

Buybacks is a chain of buy/sell/trades that sits on the lower end of the quality scale, and often has comparatively significantly higher prices than competitors in my experience. Regardless, I figured I would give it a shot.

buybacks4
buybacks5

buybacks6
I’m sure the 6.99 one is far better than the 4.99 one.

 

buybacks3
For those who can’t read the tags, these children’s instructional DVDs about heavy machinery run you about $10 each.
buybacks1
A “Santo” movie. Don’t see those every day.

As far as the stuff I actually did walk away with, I came out with a handful of films that I’m interested to give a second look.

Inspector Clouseau

Alan Arkin takes over Peter Sellers’s famous role as Clouseau in this much-maligned and often-unacknowledged entry into the “Pink Panther” franchise. I’m interested to see how Arkin is in the role, and whether the negative reception was more knee-jerk to the casting or legitimately founded.

Reindeer Games

The early 2000s were a dark time for Ben Affleck. “Reindeer Games” came ahead of “Gigli,” “Jersey Girl,” and “Daredevil,” but it has still received a fair amount of flak from folks like How Did This Get Made?

I have never much minded Affleck’s acting, and this film has always struck me as having an interesting concept behind it. I’m interested to see how it is.

Last Man Standing

This is an updated, prohibition-set adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s “Yojimbo” with a 1996 Bruce Willis in the lead. I’ve never seen it, but it sounds intriguing to me, particularly given an accessory cast featuring Christopher Walken and Bruce Dern.

The Quick and The Dead

“The Quick and The Dead” is Sam Raimi’s take on the western, and features one hell of a cast. I liked this movie when I first saw it, but it has been a very long time since then. Leonardo DiCaprio, Sharon Stone, Russell Crowe, Gene Hackman, and Lance Henriksen are all hanging out in this flick, and there a ton of memorable gun fights throughout the run time as I recall.

 

CD/Game Exchange

CD/Game Exchange seems to be a local Cincinnati shop, but it looks like it might have more than 1 location (or the internet has lots of old information). The one I went to sat a couple of blocks off from the University of Cincinnati campus, in a bit of a run-down strip.

As far as selection, prices, and ambiance go, it was hard to beat.

cdgame5 cdgame3 cdgame2 cdgame1 cdgame4

There were a few things I found that I decided to leave on the shelf, most notably a copy of “Deadly Friend,” a Wes Craven killer robot movie. However, I did come away with quite a haul:

God Told Me To

Larry Cohen is one of my favorite B-movie directors, and this is one of his that I have not seen. By all accounts, it is also one of the strangest (and best) movies he has ever made. I am very much on board, and was excited to even find a DVD copy of this thing.

Blacula

It’s “Blacula.” What do I need to explain? I haven’t seen it in years, but it is a classic.

Joint Security Area

I love this movie, and did not own a copy of it. The director has done a bunch of other acclaimed movies like “Oldboy” and “I’m a Cyborg, And That’s Ok,” but this is my favorite of his, and I hate that it gets overlooked. It manages to capture the tension of the 38th parallel and the social anxieties of a divided Korea incredibly well through its portrayal of a tragic group of border guards.

John Carpenter’s Vampires

John Carpenter was well into a down slide by the time “Vampires” came around, wedged between “Escape From LA” and “Ghosts of Mars” in his filmography. I haven’t seen it though, and I typically like James Woods in stuff. There’s also a Baldwin brother floating around in there, so I suppose we’ll see how that is.

Stroker Ace

We Hate Movies did an episode on this a while back that peaked my interest. Sounds like a pretty awful attempt to bottle the charm of “Smokey & The Bandit.”

Curse of the Komodo

One of the countless movies directed by Jim Wynorski of “Chopping Mall” fame. I’m sure that it is absolutely awful.

Chains of Gold

This was John Travolta just before his career was revived by Quentin Tarantino, which is a weird black hole in his filmography. Apparently he is the highlight here, so I’ll be interested to see how he is.

Exorcist II

This has to be one of the most hated movies of all time, and I have never gotten around to watching it. So, that’s going to be happening sooner rather than later.

 

Bargain Bin(ge): January 2015

Half Price Books is a significantly-sized chain of physical media buy/sell/trades, located primarily throughout the Midwest and Texas. I had never been to one until I moved to Ohio, but they have quickly become go-to spots for my DVD hunting here.

halfpriced8

Though their selection is primarily books, all of the locations I have been to have also had significant stocks of DVDs, and every visit has yielded something interesting.

In keeping with the name, the prices are pretty great: I’ve rarely spent over $5 on any one DVD (usually in the $2 – $3 range). Additionally, I’ve found a lot of movies I haven’t found anywhere else before: everything from Lucio Fulci movies to shitty Saturn Productions kung fu flicks to a special edition of the razzie-nominated “Supergirl.”

This time around, I wound up with a handful of interesting / cheap finds. First up:

Sonic the Hedgehog: The Complete Series
halfpriced1

This isn’t the sort of thing that I would normally pick up. In fact, I left a couple of Mario Bros. animated show DVDs on the shelf the last time I was in the store. However, I actually remember watching bits of this show way back when I was a kid, and I figured the nostalgia of blasting through these would be worth a couple of bucks.

I don’t actually remember if this was any good as a cartoon or not. I seem to recall some later incarnations, but I don’t recall if they were better or worse than this original one. Aren’t chili dogs involved somehow?

Slither
halfpriced3

“Slither” is almost the perfect median between the James Gunn who created “Guardians of the Galaxy” and the James Gunn who interned with Troma and wrote “Tromeo and Juliet” for peanuts. You can tell that he has some real skill here, but “Slither” still has a lot of those Troma-tic, cheesy body horror roots. Nathan Fillion and Michael Rooker are both really awesome in this thing, and it still stands as maybe my favorite James Gunn movie so far. Somehow, I had never picked a copy of this up: $3 is a good enough price for me.

Dragon Force Operation
halfpriced6 halfpriced7

Oh boy, it is another Saturn Production DVD! These are almost always horrible kung-fu movies, and I suspect this one won’t be an exception. It has ratings from a whopping 12 users on IMDb, so I am guessing this isn’t exactly a well-known feature. Here’s hoping there is some entertainment value to be had from this one: the last Saturn Production I watched was Godfrey Ho’s “Dragon Against Vampire,” which was (to the shock of no one) fucking atrocious and complete nonsense.

I am a little disappointed that the synopsis of “Dragon Force Operation” doesn’t feature martial arts trained surgeons, but I am not giving up hope yet.

Willard (2003)
halfpriced2

I’ve actually been looking for a copy of this for a while. The original “Willard” is one of those films that I have always heard of, but never seen. I recently caught a trailer for it before a Fritz the Nite Owl screening, and it reignited my interest in digging up a copy. I had actually completely forgotten about this2003  remake until one of the Video Central clerks mentioned it. I think Crispin Glover is a pretty impressive and intense actor who has the ability to shine in otherwise poor movies, so I’m looking forward to checking this one out. The original is on YouTube, but I’m keeping my eyes open for a physical copy of it as well.

Time Changer
halfpriced5 halfpriced4

This one initially caught my eye because it looks, at first glance, to be a typical low-budget sci-fi flick. However, after reading the blurb, it is looking like it has real potential for a (God)Awful Movies review: it is apparently about a time-traveling Bible professor from 1890 who is shocked by the secularization that he sees the present day (and, y’know, just kids these days in general).

After doing a little research, it turns out that this movie only has at most two degrees of separation from the abysmal “Escape From Hell,” which has me super-excited to check it out on top of everything else. Also, the director’s most recent film is a rip-off of “God’s Not Dead.” Again: this guy made a worse version of “God’s Not Dead.”

 

Bargain Bin(ge): Orange Beach, AL

Over this past summer, I spent a little time on the Alabama gulf coast in Orange Beach, AL. It is a pretty small town even during the tourist season, so I wasn’t expecting to find any Bargain Binge locations to spotlight. However, it turns out that Orange Beach still has a little local video rental shop up and operating. I’m honestly not sure what the name of the place is, but I am pretty sure it isn’t “BOOKS DVD Rentals”.

orange2

Typically, I adore local video shops. I have featured a good number of them on this blog, and I look for them in all of the places I travel to. That said, this place was shitty. I went a number of times over the course of the week, and nearly every visit was horrible.

The first time I went into “BOOKS” was on a whim after a grocery trip, when I first spotted the place. It was roughly 3:00pm, and I was alone in the store for about 5 minutes before the old lady behind the counter kicked me out to “go to lunch”. This, for the record, is not a stellar business practice.

The second time I went into “BOOKS”, it was with a mission in mind. We all decided that we needed to watch “Deep Blue Sea” and “Twister” to break up the Great Gamera Marathon, and I wasn’t about to pay full price for either of those DVDs. To the credit of “BOOKS”, at least the store had both of those movies. Unfortunately, the visit was once again sunk by the customer service. The same old lady was in the store, this time sitting quietly next to the entrance. She didn’t say anything when I walked in, and made no motion during the handful of minutes that I stood at the checkout counter, movies in hand. I actually gave up and left the store, as she once again gave no signs of recognition as I left the store. Once again, this is not an ideal business practice.

orange3

A few minutes later, after spot-buying some groceries, I went back into “BOOKS”. Because damn it, I wanted “Twister” and “Deep Blue Sea”, and this old woman was going to take my money whether she wanted to or not. This time, she was standing behind the counter, which was already an improvement over the last visit. I brought the movies up, and so began the marathon of membership registration.

Most video rental stores need to keep some information (via a membership typically) so that they can track you down if you abscond with a movie. Typically this is a quick and painless process: they might make a copy of your ID or have you fill out a form, and you’ll be on your way in a minute or two. At “BOOKS”, this process lasts a lifetime. She first asked if I was already a member, to which I said “no”. She then asked me if I was sure, and transitioned into the story of the 20+ year business and it’s many re-brandings and relocations in that time. I know I rented at least once from a store down here before, so I figured I might as well see if I was in the system. I mean, it could save me a minute or two, right? As she started hunting and pecking at her ancient keyboard, I instantly knew I had made a mistake. Even after she discovered I was not in the system, she kept looking and saying every name aloud that sounded like a vague permutation of “Gordon Maples”. I eventually had to interrupt her to ask for a new registration.
Around this time, one of my friends walked into the shop, wondering what on earth was taking me so long. As soon as he came in, the lady looked over my shoulder and said, in a unnecessarily harsh tone, “Can I help you, sir?”, as if he was about to steal her precious collection of beach reads on display.

Apparently the looming threat of having two individuals in the store caused her to pick up the pace, because the rest of the process went relatively smoothly. She hunt-and-pecked my information into the computer at a steady pace, and I was on my way.

The last time I went into the store, to return “Twister” and “Deep Blue Sea”, nothing eventful happened, which I was kind of disappointed by at that point. When you get that far, you have to hope for a thrilling conclusion to the epic, but that was not to be. The same elderly lady was there, but she was quick, pleasant, and sufficiently acknowledged my existence. It didn’t make up for the previous encounters, and the prices were ridiculous ($4 per night per movie as I recall), but it was definitely improvement.

orange1

I do not recommend going to “BOOKS DVD Rental” if you happen to find yourself in Orange Beach, AL. Bring your own movies, or download something, or hope your vacation internet can sufficiently handle streaming. Or, shit, go outside. The place is gorgeous, enjoy it. Don’t be like me and spend your vacation watching Gamera movies.

choose wisely