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.
According 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?
As 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.
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.
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.
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.
Likewise, 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.
Anyway, on to the handful of movies I actually walked away from Movie Exchange with:
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 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.
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.
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.
As mentioned in an earlier post, Disc Replay is a small regional chain of buy/sell/trade stores, not unlike MovieStop or Replay’s that I have covered previously. Apparently Disc Replay’s primary stomping grounds are Illinois and Indiana, with a little bit of bleed-over into Iowa, Kentucky, and Michigan.
What I found was a collection that was less impressive, but with notably better deals than the Skokie location. Whereas the Skokie store had movies ranging from 3.99-5.99, most of the DVDs here were between 2.22 and 3.33. On top of that, the standing deal at the Indianapolis location was “Buy 5, Get 2 Free,” compared to Skokie’s “Buy 5, Get 1 Free.”
Given the quantity over quality theme of the store, I mostly picked up some relatively more common DVDs on the cheap. That said, there were still a few cool finds:
William Friedkin is one of a handful of influential directors of the New Hollywood era that many believe never got out of the 1970s. In fact, many hold the opinion that his grand supposed master work, Sorcerer, was of the movies that killed the auteur paradise of 1970s Hollywood. After going over budget, it was vastly overshadowed by George Lucas and Star Wars at the box office in the summer of 1977, and some argue that Friedkin never recovered from the stumble. Personally, I think that Killer Joe and Bug are both pretty good recent works by Friedkin, and that he gets unfairly written off a bit these days. Also, people have been steadily coming to appreciate Sorcerer as a forgotten treasure of the era, so I am interested to give it a shot myself.
Bill Paxton is an always entertaining character actor to be sure, who has popped up in everything from Aliens to Slipstream to Predator 2. However, Frailty not only cements him as a genuinely talented actor, but also as a more than capable director. If you haven’t seen this thriller, you are missing out. As an added recommendation, his director’s commentary on the DVD is fantastic. Also of note about this flick: Matthew McConaughey gets to show off his acting chops years before anyone took him particularly seriously.
Cop Out is undoubtedly the most maligned Kevin Smith movie, and the reception to it nearly drove the beloved indie personality out of the business all together. Bruce Willis reportedly didn’t care for the film at all from the start, Tracy Morgan was Tracy Morgan, and Kevin Smith was, for once, working with material that wasn’t his own. It was a bad formula all around, and the result isn’t good.
This is another big time New Hollywood auteur flub. Robert Altman had a long up and down career with some high highs and some low lows, and Popeye is almost certainly one of his biggest dips. While some people hold fond nostalgic feeling towards it, the popular reception to the movie hasn’t softened quite so much in the way Sorcerer‘s has.
A while back, I covered a movie called Red Planet, which hit theaters in November of 2000. A few months prior to its release, another similarly-themed Mars movie hit theaters: Brian De Palma’s Mission To Mars. Neither movie was loved by audiences by any means, but I think that the proximity of their releases made audiences and critics react more harshly to them than they might have otherwise. Occasionally, movies with similar themes are released within months of each other, which has the effect of flooding the market. Some examples of this include Armageddon/Deep Impact, Volcano/Dante’s Peak, and The Abyss/Leviathan/DeepStar Six. Typically, the movie that comes first does better both critically and commercially. In this case, however, Mission to Mars and Red Planet were pretty neck-and-neck.
Moon 44 was a feature by Roland Emmerich before he became the Roland Emmerich we all love to hate today, who has helmed such masterpieces as Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012. I’m interested to check it out, if only for the presence of Malcolm McDowell.
The Exchange is yet another regional chain of buy/sell/trade media stores, with locations throughout Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.
On my way back from B-fest in Chicago this past weekend, I made a quick stop in Indianapolis to check out a handful of used media shops around the city. My first stop was at the 82nd Street location of The Exchange.
The store has a nice look to it, but struck me more as a games and nerd paraphernalia shop than a place to do much movie hunting. Neither the deals nor the selection were super impressive to me, though I wound up with a ton of movies from picking up two collections on clearance for a dollar each. Here is what I ultimately came away with:
To my immense displeasure, all of the horror movies in the store were held behind glass, which means I couldn’t do much reading into them until an attendant could open the case. I made a bit of a gamble on this one, crossing my fingers and hoping it was the Joe Don Baker movie from 1977. Unfortunately, this is not that movie. However, judging from its IMDb score, this 2010 french horror flick is still pretty terrible, and might be delightful serendipitous find.
Bucket O’ Blood is a bizarre little shop tucked away off the beaten path in a small neighborhood of Chicago. It is primarily a record store, but also has a specific niche as an emporium of science fiction and horror books, magazines, and movies. As a bonus, it also has an enviable and eclectic selection of film scores on vinyl.
The store has been around for the better part of a decade according to the clerk I spoke with, though its current location is only a few months old. There isn’t much else around it: a couple of restaurants and a bar, but it is hardly a thriving commercial area.
Apparently, according to IMDb, this movie is a sequel to Robot Jox, the cult classic by Stuart Gordon. I had always heard that Crash And Burn was the sequel, but apparently that movie just features some re-used footage. Honestly, though, I doubt that either movie bears much in the way of a real connection to Robot Jox. Robot Jox was a huge financial undertaking for Empire Pictures, and wound up contributing to that company’s bankruptcy. However, out of the ashes of Empire, Charles Band created Full Moon Pictures as a successor, which produced both Robot Wars and Crash And Burn in the early 1990s. As is often done with low budget pictures, a bunch of the more expensive special effects shots from Robot Jox were re-used, so that the company could get more bang for their buck. I imagine this is the only reason why multiple giant robot movies were put out by Full Moon Pictures in the years following Robot Jox.
In a delightful happenstance, the box set that contained Robot Wars also included Crash And Burn, the other wayward descendant left in the wake of Robot Jox. Thanks to this haul, I might have enough material to do another Killer Robot Week in the near future.
First off, what an awesome title. I don’t know anything about this movie, apart from a single clip of the transformation sequence that I watched on YouTube. That and the title were enough to sell me on this movie. It remains to be seen if this is a forgotten masterpiece or a disappointing failed concept, as Full Moon has been perfectly capable of creating both.
The Demon is early 1980s slasher film that came out during the biggest boom period for the genre. From what I have seen, it is a bit polarizing: some dismiss it as no more than a Halloween clone, while others have positive things to say about the film’s atmosphere. However, most seem to agree that it isn’t a good movie when all is said and done. I haven’t seen it before personally, and the plot struck me as just odd enough to make it worth checking out. A serial killer movie involving a psychic detective made me immediately think of Suspect Zero, though I imagine that is where the similarities will end.
Creature is yet another film from the dark era of Klaus Kinski’s twilight years, not unlike Star Knight. From what I hear, it is a notably gory Alien knockoff that has developed some clout as a b-movie cult classic. Interestingly, it apparently re-used props and sets from an earlier abysmal Alien knockoff, The Forbidden World.
Disc Replay is a small regional chain of buy/sell/trade stores, not unlike MovieStop or Replay’s that I have covered previously. Apparently Disc Replay’s primary stomping grounds are Illinois and Indiana, with a little bit of bleed-over into Iowa, Kentucky, and Michigan.
After leaving B-fest, I went to a hotel in Skokie, IL to get some sleep. Unfortunately, in spite it all, I was still very caffeinated, so I decided to scour the area for a media store before inevitably crashing for the evening. Sure enough, there was a Disc Replay within a couple of miles of the hotel.
As it turns out, this was one of the best hauls I have had in a while, in terms of both the quality of the finds and the total price. Almost every standard DVD I saw was 3.99-5.99, and the store had a standing deal of “Buy 5, Get 1 Free” for DVDs. The selection was also fantastic, as I came across a number of movies that I hadn’t seen in any stores before. Below, you can check out the ones I walked away with.
You don’t hear a lot about this atrocious 1981 robot comedy these days, but Heartbeeps was a widely loathed film upon its release. The cast includes comedy legend Andy Kaufman, noted eccentric renegade Randy Quaid, Bernadette Peters, Christopher Guest, and cult favorite performers like Dick Miller, Paul Bartel, and Mary Woronov. I’ve never seen it before, so I am curious to see just how bad it is.
This is probably the most recognizable film by Enzo Castellari, thanks to Quentin Tarantino. I actually think I already have a copy of this somewhere, but for a couple of bucks, I could always give a spare away. I have definitely seen the movie before, but it has been a few years. After seeing 1990: The Bronx Warriors, The Last Shark, and The Shark Hunter, I’m definitely planning to dig further into his filmography, and giving this a rewatch is a necessity. As a bonus, the always fantastic Fred Williamson prominently features, which is always enough to get me invested.
Barb Wire is an action movie starring Pamela Anderson. Apart from that, I know that it supposed to be a memorably terrible comic book adaptation. That’s more than enough justification for me to give it a shot: there’s just no way this could be good.
This movie is best known for pioneering the most ridiculous possible sequel naming convention imaginable. This 1984 Cannon movie tells the tale of a group of break dancers battling against evil land developers, making it the most 1980s movie ever made. I’ve never seen this movie before, so I was super excited to actually find a DVD copy of it.
I first heard about this movie from We Hate Movies, when they did an episode on it some time ago. From what I understand, it is basically the same concept as Shocker, but worse all around. Cheesy, dated cyber-thrillers are usually a blast, so I’m eager to sink my teeth into this thing.
Bone is the first film by Larry Cohen, a b-movie master who I have covered a whole lot on the blog. It is apparently about as dark as a comedy can possibly get, and was mis-marketed as a thriller, which has kept it as little more than a footnote in Cohen’s career. I was shocked to find a DVD copy of it in the wild, and look forward to seeing what Cohen’s debut feature has to offer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
Reviews/Trivia of B-Movies, Bad Movies, and Cult Movies.