so i'm back to the velvet underground

Alfred Hitchcock: The Legend Begins from Mill Creek

I know this sounds like a bad Christmas present to some people, but considering the income of the person who gave it to me and my love for these cheap ass sets, I'm actually happy to have it, especially since it's one I've been wanting for a while now.

The set, released by our old friends Mill Creek, contains four dual-layer single-sided DVDs with five titles on each one. Disc four also contains several trailers for Hitchcock's films, including Psycho, Vertigo, and The Birds, among others. The set contains several silent films as well as two episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. These discs come packed in a double alpha case.

I've previewed the films, and most of the transfers are at least watchable, with a few fairly nice ones that are below studio quality, but above typical public domain DVD fare. The only unwatchable one, in my opinion, was Secret least I think that was it. The image had a shaky effect like a videotape with bad tracking, which is what I imagine the source to be.

More info on this set can be found here. It doesn't list the two episodes of AHP separately - it lists them as just AHP, so there's only 19 listings on there. The two included episodes are The Chaney Vase and The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

Belleville, Ontario Giant Tiger/Liquidation World Roundup, Starring the Great Negroe Actors

Really uninspiring selection of closeout DVDs at this point in time. It's usually either typical Hollywood fare, the odd Anchor Bay title or stuff I've seen before (hello, Jimmy MacDonald's Canada and Atomic Betty!) There's also the odd anime (Robotech and Dragonball GT, essentially.) Giant Tiger had some box sets on for $29.99 or $39.99, and I don't feel like paying that much for The Outer Limits Season 4 or any season of Beastmaster. Dollar DVDs? What they?

Bamboozled (2000) $3.99
This is Wonderland: The Complete First Season (2005) $19.99
Overnight (2003) $3.99
Late Night with Conan O'Brien: 10th Anniversary Special (2003) $3.99
"The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin" (1987) $3.99 - Volume 1: The Journey Begins
Thunderstruck $4.99

For the Felix fans, First National Pictures also released a few volumes of "Baby Felix" (2000) and Felix the Cat Saves Christmas (2004), both of which were $3.99. I only saw the first volume of Baby Felix and Friends (American title), but the Felix and Teddy Ruxpin DVDs veered close to bootleg-quality box art. I'm amazed Baby Felix is even on DVD in this continent.

King of the Ants (2003/I) $4.89
Delirium (a/k/a Delirio caldo; 1972) $4.89
Spike and Mike's Twisted Festival of Animation: Contagious (2005) $4.89

Er, that's it!

The Height of Low

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I had been meaning to blog about these DVDs for some time, but my internet connection was down for WEEKS, so all 10 of you that read this blog have been deprived of my wry anecdotes. For this I apologize.

I picked these up some months ago, in fact it was so long ago now that I can't remember exactly where, but I think it was at a 99 cent store in (appropriately) a basement in a 100 year old building near Skid Row. Charming, I know, but I don't live too far away from there.

Anyway, these horror/comedies are the lowest of low budget indie movies. So low you've never heard of them, and I've never heard of them, (and I seek out this kind of bargain basement cinema) with one exception. More on that in a minute.

They're on a label that I've never seen before or since, SRS Cinema. The Address given is the unhelpful "New York, NY USA," but based on the typography they look like an offshoot of our old buddy Miracle Pictures. They are "distributed exclusively by Vidtape, Inc."

I should note that these are all still sealed and I have not yet watched them, but here's a quick rundown based on the box descriptions:

BRAIN DRAINER: "Director Mike Legge is back with his funniest movie yet!" WHO?? Anyway, this is a "sci-fi spoof that has to be seen by all true lovers of the high camp movies of the 1950's." No review on Rotten Tomatoes. Sounds like it's right up my alley, though. Imdb rating: 6.3.
WORKING STIFFS: "An unscrupulous temporary employment agency discovers the secret to cheap labor. Through the use of voodoo spells, freshly killed employees are brought back to life to become workaholics from the grave." Funny idea, sounds like THE OFFICE meets NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Has one relatively positive review on IMDB. Listed on Rotten Tomatoes, but no reviews.

DOGS IN QUICKSAND: (Picture not shown): "A quirky, offbeat tale of sex and betrayal in a rural farming community" with "the structure of a b movie who-done-it." ImDb rating: 7.0. Could be worth watching.
SHUSTERMAN LEVINE (Picture not shown):A drama about a boxer competing in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Not listed or reviewed anywhere.

CHEERLEADER AUTOPSY:Another goofy horror comedy. A busload of cheerleaders are wiped out in a freak accident (aren't they always freak accidents? Are there any other kind?). "An Alzheimer's afflicted mortician, his college dropout nephew and a simpering night janitor...soon find themselves pitted against each other" in a race to bring the nubile cheerleaders back to life with a magic potion. Wow. What a plot. Has a 2.6 rating on IMDB.
FART - THE MOVIE: Here's the film I have a familiarity with. Around 1991, this guy was advertising in the Hollywood Reporter soliciting music that he could put in this movie. This is something I had done before (and been paid for), so I sent the guy some music...long story short, I never heard back from him. But who knows, maybe he used my music without telling me. I'll have to watch the movie and find out, as stupid as it sounds. Plot: A guy who loves FARTING falls asleep in front of the TV, and dreams all the TV shows are about FARTING. WOW! I'm speechless at how stupid this idea is (though I would have happily taken $200 from the guy if he used any of my songs...) This "movie" gets a 5.7 rating on IMBD, but I can't help but thinking this rating is skewed by sarcastic wiseasses who are giving it an insincere 10 rating as a great work of art.

Of all of these messes, Working Stiffs has a funny idea. Might watch that. I'll have to watch "FART" also, but only as a homework assignment. The Cheap DVD Hunter must sacrifice his own sanity for the greater good, sometimes.

UPDATE: I watched one of the DVDs, and it does in fact contain the "Passion Productions" logo, part of Miracle Pictures. The movies are also shot on video, and since they date from prior to HD, I mean lousy VHS video. Not even as good quality-wise as the sketches I shot in college.
disney princess inner thoughts

Recent buys

Well, Mill Creek's gotten my money more than once this month. And so have a couple of other companies.

Thanksgiving Thursday, I took advantage of some sales a local store was having. I picked up the new Celine Dion CD for $10, but that's irrelevant. They also had several Mill Creek 20 movie packs on sale for $5. (Whilst their regular price is $7.99 - about $2.50 more than the ones you'll find in Wal Mart's $5.50 bin, but Wal Mart's 35 miles away, so what are ya gonna do?) I picked up the Musicals 20 Movie Pack. I actually watched one of them this morning - Glorifying The American Girl. Interesting little film from the infancy of sound on film. I hear UCLA recently did a restoration restoring the two-strip Technicolor scenes and all the censorship edits, such as some *gasp* nudity. I'd love to see that, especially since this print was pretty nasty. But it was watchable and fairly enjoyable. A bit stagy, but most early sound films are. There were actually two or three films in the set that I was very much impressed with how great the transfers were, but at the moment, I couldn't tell you which ones. I've previewed all the titles, though, and they're all at least watchable.

Today, I was at a store called Mighty Dollar, and among several DVDs, they had the Mill Creek Detectives 10 Movie Pack. Well, a Mill Creek set for $1? You bet I snatched it right up. Having just previewed it, I have to say I'm blown away. This set offers some of the best transfers I've ever seen on budget DVDs of public domain fare. The Dick Tracy and Sherlock Holmes movies, save for the last one in the set (Can't currently remember the title.) are all near the quality of an official studio-released DVD.

I also picked up The World Of Hans Christian Andersen from Digivew and a double "cult classics" feature from Intercontinental featuring D.O.A. and Hell's House. I already had The World Of Hans Christian Andersen on a PC Treasures disc with The Pied Piper Of Hamlin...that's actually the reason I bought that disc, since I have The Pied Piper on DVD from Brentwood already. However, in the time I've been buying $1 DVDs, that may be the one time I've gotten one that was nearly unwatchable due to poor quality. It was obviously taken from a VHS that had been dubbed at least 5 times over in SP mode, with some considerable tape damage in some parts. Digiview's isn't much better, but it's definitely an improvement. As for D.O.A./Hell's House, the video and audio quality on both is quite good for public domain fare. However, this DVD had a price tag on it from Tower Records, where it sold for $4.99, so chances are they may have had access to better source materials. D.O.A. is the better of the transfers. Again, close to legit studio-released DVD quality.

I also bought a CD/DVD set from Starlight Records called The Humphrey Bogart Era. The CD contains popular 40's songs in listenable sound quality intro'd and outro'd with clips of Bogey speaking. The DVD contains the film Beat The Devil and the complete episode of The Jack Benny Show in which he appeared. The transfer of Beat The Devil is very nice. Not quite that of a legit studio-released DVD, but better than most. Wish I could say the same about The Jack Benny Show. The contrast and brightness are turned up so much on this, it's absolutely unwatchable. First $1 DVD purchase I've ever made that has something where the quality is so crappy that it's actually unwatchable. But for the music and the decent transfer of Beat The Devil, it's absolutely worth it.


Minor item here, but this is a companion to the Publishers' Clearinghouse post I made about two years ago. This is from the recent Hammacher Schlemmer catalogue of curios (the Canadian version, which means slapping the maple leaf flag on the cover and seemingly little else) and UPPER-CASE CATCHY ITEM DESCRIPTIONS FOLLOWED BY A PERIOD.

It's our old friend* Mill Creek and Hammacher Schlemmer's selling one of its bog-standard repacks for $45! Granted, the thing is supposed to retail for that much, but come on, when does it ever? It'll go great as a Christmas gift with the Marshmallow Shooter™!

*billing not contractual

Millcreek $5 packs at Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart has started carrying a bunch of 20 movie/50 episode Millcreek packs for five dollars. In a quick look, I saw TV Westerns, the Best of Bonanza, Best of Lucy & Friends, The Very Best of One Step Beyond, Mean Guns, Family Pack and Alfred Hitchcock, in addition to the John Wayne

All the films are listed on Mill Creek's website. The suggested price on their website is $15, so this is a pretty decent deal.

Mean Guns is a mix of fairly recent Westerns with a few old PD films tossed in. The website reveals a few films that aren't available in the other Western sets (except the 250 movie boxed set.)

The Family Pack looks like a pretty decent collection of old family films. If many of them are those we've seen time and time again (Gulliver's Travels, The Inspector General, The Little Princess), they're still good for the more general audience, and some of these are, according to Mill Creek's website, aren't on any other collection, including Father's Little Dividend (which looks like a fairly high-budget movie) and The Magic Sword (from Bert I. Gordon=not so high budget).

I've grabbed my copy of Alfred Hitchcock's films. It doesn't look like Mill Creek has taken much advantage of Hitchcock before, but I've seen Thirty-Nine Steps and a few of the others several places. I haven't seen the silents elsewhere, though--though I have a hard time imagining how these British movies are legitimately in the public domain.

The John Wayne 20 pack copies a lot from the other Mill Creek packs, but it's a cheap copy of McClintock and Angel and the Badman, plus a bunch of lousy B&W Westerns from the 30s.

They're missing quite a few I'd like; in particular, I'll have to get Cult Classics from Amazon sometime. Do other stores have a different or broader collection?
  • gorgya

Mill Creek MegaMega Packs

Just noticed that the Mill Creek site has added a 250 movie pack category.
So far there are only two: Family and Horror.
Haven't delved deeply into the contents of either (the Horror contents list isn't complete yet) but they appear to be consolidations of previous packs.

List price is $100 each for 60 discs.


Digiview at Dollar Tree!

Just a brief note to tell you that at a nearby Dollar Tree I found a number of movies for 50 cents each. These all are Digiview and the copyright is 2004. I'm not going to list titles just because these are the usual public-domain suspects, with an emphasis on general drama titles with some family-friendly stuff and a little action thrown in. Didn't see any cartoons or horror or sci-fi unless they were in a different section and we just didn't find them. So if you don't already have some of the usual movies like "Penny Serenade" or "The Fast and the Furious" at least at my nearby Dollar Tree they're two for a buck!
  • bobsan

Dollar Tree cartoon DVDs from East West

Finally some new discs arrived at my local dollar tree store:
Last movies there were VHS titles.
Then old books on tape from cassettes.
Cartoon titles are from East West.
First time to my knowledge that they have carried this companies discs.

Here is what I was able to get.

Once Upon a Time : Vol 1
Tobor The 8th Man & Friends : Vol 1
Clutch Cargo: Vol 5
Junior and Friends: Vol 1
Casper and Friends: Vol 3
Mutt and Jeff: Vol 1
Popeye and Friends : Vol 1
Talking Magpies and Friends: Vol 1
Diver Dan: Vol 2
Little rascals Vol 4 - 1955 (TV)