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Luigi Bastardo’s B-Movie Gift Guide

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It’s always a challenge to find that “perfect” movie for the film buff in your life — especially during the holiday season, when distributors seem to flood the market with an awful lot of B titles. While some (or perhaps many) of said B titles are hardly worth the cost of the plastic the movies are encoded onto, it’s a good idea to do a little research first. Even if your avid film buff happens to be a fan of B movies, you shan’t want to risk buying him or her the absolute worst title ever released — they’ll just hold it against you for years to come. And so, with that in mind, here’s a teeny Holiday Gift Guide containing nothing but B releases.

Why? Because I like you.

Paradiso Travel / 2008 / Phase 4 Films / R

An award winner at several Latino and gringo film festivals, Paradiso Travel tells the tale of Marlon (up-and-comer Aldemar Correa), a young Colombian man who treks into the US illegally with his girlfriend (Angelica Blandon) in order to leave his old life behind to start a new (more prosperous) one. Unfortunately, New York City has a few (well, many) surprises in store for both him and his love. John Leguizamo co-stars in this compelling drama which is gaining more praise every day. The DVD features the original Spanish language audio as well as an English dub.

Familiar Strangers / 2008 / Phase 4 Films / PG-13

Nothing says “dysfunctional” like “family.” Much to his dismay, Brian Worthington (Shawn Hatosy) ventures back home for the holidays and his oddball family. Despite the fact that his father (Tom Bower) has taken a liking to replacing his maturing children (including the great DJ Qualls) with pets (?), Brian may just yet find a reason to enjoy his visit when he runs into an old acquaintance (Nikki Reed). Anyone who has a weird family will feel right at home with this one.

A Christmas Proposal / 2008 / Phase 4 Films / PG

Enter the proverbial Christmas movie. Alexander Malone (Tom Arnold) is a real estate mogul who plans to turn the sleepy-headed ski town of Filllmore into a swankin’ resort. Alas, just like anytime somebody comes into a small town with the intent on “improving” it, the locals have other plans. Further awkwardness arises when Malone’s future son-in-law Rick (David O’Donnell) discovers his new arch-rival (Nicole Eggert) is his former flame. Doh!

Christmas Town / 2008 / Phase 4 Films / G

What, another Christmas flick? You bet’cha! This time, soap star Patrick Muldoon takes the lead along with Nicole de Boer in a story of, well, Christmasy cheer and stuff. Liza McCann (de Boer) heads to Hollyville to visit her estranged father. Naturally, she thinks she’s in a small town hell. But, as is usually the case in this sort of seasonal film, the enchanting spell of Yuletide cheer is afoot. Garry Chalk and part-time Disney child actor Gig Morton co-star.

Poker Run / 2009 / Phase 4 Films / R

Okay, enough of the Christmas movies: it’s time to get down and dirty. And what better way than with a biker flick? Poker Run tells the story of two weekend warriors (Bertie Higgins and J.D. Rudometkin) who start out on a poker run with their wives (Jasmine Waltz and Debra Hopkins) but are soon forced into a different kind of game when their brides are abducted by a couple of loony-tune psychos. Winner of a “Best Supporting Actress” award (Debra Hopkins) at the 2009 Action On Film festival.

Sticks And Stones (2008) / Phase 4 Films / PG

Based on a true story. While in Canada for an NHL game in 2003, a pee-wee American hockey team was booed left and right for no reason other than they were Yanks (they happened to be in town the same day the US started bombing Iraq). Outraged by the way they were treated, the residents of New Brunswick decided to organize an event with the local university to make everything right. It’s Canadian made-for-TV family friendly fun from our friends up in the Great White North (complete with artwork that‘s suspiciously reminiscent of Little Giants).

Love N’ Dancing / 2009 / Screen Media Films / PG-13

So you think you can dance, eh? Passions abound in this dance-crazy film wherein an engaged toe-tapper (Amy Smart) meets a champion West Coast Swing dancer (Tom Malloy) and lets her emotions get in the way. It’s romance, dancing, music, and Billy Zane, too — all wrapped up in one PG-13 package. Also available on Blu-ray.

SEAL Team VI / 2008 / Screen Media Films / R

For those who appreciate the “finer” things in life — you know, stuff blowing up and people getting shot — there’s SEAL Team, aka SEAL Team VI: Journey Into Darkness. Set just before Operation: Desert Shield, an elite group of SEALs are sent behind enemy lines on a secret hush-hush black-ops mission. Jeremy Davis, Ken Gamble (who also produced), Zach McGowan, Chris Warner, and Jessica Meza star.

Unmistaken Child / 2008 / Oscilloscope Laboratories / Unrated

Winner of multiple awards the world over, Unmistaken Child tells of a real-life young monk (Tenzin Zopa) who searches for his late master’s reincarnation. Filmed along the breathtaking beauty of Nepal, this documentary takes its viewers on a spiritual journey as Tenzin Zopa looks for the “chosen one.” The film is presented in English, Tibetan, Nepalese, and Hindi, with optional English subtitles for the foreign-language segments.

Beautiful Losers / 2008 / Oscilloscope Laboratories / Not Rated

Another multiple award winning documentary from Oscilloscope Laboratories focuses not on spirituality, but art instead — most importantly, the world of do-it-yourself art. Removed from the “traditional” world of art, Beautiful Losers centers on a group of NYC outcasts who developed their own brand of pop-art, much to the surprise of the public. The documentary features OBEY founder and artist Shepard Fairey, pro skater Ed Templeton, filmmakers Harmony Korine and Mike Mills, and many of the original Beautiful Losers themselves.

And there you have it: a B-movie gift guide that is sure to interest at least one member of your family. All of these titles are available now. Happy shopping.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.