Of all the wares that are found in a video store every week (from the run-of-the-mill chain store, to the mom and pop varieties), the oft-dreaded b-movie is the most common. Usually, these titles are marketed towards horror movie aficionados, horny teens (and adults), and guys with way too much testosterone flowing through their veins. Having spent many years behind the counter at a video store, I can safely say I’ve seen just about every selection the world of direct-to-video, shot-on-video, and shit-on-video genre benders imaginable.
Suffice to say, such films from the magical land of Microbudgeta still flood the market. Once in a while, a worthwhile entry comes along: something that has more potential than you’d think, but goes unnoticed by the general populace, only to have some of Hollywood’s more “popular” filmmakers to steal entire scenes (if not stories entirely) wholesale — and get away with it completely. And then there are those other releases which unsuspecting video store patrons decide to check out, only to lose at great deal of intelligence quotient points in the process.
In short: there are the “good-bad” low-budgeteers, and the really awful “bad-bad” ones. And, since I don’t want to be the only one to relish or suffer at their behest, I present to you this edition of Catching Up At The Video Store entitled “Wait, What’s This ‘Budget’ Thing You Speak Of?”
· There’s Nothing Out There! (1992) (Troma Entertainment)
The Short Version: Actually, there is something out there. And we’re all fucked, just so you’re aware.
The Slightly-Elongated Version: A mere four years before 1996’s Scream made the whole “Rules To Survive Being In A Horror Movie” a commonly-referenced item, a completely unknown actor named Craig Peck was laying the groundwork for Jamie Kennedy’s future role. In There’s Nothing Out There!, Peck plays Mike, a young lad obsessed with horror movies, who is vacationing along with six other teens at a cabin in the woods. Unbeknownst to all, a small, flesh-eatin’ critter-type thing is on the loose in the vicinity — and has set its sights on the youthful partygoers. As it turns out, Mike is so well-read (or well-viewed, as the case may be) is horror movies, that he instantly recognizes the deep dark sense of foreboding as soon as it kicks into gear. Naturally, however, nobody believes him. The fools. Troma revives this underground cult classic in this “Two Disc 20th Anniversary Edition” with plenty of special features.
· Ultimate Death Match (2009) (IMD)
The Short Version: “Ultimate Bore Match.”
The Slightly-Elongated Version: After a wrestler keels over dead during a pay-per-view match, his employer finds himself in a lot of hot water. This does not stop him, however, from concocting an Internet-based “fight to the death” match, wherein he promises his worldwide audience that someone will die in the ring. A very cheap shot-on-video flick featuring several “real” wrestlers (wait, isn’t that an oxymoron?) that, for some inexplicable reason, has a sequel being released. The DVD’s selection of extras consists of two trailers for other budgetary-challenged home video releases.
· Slave (2009) (Phase 4 Films)
The Short Version: No, it’s not the story of Prince’s infamous tattoo. Although that would have probably been far more interesting to see.
The Slightly-Elongated Version: It just doesn’t pay to be a tourist anymore, at least in the eyes of budgeted filmmakers. Witness the tragic plight of Georgie (Natassia Malthe), who gets kidnapped whilst vacationing with her beau in Spain, and forced to be a shipboard sex slave by an evil Middle Eastern-y fellow (for some reason, the line “Oh, rip the shirt! How cliché!” from Cheech & Chong’s Greatest Hit just popped in my head). Her beau (played by TV’s Sam Page) decides to track her down (hey, Harrison Ford did it way better than you could ever hope to do, buddy). The IMDb claims this is a remake of a 2005 film entitled Wish You Were Here, but since both movies have the same cast and crew, I’d say this is a re-release of the original flick. But then, I’m not going out of my way to validate that, either.
· The Chainsaw Sally Show: Season One (2009) (Troma Entertainment)
The Short Version: Exactly what network was this aired on?
The Slightly-Elongated Version: There’s an old saying: “Don’t fuck with the librarian.” If you’re looking for a reason why, then check out The Chainsaw Sally Show: Season One. Inspired by the 2004 SOV cult classic Chainsaw Sally, April Monique Burril (the obsession of low-budget horror-loving trolls everywhere) returns as the demented serial killer who is employed as a librarian by day, and hunts down and butchers those who cross her path at work during her off-time. The set includes 11 blood-soaked episodes and more bonus materials than any non-fan would ever dream could possibly exist. Herschell Gordon Lewis was executive producer for the series.
· Behind The XXX (2010) (Brookland Bros.)
The Short Version: A behind-the-scenes look at the porn industry. You what?
The Slightly-Elongated Version: As if edited “Cable TV” versions of hardcore adult movies weren’t enough to make you question what the world is coming to, we now have “Behind-the-Scenes Cable TV” DVD releases. Sure, there’s nudity, but when you want the real deal, this most certainly shall not suffice. I’m sure the tweens that kipe it from the video store’s shelves might appreciate it, though. Bonus trailers for a couple of other forgettable softcore flicks are included as extras.
· Caged Animal (2010) (Phase 4 Films)
The Short Version: Yes, kids: it’s another b-movie starring Ving Rhames.
The Slightly-Elongated Version: Honestly, somebody should just hand over the late John Carradine’s crown over to Ving Rhames now, since he is all-but-officially the official King of B-Movie Actors. In Caged Animal (originally known as The Wrath Of Cain), Rhames stars as a tough guy sentenced to life in the big house — a fate truly worse than death, especially when we discover that another b-movie legend, Robert Patrick, is the warden! The great Robert LaSardo co-stars as another lifer who just happens to be Cain’s archenemy. Although it has been retitled and marketed as an “action” flick, Caged Animal is really nothing more than a low-budget drama from Ryan Combs, the genius behind such classics as I Accidentally Domed Your Son and Animal 2 (also starring King Rhames). The title is also available on Blu-ray for some reason.
Good-bad, bad-bad; it’s all bound to please someone out there somehow.
Happy viewing, kids!