In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Friday, September 19, 2008

On The Shelf

The realm of straight-to-DVD genre films is a minefield. The good is so disproportionate to the crap that the question ‘why bother?’ is a valid one. There is risk involved in every trip to the video store or – more conveniently – online renting site. I’ve mentioned before about how putting obscure unknown titles on my rental queue can be quite dubious at times. I would seriously pay money to have the abysmal Reflections Of Evil wiped from my memory.

A while back, I showcased a few STDVD titles to either check out or pass on, but I want to make a more regular thing of it. Today, I’m introducing a new feature here called On The Shelf. Every few weeks, I will talk about a straight-to-DVD title that I think either deserves your attention, or should be avoided at all costs.

To start off, I’m going to throw out a few titles that all share the distinction of being made for almost NO money, but still manage to succeed where so many others fail. Productions like these are already at a disadvantage because they almost always have no stars or flash, making their chances of being discovered even slimmer than usual. Luckily, this environment often breeds creativity and originality. Like Raimi and Romero before them, these filmmakers had to work around their limited funds and brought forth efforts that I think are much more significant than most of Hollywood’s current output of cookie cutter remakes and sequels. Here is a quartet of such micro-budget movies.

Blood Car – This one about a guy who invents a car that runs on blood is even more poignant these days. I’m still not sure how they managed to pull this one off. The bare bones approach somehow comes off as charming and its darkly comic nature elevates what could have easily seemed like just another elongated short film. A grown up Anna Chlumsky (of My Girl fame) also appears. For my original review from last May, click here.

The Other Side – I had zero expectations for this one and it ended up blowing me away, mainly because it is extremely ambitious and does things that movies of this budget never do. It has dozens of extras, a ton of locations, car chases, elaborate stunts, multiple gore setups and a grandiose storyline that is (gasp) actually interesting. When I found out later that it only cost fifteen grand, I literally fell out of my chair!

Broken – Based on the first fifteen minutes, it would be easy to dismiss this is as a cheap Saw clone, but stay with it and you’ll see that crazy Brits Simon Boyes and Adam Mason go further into darkness than that long-running franchise has ever gone. With great gore, good performances and an ugliness that is hard to turn away from, Broken is right at home on the Dimension Extreme label.

Undead – Getting this movie made was certainly far from easy for these two brothers from Australia. The Spierigs endured sluggish computers, a broken down van and the inability to shoot more than two takes on any scene. This is a fun over-the-top zombie gorefest that nestles in nicely with the canon of recent Peter Jackson-influenced splatstick like Evil Aliens and Black Sheep. For my original DVDWolf review from 2003, click here.

So, there's some homework for you. Check back in a few weeks to see what else is waiting for you On The Shelf.


Anonymous said...

I haven't heard of Blood Car or the other one (Now I don't remember what it is called because I'm not on that page any more). Back in the day when I used to rent 7 movies a week, I wouldn't mind diving into some cheapie direct to video titles, but now, I can't be bothered. Thank goodness for people like you and Last Chance Lance! The one section in Rue Morgue I enjoy reading.
-Mike Schwartz

Anonymous said...

I'm going to make it my mission to cover one of these next week.

- Zac