The Informercial Knife Sets of DVD Movies

A year or two ago, I was in my local Best Buy (yeah, I know), and was perusing the Horror/Supernatural section of the DVD department, looking for something that struck my fancy.

I found something called “50 Movie Pack: Horror Classics.”

The price was $19.95.

I thought, “Well, hey, they may not be very good, but $20 for 50 movies is a pretty good deal, no matter how you slice it.” So I looked at the back of the box, where the movies were listed. Amongst many others, I found the following (with the star listed):

“Metropolis”: Gustav Frolich
“Phantom of the Opera”: Lon Chaney, Sr.
“Hunchback of Notre Dame”: Lon Chaney, Sr.
“Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde”: John Barrymore
“Nosferatu”: Max Schreck

I also found some lesser films (including “The Killer Shrews” and “Attack of the Giant Leeches”). I decided that even if most if the collection was crap, $20 wasn’t a bad price to pay to get a few good things. The bad things were just filler.

Cut to about a year later:

Since finding a second collection (“50 Movie Pack Chilling Classics”) that includes “Bad Taste” by Peter Jackson, I decided to look on Amazon for these, since they seem to be a series. I did a search on “50 movie pack”

To put it mildly…yeah, there are lots of these. Not only cheap, B and C type monster/spooky/thriller movies, but cult films (“Reefer Madness” is on one, as well as several others in that genre), westerns, comedies, serials, etc.

These are budget: not the best transfers, not the best sound, not the best movies. BUT…like informercial knife sets, you do get a lot for your money, even if it’s not the best. They mostly sell for under $20.

I currently own five 50 sets and a 20: 270 movies for under $120. If you like old crappy movies and don’t have tons of disposable income, these are a definite find.

Some of these have been MST3K fodder (“Manos: Hand of Fate” is finally mine, “The Screaming Skull” is here, too…which has one of the coolest looking cars ever: some old Mercedes roadster with gull-wing doors), some are repeats (I’ve gotten two copies of “The Manster”), but at this price, there’s some acceptable detrius.

I’m not posting this to encourage people to lower their standards, but (metaphorically speaking) not everyone can afford a Ferrari to commute to work. Sometimes, it’s helpful to know where to buy a Kia.

Well, it made sense to me.

At any rate, enjoy if you wish; eschew if you do not.

Just trying to help.

I like your motives. I’m amazed at the marketing skills involved.

As one who spent the last few days watching all the James Bond movies on “On Demand” (Encore, if that matters), I can appreciate the desire to spend little for not much more.

I even watched an episode of “The Rifleman” on Encore Westerns (also On Demand) but found I couldn’t relate to the schlock. They’re doing other series from that era, too, but I can’t get excited until they bring back “Cheyenne” or “Jim Bowie.”

It fascinates me how the come-on of 60 knives for only $149.95 seems to attract people. I have sat for several minutes watching the “total available” number decrease and wondered to myself how many households are going to be without milk and paid electric bills so this greedy individual can have 60 knives for just that moment when one is not enough.

But there’s no way to have too many movies to choose from, even if more than half of them are utter wastes of time and energy.

In short, I say “Bravo!”

I’ve seen these as well and considered buying them. None of them have quite caught my attention the the point of buying them for myself, though I have bought some little two-pack and three-pack ones. I picked up 10 Hitchcock films for some low price for a friend of mine who loves silent films because it had several of his early silents and we’ve watched a couple. Other than on one of the multi-packs there’s a logo “bug” superimposed for about 20% of each film I have no complaints at all. There’s a couple of mystery/suspense ones that I have my eye on at the moment.

I haven’t noticed the 50 movie packs but I have eyed the 10 movie packs at Best Buy. They have a Zombie one that I am nervous to buy. I like Romero zombie style movies. I am afraid most them in this set are going to be “monster of the dead stalks!” style schlock.

I got “50 horrendous sci-fi flicks” for my best friend for Xmas.

He was verklempt.

These films are all in the public domain, which is why the set is so cheap. (It’s also why bugs appear on some of the films- so a company can know if someone is stealing their protected print of a non-copyrighted film.)

Attack of the Killer Shrews is hilarious. I strongly recommend that you watch it. The “shrews” are quite obviously dogs - collies, I think - in costume.

Oh, I have! Shrews and Leeches are two of the films whose titles I recognized on my first collection. The costumes on the dogs seem to be made of shag carpeting.

I’ve mostly bought the spooky “creature-feature” type collections, but there is one of westerns, one of family films, one of old serials, and others. I just got “Cult Classics” the other day, which include titles like:

“Reefer Madness” (mentioned earlier)
“Delinquent Daughters”
“Child Bride”
" Omoo-Omoo, The Shark God"
“Sex Madness”
“She Shoulda’ Said No!”
“Test Tube Babies” (1948, no less…talk about foreshadowing!)

…among others. 20 Movies for $12.99.

As has been noted, these movies are all public domain, now, but this is the cheapest way that I’ve found to accumulate them (no high speed intarweb here). They make me wish I had a dvd player with a 200 disk magazine so I could get a random movie at the touch of a button.

There are stars in these. Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, both Lon Chaneys, Vincent Price, John Carradine, etc. Francis Ford Coppola’s first film is here, as well as Tor Johnson (of “Beast of Yucca Flats” fame…okay, not fame really…man, was that a crappy movie!).

No Universal films, no Hammer films (although some Corman ones), but a bunch of lesser known works.

Zeldar: 60 knives for $149.95? Get with the program! Ronco Six-Star Showtime Cutlery set: just 3 easy payments of $13.33! 24 knives plus the kitchen shears PLUS the solid flavor injector, and if you call right now and promise to tell a friend about it (how do they verify THAT, I wonder), you can get a second set FREE (you just pay the shipping and handling). Ronco-dot-com, and all that.

I wish “The Tingler” was on one of these, but it isn’t. I should also mention that the “Nightmare Worlds” collection (mostly old science fiction movies) has the Martian tripods on the cover of the box, but NO version of the War of the Worlds appears on the collection.

Still, I’m glad I blew the bucks. This is just awesome.

I can vouch for the zombie set [9 flicks on 3 discs for $7!] The Living Dead… it’s terrifically campy fun and the overall quality is surprisingly good (it’s obvious that with some of the movies, the surviving print was in less-than-pristine condition, as with one of the Z-grade Italian flicks). They took some care to make a presentable menu interface, with some very nice bonus features (trailers, a poster gallery, and a documentary on Romero’s **The Night of the Living Dead **.I’m sure that the special edition $25 release of Romero’s TNotLD boasts a better-quality image and sound as well as a number of DVD extra features aside from the documentary included, but this cheapo set’s print was good enough for me.

My happiest discovery in this set was the no-name, zero-budget 1964 B&W I Eat Your Skin, which as one unhappy viewer griped on IMDB, features absolutely no skin-eating. :smiley: But the jazz-meets-jungle-rhythm-exotica soundtrack is a find, and the male lead is OTT stentorian (think of The Simpsons’ “Troy McClure” character but more arrogant and comical) and frequently goes about topless – er, shirtless, as we say of guys – in a novel reversal of the typical T&A formula.

And **Messiah of Evil ** has a very winning early-'70’s true horror vibe that reminded me of The Wicker Man, a bit. At least it kicks off with a daft ballad, which is a start in the right direction for this sort of thing, and sports some skilled direction, if lousy acting and production values.

My advice is just go for it. It’s only seven bucks and you only live once, etc. :slight_smile:
My question to the other posters: which “Ginsu” movie sets are blighted by the bug [proprietary logo]? :mad: I will avoid those at all costs…

I was a Best Buy yesterday and almost bought a 100 old movie box for 29.95, but I have 180 available channels on DirecTv and not enough spare time already.

Last year tho Target had mispriced the 9-dvd Twilight Zone Collection and I bought two of them for $16.99 each. BB and Barnes & Noble’s big DVD section are getting $120 for it. I actually questioned the Tarjay manager on the low price before buying it but he insisted it was correct. )I gave one away as a gift.)
BTW, B&N is having a "Buy one multi-dvd tv series set and get a second one free, thru 1/30. I’ve got almost the whole Golden Grils * set now, and several others, including MASH, MacGyver, and most of Combat.

Oh, man, my fiance got a four disc set that included I Eat Your Skin, and we watched it one night with friends. These things are awesome if your friends are snarky and love to watch bizarre stuff that’ll make you giggle. Great for a movie night that doesn’t include “good” movies.

I’ve found that those type of box sets are good for those odd times you find yourself with a lot of time on your hands. A day like today when I wasn’t expecting to be home from work, but got stuck at home due to weather. They’re also great for insomnia nights, especially weekend nights.

Thanks to this thread, I just ordered the 50 pack of film noir- it appears to have a good mix of grade B and grade Z films, at least ten or so that have been shown on TCM, and “The Strange Love of Matha Ivers”, which is a pretty well known noirish film with a decent budget.

Can anyone shed light as to how poor quality the poor quality ones are? Does that mean, slightly damaged prints and VHS as opposed to DVD quality, or are we talking “so faded you think a person is on screen, but its really a tree”?

I’ve seen them, and got a few.

My advice: They’re adequate if you want to laugh at “Killer Shrews” or whatever. But for myself, it’s worth the extra money to get good prints of movies you like, especially silent films.

I used to steer friends away from Metropolis until I saw first Moroder’s version, then the recent as complete as possible restoration. The restored The Lost World beats even the Eastman House version hollow. The two-disc set of Phantom of the Pera is not only of infinitely better quality, but they restore the technicolor Bal; Masque sequence and the colored cape atop the Opera House. Ditto for my restyored **Thief of Baghdad, Ben Hur, ** and others.

Oh, absolutely! Getting the best is always worth the money for getting what you like. The two advantages that I see to these collections are:

  1. They’re inexpensive.

Sure, they’re not the best copies ever (I just tried to watch “Delinquent Daughters” from the “20 Movie Pack: Cult Classics,” and couldn’t even see half the action because the image was too dark…not to mention the severe scratch down the left side of most of the film. Still, I could hear the dialogue–which was hilarious–and I paid less than $.65 for the flick. It’s hard to get ripped off at that price).

To reference the parallel in the OP, a $150 Henkel chef’s knife is a dream to own and use, as is a Ferrari to drive to work in. But if you don’t have the budget for perfection, these are a semi-adequate substitute: it depends on whether quality or quantity is your main priority.

  1. There is a ton of unfamiliar material.

As examples (I’m not a huge movie watcher, btw): “The 50 Movie Pack: Drive-In Classics” contains no movie that I’ve ever heard of before. The “Nightmare Worlds” collection (also 50) contains one that I’ve seen (“The Manster”), and one that I can possibly predict but haven’t watched yet (“The Lost World”, which might be based on the Conan Doyle story). Other than that, they’re all new. The “Cult Classics” collection (20 films) contains only “Reefer Madness” that I’ve heard of and seen, but everything else is unknown to me.

The rest are films that I’m not familiar with, and therefore have no idea what they’re about (other than the title). What makes that a good thing is that I can at least kind of see the material, and if I like the film, I can go in search of a good copy. Otherwise, I didn’t spend $15-$20 to find out if I liked it. So it almost begs a “Forrest Gump” quote…(place metal wastebasket on your head and bang with wooden spoon) you never know what you’re going to get.

You get a lot, though. I think of them as browsing the movie world. If I find something worth having, I can always seek out a good copy. Elsewise, meh: it doesn’t bankrupt me.

Annoying double post alert:

nashiitashii: I have three copies of “I Eat Your Skin” on various collections! I don’t recall where I read this, but I believe that this movie was originally titled differently; but when they ran it as a double bill in the theatres with “I Drink Your Blood,” they retitled it. I’m so buried in dvds right now that I can’t pull a reference at the moment, but I’ll see if I can find one (it’s around somewhere).

Wee Bairn: Some are pretty bad. As I mentioned above about “Delinquent Daughters,” a portion of the movie is nothing but black screen with a white scratch and a soundtrack. I didn’t count or measure, but I’d be guessing 30-40% is more like radio than film. That’s the worst one that I’ve seen so far, though. Most are watchable, but not digitally remastered with Dolby Surround Sound.

The thing is, a lot of these old films are in such bad condition that a better version existing is sometimes difficult to come up with, to say the least. For example: I started watching “Metropolis” one night, but quit, because (as a silent film) it has caption cards, and the left and right sides were chopped off the image, so I couldn’t read them. I would LOVE to see this film, but only if I can see it all. I’ve heard it’s been as restored as possible, but you’re not going to get it for $.50!

Sound films, on the other hand, I’m not so persnickety about (since you can hear the dialogue, even if you can’t see it), so I agree with CalMeacham about silent films.

I’d watched Metropoluis more times than I could count by 1983. Then I saw the Moroder version, which used a MUCH better print of the film, and restored many sections. My mouth dropped open when I saw the title animation – on every other copy I’d seen, the title animation was so washed out that I didn’t realize it was there – the title was effectively given by a drop-in card. But finally seeing the original title sequence simply blew me away. The rest of the film was incredible, as well – all those shots that were washed out on the existing versions were now crystal=clear and sharp. It was a revelation.
Later I saw a Kino copy of the same base print (but without the added scenes or the Moroder-produced modern score), and it looked just as good.
The recent restoration is of even better quality – they took much more care with the restoration, using wet-frame techniques, some computer restoration, and use of still more clips than had been in the earlier restorations. (Also, Moroder actually cut some of the longer scenes, which anoyed me when I learned it.)
Most DVDs of Metropolis use the old, washed-out version of the film. AFAIK, the clearer copy used by Kino and Moroder has never been used in DVD. The recent restoration is certainly available on DVD. In the most commonly available copies, the “stock ticker” in the back of Freder’s office are washed out. In the Kino/Moroder version, you can see blurrily that illuminated numbers are drifting down the wall. In the most recent restored version, you can read the numbers. It makes a difference.
Besides the quality of the images, the restored footage helps enormously with the flow of the story. The plots of Metropolis and The Lost World make a heckuva lot more sense in their restored versions than in the barbarously clipped ones that have been available until recently.

Here’s one for ya:

So, original title = “Voodoo Blood Bath”

I’ve probably asked this before, but can there actually be such a thing as a protected version of a public domain resource? How does it work?

CalMeacham: Got a source for a good copy of “Metropolis” on dvd?

It’s an exception to the majority of films in this thread, since it’s one of the few that I’ve not only heard of but wanted to see since I was a child. I want to see it right if I’m going to see it.

Most of these, however, I’ve never heard of; so seeing a mediocre copy is not a travesty. In fact, it allows me a cheap way of determining if the film is worth spending serious money on.

In the case of “Metropolis,” I know it’s worth spending money on.