The £10 DVD Bargain Challenge: Week four - Luke's turn


27th July 2012

Another week, another entry in the contest we like to call the £10 DVD Bargain Challenge - where, funnily enough, we challenge each other to see how much impressive tat can be scored on DVD for ten of The Queen's English pounds. The heat, my friends, is on.

After Matt's raising of the bar last week, all the stops were going to have to be pulled out in order to wrench the lead from his grasp. Fortunately my home town has seen a recent boom in the thrift retail store department, resulting in a thriving CEX chock-full of the unwanted unwatchables of my fellow good townsfolk.

With confidence in my stride and a crisp £10 note in my wallet, I took to the streets, certain the Age of Matt was about to come to an end. Harlow, let us fucking 'ave it yer caaahnt gwan yer gwarararr blurgh.
Locations: Poundworld, The Works and CEX, Harlow, Essex
Amount Spent: £9.73
Number of DVDs bought: 8
Hood Angels (£1.00)

It's not very often a cheapo film with the word 'hood' in the title comes along that is any good. Snoop Dogg, The Leprechaun - they've all had their fingers burned. C. Thomas Howell got lucky in Mutant Vampire Zombies From The 'Hood, but that's another story. No seriously that film is awesome, you should totally check it out.

I couldn't find the time to watch Hood Angels, which is a shame because I like the brazen moxy of taking Charlie's Angels and repackaging it for the urban market. I bet they didn't even ask anyone. By "they" I don't mean black people. And I'm not implying the urban market is a veiled reference used to refer to black people either. Poundland are with the labels on their packaging, see:

Return To Horror High (£1.00)

Return To Horror High is sure to be a point-harvester for two reasons: 1) there's a skeleton cheerleader on the cover, and 2) it boasts the debut of George Clooney. Surprisingly there's a concept at work here that Wes Craven would kill for. The story is split into three parts: a film crew making a horror movie based on a series of high school murders, the resulting footage, and police investigating the aftermath as the cast and crew are killed off by a copycat killer. The footage crosses over from 'real' to 'fake' and vice-versa, so you're never quite sure if a murder has taken place until the director yells "cut!".

It's a lot of fun up to a point, but unfortunately matters are complicated a tad too much by the addition of bits that make absolutely no sense - such as a horny female police officer who is never explained, or a final twist that opens up about a billion plots holes. If they'd played it a bit more straight then this could have been a smart little mindfuck of a horror movie - years before the Scream series did a similar thing - but as it stands you'd be forgiven for thinking someone dropped twelve different scripts on the floor and gathered them all up into one confusing mess. And the worst thing? There aren't even any skeleton cheerleaders in it.
The Replacement Killers (£1.99)

I've always wondered how shops like The Works choose their DVD selections. On a spinner just the right size to hug should you so wish, you can usually find kiddy-friendly fare, action-packed adventures, that movie Nan likes from the '40s, a thing about Hitler's tanks and adult thrillers - something for every family member, even if your family are the Mansons.

On this particular visit it was a toss-up between The Replacement Killers, Gus Van Sant-directed dramarama My Own Private Idaho, and Detective Moustache starring Burt Reynolds (I don't think it was actually called that but he was holding a police badge on the cover, so it might as well have been). Ultimately guns, Chow Yun-Fat kicking ass and Mira Sorvino won out because, well, look at the apes judging this thing.
Red Surf (£0.25)

I haven't watched Red Surf yet, but it's another early George Clooney movie, which invariably means it'll be a big pile of shit. It's amazing how much awful tat Clooney starred in before he became a proper important famous person. But what's even more amazing is that he's not become any better or worse at acting over the course of his career - he's remained at the same constant level of Clooney since he started out in Return To Horror High, it's just on occasion the right role finds him. I do not believe Red Surf is one of those occasions.

All I can say is 25p for a bonus point seemed like a good idea at the time.
American Graffiti (£1.00)

So here we are in what I guess counts as the 'culture' portion of my DVD offerings. American Graffiti is one of only two feature-length films George Lucas both wrote and directed before realising his vision for Star Wars - the other being THX 1138, which was also on the shelf in CEX but would have set my budget back a whopping two pounds. And in a high stakes game like this that could be a couple of Van Helsing-esque guilty pleasures, or at least the very least something where a slasher killer chases topless girls around a college dorm. It's all about the balance.

American Graffiti is quite good, and was rewarded for its quite goodness by receiving no fewer than five Oscar nominations and raking it in at the box office. Lucas of course moved on to bigger and better things with the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, cementing his place in the hearts of a whole generation of movie lovers. It's a shame, then, that after his cameo appearance in Beverly Hills Cop III in 1994 he never wrote or directed another film again and retired from the movie industry completely.
Clean Slate (£1.99)

Clean Slate stars Dana Carvey as a detective with amnesia, who just so happens to be the sole witness to a mob killing and OH MY GOD THAT DOG HAS AN EYE PATCH! BRILLIANT!
Nemesis (£1.00)

Nemesis immediately caught my attention because the DVD cover looks like the box art for Syndicate on the Megadrive. Directed by Albert 'Captain America' Pyun, it stars Olivier Gruner (*the* premier budget alternative to Dolph Lundgren) as an assassin-for-hire in a future Los Angeles where cybernetic implants are the norm, forced to question his allegiances after realising he's become more machine than man. The plot keywords on IMDB include "Cyborg", "Killing A Dog" and "Arm Ripped Off".

I won't lie; I would have bought this regardless of the competition.
Eyeborgs (£1.50)

Eyeborgs stars Danny Trejo as a guitar repairman with a metal leg.

Yer I'll have my 10 points now, thanks.
The verdict:

Ali: EYEBORGS. Everything else just becomes background noise after Eyeborgs. It's got the guy from the Highlander TV show in it, too - surely it's only a matter of time before we see EYELANDER? Finding quality films in Harlow is like squeezing blood from a stone, but you've done well here - an early Clooney double bill (well la-di-da, Return To Horror High - too picky to put him on your DVD cover, are we?) from his 'highly punchable' phase, plus a Dana Carvey comedy with a dog wearing an eyepatch. It's no Sherlock Bones, but it'll do. I think you've overpaid for The Replacement Killers, but American Graffiti is a nice find for a quid. Unfortunately, I'm marking you down for Nemesis, because it looks like being literally the most generic and unremarkable movie ever produced. Also I thought there would be more Leprechaun movies. 7/10

Matt: A real nice selection. Straight away I'd say that you got ripped off for Red Surf, which again I'm certain is one of those films - like Rob's Bram Stoker's The Mummy - that came in a DVD player + 10 DVDs bundle of utter shit. But then seeing as you only paid 25p for it, that's not bad. ANY film has to be worth buying if it costs less than a two-fingered kitkat. And you have so many other excellent choices: A chance to see George Clooney run away from a skeleton cheerleader is worth all of the monies in this competition alone, and then you up the ante with Eyeborgs? A film with that title just doesn't need a plot, characters or any actual footage. I'm docking you a point for The Replacement Killers being a bit of a boring choice and Dana Carvey. But still - great picks. 9/10

Ed: Well first off, if you love George Clooney so much, why don't you just marry him? I do enjoy the cover of Red Surf, though, just for how obviously they pasted his face onto the cover and put his name in big letters for a re-release after he got famous. The covers, in fact, have some excellent points to them. Like how the punctuation around "Juvenile" on the Hood Angels box makes it look like a review quote. And the assumption that anybody on Planet Earth wants an extended cut of The Replacement Killers. Plus, you're right about the Nemesis/Syndicate axis: the font seems to have been ripped from RoboCop though.

You've thrown some straight arrows here: few risks, a good dash of comically shit horror, and a very good 'genuinely good film' choice in American Graffiti. I would be giving you a solid 7/10. But then there is Eyeborgs. Eyeborgs. I like the fact that it was made in 2009, despite looking for all the world like it came out in 1992. It has Danny Trejo in it. I don't know its central premise. In many ways, I don't want to know. But I like the fact that I live in a world where it exists. 8/10

Rob: Straight off the bat, I applaud your American Graffiti. In my eyes this is a genuine classic and a wonderful look at teenage life in 1950's California, and for a mere pound coin you did good. However, I think £1.99 for a Dana Carvey film that isn't a Wayne's World is completely overpriced, and that's coming from the guy that wasted almost £3 on a shitty Mummy film. However, I do like your double helping of early George Clooney. The fact one features a skeleton cheerleader and the other was only 25p gets you another point and my admiration.

For the rest of your choices, I'm actually having to look them up on IMDb before I make a judgement on how many points I feel you deserve. Nemesis looks like a crappy Terminator/RoboCop/Dredd kinda thing, The Replacement Killers is an 18 so I imagine there could be lots of violence and boobs, which is nice, Eyeborgs sounds utterly breathtaking, and Hood Angels looks... erm, well.... yeah, there's no plot for it on IMDb. But overall, a nice mixed selection. You've done well. 8/10
Total score:
32/40 + 8 bonus points for buying 8 DVDs = 40

The scores are in; my peers have seen fit to elevate me into second place. I have no complaints. Admittedly The Replacement Killers was a bit of a gamble, having never seen it myself I was hoping the presence of Chow Yun-Fat with a gun would inspire Woo-esque mental images. Alas, it was not to be. I am glad Eyeborgs received the attention a film with such a title commands - although I feel quite terrible for leading you guys on, because it is quite, quite rubbish.

The fact that any of us have the freedom to walk into a branch of The Works and leave with three quality DVDs for under a fiver is, broadly, a victory for the consumer. So in a way we are all winners. But more specifically, Matt is probably going to win. Because he said he'd set the Blood Gnome on us if he didn't.

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