The £10 DVD Bargain Challenge: Week three - Matt's turn


17th July 2012

It's the third week of our... £10 DVD Bargain Challenge (*dramatic opera crescendo*). That joke is getting a bit old now, isn't it?

So continuing the friendly (read: highly competitive) contest among us good mates at TheShiznit (read: bitter rivals), this week sees my turn in presenting a tenner's worth of fascinating, mind-boggling, critically acclaimed films all bought at an impressive bargain price (read: any old shit exchanged for tuppence).
Locations: Poundland, Hammersmith and CEX, Sutton
Amount Spent: £10.00
Number of DVDs bought: 10
The Assassin Next Door (£1.00)

The first film I picked up in Poundland, and it seemed like a no-brainer to me. Quantum Of Solace’s Olga Kurylenko in an action-packed killer thriller? Well, no as it turns out. The film is actually a snail-paced drama, which sees Kurylenko’s prostitute get promoted to 'hitgirl' on the promise of seeing her daughter again. And she forms a friendship with the woman living next door, who frequently gets beaten up by her husband. (*deep sigh*) Oh and it's almost entirely in Russian, with some scenes in English and others in Hebrew.

Still, you also get to see Kurylenko topless, which is worth a pound of anyone's money. In fact "You get to see Kurylenko topless, which is worth a pound of anyone’s money" might even have been the Nuts-endorsed poster quote.
Watching The Detectives (£1.00)

This was a surprise find – has anyone heard of this film? Has Cillian Murphy? I wasn't expecting much from this frothy-looking rom-com but actually enjoyed it immensely thanks to a strong film-geek theme running through it. Murphy plays a video store owner (note 'video', not 'DVD' – and this is still supposed to be 2007) who lives in a world of movie-inspired daydreams until mysterious kook Lucy Liu gets him involved in all sorts of crazy escapades.

Truth be told, this is lightweight comedy at best, and Lucy Liu is borderline infuriating as the carefree, spirited young woman who gives nothing away about herself. And yet Murphy is as likeable as ever, Jason Sudeikis plays his funny best friend and I’m just too easily pleased with a script that references and pays homage to a different movie every two minutes.
Little Noises (£1.00)

I picked this up just because I wanted to see Crispin Glover and Rik Mayall in a scene together. What possible bon mots and improvised hilarity could the two conjure up when riffing off each other? Glover could look creepy and embarrassed, while Mayall farts and pretends to stab himself in the eye. Imagine the possibilities.

Otherwise though, the film looks pretty terrible. Glover pretends to be a writer by stealing the work of a deaf, mute poet (I imagine this part is handled particularly sensitively) in order to get his dream girl Tatum O'Neal, but ends up attracting the attention of literary agent Mayall. It's a comedy of errors! Actually, the film made the 1992 official selection at Sundance, so it might actually be quite good. Probably not though, eh?
Blood Gnome (£1.50)

Looking back on my selection, I'm surprised that this is the most expensive of all my purchases, and yet, when it came to watching this rubber-modelled gorefest, I ended up paying an even higher price. I basically bought this film because I knew I want to get the epitome of bad horror flicks; a low-budget, badly-acted kill-athon that should be part of any DVD bargain hunt. What I got was so much worse.

The film is, I think, a terrible rip-off of Critters, only with more blood, and a halfway point after which it becomes a soft-porn flick starring 'BDSM Goddess' (as she is actually named in the credits, and in real-life apparently) Julie Strain. You can't see it on the cover above, but one of the taglines for this film is: "This is one sexy horrific ride!" I agree with the second part.
Alien Agent (75p)

When it comes to choosing good quality movies, any respected film critic knows that you can't go wrong with any film containing aliens and/or Billy Zane. In Alien Agent, an extra-terrestrial race are planning to take over Earth, but one of their own kind doesn't think it's fair and decides to protect mankind, using his special brand of Kung fu. Unfortunately, Zane isn't the karate-chopping hero.

Instead, he plays a hilarious hillbilly for the first 20 minutes who then gets killed and turned into an unemotional alien, thus reducing this film's enjoyment level by about 80%. And yet he still displays more personality than our hero Rykker, played by Mark Dacascos (Fact: he was The Crow in the TV series of The Crow), who has obviously been cast for his martial arts skills rather than any acting ability.

I was surprised to watch this and notice, in the first few scenes, an awesome bridge jump stunt and a hefty explosion, as though the film was actually more impressive than I gave its cover credit for. Then I realised that these two moments clearly blew the film's budget wad, because the rest of the film contained worse 'special effects' than the original Star Trek series.
Interview (£1.00)

Hurrah! An actual, properly released, critically-acclaimed film of which I can be proud! Of course I haven't seen it yet, choosing instead to watching Blood Gnome straight away. Anyway, this is a writing and directing gig by one craggy-eyed Steve Buscemi, which stars Sienna Miller as a soap actress being interviewed by the Terminally Tired-Looking One, who plays a burnt-out political journalist.

It was nominated for a bunch of awards and more than makes up for decision to buy Alien Agent. Oh, who am I kidding, I'll defend any Billy Zane alien movie with my dying breath.

I've never been that interested in real-life serial killer biopics, but this caught my eye simply because I had heard of it. But then, to my sheer delight, I discovered that the titular murderer in question is played by a younger, chubbier Jeremy Renner!

So basically I picked this up so that, one day, when I have young children whom I will inevitably brainwash to love comic-book movies, I can sit them down in front of the TV and say "Who wants to find out what Hawkeye got upto before he joined The Avengers?
Splat! In Your Face (£1.00)

It probably won't surprise any of you to learn that I had already decided to buy this before I had even read the synopsis, based purely on the title alone. As it turns out, the film is a triumphant tale of a boy competing in paintball tournaments. So, um... there's that.

But then I have long held the belief that paintball is really the last bastion of the sporting underdog story, so this at least covers brave new ground. It will also, no doubt, feature at least four shots to the genital area. And I'm guessing climactic, winning money shot will be one taken to the face. I'm sorry, I've forgotten what kind of movie I'm writing about.
Bats (75p)

Little did I know when purchasing Bats, that it would end up being the crown jewel in my treasure trove of dodgy DVDs. At a bargain price of 75p, I have happened upon something I haven't experienced in a long time: a so-bad-it's-good film. A movie that I enjoyed watching more than many recent cinema releases, albeit completely ironically.

La Bamba's Lou Diamond Phillps and Starship Troopers' Dina Meyer come to the rescue when genetically altered bats start feasting on human prey. At one point, the bad guy behind it all is asked why he changed the bats' DNA in this way, to which he simply says: "I'm a scientist... that's what we do".

I would go so far as to argue that I deserve to win the entire DVD challenge based on this film alone and, in particular, one line from the script that has become my favourite piece of dialogue of all time: "Ma'am, as far as we can tell this was caused by some kind of... bats".
Lucky (£1.00)

Oh yeah, I also bought a film about a talking dog who convinces its owner to become a serial killer. But whatever. BATS.
The verdict:

Ali: A strong line-up, Mr Looker, but what I'm most surprised at is how many of them you actually watched. That's true dedication. Focusing strictly on the quality of the films, you've got a nice mix of genuinely mediocre 'real' films and utterly shit amateur efforts, but no matter how you pigeonhole it, I would watch Bats in a second. I would watch the shit out of it. It's like something Garth Marenghi would direct.

I fear you have been slightly misled by a few films boasting 'big name' talents (see Olga Kurylenko: so famous she has to have her credits written on the cover under her name) but you've more than made up for it with cinema's first - and only? - paintball love story, Splat! (though I fear you've been disingenuous with the title - that "In your face!!!" is clearly the tagline. In any case, you've missed off the exclamation marks). I'm only marking you down because I already bought Little Noises for my selection, and now I have to buy something else. 8/10

Luke: Wow. I'm... really scared. Scared that some of these films exist. Scared that one person could own them all at the same time with relative ease. Scared that a Bond girl's bits can be bought for a few bobs. Scared of the Blood Gnome. But most of all I'm scared of how much the bar just got raised. Really a collection this complete in its variety belongs in a time capsule with instructions to open after Transformers 12 comes out, or shot into space alongside a copy of Dark Side of the Moon on vinyl to show distant alien civilisations how far our culture has evolved. Although they would probably watch Blood Gnome and blast our planet to smithereens in sheer terror.

The tactical voter in me says I should mark you down just to give myself a chance in the coming weeks, but really the quality of your selection cannot be denied. Bravo, Mr. Looker. Bravo. Although I'm docking you a point because the Blood Gnome will keep me awake for months. 9/10

Ed: While I would like to have seen you address with more clarity the issue of whether or not Olga Kurylenko lezzes up with her next-door neighbour, this remains a quite astonishing achievement. The cover of Splat! In Your Face appears to be Christopher Nolan's inspiration for Bane, Little Noises is the strangest combination of actors I've seen since Denzel Washington was in Goodnight Sweetheart, and Watching the Detectives bears the only recorded instance of Lucy Liu smiling, meaning you could probably sell it to the Smithsonian for a couple of hundred grand. Even Dahmer, which I watched on Netflix last week, is surprisingly good for a serial killer biopic - a genre that has produced more insensitive, poorly-acted slop than ITV2.

I do think you've panic-bought Blood Gnome, though, and Alien Agent sounds disappointing, even for a Billy Zane film.

But Bats. Oh God, Bats. For 75p. I physically cannot understand why I'm not watching Bats right at this second. Cancel your honeymoon and let's all watch Bats together instead, over and over again. 9/10

Rob: Sorry, say that again? Denzel Washington was in Goodnight Sweetheart? As soon as I'm done here, I'm finding that on YouTube. Where was I? Oh yeah, Matt's choices. This is quite the collection of crap, but good crap. It reads like a list of movies you'd seen in subtle Simpsons cinema jokes. However, Olga Kurylenko takes her top off as often as Shannon Elizabeth does, so we've seen them before.

Nevertheless, Watching The Detectives and Bats sound ruddy brilliant and are the kind of films this challenge is all about. You get extra points for a featuring a Steve Buscemi film, managing to buy ten very different films, and most importantly, buying them all at low low prices. So as it stands, you're the king when it comes to buying rubbish DVDs. Bravo, Sir. But I can't quite bring it upon myself to give you full marks as I'm still reeling from last week... and I'm a bitter bastard who holds grudges.

So my only gripe is Olga Kurylenko gets her boobs out TOO often? Yeah I'll stick with that. I'm off to watch Dish Dogs. Again. 8/10
Total score:
34/40 + 10 bonus points for buying 10 DVDs = 44

Woo-hoo! Straight into the lead! A couple of responses first: Ali, my copy of Splat! In Your Face has that exact title written down the spine, but I take your point. On IMDB, it's listed simply as In Your Face, so go figure. Rob, you and I need to talk about where else I can see Olga Kurylenko's boobs.

In any case, it's a strong lead, with only Luke and Ali left to beat in the coming weeks. Did we decide on a prize for this? What would I win? Is it the respect of my peers? Because I'd rather have a gift voucher or something.

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