This is not a sponsored post, I have not been paid to choose these, so please, don’t roll your eyes at this post before reading it, assuming Smug Film has ‘sold out’ or ‘jumped the shark’ or whatever the kids are calling these days. Such is not the case. Every single item on this list, I stand by 100%, and in fact own.
Yes, Smug Film receives a kickback from Amazon if you buy anything below, or from any other link to Amazon on this site, but please don’t see that as us being greedy or something. The kickback is very small, and basically just helps us cover website costs. So basically, if you like us, and want to keep us around, toss something from below into your cart next time you need to meet the $25 required for free shipping.
By the way, these prices may fluctuate a bit—a few bucks cheaper, a few bucks more—but not by much. And whatever the price they are on Amazon, they’re a steal.
4 Movie Marathon: Cult Horror Collection (The Funhouse, Phantasm II, The Serpent and the Rainbow, Ssssssss) – $4.99
Only really recommending this for two movies: The Funhouse and Phantasm II. These are two of my absolute favorite horror movies of all the time, and the fact that you can own both for peanuts is absolutely ridiculous.
The Funhouse is like an Are You Afraid Of The Dark episode for adults. Very sick and twisted, plus good breasts. And there’s some gorgeous eye candy shots of carnival rides and stuff too.
Phantasm II is even better than Phantasm, and is definitely the best in the series. Don’t get me wrong, I love the first film, but this one is just way more fun. It’s one of the rare horror movies where the twists and turns are as delightfully creative as the gore. It’s really the perfect 80’s popcorn horror. But don’t watch it without seeing the first one—it picks up right where that left off.
I haven’t seen The Serpent and the Rainbow or Ssssssss, but I’m sure they’re both good, cheesy fun. Serpent, in fact, has some surprisingly enthusiastic reviews, so who knows, it could be a real winner. Just bought this set recently, gonna save Serpent and Sssssss to watch in October. I’ll let you know how I feel about them then.
If you’re unfamiliar with the films of Andy Sidaris, the following YouTube clip from Hard Ticket To Hawaii is the best possible introduction:
If you enjoyed what you just saw, and also enjoy cheesy softcore sex scenes featuring playmates, this box set is for you (and for your friends as well—these are great to throw on at a gathering).
All his films are pretty much the same, which is the kinda thing people say about a filmmaker when they don’t like them—when they do like them, they call them an ‘auteur’. I don’t like that hypocrisy. Andy Sidaris is an auteur whether you like it or not. One of my favorite little motifs of his is that he reuses a lot of the same actresses, but may have them playing a villain in one film, and a hero in another. This enables you to make up your own continuity and pretend like these characters are very three-dimensional and complex and have arcs where they go from good to bad to good to bad. That sort of thing in a Hawaii setting means you’re pretty much watching a softcore version of Lost.
Speaking of auteurs, here’s one of my very favorites, Mr. Steven Seagal. I wish I was the first person to call him one, but that honor goes Vern over at Ain’t It Cool News. In fact, he wrote a mammoth book on the subject, called Seagalogy. I highly recommend it.
On this set you get my favorite Seagal movie (Fire Down Below), two very good ones (Under Siege and Above the Law) and one terrible one that is good cheesy fun (The Glimmer Man).
Fire Down Below is one of the greatest action movies ever made, because Seagal never takes a hit in the entire movie. He deflects everything. Nothing bad ever happens to him physically whatsoever. I can’t think of any other action movies where the hero never takes damage. It’s a singular work.
More fun Seagal films! Out for Justice is my second favorite after Fire Down Below, Hard to Kill is great too, On Deadly Ground is hilarious and will appeal to fans of Trey Parker and Matt Stone (who have parodied it several times) and Exit Wounds is a decent formulaic action movie with one of the weirdest twists in movie history.
Like the other horror collection, I’m only really recommending this for two movies. Cry_Wolf and The Return are probably awful, but Slither and Altered are two of the very best horror movies in the last ten years or so (and, weirdly enough, they both came out in the same year—2006.)
Slither is Nathan Fillion’s best movie work to date. If you dig him from Firefly or whatever, he’s just as lovable in this. And this is one of the only throwback horror movies of recent history that really stands on its own two feet. There’s nothing pandering or lazy about it. The story works, the arcs are well-planned, the performances are great all around (Michael Rooker and Elizabeth Banks are pitch-perfect, which is no surprise, as they’re great in anything they’re in) and the practical effects are beautiful. Aside from a few instances of VFX, this is a SFX lover’s delight.
Altered is a low-budget horror movie that, with some more money, could’ve gone down as one of the best horror movies of all time. The effects are spotty at times. In some scenes they look terrible, others they look great. Thankfully, they tend to get better as they go along. So make sure you stick this one out. It’s the best ‘little green men’ horror movie since Communion.
The Final Destination movies aren’t for everyone. Some see the choice of antagonist (‘fate itself’) as mere laziness. Others like myself see it as refreshingly minimalist and tongue-in-cheekily philosophical.
For those that do dig the flicks, the consensus tends to be that the fifth one is the weakest link, so you should consider it a favor that it isn’t included in this set.
My personal favorite is the third one. It’s the first one to rid itself of the seriousness that somewhat bogged down the pace of the previous ones and ramp up the silliness in its place. The tone is perfectly 80’s—oblivious, headstrong characters that deserve what comes to them, and creative deaths that will genuinely take you by surprise in a few instances (through their sheer ingenuity, not through grating ‘jump scares’).
The rest of the movies are enjoyable too (and the series should definitely be watched in order) but the third installment is worth the price of this DVD set alone. A word of warning before watching the fourth one: it’s a huge drop off after the third, but there are a few moments of brilliance. And it’s absolutely the most simplistic and breezy of all of them—almost impressively so. It makes the third one look like The Human Condition.
Three of these are great, one sucks. Sadly, it’s the one with the most intriguing title—Hot Potato. That one is seriously unwatchable. But the rest are great fun. If you’d like to get into blaxploitation, I suggest starting with these rather than Shaft or Superfly. Both of those movies are only good because of their music, whereas the movies on this set are legitimately enjoyable. RIP Jim Kelly.
This is a bunch of 15 minute or so standup performances, and it’s basically worth the price of admission for one in particular. Tommy Davidson’s routine on the bizarre brilliance of spanish television is one of the funniest standup routines of all time. I grew up on In Living Color and always thought Tommy was funny, but he fucking destroys here. And the other standups are pretty good too. If you’ve seen Kevin Hart’s special I’m A Grown Little Man, he does a lot of the same stuff on here, but there’s some extra bits that are really, really funny. So this set should appeal to Kevin Hart completists as well.
This movie used to go for $150+ back when it was out of print. To know this movie is to love it. It is the best modern romance movie ever.
I talked about this one in my Eric Schaeffer filmography post, so basically go read that mammoth thing to understand why this movie is great.
I loved this movie as a kid. In fact for a while, as a youth, I thought it was a Coen brothers movie. This is the only Gore Verbinski movie I like, because it really is jus him doing Coen brothers for kids. Which is beautiful. So if you like classic Coen brothers movies, this is a must-see. And don’t be fooled by the bright cover. This movie has a dark color palette and a gorgeous, seemingly lived-in set. Definitely worthy of serious study.