20 Horror Movies for $7.50 Recap

horror750Well, this was a marked improvement over the 20 Movies for $5.00 box o’ fun.  Sometimes you do get what you pay for.

The $5.00 box depended more on old public domain films and current ultra low-budget indie movies.  This set relied more on TV movies and movies with more professional production values, even if they were low-budget. And a few cheapos.

Best of Show

Night of the Living Dead – Released to the public because of a legal blunder, just like OJ — so not really fair, but I don’t make the rules.  No, wait, I do make the rules.  It holds up.

Runner Ups – Or is it Runners Up like Courts Martial?  And why have there been so many Popes Paul?  There are a shocking number of watchable (and dare I say re-watchable) films in this package.

Zombie Dearest – Probably the 2nd best film in the collection, and 100% different in tone from NOLD.  I’m not usually one for humor / horror hybrids, but this one maintained a good balance and had some good performances to make it work.

Hide and Creep – I dreaded this one just based on the hacky title.  But I was completely wrong.  Even funnier than Zombie Dearest, full of quirky characters and funny lines.

Last of the Living – Another of the dreaded horror / comedy mash-ups that are consistently proving my pre-conceived notions to be wrong.  Like Hide and Creep, it is a low-key funny film, very well played by the cast.

Another Kind – Not a funny movie.  Not a lot happens — it reminded me of Blair Witch or Willow Creek, but not hand-held.  Just a fairly low-key depiction of what might realistically happen given some extraordinary event.

Salvage – A low-budget  gem — or at least cubic zirconia.  A pretty serious piece that you think you have figured out, but then it takes you somewhere that I don’t remember seeing before.  I’m not 100% sure it plays by its own rules, but it is close enough and clever enough to be fun.

MIdnight’s Child – Pretty good for what it was — a TV movie version of The Hand That Rocks the Cradle genre (but not bad enough for the later TV movie category).  No big surprises, but carried off by some good performances, a hot au pair, and the hypnotic sight of Peggy Olsen as a little girl.

They Coulda Been a Contender

Hurt – Could have been tightened up into a much better movie given the quality of the cast.

The Cellar Door – Potentially interesting, if trite, concept sunk by rampant stupidity of the characters and some poor directorial choices.

Live! From Death Row – I wanted to like this one for the cast and idea, but it just came off as cheap and cheesy.  If it had been done seriously as a 100% live news feed from the prison, they might have achieved something like the great Special Bulletin.  They did not.

I am Omega – Sure, a rip-off but from great source material.  Sadly it was a rip-off in title only and was doomed by some deadly performances.

Behind Your Eyes – Strange sensation in that I remember the movie, and yet I don’t remember it.  I re-read the post, I the remember scenes, but nothing resonates with me. That can’t be a good sign.

The Wind – The last movie in both Collections have evoked mixed emotions in me and were probably rewarded with a artificially high rating.  This one also had the bad fortune of following several good movies.  It wasn’t a good movie, but I can remember liking a few images, so it gets a break.

Lifetime Theater – Having never actually seen a Lifetime movie, I will just say that there was potential in most of these had they not muted all the elements that would have made them stand out.  It’s not even a matter of violence or gore — more energetic direction, an effective score . . . they might have had a decent TV movie.  They can’t all be Duel, but some could have been watchable.

Bay Coven – Lifetime version of Rosemary’s Baby.

Adrift – Lifetime version of Dead Calm.  But not bad.

Nightmare at Bitter Creek – Lifetime version of The Descent (but above ground).

No One Could Protect Her – An amalgam of every Lifetime woman-in-danger stalker movie ever made.  Right down to the title.

Not Ready for Prime Time

Bleeding Rose – Possibly the most amateurish film in the collection.  Poor acting from most of the performers, and almost completely lacking in likable characters.

Ominous – In the first scene, the realtor calls the house a “piece of shit.”  I can’t quite go that far in describing the film, but it is pretty much a nothing.  When your best shot is a down-blouse of the female lead cleaning the floor, that is not a good sign.

The Cry – A stunning lack non-performance from the talented (based on other projects) lead actor and some awful camera-work ruin any chance this film could have had.

The Wind (2001)

thewind0120 Horror Films for $7.50 — Part XX of XX.  After ramping up to a great climax with a few good movies, they end with a let-down that is not even worthy of the $5.00 collection.  This makes the season 1 finale of Heroes look like the season 1 finale of 24.

“It is the end of the world, but not the end we imagined,” begins an interminable narration which tells us the end is not from fire or earthquakes, but the titular wind — an idea so good that M. Night Shyamalan used it 7 years later in The Happening.  And to a similar reception.

The narration goes on for 4 minutes during which we are told how a single act was carried by the wind around the world, eventually leading to its destruction.  It concludes, “Some believe the wind is nothing more than a cautionary tale told to the children of a dying time.”  Yeah, the time when they made good movies.

thewind07The “single act” begins immediately with contradictions — a POV tracking shot through the woods, interrupted with static shots.  Presumably, it is the POV of the wind, but why the motionless inserts?  And why is it sticking mostly to the paths?  It blows past Clair, sitting in a field, and she seems to sense something passing, but turns her attention back to an inappropriate card she has received from platonic friend Bob.

She calls her pals John, Billy and Mic who meet her in the field.  She tells them the mildly disturbing story of a “date” with Bob and shows them the card.  Clair cries through the relating the story, but smiles as they go off to kick Bob’s ass.  They are riled up enough, presumably by the wind, to go teach Bob a lesson.  Bob learns the lesson that being beaten up by your 3 best friends and clubbed in the head with a log will kill you.  To be fair, he probably already knew that.

thewind20Soon Bob emerges from his shallow grave, which was mostly leaves. Strangely, a stranger just happens to be there (eating an apple — get it?) and must kill him because he ends up at the morgue.

Mic goes to Clair’s house, but no one is home.  As in every movie in this blog, that doesn’t stop him from going in.  He finds evidence that Clair created the lame card that she showed the boys after her mildly uncomfortable outing with Bob.  This is like Oliver Stone making a $100 million movie if Oswald had just given JFK a wedgie in Dallas.

thewind28We learn that the stranger who finished Bob off was his brother Earl [1].  He also gets an ass-kicking from Mic, though non-lethal, after suggesting that he knows what happened and wants to be be Bob’s replacement in the gang (i.e. the Shemp).  When he regains consciousness, he walks out of the woods talking out loud to himself about about what a bully Bob was. Yeah, nothing like the guys he desperately wants to buddy-up to now.

Eventually the gang turns on each other and John, Billy and Clair perform the ritual blood-brother cutting and obligatory MMF 3-way.  Wait, what?  This came out of nowhere, and frankly didn’t need the gratuitous MM shots — there was enough F to go around.  In fact, the act ought to called MFM just to keep some distance in there.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

thewind43Billy kills a rabbit and shows it to Mic, John hits on Mic’s semi-MILFy mother, Clair calls and invites him to the scene of the crime.  As Clair placidly stands by, the 3 of them duke it out.  And then — WTF — did Earl pop back into the picture?   He somehow snuck up on the group despite them being in a clearing the size the Bonneville Salt Flats.  Kudos for this though — the last 2 seconds make it worth sitting through the previous 30 seconds.

The last shot really is kind of awesome.  In fact, there is some good camerawork throughout.  The director really loves circling his small cast, and comes up with several imaginative shots throughout the movie.

thewind58In fact, I can imagine a good movie being made on this premise.  It’s too bad the concept of the evil wind was dropped.  This incident was supposed to be the spark that launched the apocalypse.  It was heard and seen blowing a few times, and that subtly was wise; it didn’t need to be hammered-home to the viewer.  But there needed to be a callback at the end for the title to make sense.

Sadly, the concept and decent camerawork couldn’t save this one — it was brought down by almost every other phase of the production.  The dialogue was weak, and at times, just too much.  For example, when John started seducing Mic’s Mom, I thought the scene was pretty well done as it went from uncomfortable to more aggressive.  John’s dialogue and performance really stood out.  But then he yakked on and on and on (and on); and on — ruining the scene [2].

thewind51The acting was pretty spotty.  Luckily the main offender Bob was not around for long. The others had their good and bad moments, but it’s not always easy to tell if the budget constraints or equipment cause some of this.

Due to the casting, I was confused throughout much of the movie by who was who.  I could spot John because he is blonde and Claire because she is shorter, but Mic, Billy and Earl were entirely interchangeable to me.  Clair probably gave the best performance.  She was consistently interesting to watch, kind of a mix of Bridget Fonda and Amanda Plummer.

So not a total disaster thanks to Clair and the director, but I’m not recommending it to anyone.  Or even admitting to anyone that I watched it (almost literally true on this blog)


  • No relation to The Wind except in their awfulness.
  • [1] OK, maybe I have a little face-blindness, but this whole time I had thought it was Billy who had finished Bob off.
  • thewind44[2] The scene was almost saved by the director.  The shot of Vanessa laying on the table beside the sandwich was just masterful.
  • After the murder, the guys are hanging out at Mic’s house playing Resident Evil. One of them submerges his face in the icy water of a large Igloo Cooler for a several seconds ruminating on how they killed Bob.  This looks like a perfectly nice home which would have a refrigerator — why would they be keeping beer in a big-ass cooler?  Oh yeah, so he could stick his face in it.
  • He raises his head and says, “we’re out of beer.”  It was established that Mic’s mother was home and the other guys (and Clair) live with their parents.  Are they still in high school?  Is she just a cool mom (i.e. the kind the fascist city government would love to lock up for such corruption)?
  • Strangely, the only place I have seen any of the cast — Vanessa and Billy both had minor roles in The Sopranos as “Hysterical Woman” and “Caller #3”. Respectively, in an example of good casting.

Another Kind (2013)


“Hey Pat, we’re surrounded by 20,000 square miles of wilderness. Where do you want to set up the tent?”        “I don’t know Nate, how about under this massive half-fallen dead tree.”

20 Horror Movies for $7.50 — Part XIX.

I’m in the weird position of kind of hoping this one sucks.  There have been so many at-least decent movies in this collection, and a recent run of pretty good ones that my bigotry against these cheapo sets is being seriously challenged.  I am at risk of becoming cinematically-correct.  #allmoviesmatter.

We start off with two couples loading the car for a trip to the Catskills.  They are not instantly hatable, so the movie is already above average.  Well, one is a smoker, so he’s on thin ice.  Even the credits make me think this will be good — the film is a lean 74 minutes.  They get creative with the very first credits, but quickly switch to standard static credits long before tedium sets in — I’m looking at you, 1978 Superman! [1]

At the Catskills, they start out, fully loaded with the essentials — backpacks, snowshoes, tents, pot-brownies — for a 27 mile hike.  Sadly there was not enough room for a .5 ounce map. Within an hour one of the couples has a fight and the girl bails, heading back to the car to stay at a hotel.

anotherkind02Refreshingly, these are normal people, even the one girl who bails.  They complain — but calmly and reasonably — about the exertion required, they make jokes that are normal-people funny (not Hollywood-polished or Hollywood-awful).  They are so happy to get have a meal of their freeze-dried prepper food that they actually compliment it. They are I guess, in a word, relatable — an archaic  concept mostly discarded by filmmakers.

The first night is fairly fright-free although there are strange lights and noises outside the tent.  But nothing is found, so they set out the next morning on the second 10-mile leg of the hike.  They even find time for some fun sledding on little sheets of plastic. Mysteriously, during their frolicking, the tent poles disappear so they have to back track to hell-camp.  Well, it wasn’t exactly like going back to the house in Poltergeist, but there were those lights and noises.

anotherkind04They don’t find the poles at the campsite, so they split up to look for some branches to make an $800 lycra tepee just like the Indians.  When they return with some sticks, the poles are all lined up neatly at the site.  Pat says it is probably just some harmless hunters playing a prank on the city folk, having never seen Southern Comfort or Wrong Turn or, really, a movie.  The night is again relatively uneventful except for a nightmare from Laura.  The next day they stay put again as Nate burns his hand and that somehow prevents him from walking.

anotherkind06That night, however, things start to awry.  Pat is awakened by some red lights and goes outside to check them out.  Nate and Laura wake up the next morning covered in snow because Pat forgot to close the tent flap.  And, oh yeah, he is comatose, covered by snow in the tent, nearly frozen to death.

They wrap Patrick up and start dragging him back to the trail head.  A map might have been handy at this point.  Or a phone.  Or a GPS.  After Laura discovers a disgusting growth under Patrick’s cap, she and Nate begin arguing about whether to leave him.  They are overjoyed to see a campsite in the distance.  Until they recognize it as the same one they left that morning.

So once again, they settle in at the same site for the night.  Which is cool until Laura goes out to pee and encounters a second Patrick.  Nate goes out to find her, leaving Patrick #1 in the tent.  She does not answer his calls, but he catches her standing naked in the woods, which is just a good.

I can see how some people would be critical of the ending, but I thought it suited the movie.  The entire film was an exercise in subtly — no jump scares, no monsters, not even over-use of the threat of nature or inevitable human conflict.  So an explosive ending just would have been a money-shot — I mean a literal shot money (i.e. not in the budget).  Also not in keeping with the rest of the film.

anotherkind08Certainly not comedic like the last few films, but not full of dread and suspense either.  To repeat myself, it just felt relatable.  They were real people with real problems doing the best they could.  It pains me to say it, but this is another good one.


  • [1] Well, they were cool at the time.  And it is still the best Superman movie.
  • I have never seen any of this cast of four in another movie.  Which is fine.

Last of the Living (2009)

lastofliving0220 Horror Movies for $7.50 — Part XVIII.

Now this is more like it.  And by it, I mean it is more like the movies in the $5.00 collection than its ritzy high-falutin’ diskmates in the $7.50 box.  A terrible transfer is probably to blame for many of its woes — not as bad as Curtains, but pretty bad.  So it is not a sharp image, and the cinematography and poor sound quality are probably related to that issue. The zombie make-up rarely consists of more than a bloody nose.

And yet.

It is one of the rare films that opens with a ballad and pulls it off.  Morgan is wandering the deserted streets of London (because all cities in England are London). His journey is effectively inter-cut with very short bits of TV news footage covering the outbreak of the zombie apocalypse and breakdown of society (and doing it better than Fear the Walking Dead).  There is not a single other person seen, and the zombies were also apparently considerate enough to clear the streets of blood, bodies and cars (i.e. they probably filmed at 6 am Sunday morning in the business district).

lastofliving04Our protagonists are Morgan, Johnny and the nerdy Ash who live together in one house.  It is not clear how many humans are left as the streets are barren; but the phones work, and Morgan even calls a girl for a date — although he does get a voice-mail, so she’s probably a goner or, in my experience, screening her calls.

They suit up for a trip to the market for chips and beer.  And rather than the leisurely stroll we usually see, these guys literally run to the market.  Along the way they have a few entertaining run-ins with the undead so this almost comes off as the zombie version of Help!.

lastofliving12This is even more true as they are running through the market in a musical montage with their shopping carts — but it is a sense of fun more than fear that is propelling them.  Right through to the nicely-choreographed zooming through 3 un-manned check-out lines, pulling a hard 90 degrees and heading out.

lastofliving14On the way home, they stop at a CD store — speaking of things that just won’t die.

They go on living their bro lifestyles, drinking beer, talking about girls, playing the drums, watching exercise videos of bikini babes.  They get bored and, housing being a breather’s market, they decide on a whim to move to a new mansion.  Along the way they rescue a hot chick from a church.  And by “rescue” I mean they get her father killed, lose a new zombie antidote and blow up the church; but they do end up with the hot babe, Stef, on the team.

lastofliving23Incredibly, they drive all the way to The New Zealand Research Centre — OK, possibly it wasn’t London after all — and pull into the empty parking lot.  You’d think there might be survivors there working or at least cars of the dead that worked to save humanity until they dropped dead like in The Stand.  But no.

Stef is able to synthesize more of the antidote, and they head for the airport to fly it to anti-zombie island where the real research is done.  There is a time-factor, though, that adds suspense to the humor.  And actually works.

lastofliving31This was a very enjoyable watch despite the technical shortcomings of this print. Like Hide and Creep, it was was just low-key fun and I can imagine watching it again.  The music seems to be stock, not always fitting the scene, but that just added a certain charm whether it was intended or not.  The characters were well-defined and likable for a change, and the actors were fun in portraying them.

One of the best of the set.


  • The cover says “Shaun of the Dead’s Got Nothing on These Slackers” which is pushing it a little far.  But a good print would have made it perfectly respectable.

Hide and Creep (2004)

hideandcreep0120 Horror Movies for $7.50 — Part XVII.

Wow did this movie jump the proverbial shark in about 2 minutes.  We get off to a fun start with Chuck, the owner of a video store (yeah, VHS) talking to a customer on a land-line phone about zombie movies and why they all seem to be rented out.  Nice, amusing start.

Cut to a guy sleeping in a tree, who then falls and hits the — of course — ground.  Lying on his back, he is wearing only a t-shirt and his junk is hanging right the f*** out there. Or maybe it was standing right the f*** out there.  I didn’t look too closely, but that’ll take about 3 letter grades off a movie right there.

Another group of yahoos is watching the Spice Channel when it suddenly cuts out.  One of the hicks treks a ridiculously long way to check on the generator and finds that the electrical cable has been cut.  The next time he is seen, several fairly well-dressed hideandcreep08zombies are chowing down on him.  More freakishly well-dressed zombies appear (did God allow another church roof to collapse?), and here his mulletted hick friends have gone off without their rifles.  So the head mullet calls for them to “split up and meet back at the house.”  My question: In such a situation, when splitting up, which idiots are not going to choose the direction of the house?

Chuck wakes up on the floor of his store, being hassled by a customer banging on the door.  The film regains a lot of its humor and momentum as both the clerk and the customer are not naked.  Despite some stunningly cheap zombie make-up, Hide and Creep gets off to a solid 2nd start.

Multiple colorful characters enter the movie . . . naked guy Michael who claims he was abducted by aliens, the girl at the diner, secretary Barbara at the police station, Chris the deputy she apparently has the authority to fire, Reverend Smith who is attacked in his church, Mullet’s gun-toting teen daughter, a doltish agent from the Dept of Homeland Defense (sic) investigating reports of RC — Reanimated Corpses, naked guy Michael’s girlfriend who also shows up naked.



Hide and Creep isn’t swinging for the fences.  It takes its time, but keeps the story full of quirky characters and mostly unforced humor.  The characters, in groups or alone, go on their own quests and occasionally cross paths.  There are no massive zombie hordes and no heads are lopped off, although there are plenty of zombie killings — the survivors are just trying to get through the day.  Chuck holes up in the police station, Mullet gathers his family, etc.  It is all very . . . not realistic exactly, but natural.

hideandcreep36It never lags and has surprises in store, even a few in the last minutes.  I was, as always, leery of the comedy / horror genre, but like Zombie Dearest, I was completely won over.  This is a genuinely fun movie.


This does NOT make up for her boyfriend’s junk earlier.


  • I like that the Mulberry Baptist Church has dates for Founded, Built, Moved, Restored, and Rededicated. Even if it is a real sign, I like the quirkiness.
  • The poster is terrible!  What’s with the sepia tones?  It gives no indication of the fun to be had here.  Who is the demon in the back-ground?  This is a zombie movie.  Why is Mullet on the cover and not Chuck?
  • Title Analysis:  Also terrible – no relation to the movie at all.