There's an undeniable stigma attached to the genre themed, bulk DVD packs found at big box retailers (and online). I will not deny that detractors have perfectly legitimate grievances. From poor video transfers and weak sauce filler films surrounding the few choice flicks, to horrendous packaging decisions, it's incredibly easy to dismiss these packs out of hand. That snap judgement is like seeing the landscape but missing the trees. There are unremembered gems buried inside these multipacks that are worth your time and dollar investment; think of them as treasure chests containing immeasurable wealth packed together with some steaming shit. Put on your hazmat suit because we're going in; I'm going to help you find the gold in Mill Creek Entertainment's Drive-In Cult Classics: 32 Movie Collection.
The box art promises titillating teens, bodacious beach bodies and a loving look back at the disappearing world of drive-ins. Promising appearances by Robert Carradine, Peter Cushing, Jayne Mansfield, Donald Pleasance and John Savage, this shameless plastic and cardboard huckster will do whatever it takes to get to the register in your grubby paws. It's the sort of showmanship we've come to expect from the classic trailers for these type of films; promising more than they can hope to deliver in far more exciting fashion than they could ever have afforded to film. Should we now shame and shun these same flicks for prostituting themselves to us in exactly the same way they always have? It's salacious and that's why we love it.
As I've meandered through the meaty 1309 minutes worth of movie crammed into this set, there have been a good number of pleasant surprises (aside from copious nudity). Let's dive in head first and examine two films that alone makes this set worth the price of admission.
Malibu Beach (Crown International Pictures - 1978)
A number of the films included here depict the supposed suburban lives of well to do teenagers in a slice of idealized Southern California from the 60's through the 80's. Tidy, neatly arranged, pool equipped housing; endless amounts of drag raceable black top and always a beach within driving distance- this was the ultimate place to be a teenager. Most of us will never know an existence like it but we could live vicariously through these on screen beaus and beauties.
Malibu Beach is the best of this type of film. School's out for summer and life is great for our group of innocent beach bums. Nothing of consequence really effects our crew as they drag race, dine out at the drive-in burger joint, toke up around a night time beach bonfire and generally engage in light hearted, cheeky shenanigans. There's even a dog who steals the bikini tops of sunbathing ladies (over and over- so cheeky!). Tension does mount as one of the local beach toughs vies for the hand (and flower) of our lifeguard protagonist, Dina. But it's nothing so serious as to break the good times, great life vibe woven into the entire picture. And like most of these sort of flicks, the delightful movie themed anthem "Malibu Beach" is the perfect upbeat surf rock to ease us into this other time and made up place.
Trip with the Teacher(Crown International Pictures - 1975)
If Malibu Beach is too much of the soft side of Drive-In fare, Trip with the Teacher is there, on it's bad ass motorcycle, ready to wreck your class trip with rape and grisly murder. What starts of innocently enough, four school girls and their teacher on the way to see ruins in the desert, becomes a terrifying lesson in not placing your trust in strange bikers, especially when one of them is played by Zalman King (Galaxy of Terror, Blue Sunshine).
Here he's a nuclear bomb, primed and descending on target. Armed with oversized bug eye glasses and a creepy, whacked out demeanor, his mania becomes the highlight of this three ring circus of masochism. This is a biker, home invasion and rape revenge film done right. It's gritty, repulsive and vindicating all in one swoop. It stands as the stark antithesis to the fun, carefree fun of Malibu Beach and they'd make a great double feature.
Here's the full list of films contained in the pack:
Carnival of Crime
Cindy and Donna
Click: The Calendar Girl Killer
The Creeping Terror
The Devil's Hand
Land of the Minotaur
Madmen of Mandoras
The Pick Up
The Pink Angels
The Pom Pom Girls
Single Room Furnished
Sister in Law
They Saved Hitler's Brain
Trip With Teacher
Van Nuys Blvd.
Weekend with the Babysitter
There's an excellent spread here from the vaults of Crown International Pictures, with a wide array of drive-in genre favorites represented. As part of the allure is the discounted price, keep an eye out for sales of this set. I picked it up for $10 at Target on a whim and have been completely surprised by just how many entertaining films it has to offer. Of course the video transfers are slightly subpart here but honestly this isn't the sort of cinematic fare likely to receive Blu-ray treatment any time soon. Still, it seems like a considerable step forward from the fifty horror packs I purchased years ago from Best Buy.
And yeah the packaging scheme totally sucks, with twelve separate double sided disks in individual unmarked sleeves, inside a wide open plastic clamshell case. Gritty transfers, cheap packaging, sleazy subject matters all wrapped up in a glossy cover portraying scantily clad ladies...why do we bother with this trash? Oh that's right, because we love to be exploited and these films are just the ticket.
Saturday Shock-O-Rama Streaming Suggestions
Want to watch something schlocky right now? Try on a few of these suggestions, available right now from the listed service (most of which are FREE!).
Netflix - Hands of the Ripper - Horror/Slasher (1971)
Crackle - Flesh Eater - Horror/Zombies (1988)
YouTube - Savage Weekend- Horror/Slasher (1979)
Archive.org - Teenagers from Outer Space - Sci-Fi (1959)
And if you simply can't get enough horror happenings here on Mania, might I humbly suggest checking out Tuesday Terrors? It's got all the shocking news to keep you current (and possibly help you survive until the credits roll).
Chuck Francisco is a columnist for Mania writing Saturday Shock-O-Rama, the weekly look into classic cult, horror and sci-fi. He is a horror co-host of two monthly film series at the world famous Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA (home of 1958's 'The Blob'): First Friday Fright Nights and Colonial Cult Cinema.You can delve further into his love of all things weird and campy on his blog, The Midnight Cheese or hear him occasionally guesting on eminent podcast You've Got Geek.
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