The last post also hit the limit, so starting a new one for December Dollar Tree reviews.
For anyone interested her are direct links to previous reviews from earlier in the year:
May 2021 Reviews:
Ghost Goggles — (3/10) — This is a very strange movie. The premise is a kid’s father is attacked at his restaurant by loan sharks who he owed money to. This leaves the kid with only his eccentric great aunt to care for him. After moving into the new, large house owned by the aunt he finds a pair of glasses that allows him to see ghosts. This is a very low budget film with primarily amateur actors and some gaping plot holes. The editing is also very rough with some extremely strange transitions (and I honestly couldn’t tell if that was intentional or not). I didn’t think it was great, but it did hold my attention throughout because of how strange it was. It’s probably mostly aimed at a middle school audience.
Help I’ve Shrunk the Family — (5/10) — This is a kids movie from The Netherlands about a young boy who happens to find a small man named Wiplala in his kitchen one evening. He befriends Wiplala and things go awry when his friend attempts to use his magic powers. The mishap results in a neighbor being turned to a statue and the boy and his family being shrunk to the same size as Wiplala, and the family is left scrambling to fix everything. Overall, this was okay. It’s not quite as good as the German movies Help I Shrunk My Teacher (or the sequel, Help I Shrunk My Parents). There’s a really good sequence with the shrunken people driving a remote control car that was the highlight.
Rocket Hunter — (2/10) — This is the sequel to Greyhound Attack. It’s marginally better than the first film as there are fewer meaningless characters thrown in the mix who have no real purpose. The two brothers are back for another mission — a followup to the one they underwent in Greyhound Attack. Overall, it’s still not very good.
Greyhound Attack — (1/10) — This is a WWII film by Christopher Forbes. Tons of his movies end up at Dollar Tree it seems such as The Last Days of Billy the Kid, Jesse James Versus the Black Train, The Confederate, and several others. They are all bad, and this one is no different. It’s the same amateur actors that often appear in these films. Unlike the others which re-uses a number of same sets and filming locations, this one is done almost entirely with green screen. There’s little action and the story is quite boring. It’s basically about a mission by two brothers to target a secret mobile Nazi airfield. Beyond the two brothers, it’s a bit hard to remember who the other characters are and nearly impossible to care about any of them or keep track of what they are doing.
Iron Wolf — (1/10) — This begins in Germany during WWII when German scientists are creating a new “weapon” to combat the Russians. The “weapon” turns out to be a werewolf that they’ve trained to only attack non-Germans. When their facility is overran by Russians; the weapon is left locked away and forgotten. 65 years later, a group of German youths discover the facility as a potential spot for a band reunion. Overall, this was really hokey. It had a promising beginning for a low budget film, but that all fell apart as it went on.
House of Salem — (5/10) — This is a low budget, indy horror film from England that was surprisingly decent. The premise is that a group of criminals are paid by a rich benefactor to kidnap a young boy, seemingly to hold for hostage. They later discover that the rich benefactor is actually the head of Satanic sect and find themselves protecting the boy and themselves. There were a few creepy scenes and the ending is a bit convoluted, but overall worth a watch for horror fans.
Thunder and the House of Magic — (5/10) — This is an animated movie about a cat (Thunder) who, after being abandoned by his family, finds his way to an old mansion owned by an elderly magician. Thunder finds himself at odds with the other house pets but ultimately must work together with them to save the magician’s home from his scheming nephew. Overall, this was a decent kids movie and the special features include a quick segment discussing how the basis for the movie was a 3D attraction (potentially in France where the filmmakers were from) that was interesting.
Andy the Talking Hedgehog — (2/10) — This is a 75 minute movie about a talking Hedgehog that feels like it lasts 3 hours. Lilly, a young girl, makes a wish to her Fairy BFF (Tara Reid) for all of her friends to talk (including her pets, other animals, and plants). The majority of the movie takes place in and around a single house with some stock hedgehog videos thrown in at times. Dean Cain plays the father. Perhaps the best part of the movie is when he realizes the animals are talking and becomes convinced he has lost his mind. He decides to just watch cartoons and eat cereal… which is probably the reaction he should have had after signing on to this movie. Also adding to the movie is an extremely annoying sound track — there is music in the background through almost the entire film. Also, I have no idea who the target audience is for this. It’s aimed at kids, but there’s a lot of inappropriate stuff (such as a teenage friend of Lilly’s older sister ogling after Lilly’s father and the depressing tale of the family’s cat).
Poseidon — (6/10) — This is a decent popcorn movie remake of The Poseidon Adventure. It features Kurt Russell, Richard Dreyfuss, and Josh Lucas. Emmy Rossum (Shameless) and Mike Vogel (Under the Dome) are both in the film during their early careers. The gist of the movie is that a group of people struggle to survive a cruise ship that’s been overturned by a rogue tidal wave. There’s a few scenes of really obvious green screen that looks awkward, but the overall action is decent.
Blue Crush 2 — (6/10) — This is totally unrelated to the first Blue Crush film. The premise is that Dana lost her mother as a young child. Now as a teenager about to enroll in college, she decides to throw those plans out the window after reading her mother’s diary in order to try to learn more about her. She discovers that her mother always regretted not surfing one specific area and decides to fulfill her mother’s dream. Without telling her father, she hops a flight to South Africa and becomes embedded in the local surfing scene. Overall, this was a decent surfing movie, particularly considering it’s a mostly unknown cast and a direct-to-video film. Certainly one I could see re-watching.
Anna and the Apocalypse — (7/10) — This is a zombie musical comedy set during Christmas time that bills itself as Shaun of the Dead meets La La Land. Overall, I thought it was pretty good and would certainly watch it again. The music is okay and while it falls short of Shaun of the Dead in the comedy sphere, it has a few great scenes (particularly at a bowling alley). The disc has quite a number of bonus features as well. Definitely a solid pickup for $1.
The Whale — (6/10) — This is a made for TV movie from the BBC that covers the real story of the whaling ship Essex which was destroyed by a whale. The story serves as part of the inspiration for Herman Melville’s novel, Moby Dick. The movie features a young John Boyega as well as Paul Kaye (who also appeared in Anna and the Apocalypse). Overall, it was pretty good.
April 2021 Reviews:
The Surface — (4/10) — This was listed as a drama/thriller but there’s no thriller aspect to this. Mitch (Sean Astin) has had a tough life the past couple of years and sets out on a boat trip contemplating his future. Kelly (Chris Mulkey) has had his fair share of problems as well. Their two paths intersect when Kelly crashes his plane in Lake Michigan and Mitch manages to rescue him only to lose his boat propeller in the process. Both are stuck together while trying to get rescued. The movie started out pretty slow; had some build up that hooked my interest; and then overall sort of petered out. Overall, it was slightly below mediocre. The DVD does include a 48 minute documentary about protecting Lake Michigan (which seems sort of odd) but I haven’t watched it.
SOS Tidal Wave — (7/10) — This is a short movie (62 minutes) about a mayoral race in NYC where one of the candidates isn’t quite what he seems. When a a famous news reporter considers investigating the situation, he’s initially frightened away from doing so. Later, as the race tightens, news reports of an impending natural disaster begin frightening voters away from the polls. It’s not for everyone, and it’s definitely not a disaster film, but overall, I liked it.
The Confederate — (2/10) — This was better than the other films I’ve watched that are directed by Christopher Forbes and distributed by ITN (Jesse James vs. The Black Train and The Last Days of Billy the Kid). It’s filmed in the same locations as all of the films put out by this group and features most of the same actors. The film is based on the novel Perfect Disguise by what looks to be an amateur author from Georgia, and the story line and plot is far better than the other films. As with the other Forbes films, it mainly used community theater level actors and some disjointed scenes that often come off as hokey. Overall, it’s still pretty bad and not really worth the time.
Avalanche Sharks — (1/10) — This is about a group of people who go on a ski trip and supernatural sharks (who swim in the snow) have infiltrated the area. Honestly, this was just boring and not even good in a “bad movie” way.
Antboy 3 — (6/10) — This was the final chapter in the Antboy series. Antboy and all of his friends are back to keep their small town safe as. Pelle (Antboy) is struggling with a decision about a school opportunity, while a new CEO has taken over at ExoFarm and The Flea is released from prison after being “reformed.” At the same time, a mysterious new hero has emerged in Middlelund. Overall, this was a really good ending to a pretty solid superhero trilogy for kids.
Easter Bunny Adventure — (0.5/10) — The gist of this is that the Easter Bunny and his friend, a chicken, is looking for an Easter egg. They fly in a hot air balloon while looking for it and run into various farm animals who tell them stories (which are basically just short fables of 2 minutes or less). The animation is horrible, and the stories are told in a bored, monotone voice. During the fables, there is no animation, but the film displays some looped background animation that looks like a screen saver from the 1990’s. The simple animation is aimed at very young viewers, but the fables are clearly more for much older children (who would find no entertainment value in the terrible animation). Overall, this is absolutely terrible.
March 2021 Reviews:
Antboy: Revenge of the Red Fury — (6/10) — With the Flea behind bars, a new villain has emerged in Middlelund. It’s up to Antboy and his friends Ada and Wilhelm to stop The Red Fury. Overall, this was quite good — the origin story behind The Red Fury is a good comic book origin and the plot plays out quite well.
Son of Bigfoot — (5/10) — A bullied kid ends up discovering that his father, who had been told was deceased, is actually Bigfoot. At the same time, an evil corporation is intent on capturing Bigfoot in order to use his genes to create hair re-growth drugs. Overall, this was okay. The animation was pretty good, and the storyline is decent enough. As a quick head’s up Bigfoot Family is the sequel to this film and is on Netflix. It’s not nearly as good as the original and mostly focuses on Bigfoot and family fighting against the oil industry. I’d give it a 3.5/10.
Straight Outta Oakland 2 — (1/10) — This isn’t a sequel to Straight Outta Oakland (which was quite clear), but does star some of the same actors and is written and directed by the same person that did the first film. That first film (reviewed lower in this post) wasn’t great; but it had a storyline that made sense and had some decent production for a low budget film. This second film is just a mess. It’s basically about a guy who gets into selling a new drug called “Milk” in order to save money for his aunt’s medical bills (at least that’s theoretically the basis). The storyline makes little sense and is hard to follow, which is a shame since the main protagonist is an entertaining and over the top character. From looking at the past IMDb credits, it looks like maybe this was a previous movie that was basically re-cut to create this. Overall, not worth the watch at all.
Houdini — (6/10) — This is a fairly short animated movie (about 55 minutes), which focuses on a very fictitious story of a young Harry Houdini first learning magic while attempting to compete in a magic competition in NYC while under the tutelage of the magician, Tesla. When an evil magician devises a nefarious plan involving the statue of liberty, it’s up to the young Houdini to save the day. Overall, it was pretty good and had a couple of things showing how some illusions are performed which would be of interest to kids.
This is a flipper disc with one movie on each side. Both movies have a couple of basic special features as well as trailers.
Tom and Jerry: The Fast and the Furry — (6/10) — This is the better of the two movies. When Tom and Jerry’s antics result in the destruction of their home, they enter an auto race where the grand prize is a brand new mansion. The other racers are a motley assortment of characters including a little old lady with a crazed dog, a soccer mom in a minivan, Gorthan (the destroyer of light), and an over the top heroic character. The organizers keep changing the rules of the race forcing the cat and mouse to continue their rivalry across the globe. Overall, this was a decent watch.
Tom and Jerry: Mission to Mars — (5/10) — Tom and Jerry end up inadvertently stowing away on a spaceship that goes to Mars. They end up stranded on the red planet and meet the alien species that live there. They eventually find their way back to Earth with help from a friendly Martian, but realize they’ve led some enemies back home as well. Overall, this was okay; but definitely not one of the better Tom and Jerry movies.
These ten movies range in length from about 45 minutes to about 90 minutes. I wasn’t sure how the quality would be since this is a two disc set with 5 movies per disc. Overall, though, the quality of the ones I’ve watched are pretty good. One of these movies, A Monsterous Holiday, is one I found previously individually and the video quality was about the same on the single disc versus this Echo Bridge disc with 5 films.
Adventure Planet — (5/10) — This is a Thai movie about a situation in which the son of the President (of the US it seems) goes on a camping/hiking adventure in Thailand and meets up with two children from a Kayan tribe. At the same time, global warming is threatening the planet and world leaders have developed a cold bomb to deal with the situation. Unfortunately, there are some significant side effects of these bombs that the children learn about and must try to convince the world leaders not to launch them. Overall, this was pretty good. It’s a little weird because one of the main characters is obviously supposed to be the son of the President of the US but in the movie, he’s from “Capital City” (which is clearly NYC) and his father is just “the President.”
Under Wraps — (6/10) — Danny is on a trip with his archaeologist parents when they discover a new chamber in a pyramid. Danny isn’t allowed to go on the exploration but finds an ancient talisman of his own as a souvenir. Unfortunately, his new souvenir manages to turn his parents into mummies and he has to figure out a way to turn them back normal. Overall, this was pretty good.
A Monsterous Holiday — (4/10) — Andy is a teenage scientist whose father wants him to play football. To avoid being pulled into a sport he doesn’t care for, he manages to get a teenage Frankenstein’s monster to take over for him so he can continue his science experiments. When one experiment goes massively awry, it’s up to Sam to save everyone. This one could have been better. It wasn’t terrible but not that good either.
Thor: Legend of the Magical Hammer — (5/10) — This is a film from Iceland about the legendary Norse gods. Thor is a young blacksmith who comes across a magical, talking hammer (this one named, Crusher). A conflict between the Gods in Valhalla and the Queen of the Underworld results in Thor and his friends being pulled into the conflict where he finds his inner abilities. Overall,, this was okay.
Dear Dracula — (5/10) — Features the voices of Ray Liotta as Dracula and Emilio Estevez as his assistant Myro. The animation isn’t great, and this is a shorter film at 42 minutes, but overall it was relatively entertaining. Young Sam is a big fan of horror and his favorite is Dracula. When he sees an add on TV for a new Dracula action figure, he ends up writing a fan letter to the legendary count. Surprisingly, Dracula answers by showing up at Sam’s house… and helping him overcome some of his school problems. This is basically a Halloween cartoon special.
Jesse James vs. The Black Train — (0.5/10) — I saw this in several stores, and it looked quite terrible. I ended up streaming it on Tubi one night while struggling to sleep and it’s honestly worse than it looks. It’s written and directed by the same folks that did The Last Days of Billy the Kid and stars basically all of the same people. The premise is that Jesse James leaves the life of crime to start an old west show, which is successful for a while. When attendance begins to decline, he turns back to crime. At the same time, there’s a mysterious black train that’s run by the equally mysterious Emmett Black. There seems to be some sort of supernatural element to the train and when Jesse decides to try to destroy it with no luck. Overall, the film is absolute nonsense and as mentioned in my review of the Billy the Kid movie, the actors seem like they are a community theater troupe and/or western theme park reenactors.
The Legend of Hallowaiian — (5/10) — Three kids are out surfing on Halloween day when they accidentally find an underwater cave with a small box. A small totem in the box seems like a nice souvenir until they realize they’ve unleashed Pineapple Head, some sort of evil demi-god that goes on a path of destruction as he gains power in the moonlight. It’s up to the kids to find a way to undo their major mistake.
Overall, I really expected this to be terrible. A lot of these Viva animated titles look extremely bad. In fact, there are a number of previews on the disc of animated features that look nearly unwatchable. However, this turned out to be decent enough. There are some name actors who provide some of the secondary characters voices such as Mark Dacascos, Tia Carrere, Vanessa White, and Mark Hamill. The end credits feature a cover of Rock-a-Hula-Baby by Dacascos (he only sings a couple of lines, but still strange to see in the end credits it was actually him).
Antboy — (6/10) — This is a Danish superhero film for younger kids. Pelle is a small boy who gets bullied in school. While hiding from the bullies in a strange yard in the neighborhood, he gets bitten by an ant and later finds that he has ant-like powers. He decides to use his powers for good, and like most heroes ultimately comes across a villain, The Flea, who kidnaps his school crush. Overall, this was pretty good — definitely a decent live action superhero film for younger kids.
February 2021 Reviews:
This is a 4 film collection and all the movies are on a single disc.
Martin Luther — (3/10) — This is a 1953 film that serves as a biographical account of a portion of Martin Luther’s life. The quality of this particular release wasn’t that good (although that’s not to be unexpected considering there are four movies on the disc and it’s from Echo Bridge) — it’s probably VHS level. It was certainly watchable and, while not terrible, the film was mostly boring. It’s almost more of an acted out documentary than an actual biopic. There are lots of details of the specifics of his beliefs and how they differed from the Church at the time, but there was little in the film that delved into his character. Overall, I just didn’t feel that this was a very engaging movie and I can’t see ever wanting to re-watch it.
Straight Outta Oakland — (3/10) — This is a low budget film about 4 youths trying to rise above the impoverished background in the inner city of Oakland. Each has his own approach to getting out — one is trying to make it in the music industry; one is selling drugs; one is attending college; and the fourth seems to really have no direction (or at least it’s unclear). The acting is done by amateurs and the storyline is somewhat confusing (and overly dramatized) at points. Overall, it’s just okay. Also, for full disclosure, I actually just streamed this on Amazon Prime rather than buying it because I saw it at Dollar Tree and saw that it had a fairly high IMDb rating; but I was still skeptical and wanted to check it out before deciding whether to buy. There’s a second film (Straight Outta Oakland 2) which seems to feature some of the same actors, but playing different roles in a totally different storyline. It’s another (like this film) that I would likely stream late at night while struggling to fall asleep.
The Last Days of Billy the Kid — (1/10) — Another DVD I saw at Dollar Tree and decided to stream on Tubi rather than watch since was from ITN, and experience has shown that the majority of stuff from them is quite bad. This didn’t deviate from that norm. The movie is supposed to be about the last, desperate days of Billy the Kid. In the 45 minutes (of an 80 minute film), Billy the Kid is in the movie for about 3-4 minutes total. The entire first half is about a One-Eyed Lilly, a saloon owner whose establishment has been taken over by the local town villains. She partners with a bunch of townspeople to bring about justice. Not surprisingly, the actress playing One-Eyed Lilly was co-writer on the film. The acting is bad. The first half of the movie is primarily scenes of the actors sitting and talking, and while the plot is quite simplistic, there’s a good portion that makes little sense (such as the very beginning and the ending). The action scenes are ridiculous as well. There can often be some gems in these low budget DVDs, making many of them worth picking up (and keeping in the collection); but this certainly isn’t one of them.
Pagan Warrior — (1/10) — I saw this DVD at Dollar Tree and thought about grabbing it. Luckily, I decided to stream it on Tubi, where it is listed under it’s alternate title — Vikings Versus Krampus. This is far from the worst Krampus movie I’ve ever seen, but it’s quite bad. There’s a lot of text at the beginning that sets the scene — the movie is set in the 800’s (although one of the text scenes lists it as the 1800s…) and focuses on a group of vikings that lay siege to a castle, deposing a king. They leave the king and queen for dead and take their daughter hostage. The king is nursed back to health and, with the help of witches, summons Krampus to take his revenge. The movie is quite bad — the viking horde is maybe 7 total guys and the “kingdom” is only about 5 or 6 people (no exaggeration). And, I’m pretty sure during one fight scene, Krampus’ horns get knocked sideways. Also, the two vikings shown on the cover don’t appear in the film (or if they do, they look nothing like this). Overall, this is pretty bad.
This is a 4 film collection and all the movies are on a single disc.
John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars — (6/10) — I saw this when it first came out 20 years ago, but haven’t seen it since. I was a bit concerned about 4 movies being on the same disc, but the quality of Ghosts of Mars was certainly good enough in my opinion. If there was a Scream Factory release of the movie on bluray, I’d upgrade, but considering it’s just only been released by Mill Creek, I’m not overly motivated to upgrade beyond this collection. The movie is set on Mars in the distant future. The planet is inhabited by humans who are terra forming the surface for further colonization. When a police force is sent to a mining colony to pick up a dangerous criminal they come across a horrific scene and ultimately find themselves in a fight for their lives against unnatural forces. I barely remembered the film, but am generally a fan of John Carpenter, so I quite enjoyed watching it again.
Alien Hunter — (5/10) — In 1947, a radio operator encounters a mysterious signal. When he pursues the issue, it ultimately leads to his disappearance. In present day (2003), the signal reappears and a team of researchers begin investigating. Professor Julian Rome (James Spader), who studies communication and cryptology, is invited to Antarctica to assist with the investigation. They find an alien object in the ice and begin to piece together what is going on. Overall, this was okay — James Spader was clearly the highlight of the film. The quality of the video on the disc was not nearly as good as Ghosts of Mars, but it was watchable. There’s one segment that seems out of sequence, but that could have been a choice by the film makers — it was just odd.
The Day the World Ended — (6/10) — This movie was originally a Cinemax Exclusive and stars Randy Quaid. It’s about a lady moving to a small town to become the new school psychologist. She meets a troubled and bullied boy who lives with his step-father. A strange, alien creature begins to kill many of the townspeople, and the psychologist begins to suspect there’s a connection between the creature and the boy. Overall, this was pretty good and the video quality was also good.
Night Skies — (4/10) — This is a movie based on the Phoenix Lights phenomenon. A group of friends are traveling in an RV to Las Vegas along some back roads of Arizona when they crash into a broken down truck belonging to a former soldier. The crash leaves some of the party injured and luckily the soldier has some field medic training. The members of the party begin to notice odd lights in the sky and are stuck alone to deal with what’s to come next. Overall this is more horror than sci-fi and it’s mediocre at best. Sean Connery’s son plays the soldier, which is sort of interesting. This was definitely the weakest movie on the collection.
This is a four disc set, and I’ve previously not seen any of these films.
17 Again — (7/10) — This was really good. Mike (Matthew Perry) is a middle-aged man who is in the midst of a mid-life crisis. At the same time his wife is filing for divorce and he has a strained relationship with his children. Unexpectedly, he gets his wish to go back to his glory days and wakes up to find that he’s again 17. The young Mike (Zac Effron) sets out to fix the problems in his life. The movie was quite funny and overall had a solid story.
Valentine’s Day — (6/10) — Valentine’s Day is a series of interconnected stories that all take place on Valentine’s Day. The cast features lots of well-known actors and the plot interconnects really well. Overall, this was pretty entertaining as well.
January 2021 Reviews:
Alien Domicile — (4/10) — I streamed this on Amazon Prime since I was intrigued by the DVD cover art and wanted to see if it was worth grabbing or not. I’m okay with not having purchased it to be honest. The cover art makes it look as if it’s a cheap ripoff of the Alien franchise, but in reality it’s a low-budget sci-fi movie with a bit of a mystery component. A group of government workers wake up confused in an underground military based trapped in a compartment. They eventually realize they’ve locked themselves in and decide to explore their surroundings only to find alien lifeforms that they must defend themselves against. There’s a somewhat interesting (if confusing) twist ending. It was a decent one-time watch, but not really worth owning. I then found Alien Domicile 2: Lot 24 on Tubi and would give it a 3/10. It has NOTHING to do with the first one and very little to do with aliens. It’s about a group of friends who go camping at a private camp ground that had been owned by one of the group member’s uncle. The uncle disappeared under mysterious circumstances. The movie is quite terrible and extremely low budget (more so than the first film), but it’s quite funny given the poor acting and ridiculous storyline.
Air — (6/10) — Bauer (Norma Reedus) and Cartwright (Djimon Honsou) are two caretakers preserving a group of humans in a deep sleep facility after a worldwide chemical weapons attack left the Earth’s air unbreathable. They are tasked with keeping one of many underground facilities running until the outside air is expected to be breathable. The pressure of working with old technology, daily challenges to their tenuous existence, and being stuck together begin to wear on the duo. Normal Reedus’ character is basically a slightly toned down “Daryl” from The Walking Dead. Overall, this was quite good and one that I will certainly watch again as I feel like I would catch a bit more on a second watch.
Thunderstruck — (6/10) — This is by no means a great film, but I found it quite entertaining. The premise is Brian, a young high schooler who loves the game of basketball (but has little skills in the sport), ends up meeting his idol Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder and somehow magically switches basketball abilities with the NBA superstar. The awkward teen becomes a star for his high school team while Durant’s NBA career begins to tank. The family friendly movie combines a good story, some good comedic scenes, and a good message. Overall, it was far better than I expected.
The Revenge of Robert — (4/10) — I’m probably overrating this at 4 because the Robert movies aren’t that great… but I do find them entertaining. The first film introduces Robert and is a traditional killer-doll horror movie. The second film is a direct sequel to the first and shows what happens after the events of the first film. The third film is a prequel and goes back in time and begins telling the true origins of Robert and the toymaker who created him. It begins by telling the story of how the book the toymaker uses to give life to Robert eventually winds up in his hands. This fourth film serves somehow as both a prequel to the third film and a sequel. The first half of The Revenge of Robert tells the story of the book’s creation and how it got to the person who got it to the person who eventually got it to the toymaker. The second half of the movie picks up where movie #3 ends and ultimately ties in nicely with the first film. Overall, I found this entertaining – both the fact that the film makers went to ridiculous lengths to further the back story in a completely unnecessary way as well as the humorously bad special effects of Robert and the other killer dolls. After this movie, there’s a fifth film which connects more of the back story of Robert and more fully bridges the gap between this fourth film and the first movie. I found it on Amazon Prime and went ahead and watched it (and will buy it if it winds up at Dollar Tree on DVD).
Mother Krampus — (3.5/10) — First off, this has nothing to do with Krampus. It’s a low-budget British horror film based on the legend of a Christmas witch who kidnaps children. When kids begin disappearing in a small town (and a mysterious woman in black is spotted), town elders begin to fear that a poor choice from their past may be coming back to haunt them. Overall, this was okay – far, far better than Krampus: The Christmas Devil and Krampus 2 which have shown up at Dollar Tree. Mother Krampus showed up on DVD and bluray, however I only saw the DVD in my area. In fairness, I skipped it hoping the bluray may eventually pop up, but I did stream the movie on Tubi to see if I would be interested in the physical copy.
My Giraffe — (6/10) — My Giraffe focuses on 4 year old Patterson, who lives in a small village in the Netherlands. When it’s time for him to begin school, he naturally assumes his best friend, Raf, will be joining him. The problem, though, is that Raf is a giraffe housed at the nearby zoo where his grandfather works. The film is aimed at a very young audience, but does have a subplot for an older audience focused on Patterson’s grandfather (who develops a crush on the Patterson’s teacher). Overall, this is a watchable kids movie. Seeing the settings of a small town in the Netherlands was also quite interesting.
Note this is a Viva DVD release and has the oddball UPC that matches several other titles as well as the 2020 Black Friday Dollar Tree UPC.
Mr. Troop Mom — (6/10) — George Lopez plays a lawyer and single dad who has to step in for his daughter’s girl scout troop when their normal scout mother comes down sick and the group has an upcoming camp and competition. The competition is at a wilderness lodge ran by Jane Lynch, who portrays and over the top scout master. This is a made for TV film that aired originally on Nickelodeon. It’s one of the rarer films that seems to pick up steam as it goes because the jokes and humor in the first half fall flat, while the second half works much better and ultimately saves the film overall. It’s obviously aimed at a younger girl audience, but it’s a decent family film that does provide some laughs and a good father-daughter storyline.
Surf’s Up 2: WaveMania — (5/10) — When I watched this, I had not seen the first Surf’s Up movie. So with no foundation of the main characters, I thought this was okay. It’s basically a surfing movie about penguins (who were in the first film) that come face to face with surf heroes that are based on some prominent WWE stars. The animation is decent; the storyline is okay; and so overall, it’s mediocre.
Quick update: I watched the first Surf’s Up movie which I found for $5 at Big Lots and despite the high ratings on IMDb… I found it extremely boring (it’s a documentary style movie, aimed at kids, with lots of adult-aimed subtle jokes and, for me, it just doesn’t work) and not entertaining. So, to me, this sequel is better and it’s not necessary to see the original before watching it. Also note, some of the DVD copies do come with a digital SD code (although not all as the first one I grabbed did not).
The Swan Princess: Royally Undercover — (4/10) — I’ve never seen any of these films before, but there are quite a few of the Swan Princess films going back to the original one from 1994. In this film, some strangers show up in the kingdom hoping to aid a nearby town that was destroyed by a dam bursting. Unfortunately, the do-gooders turn out to be bad guys and it’s up to the young princess and her animal friends to uncover the truth and save the day. Overall, it’s okay but the animation isn’t quite up to par for a film released by Sony.
Back to the Jurassic / Khumba — (5/10) — This combo DVD has both Back to the Jurassic (originally titled Dino Time) and Khumba on it. It’s a two-sided, flipper disc with one movie on each side. I have Khumba on bluray and previously reviewed that movie but finally got around to watching Back to the Jurassic. This is a decent kids movie about a skateboarding kid living in a dinosaur-themed town who accidentally goes back in time millions of years along with two of his friends. It’s up to the parents to retrieve the kids, while the kids work to keep their new adoptive dino family safe in the past. This seems like a quickly written movie based on the idea of “Back to the Future” meets “Jurassic Park” for kids, but it works overall and was entertaining enough to be re-watchable.
December 2020 Reviews:
A Christmas Carol — (6/10) — This is an animated version from 1997 of Dickens’ classic Christmas classic. It features the voice talents of Tim Curry, Whoopi Goldberg, and Ed Asner. It’s true to the original story but targeted more at kids as it tones down the ghosts a bit (to make them less frightening) and also introduces the concept of Scrooge having a dog (named Debit). Overall, it was an entertaining take on a well-known story.
Martha’s Homemade Holidays — (5/10) — I had this on as background noise one day over the holidays. To be honest, I’m unfamiliar with Martha Stewart Living as I never watched the show. This is basically various segments from the show (some cooking, some segments on ornament making, etc.). The cooking segments are basically the sort of thing you’d find on a Food Network show. I primarily bought this (and a few other copies) because it came in a snapper case and I wanted to have a couple of extra cases just in case any that I have in my collection break (I generally don’t buy movies at Dollar Tree to use for cases because I figure there are people or collectors who may want those films and since cases are cheaply bought off Amazon, but I did grab some of these since I couldn’t find a place to buy spare snap cases). Ironically, the first copy I opened had a busted case that can’t be used as a replacement since the hub was smashed which is honestly what prompted me just to pop the disc in and try it out. I didn’t watch all of it, but did watch all of the cooking segments and the tour of the Boston Candy Kitchen (which was fairly interesting as it showed how they make ribbon candy). So overall, it works well as background television.
National Lampoon’s Vacation / National Lampoon’s European Vacation — (7/10) — Note, this review is just for European Vacation as that’s the whole reason I bought the DVD since I have Vacation on bluray already. Both movies are on the same disc, but the quality was good enough. European Vacation is certainly a funny film, but pales to both the first film as well as Christmas Vacation. The premise is that the Griswolds win a European trip while appearing on a game show and make their way through England, Germany, and Italy, and the expected hijinks occur
It looks like the previous double feature release included a number of special features, but unfortunately, there are none for either movie on this collection. Overall, though, the set is a good pickup for anyone who doesn’t have those films already.
A Christmas Story 2 — (6/10) — Some folks found this at Dollar Tree (both on DVD and bluray). I never did, but did find a copy of the DVD on clearance at Big Lots for $1.25. Since it’s a Dollar Tree title, I thought I would include a quick review here.
Overall, I expected this to be terrible (especially after watching sequels like Jingle All the Way 2), but it wasn’t. In fact, I quite enjoyed it. In the original movie, Ralphie is 9 and desperately wants a BB gun. In this film, he’s 16 and has that same longing for a car. While, this certainly will never become a cult classic like the original, I thought it did a good job of portraying the same family 7 years later. The writers clearly studied both the source books that spawned the first film as well as the original classic when creating the story, script, and sets. There were lots of call backs to the original movie, and while they may seem a bit overdone at times, there’s clearly a reason for it as the story attempts to parallel Ralphie’s desires changing from a boy to a teenager. As in the original, Ralphie has a vivid fantasy world and it’s clearly transitioned from boyhood to teenager years. I thought all of the actors did a good job of portraying their roles – obviously they aren’t going to be the same as the originals, but they kept the essences (Ralphie and his friend as being awkward kids in their schools; the mother as being strong yet sweet; the old man as being gruff and cheap, yet soft at heart). It’s probably not a film everyone is going to like (and in fact it only has a 3.3 on IMDb), but I found it a good follow-up to the original and worth keeping in the collection.
The Life Before Her Eyes — (7/10) — I first traded for the DVD of this movie, but later found it on bluray. The premise is a suburban wife, married to a college professor, begins to have flash backs to a tragic situation from her high school days as the anniversary of the tragedy approaches and she struggles on deciding whether or not to participate in the event. Uma Thurman plays present-day Diana and Evan Rachel Wood plays the high school version of Diana. Overall, this was really good. Despite seeming to have a predictable storyline, it really didn’t quite turn out that way and the movie did a good job of keeping me engaged throughout.
Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special — (6/10) — I’ve seen this several times before from previous television broadcasts. I’ve always found it an entertaining holiday special that touches on the essential themes of the holiday season. The DVD includes some short special features – the most interesting one is a short segment showing a chef making noodles from scratch. Overall, this was a good pickup for a dollar.
Krampus — (6/10) — I got this a couple of years ago and finally got around to watching it this holiday season. The comedy horror focuses on a young boy who becomes disillusioned with Christmas and his family suffers the consequences of his insolence. The horror and comedy both sometimes fall a bit flat, but overall, this was pretty good.
Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas — (4/10) — I recall seeing ads a few years ago for the animated version of Elf, but never got a chance to see it. Since Elf is a film I watch every year around Christmas, I was interested to see this and figured it was worth a dollar to try out. This is basically the same story as Elf, but condensed into about 45 minutes and with lots more musical numbers. What’s left out is primarily most of the funny parts of the movie. To be fair, much of that humor from the movie is based on the talents of Will Ferrell and would be hard to translate to another adaptation. The overall result is a fairly dull cartoon that pales in comparison to the movie.
Holiday Inn — (7/10) — This is a classic from the 40’s starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. It features lots of Bing’s singing and Fred’s dancing. It’s categorized as a Christmas movie, but it really takes place over the course of a year and features several holidays. Crosby’s character decides to quit show business and go off to a rural area to open an inn that features parties and performances around each of the holidays in the US. Astaire’s character (who had been the partner of Crosby’s before a falling out over a shared love interest) eventually reconnects with him and they renew their rivalry and friendship.
Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas — (6/10) — This is a Christmas special featuring Inspector Gadget from the 90’s (so after the original series) and focuses on Dr. Claw taking over Santa’s workshop. It’s up to Inspector Gadget to save the day, and he does so in his usual bumbling way. It felt pretty similar to the classic series with some of the typical Gadget malfunctions and misunderstandings. Overall, it was pretty good.
How Murray Saved Christmas — (7/10) — I recall seeing this at some point on TV but didn’t remember it very well and certainly didn’t have high expectations for it, yet this was pretty entertaining and well worth the dollar. There’s quite a few jokes obviously intended for adults, yet the overall cartoon is still a good fit for kids. Overall, definitely one of the better Dollar Tree DVD pickups.
This Is Our Christmas — (1/10) – This was hard to watch. The premise is a relatively newly deceased woman wants to visit her family and is allowed to sort of do so (they can’t see her and don’t know she’s there). She watches as her daughter learns the value of Christmas when she’s sent to help her aunt who is in danger of losing her bakery. The acting was pretty bad; the storyline was pretty bad; and the characters weren’t very likable. On the positive side, the movie was professionally made.
A Christmas Tail — (3/10) – This movie centers on Tim, a boy who desperately wants a dog, but whose parents are unwilling to buy him one. While walking home one day near the train tracks, he comes across “the Professor,” who claims to be a former college professor who now travels the rails. The Professor explains to Tim that the stars about to align in a magical way that would enable the pure of heart to successfully be granted a wish. Tim returns that evening to wish for a dog… and through an honest mistake ends up actually turning into a dog instead. It’s up to one of Tim’s friends to try to turn him back human while Tim tries to make it as a canine. This movie definitely had some good moments, but overall, it was a bit slow. The only notable actor is Gordon Jump (WKRP in Cincinatti) who plays The Professor. With a bit better editing, it could have been decent. Sadly, this movie was the best of the set.
Winslow the Christmas Bear — (2/10) – This is mostly told through nature footage. There’s one actor in it – a small girl who is reading the story, Winslow the Christmas Bear, and imagines it being acted out by real forest animals. The narrator tells the story of how Winslow wants nothing more than to understand what Christmas is all about. Winslow visits others animals and asks each one about Christmas until he eventually learns about it. Overall… this isn’t that good. It’s full screen and not a great transfer (looks VHS quality). I was quite surprised to see that it was from 1999 as I expected it to be from the early to mid-80’s from the look of it.
Last edited by Zhuge1; 06-06-2021 at 01:26 AM.