Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

The Great Criterion $1 Sale

Every now and then after work I’ll stop at a local discount store and pick up some Shasta Tiki Punch, the only place in town I know of that carries this delicious hybrid of Hawaiian Punch and 7-Up. My supply was running low, so last week I swung by the store, grabbed a couple of 4-packs, and headed for the checkout stands. As luck would have it, my usual route to the registers was blocked, so I detoured down another aisle, one I’d never traveled before, and found a shelf containing hundreds, if not millions, of used Blu-ray and DVD movies, all packed in cheap cardstock envelopes and priced anywhere from one to three dollars each!

I quickly set the cans aside and began sifting through the stacks, which surprisingly had some big-name titles among the cheap cartoon sets and straight-to-video action films. Right off the bat I found three which I considered purchasing: Escape from New York, the original Prom Night, and one I’d heard good things about, Hachi: A Dog’s Tale. Sadly, there weren’t that many $2 Blu-rays to choose from, so my trio of finds were all on DVD. But as I was flipping through the multitudes of $1 discs, I happened upon this:

No, I couldn’t believe it, either: a Criterion Collection edition of The Third Man! For a freaking BUCK! And not the earlier edition from 1999, but the updated 2007 release, that originally retailed at $39.95 and featured a new, restored high-definition digital transfer. The crazy thing is, both editions are now out of print, and a used copy of this more recent 2-disc set is currently selling on Amazon for $98! There was only one disc in the package, but as I found out later, this Disc 1 also contained two audio commentary tracks, something the earlier version didn’t have.

And though I already owned the 1999 edition, which had also been digitally restored and looked outstanding, there was no way I was going to pass this opportunity up simply because I’d be double-dipping…c’mon, it was a BUCK! If anything, I’d have a newer and perhaps cleaner print to watch, and…wait a minute. What if there were other Criterion discs buried in these rows upon rows of discount movies? I quickly but carefully flipped through each row again, hoping I’d find a dollar-priced Seven Samurai or The Virgin Spring. Nope, no such luck.a

But what I did discover was that the copy of Escape from New York I was holding was not what it first appeared to be; upon closer inspection I saw that it was a Disc 2…bonus features only, and no movie. Ha! I immediately returned it to the pile, then imagined some poor schmuck an hour later yanking it off the shelf, racing home with his unexpected find, and settling down to a night of Kurt Russell sci-fi action, only to discover he’d be watching featurettes and photo galleries instead.

So if you’re looking to add movies to your collection at a very cheap price, and don’t mind owning a disc with no case or cover art, then head on over to your nearby Family Dollar store and have at it. And while you’re there, pick up some Tiki Punch to enjoy with your popcorn…trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

20 comments on “The Great Criterion $1 Sale

  1. Dracula

    Interesting post. Never heard of Shasta Tiki Punch and surprised Hawaiian Punch is still around. Why $2 items at the Dollar store?

    • Todd B

      They have $2 items in case you want to spend more than just a dollar. And I think it’s time you tried a Tiki Punch. Four cans for…a dollar.

  2. tripirate1

    Great post Todd! Sometimes our “path” is blocked so that we might take that fork in the road that we bypass for the shorter, more direct route. And sometimes taking that less travelled fork leads us to some delightful discoveries. And the memory of Tiki Punch!

    • Todd B

      Hi Deb, long time…nice to hear from you! And I’m glad I didn’t take the even longer path, which would’ve led me to batteries, greeting cards, and women’s products…what an interesting post that would’ve been!

      • Deb

        Those items together, depending on sequence, could make for an interesting story.

      • Todd B

        One that, unfortunately, I’m not prepared to tell.

  3. Julie Dunning

    Great score!! Love Family Dollar – one in every hick town in Michigan. 🙂 Enjoy your Tiki Punch!

    • Todd B

      Next time you visit your local Family Dollar, see if they have a $1 movie section…if they have Disc 2 for The Third Man, grab it and send it my way!

  4. Dracula

    How about Dollar General and Dollar Tree? Any luck there for some movies and old Cracker Jack boxes to go with it?

    • Todd B

      I tried Dollar Tree; their selection was minimal, and for crap. And frankly, I wouldn’t trust a box of Cracker Jacks from Dollar Tree or Dollar General.

  5. Sun City Doug

    Hi Todd ! Where is this Family Dollar that you speak of? In all honesty, I think someone has a Tiki Punch addiction. Hello, Betty Ford Clinic, I would like to make a reservation for a friend of mine…

    • Todd B

      Why, I believe this Family Dollar is a mere stone’s throw from a friend of mine’s home in Sun City; I’ll take you there sometime. And if you’re going to send me to a clinic, please send me to the Betty Cooper Clinic instead!

  6. Sounds like I would have been climbing into that pile of discs. Great story. Love to read these type of posts and write them on occasion. Nice find and good luck on your return trip.

    • Todd B

      I think you and I would’ve been clawing at each other trying to get to that copy of Prom Night! Now I just need to get to other stores in the area and see if what their selections look like.

  7. Lindsey

    They used to sell these at a local hardware store, oddly enough, along with some cheap “inspirational” movie sets in cases. One time I lucked out and got a triple feature of old gangster movies, which had somehow been tucked in behind the low-budget Christian westerns lol. The place closed but as another commenter said, there’s a Family Dollar in every town here in Michigan haha so I may have to go and check it out!

    • Todd B

      Yes, there were quite a few of those ‘inspirational’ movies at my Family Dollar as well…and funny that you found the same thing at a hardware store! If you do get to any Family Dollars there in Michigan, let me know what you find. In fact, you might want to write an entire post about your visit!

  8. Dracula

    Ace is the place with the helpful hardware movie man!

    • Todd B

      I don’t remember Connie Stevens ever mentioning that Ace sold movies!

  9. Dracula

    Suzanne Somers sold the movies, Connie stood by and handed them out.

    • Todd B

      And John Madden did the play-by-play of the movie sales inside the store. Boom!

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