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5 Movie Original Cult Classics, Vol. 2 [DVD]
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Overview

Synopsis

Maniac
Little Shop of Horrors
Perhaps the greatest movie ever shot in two days, Little Shop of Horrors was originally conceived as a followup to Roger Corman's black comedy A Bucket of Blood (1959). Jonathan Haze plays Seymour Krelboin, a schlemiel's schlemiel who works at the Skid Row flower shop of Mr. Mushnick (Mel Welles). Experimenting in his spare time, Seymour develops a new plant species that he hopes will lead him to fame and fortune. Unfortunately, the mutated plant -- named Audrey Junior, in honor of Seymour's girlfriend Audrey (Jackie Joseph) -- subsists on blood and human flesh. It also talks, or rather, commands: "Feed Me! FEEEEED ME!" Before long, the luckless Seymour has fed his plant the bodies of a railroad detective, a sadistic dentist, and a flashy trollop. Meanwhile, Mr. Mushnik, who has stumbled onto Seymour's secret, has inadvertently offered up a burglar (played by Charles Griffith, who also wrote the script and supplied the plant's voice) as a midnight snack for the voracious, ever-growing Audrey Junior. (When the plant blooms, the faces of its various victims are reproduced in its flowers.) Ignored on its initial release, Little Shop of Horrors began building up a cult following via repeated TV exposure in the 1960s. By the mid-1970s, it had attained classic status, spawning a big-budget Broadway musical (and followup feature film) in the 1980s and a Saturday morning cartoon series in the 1990s. Enhancing the original Little Shop's reputation was the brief appearance by star-in-the-making Jack Nicholson as a masochistic dental patient (Nicholson is often incorrectly referred to as the star of the film, though in fact he barely receives billing). Much as we love Nicholson, our vote for the most memorable Little Shop cast member goes to the ubiquitous Dick Miller ("No thanks, I'll eat it here"). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Piranha, Piranha
Peter Brown and Ahna Capri star as wildlife photographers, exploring the Amazon jungle. The two shutterbugs run afoul of homicidal hunter William Smith. In Most Dangerous Game fashion, the villain gives Brown and Capri a head start, then begins hunting them down like wild animals. The title is something of a giveaway: it's a safe bet that somebody's body will be picked clean by those omniverous Amazon piranhas. Filmed on location, Piranha Piranha received plenty of TV play after Jaws opened the floodgates of "death from the deep" flicks. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Carnival of Souls
A drag race turns to tragedy when one car, with three young women inside, topples over a bridge and into the muddy river below. The authorities drag the river, but the search is fruitless and the girls are presumed dead until a single survivor stumbles out of the water with no recollection of how she escaped. Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss) decides to forget her strange experience and carry on with her plan to move to Utah to accept a job as a church organist. She rejects the notion that because her profession leads her to work in the church, she is obligated to worship as part of the congregation, and this cold approach to her work unnerves many around her. While driving to the new city, she experiences weird visions of a ghoulish man who stares at her through the windshield, and passes an abandonded carnival on a desolate stretch of highway outside of town to which she feels strangely drawn. Mary tries to live her life in private, ignoring invitations to worship by the minister of her church and the leering propositions of a neighbor in her rooming house. Soon the ghostly apparition from the highway is appearing more often, and she experiences eerie spells in which she becomes invisible to people on the street. A doctor tries to help, but he too is rejected, and eventually Mary realizes that the deserted carnival holds the secret to her destiny. ~ Fred Beldin, Rovi

Night of the Living Dead
When unexpected radiation raises the dead, a microcosm of Average America has to battle flesh-eating zombies in George A. Romero's landmark cheapie horror film. Siblings Johnny (Russ Streiner) and Barbara (Judith O'Dea) whine and pout their way through a graveside visit in a small Pennsylvania town, but it all takes a turn for the worse when a zombie kills Johnny. Barbara flees to an isolated farmhouse where a group of people are already holed up. Bickering and panic ensue as the group tries to figure out how best to escape, while hoards of undead converge on the house; news reports reveal that fire wards them off, while a local sheriff-led posse discovers that if you "kill the brain, you kill the ghoul." After a night of immolation and parricide, one survivor is left in the house.... Romero's grainy black-and-white cinematography and casting of locals emphasize the terror lurking in ordinary life; as in Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (1963), Romero's victims are not attacked because they did anything wrong, and the randomness makes the attacks all the more horrifying. Nothing holds the key to salvation, either, whether it's family, love, or law. Topping off the existential dread is Romero's then-extreme use of gore, as zombies nibble on limbs and viscera. Initially distributed by a Manhattan theater chain owner, Night, made for about 100,000 dollars, was dismissed as exploitation, but after a 1969 re-release, it began to attract favorable attention for scarily tapping into Vietnam-era uncertainty and nihilistic anxiety. By 1979, it had grossed over 12 million, inspired a cycle of apocalyptic splatter films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), and set the standard for finding horror in the mundane. However cheesy the film may look, few horror movies reach a conclusion as desolately unsettling. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Marcel André
    Marcel André
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    Horace B. Carpenter - Dr. Meirschultz
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    Jennie Dark - Maizie
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    Ted Edwards - Buckley
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    Celia McGann - Jo
Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.