I have in my possession what must be the cheapest new DVDs available for purchase in the continental United States.
Rachel and I bought them this afternoon after taking a meander down to the Stop 'N Shop supermarket in Hoover Point to grab some groceries while Evangeline was at art class. The store has a cardboard display case with about a dozen DVD titles for sale, each for one buck.
Not surpisingly, most of them were movies I'd never heard of, like "Huey Junior," a non-Disney "Aladdin" and one that looked it might be a live-action "Thief of Baghdad." Neither of those really appealed to me, although that's generally true of most of the Arabian night stories, actually. (They mostly seem to be stories of chance and fate, where the heroes rise or fall based on the whims of a djinni, rather than due to any character flaw, virtue or hard work of their own.)
What was neat was that three of them were titles I would be interested in. One of them was the animated Rankin and Bass movie, "The Hobbit"; another was a collection of Daffy Duck shorts; and a third was "Asterix and Cleopatra," which I haven't seen since I was in New Zealand. All for a buck each.
I half-expected the DVDs to be trash, and to break or freeze up ten minutes into the movie. To my surprise, no such thing happened. The girls watched Daffy Duck while I got dinner ready, and the disc played the whole time, with a clear picture and clear sound. They were older cartoons, and weren't even in icolor, but that didn't matter. It was vintage Daffy Duck in his heckler days, making life difficult for Porky Pig and others.
The gimmick, of course, is that these disks are as no-frills as you can get. They come in clamshell cases, and have no foreign language tracks, subtitles, special features or easter eggs. If you put the disk into your DVD player, it starts playing the feature immediately, with barely a minute for the copyright notice.
A menu does appear if you press the menu button, but your choices are "Play Movie," "Select Scene," "Also on DVD" and "Web site." The Also on DVD link takes you to a list of other titles available from East-West Entertainment LLC, apparently all Warner Brothers properties, and as far as selecting a scene, well, there are three of them.
That's right. "The Hobbit" is broken into three chapters, each untitled, and even the Daffy Duck scene selector doesn't let you choose a specific cartoon to start at. It's section one, two or three, and try your luck figuring out where the girls were when you turned it off.
Still, they were a buck, and there are no commercials to skip through. I can deal with it.