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Under the Radar DVDs: 2011's oddest of the odd

Dennis King Modified: May 15, 2013 at 12:20 pm •  Published: December 26, 2011

Each week sees literally hundreds of new releases on DVD. Big-bucks advertising and studio clout propel sales of the most high-profile DVDs. But the oddball releases that fly under the radar are often the most fun. Those bottom-of-the-list releases have been spotlighted during 2011 in the “Under-the-Radar DVD Release of the Week.”

This week, here are 10 of the oddest of the odd DVD releases from the past year:

Legendary schlock producer Roger Corman is up to his old tricks in “Sharktopus,” a tongue-in-cheek creature-from-the-deep thriller produced for the Syfy Channel that introduces us to a diabolical hybrid of a shark and an octopus.

“Birdemic: Shock and Terror”
Alfred Hitchcock meets Ed Wood in this addition to the pop-cult library of terrible movies that we love to mock. This glorious stinker presents a tepid little love story grafted onto a clunky horror homage to Hitchcock’s “The Birds” (complete with a surprising cameo appearance by Tippi Hedren).

“Picasso & Braque Go to the Movies”
In this talky convergence of film and fine art cultures it seems the only question left unanswered is whether these two lofty figures of the Cubist movement preferred their popcorn with or without butter.

“Bonnie and Clyde vs. Dracula”
This oddball mash-up of gangster saga and monster movie recalls 1966’s cult favorite “Billy the Kid vs. Dracula,” only with cheaper and tackier production values.

This 1997 documentary originally aired over public broadcast stations and coined a new pop-culture word (affluence plus influenza) to describe American’s unbridled obsession with, as comic George Carlin would say, “our stuff.”

“Big Box of Cowboys, Aliens, Robots and Death Rays”
Last summer’s release of “Cowboys & Aliens” proved a good time to break out the four-disc set and look back on several old Hollywood chestnuts that mixed horse opera conventions with eerie sci-fi elements.

“Punkin Chunkin”
Since 1986, backyard engineers and garage tinkerers have trotted out their best medieval catapults and other jerry-rigged launching devises to compete in the Punkin Chunkin World Championships, an event that challenges participants to launch an eight to 10 pound pumpkin as far as possible.

“Produce Your Own Damn Movie!”
You’d be hard pressed to find someone who knows his way around a low-budget, independent film shoot better than Lloyd Kaufman, creator of “The Toxic Avenger” and founder of the storied indie film factory Troma Studios. So aspiring filmmakers looking for comprehensive how-to material could find no better source than Kaufman’s cheeky documentary.

“The Cigarette Girl From Mosselprom”
Russian silent films usually bring to mind grand, ambitious war classics such as Sergei Eisenstein’s “Battleship Potemkin,” But early Russian cinema also had its modest, whimsical and sentimental side which shows itself in director Yuri Zhelyabuzhsky’s charming romantic comedy.

A profane, ax-wielding turkey takes its revenge on holiday revelers in this loony, micro-budgeted horror spoof on Thanksgiving.

- Dennis King