So your retired uncle is counting on you to give him the $289.98 James Bond Ultimate Collector's Set for Christmas. Does the imbecile not realize that times are still tough?
But fret not: Here are several noteworthy film- and TV-related gift ideas available at local stores and/or online, all for under $25. Yes, ideas for under $5 would be nicer, but you don't want him thinking you're too cheap, lest you get unceremoniously dropped from the will.
• Let's start with something right in line with the season: The Christmas TV Companion (2009; 146 pages; $22), by former Charlottean Joanna Wilson. Billed as "a guide to cult classics, strange specials & outrageous oddities," this goes beyond It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story to unearth countless Yuletide-tinged movies and TV shows. Included are episodes of TV series (e.g. the Xena: Warrior Princess episode "A Solstice Carol"; the Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Secret Santa"), stand-alone specials (A Johnny Cash Christmas; A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!), and even Xmas slasher flicks (Silent Night, Deadly Night; Santa's Slay). (Available at Park Road Books, 4139 Park Road; online at www.christmastvhistory.com and www.amazon.com.)
• Those wishing to celebrate the season with a toast might be interested in The Beatles' Yellow Submarine Pint Glass 4-Pack, a $29.99 value selling for $19.99 at Manifest. Each glass in the set contains a different image from the classic animated film. Those who prefer their Fab Four on the hot side will be more interested in the movie tie-in coffee mug A Hard Day's Night; this sells for $9.99. (Manifest Discs, 6239 South Blvd., www.manifestdisc.com)
• Tired of your kids getting bullied at Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools? Start the new year out right by giving them lunch boxes for Christmas — but not the usual wimpy variety featuring cars or sparkly vampires. Arm them with either the Sin City or 300 lunch box; one look at these imposing tin cans and the playground ruffians will scatter. Retailing for $19.98, Manifest has 'em on clearance for $5 apiece. (Manifest Discs, 6239 South Blvd., www.manifestdisc.com)
• Those interested in loftier pursuits this Christmas season can do no better than giving the gift of life ... to Visart. The award-winning DVD and video store, which offers foreign, indie and obscure titles in addition to more mainstream fare, will close its doors next year unless its employees can raise enough money to purchase the venue from its current owners. To that end, head to the store and load up on used DVDs and videos, perfect for stocking stuffers or those cool acquaintances who don't mind if their presents aren't brand-spanking-new. All sorts of movies are available, from fest faves (Charlotte Film Festival award winner Dakota Skye, priced at $3.95) to commercial hits (Date Night, yours for $8.95). Some flicks are as low as just a couple of bucks, and box sets are generally under $20 (some even under $10). And you can further show your support by picking up a Visart T-shirt for $15. (Visart, 1945 E. 7th St.)
• Consumers who prefer their entertainment with an international flair will want to check out the goods online at BBC America Shop. Hundreds of DVDs are for sale, many for under $20. The site even offers gadgets such as the Dr. Who Flashlight ($11.98), though my Wallace-and-Gromit-loving eye was caught by the inventive scrapbook Wallace & Gromit: Grand Adventures & Glorious Inventions. Originally $24.98, it's currently marked down to $16.98. (www.bbcamericashop.com)
• Finally, film fans are often suckers for movie posters, and one of the best websites offering them is Rick's Movie Graphics. Original theatrical posters are generally pricey, but Rick's offers top quality reprints at great savings. For example, five different Casablanca posters are available for $15-$20, while posters for most of the James Bond flicks can be had for a mere $10 apiece. It appears your uncle will have to be satisfied with that. (www.ricksmovie.com)