swat kats

Skip the rush of Black Friday sales and track down these gifts for your favorite movie-lover instead.

Even among American pseudo-holidays, “Black Friday” is a strange bird. Even the name started out as a gallows-humor joke among retail employees about the mad rush of bargain hunters, was later adopted and positive-ized by retail companies (“Because our ledgers are all in the black, har har har!”) and is “celebrated” like a self-imposed idol-worship of our own ability to spend.

Chances are, if you’re reading this on this year’s Black Friday, you’ve probably opted to skip the rush this year (or you’re waiting for the so-called “Cyber Monday,”) so this isn’t going to be a rundown of big deals or timed bargains. Instead, here’s some off-the-beaten-path gift ideas you may not have considered for the big movie fan on your Nice List.

POPCORN SEASONING
You can find these little bottles of flavored dusting in most supermarkets. Officially, the idea is that you bring one to the theater and use it to give a flavor kick to your popcorn so that it has some taste without drowning it in buttered-topping, but you can also use it for a variety of other cooking pinches. Some theaters actually sell mini-bottles of the stuff, but the prices (as expected) are often exorbitant. I’m partial to the chocolate and nacho-cheese varieties, myself.

THE WARNER ARCHIVE
Not every DVD or Blu-ray makes it to the store these days. Some are so obscure their studio rights-holders know it’s best to only manufacture as many copies as people actually want to buy. That’s where services like Warner Archive come in: A speciality brand of Warner Bros, the site features hundreds of movies and TV shows from the “vault” that may be too obscure to ship but may well include someone’s underappreciated favorites (check out their “animation” tab, for example, to find series-sets of cult cartoons like Swat Kats or The Herculoids.)

SOUNDBARS
A good home-theater sound system doesn’t need to fill a whole room, but not everyone knows that. A good soundbar can make a big difference in the life of a movie fan who prefers to do their viewing at home — a difference they might not even know needs to be made. On those same lines: Any good home theater store should be able to set you up with a pair of high-end headphones, which can be a godsend for the film fan whose hobby isn’t 100% in-sync with their partners/families/housemates 100% of the time.

mondo jurassic park 350

MONDO POSTERS
The art of the great movie poster has been somewhat lost in the age of “big head” graphic design, but Mondo creates original art based on classic films. Who knows? Their favorite movie might be among them. These are often produced in limited quantities, so if you don’t see one you’re looking for on their website it’s absolutely worth hitting up the auction sites like eBay.

CINEMETAL APPAREL
There’s specialty, there’s “niche” and then there’s CineMetal; which works in the particular medium of logo T-shirts that look, at first glance, like rock band logos but are actually shout-outs to famous film directors. They haven’t updated or refreshed the inventory in a while, but the standbys are all pretty golden. Weird? Yes. But if you know someone who’d want one of these you know they’d really like it.

THE DISASTER ARTIST
Will the movie-buff in your life not shut about the “cult-phenom” The Room? Maybe they’d like a new set of anecdotes, culled from this memoir by the now-infamous film’s co-star.

MST3K VOLUME XXXI: THE TURKEY DAY COLLECTION
THE great injustice to modern film geeks is that copyright issues still keep the late, great Mystery Science Theater 3000 from being released comprehensively on DVD. Until that day, Shout! Factory’s well-produced collectors sets are the best option we’ve got, and a new one came out on November 25. “The Turkey Day Collection” features the usual foursome of classic episodes (“Jungle Goddess,” “The Painted Hills,” “The Screaming Skull” and “Squirm;”) but the real attraction for fans this time is a set of never before release bonus clips related to the Thanksgiving “Turkey Day” Marathons of the series that used to be a yearly tradition.

**BONUS!**
Is the film buff on your gift list also a film critic? Okay, in that case there’s at least one gift you can’t go wrong with:

ALCOHOL
Look, this job isn’t exactly as easy as it looks. Yeah, maybe we get to see that movie you wanted to see a couple of days early, sure — we also have to see that movie nobody wanted to see. A lot of those. And then all the stuff that’s really good and meaty that you’d want to “chew on” intellectually shows up in the last two weeks of bloody November and you have to rush through it to get your obligatory Top 10 lists ready and then maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll get to finally spend some time with your family… who will all ask you the exact same two questions: “So what’s good?” and “Didn’t you just loooooove the new Hunger Games???”

In all seriousness, though: Everyone have a nice Holiday Season, even if you aren’t celebrating any, and try not to kill each other in the malls just because TV keeps telling you that you aren’t really trying unless you’re brawling through a crowd like you’re that guy from Oldboy trying to save 20% off of a goddamn immersion blender.

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Bob Chipman
Bob Chipman is a critic and author.

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