#gamergate davis aurini jordan owen men who really shouldn't be making movies sarkeesian!

Eraserhead, Clerks, Slacker and 5 Other Classic Films that Cost Less Than The Sarkeesian Effect

My face when watching The Sarkeesian Effect
My face when watching The Sarkeesian Effect

The Sarkeesian Effect has received its first positive review on IMDb!

In a review so gushing it sounds almost as if it had been written by Jordan Owen himself, reviewer  kiddo1-1 from the Czech Republic, writes that

Owen’s voice-over presents a clear, easy to follow timeline of events and ideas, all skillfully intercut with the raw footage enriching them with many new insights and much interesting information. … Overall, this is a remarkable achievement and nothing to be ashamed of. So if it means anything, Jordan, you knocked this one out of the park.

As kiddo 1-1 (who couldn’t possibly have been hired to post a review written by Owen himself) sees it, the only real problems the movie had stemmed from the ineptitude of Owen’s former partner, Davis Aurini, whose

atrocious raw footage has been, with the use of a few neat visual tricks, transformed from embarrassing unwatchable train wreck into something that … sometimes looks like quite a charming quirk – it’s hard to believe that one of the accusations levied against Owen was that he knows nothing about editing.

Who knows? Without Aurini’s baleful influence, and the film’s “budgetary restrictions,” perhaps The Sarkeesian Effect might have even deserved more than the 8/10 rating kiddo 1-1 (definitely not paid by Owen for his services) gave it.

But, you know, “budgetary restrictions” don’t necessarily stand in the way of artistic greatness, at least for directors who actually know what they’re doing, and who are canny enough to know what you can and can’t pull off on a limited budget.

According to blogger Margaret Pless (@idledilletante), who crunched the numbers for Owen and Aurini’s Patreon, The Sarkeesian Effect cost $47,806 to make, including the money spent to buy Davis Aurini a car, which was TOTALLY necessary for the production. (Pless also pointed me to kiddo 1-1’s review.)

There have been a number of interesting, innovative, and even visually striking films that have cost less than that to make.

And if you don’t believe me, well, I made a list.

Here are 8 Classic Films that Cost Less Than The Sarkeesian Effect to Make.

1) Following, directed by Christopher Nolan

Budget $6000 (1998); $8,772 (in 2015 dollars)

IMDb rating: 7.6/10

Following was Nolan’s first feature film, an ingenious, twisty psychological thriller; I think it’s his second-best film, after Memento.

2) Primer, directed by Shane Carruth

Budget: $7,000 (2004); $8,831 (in 2015 dollars)

IMDb rating: 7/10

I found this time-travel puzzlebox of a movie overcomplicated and overrated — try TimeCrimes instead — but it’s an amazing accomplishment for $7000.

3) Paranormal Activity, directed by Oren Peli

Budget $15,000 (2007); $17,240 (in 2015 dollars)

IMDb rating: 6.3/10

Not exactly a work of great artistry, but a genuinely creepy film that cost almost nothing to make and, for better or worse, launched a franchise. The version ultimately released in theaters had a pumped-up Hollywood ending added to it that cost more than the rest of the film cost to make, but I actually prefer the original ending.

4) El Mariachi, directed by Robert Rodriguez 

Budget: $10,000 (1992); $16,986 (in 2015 dollars)

IMDb rating: 6.0/10

A visually striking action classic by the soon-to-be action/horror movie king Robert Rodriguez.

5) Slacker, directed by Richard Linklater

Budget: $23,000 (1991); $40,244 (in 2015 dollars)

IMDb rating: 7.1/10

Linklater’s sprawling, complex and often hilarious feature film debut.

6) Clerks, directed by Kevin Smith

Budget: $27,000 (1994); $43,419 (in 2015 dollars)

IMDb rating: 7.9/10

Kevin Smith’s celebrated debut.

7) Catfish, directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman

Budget $30,000 (2010); $32,787 (in 2015 dollars)

IMDb rating: 7.1/10

A charming little documentary that added a new word to the lexicon and birthed an MTV series.

8) Eraserhead, by David Lynch

Budget: $10,000 (1977); $39,326 (in 2015 dollars)

IMDb rating: 7.4/10

Yes, that’s right. FUCKING ERASERHEAD, David Lynch’s surrealistic classic, with arresting, years-ahead-of-their-time visuals and innovative sound design to boot, COST LESS TO MAKE THAN THE SARKEESIAN EFFECT. Even after inflation.

RUNNERS UP: Four more quality films that cost only a little bit more than The Sarkeesian Effect.

Tiny Furniture (Lena Dunham, 2010), $65,000
Super-Size Me (2004), $65,000
The Blair Witch Project (1999), $60,000
Pi (1998), $60,000

For Pi, director Darren Aronofsky adapted his style to work within his budget, using high-contrast black and white visuals that relied heavily on close-ups, and devoting much of his small budget to sound design, knowing that nothing screams “low budget” more than crappy sound. The film’s soundtrack, filled with innovative electronics from the likes of Autechre, is in many ways as much of a classic as the film itself.

But of course Darren Aronofsky is, you know, a genius, and Owen and Aurini are idiots.

My own review of The Sarkeesian Effect can be found here, by the way. It was not written by Jordan Owen.

68 replies on “Eraserhead, Clerks, Slacker and 5 Other Classic Films that Cost Less Than The Sarkeesian Effect”

@This Handle is a Test and @Argenti:
I am so glad someone here other than me loved [REC] and This Is Not A Film. They’re thoroughly enjoyable pieces that are massively smarter than a lot of high budget stuff and which manage to use their limitations to improve the storytelling rather than to limit it.

I agree with you, Japanese horror just isn’t what it used to be. Even Nakata himself seems to have burned out and started endlessly recycling cliches rather than breaking new ground.

Primer gave me a headache. Eraserhead gave me nightmares. I suspect TSE would give me both, so there’s that.


those are all the good Spanish language movies I can think of off the top my head right now.

I wouldn’t call it horror (though it has disturbing moments), but Pan’s Labyrinth is terrific.


Ooh, speaking of Spanish horror, has anyone else ever seen La Cabina. It’s the one where the guy gets stuck in a phone box. Fantastic.

Saw that back in the 70s, I think, and it impressed me, though I’d completely forgotten about it since. So thanks for reminding me!

My IMDB entry only lists my appearances in comic-book documentaries, which is disappointing because I swear it used to include my appearance as an extra in “The Toxic Avenger IV: Citizen Toxie.”

Last night I watched “The Blair Witch Project” for the first time since it came out, and it holds up pretty darn well. Now there’s a film crew that knew how to stretch a budget. They did the whole shoot in eight days, then returned one of their two cameras to the store to get their money back (the other one was damaged).

how about anything by Ed Wood? All very low budget, all horrible, but fun to watch and by someone who loved that he was making movies?

Interestingly, while Ed Wood’s movies were cheap, it seems that they weren’t THAT cheap. Many of them seem to have been made in the $60k-$70k range in the late 50s/early 60s, which would put them at around half a million in 2015 dollars. I think that mismanaged budgets are kind of a hallmark of bad movies (see also: The Room, which reportedly had a budget around $6,000,000).

Oh and speaking of mumblecore: The Exploding Girl, made in 2009 for $40,000. Not a great movie or anything, but it’s a compelling small-scale drama with a strong performance from Zoe Kazan. Most mumblecore movies were probably made for under $46,000 I’ll bet. Aaron Katz’s ‘Quiet City’ and ‘Dance Party U.S.A.’ were apparently made for a combined total of around $6,000 – that’s two fairly-decent movies for less than 1/7th the cost of TSE.

Horror lends itself well to low budgets, because the films are often about people alone in the middle of nowhere, and the scary stuff is often more scary when it’s implied rather than shown.

“The Sarkeesian Effect” really should have been the title of cheap “found-footage” horror movie. Maybe if you say “Sarkeesian” 3 times in the mirror then she appears and destroys your whole cache of video games. Or the ghost of a murdered prostitute haunts GTA V and if you kill one specific prostitute then she comes and gets you….

Better than that shit documentary

Super-microbudget horror: The Last Broadcast [] – made for approx. $900 in 1998 and it creeped me the fuck out. As in, I had to phone someone as soon as it the film ended because I was so unsettled.

It’s a found footage movie and a lot of the footage is from public access cable (to justify the low quality, basically) which I know isn’t to everyone’s taste and it totally cheats on the gimmick for the finale, but I cannot recommend it enough.

Robert Rodriguez made his debut movie, ‘El Mariachi’, for just a few thousand dollars in 1992. Also that year, Michael Almereyda shot ‘Another Girl, Another Planet’ using the low-res Pixelvision camera. Meanwhile this year’s ‘Tangerine’ used an iphone.

Sorry to thread necro, but I just read this review over at Maynard’s horror diary blog of a new Japanese movie called Love & Peace and it very much sounds like something Mammotheers would like. I’ll just put the entire review in here.

Sion Sono (“Suicide Club”, “Cold Fish”) is undoubtedly one of the cleverest, most talented, and most versatile active Asian filmmakers, and his constant high-quality output is just fascinating. “Love & Peace”, one of two Sono films I’ve seen at this year’s /Slash, is yet another fantastic Sono-movie, a slightly insane, yet absolutely wonderful blend of from-zero-to-hero rockstar-musical (a bit in the vein of “The Apple”), heartwarming Christmas-themed comedic drama and hilarious Kaiju flick, following misfit office worker Ryo Suzuki who unexpectedly becomes an extremely popular superstar, while his pet turtle Pikadon becomes part of a lovely underground community that consists of pets and toys that were thrown / given away by people who didn’t want them anymore.

With apparent ease, Sono manages to constantly switch between utter absurdity and adorable sweetness over the entire 120 minute runtime without ever letting the movie become boring, stupid or bad. For every scene that is hilariously over-the-top and/or plain bonkers, there’s a scene that is splendidy amusing and/or marvellously tearjerking. There’s Kaiju turtles that are ten times more charming than Gamera, earwormy J-pop tunes you could hum/sing all day long, high amounts of cute kitties, rabbits, toy robots and plush cats, one of the most interesting Santa Claus characters in movie history etc. etc. A movie for everyone, old and young, female and male, fans and non-fans of Asian cinema.

Bravo Mr. Sono!

Sorry there’s a bit of ableist language in there, but I figured a musical about Kaiju turtles, cats, and rabbits would be of interest.

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