Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Shot-on-Shiteo Madness!

In anticipation of Alternative Cinema's upcoming release of the never before released 8mm movie The Basement I am dropping this review of two of the films included in the upcoming 80's indie horror box set which will include The Basement, Video Violence, Video Violence 2, Cannibal Campout, and Captives.  So here we go,

Video Violence and Video Violence 2/ 1987-1988
98 min. and 75 min. / Not Rated
Director: Gary P. Cohen
Camp Motion Pictures / Alternative Cinema

            As many who know me may know, Video Violence is one of my favorite guilty pleasures of the late 80’s video boom. I have subjected many of my friends to its curious charms when it was suggested that I bring over a movie to watch.

            Video Violence concerns a New York couple, Steve and Rachel Emory, who move to a small Pennsylvania town to open their own video store. The strange thing is that even though there is no other video store around, everyone in town seems to already own a VCR and no-one wants to rent anything other than horror and porn. Things get stranger when an unlabeled video cassette is returned which depicts the murder of the recently retired local post master. Authorities get dismissive with Steve, evidence goes missing, and soon it seems that everyone may be in on it. As the town closes in on Steve and Rachel it seems less likely that anyone in town can help them.

            Video Violence 2 expands the story by concentrating on Howard and Eli, the makers of the snuff videos from the first film. In this installment Howard and Eli have created their own pirated cable station on which they air their homemade snuff and encourage others to “produce” their own films. After several bloody vignettes and the inclusion of a studio “guest,” Video Violence 2 wraps itself up with a fairly silly twist ending.

            Camp Motion Pictures, who specialize in shot on video fare, have given the Video Violence pair a first rate DVD release. With both films being re-mastered from the original video elements they look fairly sharp and the extras include an interview featurette with director Gary P. Cohen which features some never before seen footage from the films and a pair of so-so commentaries that tend to lose their way occasionally but are at the very least entertaining.

            As mentioned above I am a huge fan of Video Violence and despite its cheese-ball effects and acting the movie is a memorable and entertaining delight. Video Violence has an undeniable creepy undertone and features a snuff plot years before it became a cliché of independent horror. Unfortunately Video Violence 2 doesn’t fare as well, conceptually it’s just unbelievable and at many points just comes off as a bunch of ideas the writer didn’t know what to do with. Where some of the segments in Video Violence 2 are entertaining, and the effects in many scenes mark a major improvement over the first film, the finished product just doesn’t hold up as well as the first. If you’re a fan of low budget gore and the shot-on-video boom of the eighties then I can recommend no film higher than Video Violence.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Welcome to my first post.

Hello and welcome to Hauntedracula’s House of Dorkness, this blog is an idea I’ve been kicking around for a couple of years now.  I have been writing for print and web publications on and off for a number of years now and have decided to venture into the world of blogging to A; keep writing on a regular basis, and B; to have a place to post old reviews and interviews which never found a home or had gotten lost in the shuffle. I will be covering a plethora of cult, exploitation, and horror films from around the world, and trying to interview those involved when the opportunity arises.

Plans are to update this site at least once a week so check back and be sure to let me know what you think, thanks for dropping by, and for my first post I bring you,

Don’t Go In The Woods …Alone! / 1981
83 Min. / U.S. / Rated R
Dir. James Bryan
Code Red – Media Blasters

WOW. Where do I start? I mean really this has got to be the most lavish special edition of a bad film I have ever seen. This is just amazing. 

Part of the great post Friday the 13th slasher craze Don’t Go in the Woods …Alone! has your usual oversized man in the woods knocking off campers and people trying to get it on. The great thing is that our main characters wander through the woods (and the film) endlessly talking while an unprecedented amount of filler characters literally just walk into frame long enough to possibly say one line and then drop their mannequin arm on the ground. Eventually our group of four encounters the beaded (yes I mean beaded) and bearded madman and things don’t become any clearer but you’re along for the long haul at this point. If not just to find out if this movie even has an ending because it barely has a beginning as we seem to just wander into a melee of bad editing, bad dubbing, and a group of killings without any set-up or context.  

Code Red have assembled one hell of a DVD release for this film which provides the viewer with enough insight to the features production to foster appreciation from weary viewers. The film is presented in a full frame 1.33:1 transfer that has some noticeable damage present but isn’t distracting. The special features include still galleries, a vintage talk show appearance, and a one hour interview featurette. The jewel of this package though, are the two commentaries, the first with director James Bryan and the second one on which he is joined by actress Mary Gail and super fan Deron Miller of CKY.  The first commentary reveals many of the problems that the production encountered and reveals the fact that the film is supposed to be funny, while the second commentary is wonderful because fan Deron Miller asks most of the questions one thinks of while watching the film.

I certainly will not tell you that this is a great or good film, but it is defiantly the most fun I’ve had reviewing a film in a long time. If you and some friends are going to get together to watch a film and yell at the TV then I must recommend D.G.I.T.W. …A. as a great party DVD.