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.